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