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Greg’s Bite, The inevitable iOS app shakeout

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As the iOS Platform matures, app categories are due to mature as users get more particular with what they download. One of those categories already in decline is the specialized news channel app.  

Most every local TV channel and newspaper has attempted to enter the fray with a specialized iOS app for accessing their content. The problem is that iOS users are becoming jaded with such narrowly focused apps.  

While this has been a bonanza for app developers, the bottom line is that browsing the Internet to check the news is good enough for most of us. The novelty of specialized single web site apps wears thin after a while. I typically access 20 to 30 news web sites a day. Do I really want to have 20 to 30 different news apps on my iPad? Launching and shutting down that many apps just to read the day’s news isn’t going to happen. When I moved to the new iPad I junked a bunch of apps that were just using up memory.

Since web browsers tattle on users when they access web sites as to the device being iOS, the web site automatically redirects you to a “mobile” version of the web site. This is commonly a dumbed-down version of the normal web site with fewer stories and graphics. Not what us Retinal display owners want to see.  

Even worse are the redirects that force you to download the app just to view content in the main site. ABC News was an early adopter of iOS apps that were, a couple of years ago, cutting edge. The rotating global 3D button thing was sort of interesting for a week or so, but I threw it away since I preferred the normal browsing experience.  

Alas, now when you go to ABC News on an iOS device you enter a box canyon dead end where you are invited to download an app with no apparent link to get around the app offer page to access the main news content you wanted to see. The Internet is about expansive access to content, not a dumbed-down experience where you are actually blocked if you refuse to download an app.

While the count on iOS apps continues to grow, the dead wood of apps that are not downloaded very often or never used will tend to create a morass of apps where the iOS jewels will be drowning in a sea of crap. My daughter downloads tons of game apps that she uses once and grows tired of. They just sit on her iPad but end up on mine as well, since we share an iTunes account.  “Whack a mole” is clever but do I want it on my iPad?

Above all, successful iOS apps need to be well thought out and useful, not just a worthless app that uses up memory. The statistics for apps that are downloaded but seldom used is surpassingly high. I think roughly a third of the apps on my iPad have never been opened — or opened just once or twice — and I thinned them out!  I tend to be more selective about which apps I download now.  

I think as time goes on the apps that survive will be unique, well developed and actually needed for a real world task. What is not going to happen is that users download 20 apps to access 20 news web sites that they can already see on their web browser.   

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