You know what’s interesting about world class runway models? It’s their skin. It’s perfect. So long as you don’t look too closely, because if you do you’ll find the same facial flaws you had as a teenager also infect some of the most beautiful women in the world, but are less visible thanks to a few genetic gifts, expert makeup, and Photoshop.
That’s how it is with Apple.
As beautiful as Apple’s products are, and as much pleasure as we get from ownership of said products, and as easy as they are to use– and Apple’s customers use their devices far more than average Windows PC users or Android device owners– there are flaws, easily visible if you look closely.
App Stores, I’m looking at you.
Both of Apple’s online app stores have become monstrous locations to find and try apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Watch, and Apple TV. Part of the problem is the sheer volume of apps available, especially for iPhone and iPad (over 1.5-million to date), but also for the Mac, where the Mac App Store has become something of a ghost town devoid of many popular applications, mostly due to Apple’s rigid coding rules but also how the stores operate.
iOS and OS X developers have grumbled mightily through the years about Apple’s slow and arcane app approval process, the seemingly arbitrary way some apps get through to the store while others languish in a hold pattern for days, weeks, and sometimes months. The search process and how apps are reviewed is a mess, too, and Apple receives complaints regularly from both customers and app developers.
That’s all about to change. Maybe.
The app stores have a new boss thanks to an organization chart shakeup of sorts whereby Tim Cook moved responsibility for the App Stores from Eddy Cue to Phil Schiller, the Senior VP of worldwide marketing. That means the app stores– iOS, OS X, watchOS, tvOS– have a new boss, and we can only hope he’s been listening to customers and developers and has a plan in mind, or is willing to develop a plan to address the shortcomings.
Speaking generally for all the stores, search is terrible, layout is confusing, and rules for developers have come under fire in recent years, which caused some popular apps from well known developers to leave the Mac App Store entirely, and left App Store customers with fewer quality app choices. Apps for iPhone and iPad are not much different, other than the sheer number of apps available, with a growing percentage of them fully orphaned and abandoned by their developers but available on the App Store for any poor, unsuspecting fools to download.
In other words, there’s a mess to clean up.
The whole shebang is based on Apple’s aging iTunes infrastructure, WebObjects, so maybe Apple has something else in mind to shore up the backend systems that store well over 1.5-million apps, and have delivered more than 100-billion downloads to customers. As an Apple watch and critic I’m less interest in the technology that stores and delivers the goods than I am the goods and how they’re presented, but Phil Schiller knows there’s plenty of work to do there, too.
Mining for apps in any Apple App Store is an exercise in frustration thanks to limited search options, a crazy review process that doubles as support for tired customers, rankings which seem arbitrary (what’s the difference between ‘most popular’ and ‘ratings?’), and approval processes which are worse.
Outsiders don’t know what Tim Cook had in mind when he handed over the App Store’s reins to Phil Schiller, and watchers and critics don’t know what Schiller has in mind to help improve the stores, but patience is not a virtue of the technorati elite so the move to give the stores a new head honcho has but a short period of time for the honeymoon before the chorus begins anew for someone’s head on a platter.
I’m hopeful we’ll see some changes soon, but Apple has created a Frankenstein monster of sorts that is terrifying the villagers and needs to be controlled. Otherwise, it’s an chapter of same old, same old for Apple.