[FoRK] "Complain Different" - a different take on why the App Store isn't perfect

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Mon Jun 7 12:43:46 PDT 2010

Okay, so Steve throws down the gauntlet a little earlier this afternoon and says, basically, "enough with the complaining about the App Store."

Here's my problem.  Most of the complaints center around the politics of the app store:  the approval process, the ToCs around the SDK, etc. etc.  Steve makes a good point:  they've created a fantastic distribution channel for app developers who buy into their platform.  100M devices on some variant of the platform, less than three years after launch.  New ways to make money (in-app ads, in-app purchases and upgrades, etc.)  Yeah, it's all great.  If you say so.

But one very real problem is:  the App Store user experience is rather tee-djus for end-users.  Seriously.  It's all flash (no pun intended) but rather tedious to use.  Here are just a few nits about it;  remedy these, Steve, and rule the planet.  The Amazon of bits, indeed:

  - navigation sucks.  lots required, low information density, not even wrap-scroll when navigating
  - poor separation / targeting of which platform you want to look at software for
  - no wishlist (really?  c'mon)
  - no bookmarking, user annotation, "check this out later," etc.
  - the side-scrolling screenshots area is awkward 
  - poor "community" support.  No user lists, etc.  Learn from Amazon.  Cluetrain, etc.
  - personalized recommendations.
  - no complex queries, no saved queries, etc.  
  - during a *single* session in the App Store, I may have to authenticate multiple times.  Bad.

Similar problems afflict iBook, as mentioned before:  doesn't scale well to lots of content.  Really, ALL of your stuff is now having trouble handling the massive *numbers* of distinct titles you've amassed in each of your key content types, or expose through each little content-type-specific app silo.

A little focus on fundamental usability would be nice.  

And for xsakes, unify all this crap.  Why not?  Get the filtering and progressive disclosure and navigability right and there's NO benefit (indeed, negative benefit) to balkanizing these things.  Amazon sells everything from adhesive rubber sheets to books to 65" LED TVs (and onward) through, essentially, the same interface.  The interface isn't perfect and it's certainly not as interactive and lickable and polished and all that Apple jazz you guys love but --- it's usable.  Why can't you guys do a little work in this direction?

Just my $0.02,


PS - Mac App Store.  Either make it official that the Mac is dead, or do the App Store thing.  Really.  Would be a huge boost to developers for THAT platform, if you still care.  C'mon.

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