A Note About Weak iPhone Apps

According to Apple’s latest iPhone ad, there are over 1000 apps in the App store (roughly 1500 if my simple math is correct). With the App store being only a month and a half old, that is a pretty impressive number. As with all platforms, the store has diamonds in the rough, and the rough is what makes those diamonds possible. I have two major beefs with iPhone apps that add to the roughage.

Paying for Web Apps

With the college football season fast approaching, I have turned into, as I do every year, a sucker for anything related to news, the rankings, and BCS. When I saw that the Associated Press released an app for tracking their top 25, I thought it would be a great idea to get it; it was only 99 cents, after all, and it was probably pretty good. The frustrating thing is that it is just a spiced up interface of a web app. I shouldn’t have to pay for something that is available in a better format on the web with no added functionality. In fact, if I save the web clip of ESPN’s rankings page, I get essentially the same thing with more information

iPhone apps should be about making the content available even if you don’t have access to the internet. That is what separates them from web apps. In addition, downloading the top 25 teams and info onto your phone or touch would make the coverflow of the top 25 teams more fluid and more like coverflow. Since it must constantly refresh from the internet, it is painstakingly slow in its current state.

I must admit that a great feature is streaming the AP’s podcast about the rankings, which makes it more beneficial. But, yet again, it sure would be better to have that downloaded for when you don’t have your internet connection.

Poor Commercialization Attempts

I fully support good efforts to make money in other areas by offering content on the iPhone. It bothers me when applications show up in the App store which are clearly designed to help sell a different product that is good, but the iPhone app is worthless. Here is an example. Audi’s A4, a sweet car, is promoted by this iPhone app.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not the worst game out there, but there are a couple of things that just make it seem like all they wanted was an app with Audi’s name on it (and maybe that is all they wanted). I think of excellent quality and attention to detail when I think of Audi. And that is not what we get here.

First, the only orientation you can have is landscape, and it is opposite the default for movies and most other things in landscape (you turn the device to the right, instead of the left). You have two choices for speed: 60 MPH, or 0 MPH. If you stray from the course, it snaps you back onto the course, facing a direction that causes you to grossly over-correct, because you are turning the phone to stay in bounds and that causes you to go almost perpendicular to the track and careen off to the other out-of-bounds area.

What It Means

I am sure that everyone out there would be overjoyed if all the “bad” applications were not in the app store. While it would be a good idea, we all see the qualities we like in apps. Surely, there is someone out there that loves every app in the store. I am sure some of you are thinking, “Dude, it’s 99 cents! Why are you getting all bent out of shape about it?” That is ok, we are all entitled to our opinions.

What I am really saying is: Apple needs bad apps in the store. If Apple pulled apps that weren’t perfect, there would be a huge uproar from people who thought they created a good app, but got kicked out when “someone” decided the app wasn’t good enough.

We need an open marketplace, where people can make poorly-designed products right next to amazing products. We have already seen furor over slow app updating and quick app removals for no reason.

Even though we may not like those weak apps, we (and Apple) need them.

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