There was the era of the PC application. There was the era of the iPhone app. The changing pace of technology means that things will be superseded at a faster rate and the new era is upon us – bots. Yep, bots. Now, I'll leave the whole bot argument for another day and the nonsensical idea that Apple has already lost the bot war. Let's talk about apps.
Not another weather app
Every so often, a developer will call to ask advice. I don't code (even though apparently that's an essential skill for everyone to know, right up there with reading and writing, but that's also a subject for another day). So, usually the advice sought is, "How do I become more relevant in the App Store to get my app noticed and on the front page?" Actually the question really asked is, "Can you get me in front of of Phi Schiller and Eddy Cue so I can show them my app? Alternatively, it would be OK if you would just show them the app yourself," (Sigh, you're not getting a meeting with Eddy and Phil, or Tim for that matter, through me. If I even tried to do that, I would never be able to get a meeting with one of them). I then ask what the app is. The answer usually is, "It's the coolest, best weather app ever," (sigh again). I try to explain that even if it's the coolest weather app ever, the best of the best, it's also the 4,790th weather app, and the odds of it being seen by anyone other than family, friends, and me are about the same as you getting a meeting with Eddy, and Phil.
Too many apps spoil the broth
Therein lies the issue. The age of apps is far from over. Every week there are amazing new apps that push the boundaries of iOS. Apps that unlock the potential of 3D Touch. Apps that unleash the power of accessories such as Pencil. Apps that take advantage of the power of Metal.
Then, there are the other apps. Another new weather app. Another run, and jump game. And, my favorite: Another game that tries to be fun and retro by using 8-bit graphics. Really? I have a device in my pocket that delivers better-than arcade graphics and speed, and you're so lazy that you're using mediocre graphics and gameplay that goes back to the original NES. It also doesn't play as well, doesn't even looks as nice, and frankly isn't any fun.
The age of bad apps is over
There's no easy solution. Some say the issue is about discovery and search. Perhaps – and Apple is offering some solutions for that issue. I think it's a different problem. There are too many "me too" apps that no one will ever care about. This is a problem Apple can't solve. In theory, Apple could just dash dreams and say no more weather apps will be allowed. Of course, that might stifle innovation of new weather apps that no one will notice, care about, or buy. Apple can't do that.
It's not that apps aren't still the major force in this generation of computing. It's just that there are a lot of bad apps glutting the market and making the whole ecosystem look tired … And making things like bots look interesting. The age of apps is far from over, the age of bad apps is.
Look for some examples of the apps that are amazing and could only exist on iOS (or perhaps eventually be ported to Android). If you're a developer who thinks your app is one that's worthy of discussion drop me a line. Unless you've got a weather app – in which case, you're out in the rain.