Editor's desk: iTunes, App Store upgrades, wide-screen iPhone, features, and more

Editor's desk: iTunes, App Store upgrades, wide-screen iPhone, features, and more

Sick as a dog. It never fails, a couple times every spring and fall, I get a sinus infection that makes me seriously wishing my head would just explode and get it over with. But no such luck. I still have a site to run. And a column to get done. For the people who are still alive...


Apple releases iTunes 10.6.1, fixes bugs

It also seems to be the time of year for iTunes to hit the news cycle, both with rumors about an iTunes 11 refresh and a lot of media angst about whether or not iTunes as it currently exists is a bloated, hot mess.

Well of course it is. It has to be. iTunes is a way for Apple's mostly Windows-based iPod, iPhone, and iPad consumers to buy media and manage their devices. It was the only way until iCloud, and it's probably still the primary way.

Tempting as it might be to think iTunes on Windows is Apple's way of getting payback for Office on Mac, it's simply been easer to maintain the port of a single, multi-purpose, monstrous app than to implement an alternative. It's also been easier to direct customers, mostly Windows customers, to a single, multi-purpose, monstrous app than to implement an alternative.

Want to activate your iPhone, iPod, or iPad? Connect to iTunes. Want to buy stuff to put on it or sync stuff over to it? Connect to iTunes. And because of that, iTunes remains a single, multi-purpose, monstrous app on OS X as well.

When Windows compatibility isn't necessary, like with Mac Apps, you get a separate Mac App Store app.

It will take a long time for a critical enough mass of Windows users, especially traditionalists, to shift off iTunes and onto iCloud. It will also take a long time for iCloud to become functional enough to make iTunes for Windows unnecessary. Apple will know when that happens by the download and usage numbers.

And when they do, that's when iTunes will change. On both Windows and the Mac.

Upgrade pricing

The App Store and the scam app invasion

Upgrade pricing has also made it's way back into the news. Almost 4 years post-App Store launch and, a few hints to the contrary not withstanding, Apple still doesn't provide a way for developers to charge for upgrades. We're not talking about bug fixes or even minor feature enhancements either. Not 1.0.1 or even 1.1. We're talking about major new versions of software, like 2.0, 3.0, etc. Software that takes time and incurs costs to develop.

That's bad for developers and bad for consumers. Sure, the idea of free updates forever sounds nice, but it's not manageable. It's like your boss telling you he's not paying you for work you did today because he already paid you for it yesterday.

Conversely, just because I bought a hamburger at McDonald's today, doesn't mean I get free hamburgers every day for the rest of my life. Just because I paid to see Batman Begins doesn't mean I'll be let into Dark Knight Rises for free. And just because I bought Tweetie doesn't mean I was entitled to Tweetie 2 for free (or any other stand-alone version 2.0, 3.0, etc. app for that matter).

No one can run a sustainable business like that. And I want developers to have sustainable businesses because I want more, better, deeper apps.


Turn your photos into fun comics with Halftone for iPhone

I had the opportunity to speak at Cocoaheads Montreal last Tuesday on the topic of app marketing. It's something near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons. First, before I ran iMore I worked in enterprise software marketing. Second, now that I run iMore I see tons of apps with tons of potential fall on the App Store with a whimper instead of an explosion, get very little attention, and disappear.

You absolutely need to make a great app, but you also absolutely need to tell people about it. Just like you wireframe and mock up the design and plan and code the functionality you need to strategize and execute the product marketing.

Be in the App Store day and date with that great new feature Apple really wants to show off, so they and the media show you off along with it. Find the sites that write about the kind of apps you make and engage them directly and passionately. Talk about the problems your app solves (not "my app does XYZ" but "if you need XYZ, that's what my app does"). Be easy to work with -- have assets ready for Apple if they want to feature you immediately, have advanced promo codes ready for key writers if they want to do release day reviews. If there's a legitimate reason to have web-based accounts that offer additional functionality, don't abuse them but certainly use them to directly engage your user base.

The App Store might be a gold-rush-come-lottery but that doesn't mean you can't stack what odds there are in your favor.

Wide-screen iPhone

Last iMore heard, Apple was sticking with the 3.5 inch screen size, though it wasn't "set in stone" and could be slightly bigger. A confluence of events led some to speculate that Apple could go wider instead of just bigger. Closer to 16:9 than the current 3:2. Apple has lots of prototypes in the labs, which is why there are so many rumors about different sizes and cases of iPhones and iPads. We haven't heard anything about a 16:9 iPhone, but we have heard Apple is (perhaps still) discussing or experimenting with alternatives to the current Home button. Could these experiments come together into an almost all-screen iPhone?

It raises the kind of problems for developers and apps that Apple has thus far avoided by retaining the same aspect and pixel ratio in iPhones since they first introduced the original iPhone. Given how long Apple is leaving older devices on the market as well -- for example, the 2009 iPhone 3GS is still sold as new -- it would be a long-lasting problem as well. Boxing 3:2 apps, like Apple does with iPhone apps on the bigger iPad screen, wouldn't create the premium phone experience Apple is known for.


Recommended reading

Still alive

Fever's still up and so am I. Let's see if fixing that second part fixes the first.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 22 comments. Add yours.

dloveprod says:

I love it when people call something a hot mess lol makes me laugh everytime.
I need a bigger iPhone. With LTE and a gig of ramz.

wow says:

Apple do sent give you want you want. They give what they tell you you want.

dloveprod says:

I'd hate to join the dark side (android) but if they force my hand I will.

Glenn#IM says:

Reference upgrades. If it is minor updates, bug fixes, and so on it should be free. If it is version 1.x to 2.x, I do not mind paying a fee. There is one thing the will turn me off to developers, if they make version 1.x unusable because I do not want to pay, or get the update. By the way, hope you get better.

Atmatt says:

What? Pay for upgrade? So if an app like Camera + gets a few fixes and theirs an update we need to pay for that update?

Dilan says:

So if an app puts out an ios 6 capability update I have to pay for that?
No that is not how it's going to be. Free updates our best.

wow says:

The biggest fail by apple. Instead of using standard screen ratios they used their own. Which is now their problem. To keep the "retina" display they need to double the pixels. It took them till now to do this for the iPad. So.increasing the iPhones screen will create a new screen to code for. Fragmentation. One world apple hates. So I dint expect a bigger screen to ever happen. Also they need a revolutionary thing every year. Look at the iPad. Within a week the hype died off. Not a mediocre redesign.

wormeyman says:

4:3 is a standard screen ratio?

wow says:

To me its funny how 3.5 inch ip4 is 326 pdi. While the galaxy nexus is 4.7 inch and has 319pdi with a full 720p HD screen.

raremage says:

Ha ha, yeah, hah, that's....wait, why is that funny?
Regarding upgrades, if you actually read the article, Rene clearly states the upgrade question is for major upgrades, not dot releases. "We’re not talking about bug fixes or even minor feature enhancements either. Not 1.0.1 or even 1.1. We’re talking about major new versions of software, like 2.0, 3.0, etc. Software that takes time and incurs costs to develop."

chrishannah says:

I personally dont think they should change the screen size because im a develpoer and it would mean changing a lot of stuff, plus Apple are against having different devices with different spec to code for coughAndroidcough. But they wouldnt just announce a 4 inch screen with a different ratio as the apps wouldnt look as good.
Also, I dont think Apple will just keep the resolution as they dont go for the easy option.
But I think if they do make it bigger, it will be done right.

Ace says:

Horrible analogies. "It’s like your boss telling you he’s not paying you for work you did today because he already paid you for it yesterday"?? When a gaming company sells a game do they expect to keep making money on that game from that single customer? No. They know they'll make more money in the form of return business on other titles and word of mouth. And "Just because I paid to see Batman Begins doesn’t mean I’ll be let into Dark Knight Rises for free". Those are different movies, not upgrades. If the movie studio said "there's a few scenes we want to add to the movie, but it's going to cost you", a majority of the people would rather do without. They would not, however, have a problem with paying to see Spiderman 1, and then paying to see Spiderman 2 & 3 down the road

pkcable says:

Is that a playoff beard on your face Rene? Go Flyers Go! I'm sporting a similar beard myself. (Just as much grey in it too!)

gadillon says:

Hope you feel better soon.

csimpkins says:

I keep seeing mockups of iOS devices where the screen extends to the edge of the case and there's no bezel. I don't want that. When I grip my phone, my fingers overlap that area slightly. I don't want my grip registering touch events. That effect would be even more pronounced on an iPad.

pkcable says:

DAMN and I liked that mock up until you said that! But you are right, that sure could be an issue.

FlopTech says:

Re: "It will take a long time for a critical enough mass of Windows users, especially traditionalists, to shift off iTunes and onto iCloud."
So Apple could just let the Windows users wallow in the past. Break the Mac version of iTunes up into smaller, better-focused apps and leave the Windows version as a giant behemoth. "No compromises."

wormeyman says:

iMore forums app in the screen shot! Do i win a prize for finding the easter egg?

Wes says:

One thing I wouldn't want to see is, if developers started charging for upgrades, is the developers making small bug fixes into "major upgrades" just to get more money from the consumers. I am not paying money for a bug fix that is labeled as an upgrade from 1.x to 2.0

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