My APPfliction

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!

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