apple

Some thoughts on the Apple App Store, and App Store quality, as a developer, as a consumer, and a parent

There have been a lot or articles around the App Store, and App Store quality, in the last few weeks, and I’ve had some frustrating interactions myself, but John Gruber’s article below hit home the most, maybe Apple should spent more time using their muscle policing the quality in the App Store, and the end users experience rather than their bottom line.

Daring Fireball: A Moment of Clarity Regarding the Raison d’Etre for the App Store:

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.

The quick summary of John’s article is that that Google’s gmail app for iPad could have had split screen (good for more productive work on the iPad, eg email on one side of the screen, another app on the other) 5 years ago, but it didn’t, yet this app is one of the most downloaded, most used iPad apps on the platform. Should Apple not be policing these top tier apps, the most used / downloaded, however you chose to measure it and pushing them to be better, more features, a better user experience, after all there are many, many users who will benefit.

Gmail split view 0

In complete contrast, I’m at the final stages of a cross platform, open source, demo app (don’t tell Apple!) it has very little functionality, a simple utility, that’s free, who’s reason for existence at my end is a technical one, to show how this cross platform code can develop the same utility on iOS, Android, Mac and windows desktop (for starters). It’ll be on Github and an example for others to build on. It got rejected by Apple for not having enough features, they even openly admitted that it’s not for them to define the functionality of the app, except they were, and they did! (Not a biggy, I’m just putting some of the version 2 ideas I had in now). My point however, is if apple can dictate quality, and functionality to little old me, in an app that will affect approximately 20 people on the planet, why can’t they do the same for an app that’s offering a poor experience to millions? Because it involves butting heads with Google 🤔

On a similar note, in terms of improving the end user experience, Gems, game drugs as I call them, the concept of In App Purchases for games, marketed at kids, who just, want, want, want. I hate them. This caused tears in my household this weekend, all thanks to the need to buy gems to progress further in a game (there’s no method to earn progress, you have to buy it). Now we use parental controls, so my daughter has to request in app purchases, and most of the time we say no and suggest Apple Arcade which we also pay for (something created by Apple because they can see the problem these games create), as it has no IAP, no gems, just good quality games. On this occasion, as a treat I said yes, the next day she requested again, so we had a conversation about how this wasn’t going to be a habit, and I said no, the first time was a one off. A few hours later she came to see me, all excited, she’d found a YouTube video that ‘showed’ how if you download this other app you would get free gems to the former – so clearly the need for gems was on her mind and she’d been off looking. Of course this won’t work, at least not in the way she thinks, and just perpetuates the problem more, another app, with adverts (which is how their short attention spans find these in the first place) probably asking for gems itself, and so the cycle continues. So I had to sit down and explain to her, that this was not what my poor trusting daughter thought it was, the offer of free gems was not true, it was just a lure, and of course that she couldn’t have her gems, and her world was broken, cue tears, and me, an angry helpless parent 😢

Unknown

I need to spend more time in Apple Arcade with the kids, I’ll admit that, but the games are almost too big, too good, the kids don’t invest time in mobile games – not like PC or console – they like quick pick up, put down games I’m open to any recommendations, as a big kid I enjoy the odd game too), and obviously indifferent to quality! Apple Arcade games are more traditional, and for what ever reason they aren’t appealing to my kids – I really think Apple need to refocus on this, but of course will they? The cynic in me thinks they like their 30% cut on gems, game drugs, and aren’t motivated to fix that.

So back to the premise, if Apple are going to preach, quality control on their App Store then do so, do it well, and be dictate it, and be consistent. But don’t pretend, that’s almost worse than letting things become a dumping ground like the Google Play store can be, at least you know where the bar is there, and protect accordingly. People want App Store quality, so please give it to us, and as a developer I’ll work with you to hit those standards.

Rant over.

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

Some thoughts on this weeks Apple Developer conference – WWDC 2020

Today sees the conclusion of the annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (aka WWDC 2020), and I just wanted to offer a few thoughts and highlights as to what’s been announced, what we can expect, and what it means to me and my clients.

First off it was a highly polished and professional keynote, as you would expect from Apple, but more so considering much of the events charm is in the atmosphere of a full auditorium of developers, something not possible this year for obvious reasons.

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Apple Mac and the move to ARM

The big announcement, and worst kept secret, was that going forward new Apple Mac products (iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro etc) will be running Apple Silicone (ARM based processors – like the iPhone and iPad), a move away from the current Intel (x86 – like most Windows PC’s and Laptops use) chips. At a technical level this is massive for developers, but Apple have made as easy a pathway as possible, where it does become interesting though as this means there will be the ability for iPhone apps to run, out of the box on new Apple hardware. This means there will be a lot more apps available for the Mac instantly, but also a dilemma for developers and clients considering a Mac presence, to you optimise the Mac app as you have always done before, or make do with your iPhone app working on the Mac even if the experience is not idea?

Mac OS Big Sur as it’s named got a visual overall too, looking very similar to the iPad it has to be said – time will tell on that one I think

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iPhone and iPad

Even though technically iOS and iPad OS are separate things now, I’ll tag them together under the iOS 14 banner. I’m already running this in Beta, and so far it looks very pretty, stable, and a decent step forward, highlights include;

– Widgets on the home screens
– Upgraded Messages app (Pinned conversations, mentions etc)
– Offline translation
– App clips – Mini apps you don’t have to install / login and just use once, eg car parking apps
– Improved privacy notifications in Safari
– Scribbles – Handwriting recognition from the Apple Pencil to enter small amounts of text / search etc

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Apple Watch

No real headline grabbers here, Watch OS 7 is just everything a little bigger and better than before, new workouts, watch faces, emoji (of course!), sleep tracking, and make sure you wash your hands properly!

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Overall there’s a lot to work through, for many it’s, just an iterative year, for developers a little more exciting, but if you’d like to know more about Apple, WWDC 2020, or you are considering getting an App developed for any of the Apple platforms then I’d love to hear from you.

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

How to fix the ‘This app is no longer shared with you’ error

There seems to be a surge of people reporting the ‘This app is no longer shared with you’ message when they open apps on iOS devices. Not sure why, our suspicion is that it’s a server side bug in and around family sharing, but that’s not confirmed.

Deleting the app and reinstalling will work, but you will potentially lose any data that’s stored locally, so our recommendation is to ‘offloads the app. This was introduced as a means to save space on your device by temporarily removing apps that you rarely use, but not losing any data or settings.

So whilst it’s a pain you can offload the app and then immediately restore it to fix this bug, full instructions are over at https://www.idownloadblog…

If this helped you fix the ‘This app is no longer shared with you’ error on your iPhone then would appreciate the share, if you have any other updates or solutions then please hit up the comments and we’ll update the article.

Updating Apps that Use Web Views – Are you affected?

Updating Apps that Use Web Views – News – Apple Developer:

If your app still embeds web content using the deprecated UIWebView API, we strongly encourage you to update to WKWebView as soon as possible for improved security and reliability. WKWebView ensures that compromised web content doesn’t affect the rest of an app by limiting web processing to the app’s web view. And it’s supported in iOS and macOS, and by Mac Catalyst.
The App Store will no longer accept new apps using UIWebView as of April 2020 and app updates using UIWebView as of December 2020.

In layman terms if your app loads content from the web, eg a webpage or a web application then this could affect you. For Xyroh clients, especially those based on Xamarin forms this should’t be a problem as they already use WkWebView.

Worst affected will be those who have stale apps, or aren’t being regularly supported by the original developers – in those cases please get in touch, we can do an analysis of the original source code, let you know if affected, cost to fix and support going forward, and the side effects of doing nothing – basically let you make an informed decision.

Andy Flisher is a Software Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.