10 Apple App Store Problems That Need Fixing Now
10 Apple App Store Problems That Need Fixing Now
by Don Reisinger
The Enterprise Needs Better Support
Admittedly, the iPhone isnt designed for business customers. Although Apple has made significant strides over the past couple years at making the smartphone more business-friendly, it has a long way to go. That is especially true when it comes to business apps. Currently, viable, enterprise-focused applications are few and far between in the App Store. There are certainly some apps that work well for corporate customers, but given that there are hundreds of thousands of programs in the store, one would think that more than, say, 50 apps would be extremely useful to a business person. Apple should work a little harder to bring enterprise-friendly apps to its store.
Search Is Abysmal
One of the biggest issues with having so many apps available is that it becomes unwieldy when trying to find specific programs. Thats why a good, solid search function must find its way to Apples App Store. Right now, the iTunes-based search is quite poor, and typically makes it far too difficult to find apps. The search function on the iPhone is even worse. If Apple wants to see its App Store grow, it must help consumers find the apps they want. And only a better search function will achieve that.
It's Tough to Use on an iPhone
The App Store app built into iOS is unwieldy when using it on the iPhone. Not only is it difficult to find apps quickly, but Apple almost forces customers to view the most-downloaded apps to the detriment of all the other programs that users might like. And since an iPhone is designed for quick access to content for people that are on-the-go, most folks dont have time to sift through hundreds of programs just to find the one theyre looking for. Its unfortunate, and its probably hurting Apple, considering a more robust App Store on the iPhone would likely cause users to download more apps.
More Categories, Please
Currently, Apple offers very few categories for apps, given the breadth of programs available in iOS. For example, the companys Utilities category is a catch-all for just about anything that doesnt fit into the more basic categories, like entertainment or social networking. Thats a problem. Part of the value of the categories in the App Store is that it allows users to find programs that they might have otherwise missed by going to the list of the most downloaded programs in the store. The more categories available, the easier it would be for users to find the content they really desire. Hopefully in the next version of Apples App Store, the company sees value in adding more categories.
Too Many Games
Its quickly becoming clear that the iPhone is going to be a major challenger in the portable-gaming space to products like the Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. After all, the companys App Store is dominated by games, and as more developers start making titles for the iPhone, they will likely choose games, given how successful theyve been. In fact, the majority of the most downloaded titles in the App Store, as of this writing, are games. For most business customers and those that simply want to do more on their iPhone than play a game, thats a problem. The value of the App Store is that it extends the functionality of the smartphone or tablet. Games wont necessarily do that. Hopefully developers will branch out and start making more productive apps in the future.
Although Apple has said that its chief concern with iPhone data is that its kept secure, there are real concerns over the possibility of security problems erupting on iOS. The reason why is simple: getting through Apples approval process is becoming easier by the day. And with the right strategy, a malicious hacker could conceivably wreak havoc on the iPhones installed base. Realizing that, Apple should be careful to keep apps away from important on-board data. It might be nice to have an app send a text message, but if it goes rogue and sends a text to a persons entire contact list containing a malicious link, the allure of such a feature will quickly wear off. Security is a concern on any mobile platform. And with more and more apps coming to the App Store, it will likely become a bigger concern for Apple.
Apples approval policies have been panned by developers, technology critics, and even consumers that want to be able to run the many apps that the company has kept out of its App Store. It goes beyond that. The company has also come under fire for the lack of communication it has with developers. Such draconian policies are making Apple and its App Store look bad. And its about time the company starts working towards fixing those problems. The App Store could be the most valuable service Apple provides. If it continues to annoy consumers and ostracize developers, it could put all that at risk.
Developer Excitement Running Rampant
Unfortunately, with success comes several issues. For Apples App Store, it means that developers are simply creating as many applications as possible for the sake of profit. All the while, far too many programs just dont live up to the level of usability that consumers are expecting. As much as Apple likes to tout that there are hundreds of thousands of applications in its App Store, the company should instead highlight a list of programs that are actually viable. On far too many occasions, users download apps, only to find out that theyre either useless, dont work, or are downright awful. Just because a developer is capable of creating an application, it doesnt mean that they actually should. Its time Apple makes that clear.
The Haves and Have Nots
The App Store tells the story of haves and have nots. As any iPhone owner knows, there are a few hundred wildly popular apps that continue to take the top spots in downloads. Meanwhile, all the programs that dont make it into that list are barely noticed by the vast majority of users that only browse the most popular applications. Only when an app is new, or it gets some good press, is it able to make the leap from obscurity to popularity. Thats rather unfortunate. Those that venture into unknown territories will find that there are several really neat applications that arent in the top 100 list that do a better job of getting a job done than some of the programs in the most-popular list. Apple should find a way to bring those neat apps to the forefront for more people to see them.
Currently, iPad development is in full swing. More and more developers are finding reason to create programs for Apples tablet. But the problem is there are still far too few useful iPad apps available. And although every iPhone program will work with the tablet, its extremely annoying to look at a big screen thats mostly blank because a small portion of it is displaying the application. Hopefully Apple will be able to push developers to ramp up their iPad support. The longer it takes, the worse it will be for iPad owners.