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A Moment of Clarity Regarding the Raison d'Etre for the App Store

Published by Slashdot on Fri, 10 Jul 2020


John Gruber, writing at DaringFireball: Feel free to file Google's release this week of an update to their iPad Gmail app with support for split-screen multitasking under "better late than never," but this is so late it borders on the absurd. It's like the difference between showing up fashionably late and showing up a week after the party. Split-screen multitasking was introduced for the iPad back in 2015 with iOS 9. Five years to add support for a foundational element of the iPad user experience. And an email client is near the top of the list of the type of apps where someone would want to use split-screen. Five years. Google makes a lot of software with terrible user experiences for users who have poor taste. Their iOS software, in particular, has for the most part never suggested that it was designed by people who like -- ;or even use -- iOS. It's the blind leading the blind. But yet the Gmail app is currently the number one free app in the Productivity category in the App Store. On the surface, it's tempting to blow this off. To each their own. Whatever floats their boat. Who cares if millions of iPad users are satisfied using an email client that is a poor iPad app, so long as actual good iPad email clients are available to those who do care' But what about those stuck using the Gmail app not because they want to, but because they have to' Who can help them but Apple' I worry that it's not tenable in the long run to expect Apple to continue striving to create well-crafted -- let alone insanely great -- software when so many of its users not only settle for, but perhaps even prefer, software that is, to put it kindly, garbage. There have always been popular Mac and iPhone apps that are objectively terrible apps -- where by "popular" I mean much-used, not much-loved. But what made Apple users Apple users is that they complained vociferously if they had to use a terrible app. Word 6 was a sack of dog shit Microsoft dropped off and set aflame on Mac users' porch, but we all knew it was a flaming bag of dog shit, and even those of us who didn't even use Word were angry about it because it was an insult. I worry that this sort of "Who cares, it's better than nothing" attitude has seeped into Apple itself, and explains how we wound up with barely modified iPad apps shipping as system apps on the Mac. But more than anything I worry that this exemplifies where Apple has lost its way with the App Store. What exactly is the point of running a strict approval process for apps if not, first and foremost, to ensure that they're good apps' An iPad email app that doesn't support split-screen multitasking for five years is, by definition, not a good app. I'd like to see all the vim, vigor, and vigilance Apple applies to making sure no app on the App Store is making a dime without Apple getting three cents applied instead to making sure there aren't any scams or ripoffs, and that popular apps support good-citizen-of-the-platform features within a reasonable amount of time after those features are introduced in the OS. I don't know exactly how long "reasonable" is, but five fucking years for split-screen support ain't it.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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