Shame and anticompetitive hijinks

24 05 2012

This week, Apple pulled one of Rogue Amoeba’s iOS apps, from the App Store. Reportedly, little explanation was given. I think I might know what’s going on here.

Apple has a history of taking ideas from existing iOS apps, building them into newer versions of iOS, and then making the app essentially useless. It is kind of a dick move when you think about it for half a second. I know people like to associate that “good artists copy, great artists steal,” phrase with Steve Jobs in particular and Apple in general. Unfortunately, when hardworking independent developers get screwed over, everyone loses, even Apple.

Of course, the developer is going to take the brunt of the blow in the form of lost sales. Users who are not aware of the app from whence some iOS feature came will not know that there may be some better alternative, still on the App Store. This might keep the user experience from being as good as it might. In the end, Apple is hurting itself a little by potentially alienating developers. I know, personally, that if I worked my ass off on an app that I was proud of and Apple came along and ripped me off, I would reconsider developing for Apple’s platforms in the future.

Maybe I am completely wrong about all of this and I am just overreacting. I really hope I am. Hopefully, Rogue Amoeba’s app goes back up on the store and they go back to making money from it. Thanks for indulging this rant.





Mac App Store will have the same failings as iOS App Store

22 10 2010

Yesterday, Apple announced that it plans to launch a version of its App Store for the Mac, bringing a hallmark feature of its iOS platform to its desktop environment. The App Store on the Mac will fill essentially the same role as its counterpart on the iOS. It will be used as a virtual retail space where developers can submit apps to be sold.

App Store on MacBook Air

Where this will go will be interesting to see. Apple has been fighting a PR battle over the App Store since it launched in July 2008. Apple vets all iOS apps that are submitted for the App Store. This same process will be applied to all Mac apps submitted for the Mac App Store. With this comes the same failings because it is the same system with the same people.

On the other hand, it could bring lesser-known apps to the attention of more people, thus encouraging small-time indie Mac developers. I recently started using a Tweetie-inspired Gmail client, called Sparrow, on my MacBook. It is still in beta, but it an impressive application with a great deal of potential. I would love to see more people discover this app, among others.

An advantage that this version of the App Store will have over the iOS version is that it is not the exclusive way to get new software on your Mac. Users will still be able to purchase Mac software online and on physical media, without Apple’s ecosystem or infrastructure. Ars Technica performed some informal interviews with indie Mac developers to see what they think about this.

Until we see the Mac App store launch about 90 days from now, it should be safe to assume that it will have most of the same problems and strengths that the current App Store does. It will not be exactly the same but it should be interesting to watch.





Don’t be a prick. Don’t steal software.

2 01 2010

If you are reading this, then you are on a computer or smartphone. Either of these devices will need software to be useful hardware. Do not ever take for granted the community of developers that creates software for the hardware platforms that you use on a daily basis.

I understand that there is a group of people who jailbreak their iPhones and iPod touches simply so they can put stolen iPhone applications on them. This makes me want to hit each of them in the face with a hammer. If someone charges a price for their software, then it is usually a fair price. Most of the paid iPhone apps are 99 cents. What exactly is the mechanism in your mind that would make you think that you simply cannot part with a dollar after spending at least $200 on the device it will run on?

Software developers should not be taken advantage of. They, like the rest of humanity, need to eat and live indoors. In order to do this, they require a steady flow of income from people who purchase and use their software. If they can no longer afford to do this, they will simply stop developing cool, useful software and everyone will suffer.

Much of the convenience we take for granted in our daily lives is built on the backs of people staring at glowing rectangles, spooling out reams and reams of code. They provide a vital service. If you steal indie-produced software, you are not stealing from some bi, faceless corporation. You are most likely stealing from the developer himself.

Don’t be a prick. Don’t steal software.





Review: iPhone Application Sketch Book

28 10 2009

Dean Kaplan recently sent me a free iPhone Application Sketch Book. Before I go on, I would like to clear up a couple of things. First, I did not get this book for review purposes. I got it for winning an online drawing. Second, this is not an iPhone application. It is an actual book. I have had people be mistaken when I tell them I recent got an “iPhone sketch book.”

After winning the contest, I received the book a few days later via Amazon. App Sketchbook 2I was impressed right off the bat with the quality of the book. Despite being a few sheets of spiral bound paper, it feels like something I can throw in my backpack and carry around with me. There is plenty of margin space to jot down notes about your interface’s paper prototype. The screen is life size and will give an accurate picture of what your application will look like when it is compiled.

I have used it to prototype the interface for an application that I working on and I enjoyed using it.

While this is a great thing to just carry around and work in, there is a disadvantage to having a notebook like this. There are 100 iPhone sketching pages. Eventually, you will run out of paper. That is why I think that keeping a good stencil around is a good call. Do your rough sketches by hand, then move on to the stencil, then put your finalized UI designs into the iPhone Application SketchBook. I recommend this design process because it forces you to go over the same design again and again before it is finally implemented and put in from of users. More importantly, it will help you conserve precious pages in your dedicated UI sketch book.

Overall, this is an excellent product. If you have not already purchased one for $9.99 before midnight on October 29, 2009, then you are out of luck. However, I believe Kapsoft will return with a new and improved sketchbook. My opinion of this product: highly excellent, useful, and practical.