A Dream Destroyed, or, the Downsides of Software Silos

I had a simple dream. I wanted to pick up an Xbox controller, anywhere in the house, and press the central button, activating a Raspberry Pi with RetroPie installed, which would sync to the nearest screen and let me play nearly anywhere in the house. Is that so much to ask?

At first, I tried Steam Link, which appeared to allow streaming to/from Raspberry Pi devices. However, the Pi can only receive a signal from a desktop gaming rig which is running Steam – it can’t go the other way, let alone stream from the Pi to a non-Steam device.

Where to go from here?

Well, there’s RetroArch’s networking capabilities! How about using the Pi as a RetroArch server, and joining in that way?

Unfortunately, there are a few devices I want to connect – a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and a smart TV. The smart TV may be able to connect, and the MacBook, I could hack to get going. But the iPad was going to be the creme de la creme, the piece de resistance of my gaming setup. Hell, I just want to sit in the comfy chair and play retro games! Is that too much?

Apparently so. By the way, when I say retro games, I do not condone doing anything illegal, of course. Please don’t do anything stupid or illegal on my account – I’m actively working on homebrew content for these old consoles, and I just wanna play anywhere in the house!

Anyway, yes, apparently this is too much to ask, largely thanks to Apple’s draconian rules when it comes to emulation software. I get that they want to control their hardware, but jeez Louise, not allowing me to download a harmless emulator app? An app that runs perfectly fine on Android, an app that’s open source, no less?! To use an outdated, outmoded swearing substitute: malarkey. Utter malarkey.

I love Apple’s hardware, and their software, for the most part. They’ve clearly done a lot to create a great UX for 99% of their users and that’s cool and I appreciate that. I’d even go so far as to say they’re doing it better than anyone (but they’re still doing it wrong).

They’re doing it wrong because they’re siloing their software and devices, in order to maintain control. Again: malarkey. They really would benefit from opening up, I think, but that’s just like, my opinion, man.

I think they would benefit from opening up because they could easily get 99%+ of developer market share just by open sourcing their OS, or at least allowing installation (officially) on non-Apple hardware. They could probably give Microsoft, who has clearly dominated the desktop OS market for years and years, a run for their money, if they would stop squeezing that nickel of silo-ization and go after bigger fish.

And that’s my dose of third-hand business acumen for the day, how I would run the world’s largest company if I had my druthers. I can dream, right?