Posts Tagged App Store

the unexpected genius of iPad

[sorry but i went back and changed the original content. Was a bit on the rambling side]

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you know how big of a success the iPad has been. Actually a calculation that I recently did tends to suggest that the iPad sales mover almost exactly like what the iPhone used to be for the first so many quarters only on a higher scale. All that aside, I think that the genius of the iPad is in providing a very minimalistic interface (3 buttons 2 of which control the volume) and basically allowing you to live out your childhood dreams. Anyone that has ever used a computer know the frustration of having to use a mouse. Sometimes you just want to grab things on the screen and move them. Well tablets give you exactly that ability and with iOS you actually have only controls that ARE designed for finger gestures (of the nice kind). But I’ll write about that some other time.

So you know how people have been talking about digital versions of things replacing the analog/physical ones? It never really happened did it? Applications help you do things faster but only after a paradigm shift i.e. there is a learning curve. iPhone and iOS in general gave  us software with almost horizontal learning curve. You didn’t even need to know how to use a computer to achieve that. Actually you would love the iPad/iPhone if you have never seen a computer. It has a very natural and almost child like approach to controls and that is the beauty of it. But what the iPad has is a large enough screen so that you actually don’t feel a need to use a computer. Ok it was not like that until recently but now that 4.2 is out you really have a self sustained computing device. And yet the device is so simple and so flexible. And that’s exactly where the appeal lies. You get a digital tub of putty, and you can create anything you like from it (provided that you have the skills). The screen is large enough so that you can actually create large interfaces and you don’t need a lot of tricks to get things to feel natural. Yes the iPad is an ebook reader but 3rd party developers have made it into so much more that that. You have digital guitar effects, drawing boards, information management and so many other things. And yes iPad cannot do everything! But what it did do and will keep doing is it makes computer usage fun and enjoyable. And it does so in a very life enriching manner. I supposed the iPad is a simple enough device yet the SDK is easy enough that you get an amazing combination.

So talking about digital substitutes of physical ones, there is this game Settlers of Catan (yeah I know it’s old news). Problem is the board version cost about £15 on Amazon and then you pay even more for each expansion. If you buy one board game in your life (for use with your family or friends) this is the one to get. It is a tat bit harder than monopoly but a lot more fun. It’s been available for iPhone for a while now and trust me it is a lot of fun even when you play against the computer. So I though I’d check if they have it for iPad. Just imagine this, you have an actual digital board game. Yeah sure, the size of the board is about 10″ but the cost is less than a 1/3 of the board game, the size of the game is … well virtually 0 and the cool factor is huge. Anyway if you have an iPad that you think was not the best investment because you do not use it enough do yourself a favour, buy Catan HD. Your whole family will love it!

It is unbelievable but a computer can actually create a social experience. This reminds me very much of what Nintendo’s party games used to do and is quite unexpected because the purpose of iPad was to provide a personal experience …

A word of caution, the game is only available in the US and UK app stores.


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On OS X App Store

TUAW has contacted several developers for comments on the new App Store and the replies are quite interesting. It is worth mentioning that all of the contacted developers are small and their products while good are not something that everyone will have. So in a way those are exactly the developers that should benefit from the App Store exposure. Only while Apple did not say anything about the problems of the App Store as a market place, a lot of the developers seem to be very aware of some of the major issues. There is a mention of the demo problem, the approval time, the fact that you are putting yourself in Apple’s hands and you are trusting them with the distribution of livelihood, the possibility of having to maintain two separate version of the program, etc.

There is a mention of the fact that desktop software is indeed a lot more complicated than a one trick pony app for an iPhone which is basically why the practice of demo versions exist. Also desktop software tends to cost folds more than apps and I believe that Apple would find it very hard convincing people to part with their money given the current very limited state of the store. You will either have to allow upload of screen casts for what the software would do and/or a sample user guide or simply allow demo version of the software or refunds. There is simply no way around it if Apple wants to be kept in the loop. Also it seems very much un-Apple to not listen to their developers.

But then again adding features to the App Store is relatively easy if Apple should choose so. The recent addition of search suggestions happened pretty much overnight from a user perspective. So I’m hoping that Apple will get their act together and really listen to their users this time around and do so before the release of Lion.

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