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.


Mike Ferri

The reason this is last on my list of apple blogs to visit is because of the negative tone of far too many posts. This post is no exception.

Alan Olsen

You need to start a blog on iPhone Applications. Where you evaluate them and give an unbiased opinion of them. You could do five free and five paid for apps. Also side by side comparisons would be good since there is now so many duplicates out there now. I have found that some free Apps are better then some paid for ones. I don’t believe anyone is doing this yet, so you and Bob R can be the first.

Jethro Jones


I think you are right on with navigating the ITMS. It has always annoyed me. Wouldn’t tabs be a great feature to add to iTunes 8. I am also very surprised that Apple doesn’t provide a way to demo the apps before you buy them. I think it is probably because they are still behind and the store really has been successful. I am sure this feature will come someday. At least, I hope it will.


this is an interesting take on the App Store.
I also agree that Audi A4 app is mind-numbingly crap, especially when you can think of so many ways to improve it (whole track view to see where you’re going, etc).
But the bigger issue really is, how can one TRY the app before putting money down?
Most savvy developers release a “Lite” version which is smart – I’ve bought MotionX Poker after trying their free dice simulator. But why should they have to do that? iTunes already had the FairPlay DRM to allow movie rentals on AppleTV… why can’t we have something like that for AppStore? Let people download as a ‘rental’, then allow people the option to unlock the full game? Apps could be programmed through SDK to add a checkpoint (so gamers can’t finish the whole game within the 24hrs time limit). This would then reduce the number of apps in the AppStore, thus allowing us to browse through a decent number of apps, not multiple versions of the same thing.
And that brings me to another issue with AppStore – how to view the apps. Have you noticed that “NEW” section is not really for “NEW” apps? That really confounds me. I now click on “All iPhone Apps” and sort by release date. I think iTunes needs a way to open “tabs” like web browsers, so we can easily compare apps rather than tediously clicking one app, back, select another app, back, etc etc etc.

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