the real success behind ios

The App Store. It’s the real innovation behind the iOS platform. How do I know? Because it has been the biggest battlefront for Apple since day one.

Straight back to the Macworld Keynote in 2007, the iPhone announcement incited developers with deep disappointment for not being provided an SDK for native app development. We’re all but certain that the SDK itself existed back then. In fact, iOS shares most of its development environment with Mac OS X. What wasn’t ready for primetime was the App Store. The process of screening applications, pushing updates, and creating guidelines in an attempt to protect Apple, its customers, and its developers, all had to be developed from scratch. Many aspects of the App Store were gleaned from Apple’s experience with iTunes, but there were still many unknowns.

After the App Store’s release, the battles only got more heated. Developer wait times, pulled applications, ambiguous and ever-changing guidelines, the Flash debacle, and now, this subscription fiasco, all have been in the forefront of Apple news and community discussion. But how could this not be expected? The App Store debuted as something altogether new, but it was so quickly taken for granted. I won’t rehash the pros and cons of the store that so many blogs have captured and repeated. The simplicity of having such a safe environment for buying and downloading software speaks for itself, and it has been paramount in the success of iOS.

The competitors of the iPad are trying to compete with USB ports, Adobe Flash support,  built-in cameras, other hardware features, size, and weight, but many of these are product differentiations based on a bygone PC era. The software ecosystem is what sets the iPad apart, and it’s what none of these other platforms provide. No one has a store that lets me download and purchase fast, native software, with any more confidence in its safety and security than just downloading some .zip archive off the web. Until someone takes the App Store seriously, and makes a model that competes with Apple’s toe-to-toe, none of the competitors are going to make headway in gaining tablet market share. And without a solid competitor, Apple has no reason to kowtow to anyone’s suggestions as to how their store should operate.

auto-correct needs help

This morning I had a texting conversation with my brother which started when he sent me this:

I have very few complaints about the iPhone, but the autocorrect keyboard function is so incredibly unintuitive sometimes, it’s embarrassing.

He later pinpointed one of the primary problems with the feature.

…they have a LOT of really obscure proper nouns, acronyms, etc. and it frequently chooses those over much more sensible words.

I haven’t really thought about it very much, but it is pretty bad. Yesterday I sent a text that I started with “Woohoo!,” which the iPhone promptly auto-corrected to “Elohim!” While it is possible that one day I might send a message referencing Elohim, it isn’t likely to come up from day to day for your average iPhone user.

In fact, there is a popular website (beware, it’s often crude) highlighting this particular deficiency of the iPhone. It can auto-correct some of the simplest words into things that are way out there. Oftentimes, one or two misspelled letters are preferable to a completely altered word that may or may not be even in the ballpark of what you were trying to type.

I’m not sure if auto-correct is over-engineered or under-engineered, but either way it’s far from perfect.

an intrvw with shawn blanc

Ian Hines interviews Shawn Blanc about his writing and more. It’s great.

blog pressure

Quite a few folks have been writing about writing recently. I blame Shawn Blanc. But it’s brought to the surface something I’ve been trying to rationalize for a while, the pressure to blog more.

To one person writing is about sharing a personal passion. Another is working for his livelihood. Someone else enjoys having a channel of creative release. And perhaps most common but least esteemed, a fourth person writes to garner attention.

Actually, all people who write have a complex hierarchy of these reasons and motivations and priorities. Whether we have each laid out our hierarchy explicitly or not, it exists. As with any pursuit, knowing the why behind your writing is crucial in establishing its place in your life.

Most of my favorite writers tend to blog frequently, many of them multiple times daily. Their experience might be why I’m drawn to their work. In many cases, I don’t know the impetus behind their writing. It’s likely that they can enumerate a list of reasons and motivations and priorities that invite such a regular pace, but I can’t.

I’m a blogger primarily because it’s fun. From time to time I have an idea. Maybe I think it’s an original thought. Perhaps I believe I can communicate an old idea in a way that other people can’t. Other times I just like contributing to a current conversation. Whatever it is, inspiration strikes, and I have a blog as an outlet.

After years of blogging casually, and having jumped from zero to mild on the attention scale once or twice lately, I have begun to feel pressure to write more. It’s probably from rubbing shoulders with more bloggers, and getting some positive feedback. However, after due consideration, I don’t plan to yield to the pressure.

There are loads of activities that I love to give time and attention. Writing is one among a very long list. Truth be told, it isn’t all that near the top. Not because it isn’t valuable, but because that’s where it belongs for me. That’s where it sits in my hierarchy. I’ll continue to write when inspiration arrives, but I’m going to write at my own pace. In the end, even though the attention feels nice sometimes, I don’t want to be that fourth person.

If I go a few days without posting, don’t worry. I haven’t gone missing. I hope when I do write, it’s something worthwhile to read, but that’s really for you to decide.

thought on hp announcement

Today’s HP announcement of assorted touchscreen devices slated for this summer echoed with a fresh wave of the too little too late sentiment from loads of pundits and bloggers, but I’m not so sure. Regardless of how late they arrive to the party, there is always going to be room for a solid competitor to the iPad in the tablet space, and WebOS seems as good of a bet as the other contenders.

Sure Android has offerings out already, but we can’t pretend they have a meaningful share of the market yet. Not to mention that the Android tablet space is spread so thin, as CES was so kind to show us. The closest thing to a killer piece of hardware is the Samsung Galaxy thingy, and everybody willing to admit it knows it’s not putting any pressure on the iPad. Having so many tablets available hasn’t been as advantageous as the worlds most “open” company would have hoped.

Palm has been one of the few companies who has risked innovation in the tech world on par with Apple in the past. I’d be happy to see them dish out some solid competition.

macworld review

Canned got reviewed by MacWorld’s AppGuide.

app store review process is good, actually

Marco Arment posted an article today lauding the App Store review team.

…the review process has created a level of consumer confidence and risk-taking that has enabled the entire iOS app market to be far bigger and healthier than anyone expected.

The press has been so Apple happy that they pounce on every negative fume that crosses the airwaves. Nobody has been stopping to mention all the benefits of the process. Marco’s article very much reflects the thoughts I wrote about the state of iOS software distribution shortly after the iPad announcement broke. Never has software been easier to buy.

verizon iphone pre-orders sell out

In barely three quarters of a day, Apple has already sold out of Verizon iPhone pre-orders. This is just online orders, and only available to people already on Verizon. Nobody knows for sure how many pre-orders they were making available, but a good starting guess would be, a lot.

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