Jul 29, 2014

Stop the Rot: Some thoughts on Mobile App Development

iPhone iPad picture

There are a number of stories (linked at the end of this post) this week lamenting the constantly shrinking revenue from developing mobile apps. It was just a few years ago when the Apple App store opened to great fanfare and a mass rush for “easy” money. In those days, there were seemingly abundent stories about developers creating a great app and pocketing big money.

Oh how things have changed. Jared Sinclair posted a story on how his excellcent new app “Unread” only pulled in about $32k in revenue to date. Not really enough money to justify the time and money he put into the app. There seems to be a very very small percentage of apps that make decent money (6% Android and 11% iOS). According to the TechCrunch story the majority of developers make less than $6000 a year. Hardly enough to pay the rent in the US and Europe.

So why should we care? Why is this a problem for Apple and Google? Because if developers can’t make money at it, there won’t be any apps for these wonderful smart phone and tablet devices. When a new version of iOS or Android comes out, most of the apps on the store will no longer be updated or maintained by their developers. This will further exacerbate the problem of all the crapware, cheaps copies, and general cruft that is making the app store itself less usable.

So what should be done? I have a few possible ideas that might help.

  • Encourage apps to be sold with a recurring fee Instead of paying $1 one time only. What about $10 or $20 a year recurring. Allow consumers to buy in to an application to support its future development. It seems to work for a lot of small web sites out there.
  • Make paid upgrades possible This goes along with my last bullet. Right now, upgrading an app on the app store is a pain. You have to create a new app with a new name and number to create an “upgrade”. This creates a lot of confusion when potential customers search for your application. Paid upgrades were how the software business made their money in the 1980s and 1990s. It only seems reasonable since we only pay $1 to $5 for an app anyway. I would hardly begrudge a developer $5 every year or two.
  • Remove Rip-off Apps and Junk For example, let’s say I create an app called Baconator. It rates different kinds of bacon on flavor. If I post this app to the Apple app store in a few months there will be a “Baconator Pro” and “Supreme Baconator” rip off copy of the application. This sort of nonsense should not be allowed. But you can see it all the time on the iOS app store. Plus there are also a lot of dead apps just sitting out there. Some of this stuff needs to be pruned.
  • Reduce App Store Cut. I’m sorry, but 30% is WAY too much money for providing such a service. Certainly Apple and Google need to be able to cover their costs and make some money. However, I doubt that a 30% cut is required to do so.
  • Improve the App Store UI and Search The Apple App store has to have the WORST search features available for any modern store. Plus, you still have to go through some custom app to get to it. Why are we still using iTunes on the desktop to shop for anything??? Apple, update your software and make your store available on the web. Please. iTunes should be a music and media player period.

Well that is my $0.02 for today. Here are the articles with a lot more facts and details on the subject.

Stories Referenced for this Post

Jul 28, 2014

Lucy Quick Review (2.5/5)

Well I saw Lucy on the weekend so here is my quick review. The story is just what you see in the previews, an exchange student in Taiwan stumbles into a dangerous situation with drug dealers. They force her to become a drug mule and put a packet of drugs in her stomach which leaks and causes her to get really smart, etc…

The first half of the movie is pretty good. The story gets set up and Lucy starts to kick some butt. However, as the movie progresses too much time is wasted in pointless and silly chase and shootout scenes. A few years back I really liked the Bradley Cooper movie Limitless which had a similar plot. What was cool about that movie, when the main character was smart, he did SMART STUFF! He made contingency plans, he anticipated what might happen. This film script lacks that smartness. Unfortunately, Lucy is not as interesting once she gets smart. And the ending is pretty silly.

No complaints about the acting. That was fine. Just too bad the script could not be a little bit better. Probably would recommend waiting for this on DVD.

Jul 15, 2014

iCal will not Accept Password

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Problem: After changing your password on your CalDAV server, you can not reset the password in iCal. After you change the password in System Preferences or in iCal, the iCal app always prompts for you to enter your password every time you access your CalDAV calendar. You password is always incorrect.

Comments: Clearly, this is a caching problem. The old password is being passed to the server. However, attempts to change the password are ignored.

Solution: Clear the cache. The passwords are stored in OS X Keychain. Open up the Keychain Access tool found in the Applications -> Utilities directory. Delete any references to your CalDAV server. I rebooted for good measure. After that, I connected to my CalDAV server, the new password was cached, and everything worked fine. Woo hoo!

Jul 8, 2014

Some Robots will create iPhone 6

iPhone iPad picture

MacRumors: Check out this story on Foxconn plans for using robots to build the iPhone 6.. According to the story, they are gonna start with 10,000 robots for this model. But even with the robots Foxconn is gonna hire another 100,000 workers for the next generation of the phone. So on Foxconn’s scale, this looks like a small prototyping test. lol.

In the long term though, it does make one wonder about the viability of manufacturing jobs and outsourcing. Will manufacturing come back to the US and Europe in a different form? Mostly robot and folks to operate them? We live in interesting times.

Jun 21, 2014

Swift Learning Information

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Apple announced the Swift programming language during its WWDC the first week of June. Since then, there are more and more information coming out on the topic.

Here are a couple of links where you can find more information.

Enjoy.

Jun 11, 2014

Violet Blue goes off on Google+

Google Logo

Saw this over the weekend about Google+. It is a rant by San Francisco blogger Violet Blue about identity issues related to Google+, and there are many! So I won’t attempt to go into them, as she hit the highlights pretty well.

Trying to eliminate aliases was just a bad idea. Would you prevent Mark Twain from setting up an e-mail account just because that isn’t his real name? It would make more sense to me that if you want to authenticate your identity, offer that as a special service. Then allow users to decide if they want to allow unknown folks to post to their site, G+, or YouTube.

She also mentions the location stuff related to search that is a pet peeve of mine. Sometimes I want to search ALL OF GOOGLE for something. Now if I want to do a search on say web development or job listings, I can only get listings for Denver. Very irritating and a very big bug if you ask me.

Jun 10, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow Quick Review (4/5)

Saw Edge of Tomorrow Saturday at the cineplex. The movie previews pretty much tell the basic story, which is kind of a Groundhog Day premise but in a scifi context. Basically, humanity is staging a sort of D-Day invasion of Europe. Tom Cruises character gets swept up in events and ends up on the beach. Eventually he gets killed and ends up back in the previous day. So now it is his chance to save the world.

The story is well written and makes sense given the world created. There are a nice mix of comedic and dramatic moments throughout the movie. I actually found the ending surprising which is nice for a change. Cruise and Emily Blount are great and perfect for their parts.

My only nitpick is that Hollywood directors DO NOT understand firearms in any way. If you shoot an automatic weapon at an alien and bunch of your fellow soldiers are standing on the other side of the alien, chances are pretty good you just killed the alien and your friends too. Could you guys please hire some vets as consultant so your scenes are somewhat plausible? Geez.

Anyway, overall, a very strong 4 out of 5. Go see it you have a chance, the special effects will be better in a theater.

Swift Looks Interesting

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Sorry for the tardiness of this post. I was doing a pilot last week and was just too busy to get online and post. Anyway, I’m back.

So the Apple Developer Conference was last week in San Francisco. The biggest announcement for me was the Swift programming language. Apple created a new modern programming language that is on equal footing with Objective C.

Introducing Swift

This is great news for anyone who as ever been interested in programming for the Mac or iOS but have been put off by Objective C. Put me in that camp. Objective C has some cool features, but the learning curve is pretty steep. Since most of my time is spent with Java or Web related stuff (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP), that leaves little time to try and pick up other stuff.

A lot folks seem to be comparing Swift to Python, which is a positive sign. Anyway, looks like it may be time to try and make an App! :)