Updated Again! App Store Redux: 10 Million Downloaded, but Are they Well Coded?

Jobs Speaks About App Store

The App Store went live last week (what day exactly depends on whether you snuck in to iTunes 7.7 and snooped around on your own, or waited for the official links to surface), tying in to the iPhone 3G and 2.0 software launches. How'd it do? According to Steve Jobs:

“The App Store is a grand slam, with a staggering 10 million applications downloaded in just three days. Developers have created some extraordinary applications, and the App Store can wirelessly deliver them to every iPhone and iPod touch user instantly.”

Probably why Apple has finally started putting a dent in its backlog of developer acceptances, eh? But is all happy in App Land? Nope. Find out why after the break...

Never mind the almost spam-like proliferation of ebooks-as-apps (public domain, yet packaged and charged for). There are complaints from both Daring Fireball and TUAW that some developers are engaged in App naming shenanigans, putting spaces or symbols at the beginning to sort higher:

On Twitter, Tim Wood points out that the problem is endemic to alphabetical sorting — if Apple merely disallows spaces and punctuation, the scammers will just switch to “AAAA Solitaire” to get to the top. Dave Dribin points out that Amazon avoids this by not even offering alphabetical sorting as an option. Apple should let you choose between popularity, release date (newest on top), and user ratings.

They suggest negative reviews by way of retaliation. I suggest feedback to Apple.

UPDATE: More gripes today, this one from developer Erica Sadun about how iTunes is imporperly managing App syncing -- backing up entire apps (even graphic and sound chunky games) every time, greatly increasing the length of cycle:

I don't know about you, but those new longer iPhone syncs are just killing me. Once an App has been backed up, I don't see why Apple doesn't just back up the Documents and Library data rather than backing up entire applications every single time the iPhone connects.

Me neither. Backing up changed states would be far more efficient. If backups take too long for a mobile device, people will start skipping them, defeating the purpose. Imagine if it treated +300MB movie files this way?

There have also been widespread reports of App's being buggy and causing crashes, though some developers are pushing back at this, telling TUAW that Apple may have rushed 2.0 out the door before it was as stable as it needed to be:

Anonymous developer sources are reporting that they've been poring over crash logs and discovering that the reported crash has nothing to do with their application. There's a growing consensus that Apple has released a highly unstable "final" version of the 2.0 firmware. So, maybe it's more of a shame that Apple, who laid the groundwork for a multitude of useful and exciting applications, rushed development and failed to build a better foundation.

Some 8 betas since introduction, could the deadlines really have been tight enough on either side to lead to a poor Gold Master?

UPDATE 2: Apple Design Award winner Craig Hockenberry of Twitterrific fame chimes in on just how hard it is to debug iPhone apps, and why, which may explain some of the problems:

The big problem here is that the only way to install software on an iPhone or iPod touch is with the App Store. There are also no provisions for beta testing. Without the ability to sign code, there is no way for a user to get code onto a device: most users fall into this category. The only way to “test” a fix is to release the changes to tens of thousands of users. It’s the developer equivalent of playing Russian roulette.

Arguably the "killer feature" of iPhone 2.0, we've certainly not heard the end of this.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Updated Again! App Store Redux: 10 Million Downloaded, but Are they Well Coded?


I've had crashes in several programs. All have the same behavior, a simple drop to the home screen.
Also, when running some programs the phone gets hot. P.Solitaire and Enigmo mostly but others also.

gotta be honest with you guys... only had one crash with one app, Omni focus. everything else? Facebook, Myspace, AIM, Twitter, I can keep going... All working 100% fine not a single crash.
I don't think it's 2.0, i think it's some of the Apps. Think about it they were kinda rushed to get them finished, but that's ok though. The phone is out now, the hardware platform is in your hands. Just give them time to tweak some of the bugs, and things will be good to go. =)

My phone continually crashes with Super Monkey Ball and just recently Weather Bug. Hope they figure this out soon. It's a shame I can't use these apps.

I've had several crash. Some just bounce back to the home screen, while some actually reboot the device entirely. Mainly with Weather Bug, vSnax, and MLB At Bat.

Super Monkey Ball crashed on launch (right after the Sega logo) for me nearly every time. I deleted it, did a reset, synced it back from iTunes, and its been okay ever since.
It's maybe a mix of some 2.0 bugs (every code has them!) and App bugs (ditto!)

my phone has crashed on nearly every single app. It always throws me to the apple screen which takes forever. My entire phone hangs with every app. I have the white 16gb. Maybe it's just me.

I highly doubt that individual app bugs are all resulting in identical behavior (crash on launch). Crashes while using the app, sure, those are bugs.

It's definitely not an app problem. The phone itself feels different. It is slower even for Apple native applications such as phone and even Safari. The keyboard often gets stuck or has a delay while writing messages with the mail application. It took a few restarts and syncs before the phone became decent enough to be used. I am upset. Oh, and by the way, the new battery sucks. Today I decided to turn off 3g andy de the phone as I used to before the switch to the new model. I have not used any games today. The battery still drained twice as fast. And as I type this message, the keyboard follows my gestures with a delay of about one second. Unacceptable!

Super Monkey Ball crashes on me too from time to time. I haven't noticed a definite pattern yet but it seems to be the first try of the day for the most part, after having it sit on the cradle all night charging. But whenever it does, it won't let me start the game until I've restarted my iPhone. Also, iTunes acts up when I use the remote app. It does what it's supposed to do and all, but if I have iTunes minimized to the little taskbar controller thing windows does it won't let me maximize it again. In fact, the taskbar controller seems to be disconnected from iTunes, the volume slider is all the way to the left and it has the "play" icon instead of the "pause" it should have when a song is playing.
Nothing that can't be fixed I guess, small price to pay for a portable gaming machine that's like combining the PSP with the DS and controlling it with a wii remote...and waiting till about the 3rd generation of that. I mean seriously, super monkey ball shouldn't be this much fun. I can't put it down, I didn't get anything accomplished all weekend.

my phone crashes too randomly on many apps bringing me to the home screen or worse a full reboot.. this whole thing has been a joke.. add to that the fact there (last time i checked) is only one game available to buy here (Ireland) and that many of the apple applications feel much slower i am totally dissappointed..

My guess: Combination of rushed firmware + difficulty in testing App Store apps + App code problems.
Easy to see that storm in hindsight. Apple needs to figure out a way for devs to beta test and QA their stuff!

My iPhone 3G 16GB White, locked up on me 6 hours ago.
It rebooted on it's on and is STUCK at the apple logo screen. I can push + hold Power button and Home screen button to turn the phone off. But when I push the power button to turn it back on, it just sits there at the Apple logo screen.
I'm just waiting to get out of work and connect it to my PC to see if that helps.
This is my first foray into Apple products and not a very good experience.
Booo Apple! Hurry up and fix this chit

I have an ipod touch and I have had no crashes whatsoever! Is it just an iphone what is having problems?

I have a very bad experience with Apps. The iPhone scrashed 3 time in the first 3 weeks. It is not the way for "high tech" product. The App Store swich to Hispanic Language everytime I connect to the PC for Sync and recharge. It is too bad for iPhone 3G.

Hi Allan, I think go with you sister... unique attracts more people, for example boring names I wouldn't go and see, try a word backwards like Retupmoc (computer) Its VERY unique HAha lol