Archive for the ‘App Store’ category

Apple TV “Search” Needs Improving

May 20, 2013

It’s been on my mind lately and needs flogging again: Apple TV Search leaves a lot to be desired.

We jettisoned Cox Cable Television (kept internet, for now). The only content we subscribe to now is Hulu Plus and Netflix.

Unfortunately, Apple TV doesn’t make it easy to search ONE place for content across all my services. That’s just plain stupid and not at all EASY (as Apple would have us believe their stuff inherently “is”). Um, yeah. If I want to find a show I do NOT want to have to type that into the three different search screens to determine IF it’s even available on Apple TV.

Hell, Google’s figured that out. One search input for all their platforms (web, news, YouTube, etc). Imagine if Apple highlighted content available on the other services we weren’t already subscribed to… Hey, Apple… that’s called an “UPSELL”. Your retail guys have this one figured out nicely. Have your people talk to their people.

Meanwhile, you are rapidly wearing out your welcome in my living room due to missing intuitive ease-of-use features.

For instance, why the hell can I not control my Apple TV with my iPad. No, not AirPlay! I want to be able to type on my iPad to my Apple TV screen. If I **can** do this, I apologize for not being able to find it on the App Store. Heh! Funny. ME apologizing to Apple for not being able to find something on THEIR App Store. Sick.

There are other annoying things about Apple TV too. For instance, why can’t I consolidate my accounts directly on the device? I’ve somehow managed to create two accounts. Let me merge them and keep my content under the one I prefer. Why can’t I rent something on my iPad and play it through to my TV or the other way around?

It’s at points like this when a company so overextends itself and takes it’s CUSTOMERS for granted that the house of cards begins to wobble precipitously. Hate seeing that happen at such a neat and special place as Apple. But, we’ve seen it happen at places like Disney before. Heck, it’s happened at Apple before! Fortunately, “The Suck” doesn’t have to last forever.

My APPfliction

March 27, 2012

I evaluate apps like a teenage girl tries on clothes. I’m voracious about it. More importantly, I have terribly harsh standards and I have a problem committing to an app: They’re all too easy to discard and replace with the new shiny. It’s unfair, I know. But, I’m finding the most inconsequential features can sometimes (not always) compensate for otherwise nominal shortcomings. And I mean PETTY stuff like an amazing icon or splash screen. Typography. Colors. Speed! There are little tricks some developers utilize that I find myself envious of. It’s a healthy respect and nod to the person who toiled over the app. As a fellow developer I have an appreciation for the effort of conceiving, authoring and marketing one’s work.

Now, when I say “app” I’m not drawing a distinction between iPhone, Android or Mac. I’m certainly not elevating one type of app over another either. If a web app rocks where a native app just didn’t cut it… Well, let’s call it what it is. I do genuinely like the idea of an App Store. With a few important (to me) exceptions.

App Stores as we understand them today are walled gardens for software that will only run on it’s particular flavor of device. That’s maybe not entirely necessary. It’s just the way it is. There are apps for other platforms I wish I had the ability to try out on my phone, tablet, tv. But the walled garden is impenetrable. I can’t get there from here. Meh. OK. Small gripe.

Discovery is a MUCH bigger problem though. If you’ve used iTunes much you’re probably familiar with it’s Ping function. It’s Apple’s recommendation engine. I don’t pretend to understand the logic or algorithms it uses to arrive at suggestions. Some are spot on. Others seem to come from left field. [I'm not that varied in my musical tastes Apple!] The genius behind Ping is it’s ability to summize my interests in content and hazard an intelligent guess at what else I might want to try out.

App Stores should do this. Now! I jettison more apps than I keep. Many of them are paid. But, they’re of no use to me and are easily discarded. I can’t thing of one I’ve plucked back from the grave. I would suggest to Apple… please, please, please… factor this into your next iteration of whatever Ping’ness you bring to the App Store. It should factor… they did NOT like THAT, but DID like THIS. Or more importantly did NOT keep THAT… Now, what apps have others installed (and kept) that are good candidates?

In this way your ratio of HITS v. misses is more appropriate.

Might I also suggest a better way of discovering WEB APPS! (Yes, Apple, I know there’s no 30% take for you in web apps…) But, helping to make my APPfliction complete I would hope you’d not turn a blind eye to the many non-native apps out there. Some are spectacularly good and rival the finer native apps on my devices. For whatever reason your staff stopped “picking” web apps in late 2010. Please, pick that ball back up and run with it!

iPhone Dev: Button for iPhone (not Touches)

January 2, 2010

The App Store rejected my first attempt at submitting an app based on “Reachability” (which I’m still trying to resolve) and showing a call button (even to devices incapable of placing a call, such as iPod Touches). Turns out what I was looking for is somewhat easy… at least the part that checks if the device is capable of calls. See code below:

- (BOOL)deviceCanMakePhoneCalls
{
    BOOL canMakePhoneCalls;
    if ([UIApplication instancesRespondToSelector:@selector(canOpenURL:)]) {
        // OS 3.0, so use canOpenURL
        UIApplication *app = [UIApplication sharedApplication];
        canMakePhoneCalls = ([app canOpenURL:[NSURL URLWithString:@"tel:+44-1234-567890"]]);
    } else {
        // OS 2.x, so check for iPhone
        UIDevice *device = [UIDevice currentDevice];
        canMakePhoneCalls = ([device.model isEqualToString:@"iPhone"]);
    }
    return canMakePhoneCalls;
}

What this doesn’t do is show the button (or hide it). Now, if you know how to solve for any this more elegantly… please, do tell. AND… if you’d like to help me via ichat or Google Chat to walk through the Reachability issue… lemme know!

“CHEAT” is Now in the App Store

July 30, 2009

My friend Shay Arnett announced tonight his iPhone/iPod Touch app, “CHEAT” has been approved for App Store distribution.

Shay is one hard working guy and a new dad to boot. I’ll never know 1/3 of what he does about development. But, for $.99 I can hang with him feeling a little (okay, a LOT) more in the know than before. He’s packed over 475 cheat sheets for HTML, Rails, CSS, jQuery, Prototype, Obj C, testing, text editors, etc.

Get yourself some “CHEAT” today and support a super nice guy who created a super helpful app.

Hey, Shay… what do I do with all these little O’Reilly pocket guides now? ;)

App Store Workaround

September 15, 2008

Oh this is stinking BRILLIANT!

If you haven’t heard, Apple rejected an iPhone Developers App & on the surface it sounds as if it was due to a competing feature set to iTunes’ Podcast stuff.

What did the rejected developer do? What any clever and determined developer would. He routed around the damage and used a legitimate back door Apple left ajar… “Ad Hoc” app distribution of course.

Now, what Apple may have just done is unwittingly cracked their own strangle hold on the heavyweight title of iPhone app distribution. I hope someone (possibly Alex) can exploit this to full advantage. Apple’s heavy handedness in this matter is not something we ought to tolerate silently.


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