iPad release without touch controls?

Throughout the years of existence of Aseprite, there has been a bit of talk here and there about a potential mobile version, but because of the obvious difficulties of transitioning a desktop interface onto a touch screen, i don’t think it was ever more than just talk.

There’s this idea i’ve had… but first let’s talk iPadOS 13.4. in case you don’t know, since march 2020, iPads fully support mouse and keyboard controls, including keyboard shortcuts and modifier keys, and clicks, scrolls and hover states of the mouse.

The way it works is that any existing app may add mouse & keyboard controls in addition to the standard touch controls. but here’s the thing: i‘ve read the App Store review guidelines and guess what: nowhere does it say that touch controls are required for iOS apps. Furthermore:

2.4.3 People should be able to use your Apple TV app without the need for hardware inputs beyond the Siri remote or third-party game controllers, but feel free to provide enhanced functionality when other peripherals are connected. If you require a game controller, make sure you clearly explain that in your metadata so customers know they need additional equipment to play.

This is what they say about controls in Apple TV apps – so by applying this logic to iPadOS, they are not against the idea of hardware-specific apps. so my idea was:

What if Aseprite was released for the iPad as it is?

Think about it… translating the interface into touch would take hours and hours of UX work, design and development. deploying the app with only mouse & keyboard controls would take just a fraction of that work. and with the smart keyboard, magic keyboard and other accessories likely coming in the future, it is clear that Apple supports the idea of desktop-class software on the iPad, and in my opinion the demographic for this will become much less niche in the future.

In case an official App Store release would come with unnecessary problems, i could also picture an unofficial model where the user receives na .ipa file they can sideload themselves, i would personally buy the heck of that.

TL;DR – what if the iPad version only had the current mouse & keyboard controls, no touchscreen capabilities?

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A final note: i am not aware how mice and keyboards are supported in Android, the same idea could potentially also apply there.

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iOS engineer here. Unfortunately you can’t just release the existing application on iPad. Different languages, architectures, and all that. You would have to rewrite it specifically for mobile devices anyways, so might as well do it right and build it with touch controls in mind.

I too would love to see this come to the iPad. All the pixel art editors out there now are well… just not Aseptite.

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Oh okay, I assumed that existing macOS code shouldn’t be that hard to port over to iOS…but I guess that depends on how the app is built…

I don’t know much about software development, but I’m sure that with a UI-heavy app like Aseprite, the effort needed to transfer the GUI onto a touchscreen would’ve been much greater than the technical port itself.