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.

To jailbreak or not to jailbreak?

14 08 2010

There was recently a discussion going around at work about the merits of jailbreaking one’s iOS device, be it an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. There was not much in the way of debate. We all saw it mostly the same way. If you jailbreak your device, you run some risks in exchange for being able to perform some advanced tasks.

Jailbroken 2G iPod touchTo me, it seems pretty clear: if you are aware of the consequences of jailbreaking your device and you think that it is work the potential risk, then go for it, by all means. It’s your property, not Apple’s. You can do whatever you like. However, I have not yet been in the position of seeing some killer app or feature that is not available in a non-jailbroken device (an iPhone 3GS in my case) that would justify jailbreaking it.

When you jailbreak an iOS device, you are stripping away many of the checks and safeguards that Apple has put in place to make sure only apps that they approve will run. (Granted, Apple’s app vetting process is jacked but that is a discussion for another time.) You could get some kind of malware or poorly-written software on your iOS device. It could leak memory, crash the device, transmit personal information, or leave the UI in a state that does not work well.

Sure, these are extreme edge cases but they bear thinking about. When you jailbreak your iOS device, you are running certain risks. Before you dive in head first, weigh the pros and cons. Decide if what you want to do is only possible through jailbreaking and whether it is really worth the possible risks. Apple has spent a fair amount of time and money fine-tuning the iOS and the devices it runs on. It probably will not perform as well as it did in its stock state.

Once you pause and consider the variables involved here, you will be better equipped to make a decision.