Jobs Speaks About App Store

A few posts back we got into a few App Store early growing pains/gripes, including that some less-scrupulous -- or more marketing-savvy, depending on your point of view -- developers were prepending spaces and symbols to their App names in order to get them to sort higher in the alphabetical listings. Well according to MacUser (via Ars), seems like Apple called shenanigans on that one and has put an end to the practice.

Visiting the App Store now, I see that Jirbo’s titles, as well as quite a few others, still have a space in front of them, but are simply alphabetized by the following letter.

Nicely done. Would that all App Store problems were so easily solved...

We likewise mentioned that one of the big problems with the App Store, given its locked-down distribution method and gagging NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) was that it effectively prevented developers from doing proper betas, collecting crash or other bug data, and testing fixes. That is if, unlike Iliumsoft, you can even get your App into the Store!:

Wow. If you think waiting for eWallet is painful out there, try being in here. We were really fired up for the big launch and now we’re just pulling our hair out wondering what is happening (and if you’ve seen pictures of me, additional hair removal is a serious problem in my case.) We were told that the app would appear by the 11th, talked to “thrice-removed from the actual AppStore” support personnel, emailed every person we can think of, and stared endlessly at the status screen willing it to change. Still, nothing.

Twitteriffic's Craig Hockenberry (unsurprisingly via Twitter) posts that the length of time it takes Apple to push out updated Apps can lead to buggy versions still being downloaded even after they're fixed:

A few minutes ago, the first line of the Fit description was "* THIS VERSION OF FIT HAS SHIPPED WITH A CRASHING BUG *" The next line was: "We have uploaded a fix in version 1.01, but Apple has not deployed the update to the App Store at this time."

What's more, the Review feature in iTunes for the App Store has become a vehicle for more than just reviews, with some apps getting literally flamed for dozens of posts (e.g. BoxOffice getting blasted in post after post by irate Canadians for only providing US Zipcode support, nothing international). Others just get nonsense. Again, via Hockenberry:

Another fine review: "Make sure you have this app when you're digging your bomb shelter or spying on your neighbors' subversive activities." This is a real shame: it could be a wonderful way to collect ideas and feedback. Instead, it's just frustrating. One can only hope that someone at Apple eventually figures out that software is not music. I've never had an MP3 crash or lack features. Flagging the reviews as inappropriate seems to have no effect.

Some developers have gone so far as to suggest a mass boycott from App Store (reportedly they can withdraw and terminate the distribution agreement at any time) as a way to get Apple's attention. (Because, of course, Steve Jobs has always been easily swayed, right?)

Especially if, according to Tech Crunch, for-pay apps are increasing in popularity on the App Store. We hands out our money, we wants our awesome user experience.

Hopefully Apple will respond quickly and improve the system for both users and developers alike. Proper beta and QA, never mind a system for demos, would go a long way towards making better Apps all around.