Monthly Archives: September 2016

Nice to see some data that confirms assumptions about how well the iPhone SE is doing. Top 3 in the United States: iPhone 6S at 11%, Galaxy S7 at 9%, and SE at 5%.

→ 2016/09/06 3:46 pm

Paying for iCloud storage

Dan Moren had an article at Macworld last week about the price for iCloud storage. Most iPhone users quickly run out of space for a backup, but they don’t use iTunes either because iCloud is just much simpler:

Apple’s philosophy is about making its products seamless and easy to use. Encouraging people to use iCloud backup is, in most cases, smoother and simpler than having to back-up to a computer.

It was 5 years ago that Steve Jobs introduced iCloud and talked about demoting the computer from the central hub:

Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy. So, we’ve got a great solution for this problem. And we think this solution is our next big insight, which is we’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. Just like an iPhone, an iPad, or an iPod Touch. And we’re going to move the digital hub — the center of your digital life — into the cloud.

I use iCloud backup exclusively, with only the occasional manual iTunes backup when I know I’m going to immediately restore from it, such as when upgrading to a new iPhone. I expect most new iPhone users rarely sync with iTunes, relegating iTunes to a playback app for their iTunes rentals and Apple Music subscription, but not much else.

That’s certainly the case for my family, at least. After some lost photos recently, I told the kids I would bump their allowance by $1 to cover everyone having at least 50 GB of iCloud storage. No more excuses.

Maybe it should be free, as Dan Moren argues above. Or maybe Apple could encourage upgrades by bundling extra iCloud storage with Apple Music and other popular services. But even today, at 99 cents, it’s a small price to pay for cloud backup that you never have to think about.

Long vs. pure App Store names

David Smith has an analysis of long names in the App Store, as developers try to understand the scope of Apple’s upcoming cleanup changes. Don’t miss the text file of 255-character names he found, which are all ridiculous. I’d laugh if this kind of gaming of the store didn’t make me sad.

I’ve always thought that the title shown in the App Store should be the actual app name. Keyword spamming is clearly bad, but I personally don’t like even tag lines in the name. Of the 4 apps from my company Riverfold that have been in the App Store, the names in the store all exactly match what is shown on your home screen:

  • Sunlit
  • Tweet Library
  • Clipstart
  • Watermark Mobile

Maybe my sales suffered because of my refusal to add more words after the real name, but to me, these names are pure and gimmick-free. I don’t want my customers subjected to a truncated mess of words even before they use my app.

If tag lines and brief descriptions in the App Store name are so common (and they are), then Apple should complement the new 50-character limit by having a separate 1-line description field in search results. This was discussed on the latest episode of Release Notes. My worry is that Apple attempts to fight problems with new policy alone instead of also encouraging the right behavior with App Store features.

App Store cleanup

I’m in favor of Apple’s upcoming app store cleanup, as long as they err on the side of keeping an app in the store if it isn’t clearly broken or abandoned. They should start slow with the obvious cases: crashing on launch, not updated for retina or even 4-inch screens. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit that could be programmatically swept through.

David Smith wrote about this kind of App Store cleanup over 3 years ago, arguing that Apple could do a lot without getting into the subjective quality of an app:

Instead, I think Apple would be well served to adopt objective measures for quality or at least freshness to improve the overall quality of the Store. Adopting such a policy wouldn’t fundamentally change the situation for developers; every app they submit already has to be approved. All that this would do is apply some of those same required criteria to the app on an ongoing basis.

John Voorhees picked up on the urgency of Apple’s new policy for an article at MacStories:

We are well past the time when the number of apps served as meaningful bragging rights for Apple keynotes. The directness in tone and relatively short time frame given to developers to make changes to apps sends a clear message – Apple is serious about cleaning up the App Store.

It remains a challenge to preserve the part of our culture that is captured in old apps. I wish Apple could aggressively curate the App Store and allow old apps to be archived and available. But that’s far from an Apple priority. For now, it’s right to present the best possible user experience for App Store customers.

Core Intuition 248

This week on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked about recent Apple news:

Daniel and Manton react to the European Union’s €13B retroactive tax demand to Apple, talk about the impact of tax laws on indies and small companies, and weigh in on Apple’s purported AI and machine learning triumphs. Finally they catch up on their ambitions to be more productive as the busy summer transitions to fall.

I wondered whether Apple is so obsessed with privacy that they are blinded to what is possible with more computation and extensibility in the cloud. I judge their efforts not only by the remarkable work the Siri team has done, and by what Google and Amazon are building, but also by Apple’s own gold standard: the Knowledge Navigator video from 1987. That vision is too ambitious for one company to develop all the pieces for. We eventually need a more open Siri platform to get us there.