Apple has a default set of apps that come with every iPhone and iPod touch that you can’t remove from the device, and that provide some basic features that are likely to appeal to a wide swath of users. The iPad will have a default set, too, but it won’t necessarily include all the familiar apps you know and possibly love.
According to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, apps that Apple didn’t show off during its iPad unveiling event weren’t just left out because there weren’t many major changes made to them, they actually won’t appear on the platform at all. Or, if they do, they won’t ship with the product and instead will be downloadable after the fact via the App Store.
The apps in question are Calculator, Stocks, Weather, Clock and Voice Memos. According to Gruber’s sources, the apps won’t be included not because Apple has deemed them any less useful or appealing to consumers in terms of function, but because Cupertino couldn’t come up with iPad-complementary large-format designs for their user interfaces.
Personally, I’m not too upset about the omissions. I barely ever use Calculator and Voice Memos, and I’ve opened Stocks maybe once or twice. Weather I’ve replaced with a much more functional third-party app. Clock is the only one I use regularly, but I suspect it won’t be that hard to replace it via third-party sources if necessary, either, and I probably won’t have the iPad at the gym anyway, which is where I use Clock the most for its stopwatch functions.
I’m still of the opinion that Apple should make all of its native apps downloadable content, aside from the iPod and phone-related apps on the iPhone, so this is probably as close as I’ll get to that coming true. But it raises an interesting question about third-party apps: if Apple can’t see a way to make some of its content work on the iPad, how are developers going to be expected to cope?
Changing screen size doesn’t only change the amount of space you have in which to display things. It changes a user’s expectation of what a piece of software will be able to do, and the way in which the program will do it. Games may be able to escape this expectation gap, since they provide roughly the same thing whether portable or not (hence the success of PS ports on the PSP), but utilities and other apps likely won’t.
It’s fine for existing iPhone and iPod touch owners, who will probably just find using old apps dissatisfying, but know to wait for iPad-specific programs. But what about users new not only to the platform, but to iPhone OS as a whole? Ill-fitting apps could sour these new customers against the iPad right out of the gate, conceivably alienating some so strongly that they might not return to Apple for future products.
There’s two ways Apple can fight this: from launch, it should highlight and drive new customers to an iPad-specific section of the App Store, possibly through a modification to the App Store application itself on the device. I’m almost certain this will happen anyway, but the app should default to iPad-only titles at launch to make certain that inexperienced users will only be exposed to those if they don’t understand App Store navigation fully off the bat.
Finally, Apple needs to better encourage developers to convert existing apps to the iPad’s dimensions, and alter their UIs accordingly. I’m not sure yet how Apple is planning to deal with developers wanting to offer iPad and iPhone-specific versions of the same app, but making that process as simple as possible for consumers looking to choose one over the other will be key to establishing developer good faith, and convincing users that the iPad isn’t jut the big iPod many detractors are making it out to be.
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