THEY LISTENED TO ME: Apple to clean up app store

If you recall, it wasn’t that long ago that I pointed out some serious problems with Apple’s App Store. I’m guessing Apple’s Tim Cook reads The Solid Signal Blog, because yesterday Apple issued new guidelines for apps and more importantly, said they will be removing defective and useless apps from the store. If an app fails to launch, it will be gone. If it crashes quickly, the developer will have a chance to fix it but if they don’t, it will be gone. They’re also ending the practice of ridiculously long app names that are designed to help apps show up in searches where they don’t belong.

So, I’m taking credit for this. Obviously it was my scorching editorial that caused them to rethink this. I’m planning on writing one focused on Android to see if I can repeat my success, and then maybe I’ll deal with Congress.

Or, you know, it could have been that veteran tech writer and known Apple fanboi Walt Mossberg complained about the very same thing. If there’s an Apple thing and Mossberg doesn’t like it, you know it has to be a total pile of crap. He’s probably the real reason things got changed. Maybe one day I’ll get to the level of trust that he has, after all he had to start somewhere too. Either way, the good news is that Apple is no longer interested in advertising that it has billions of lousy apps… they’re interested in helping you find the ones you actually want. And it’s about time.

We’re about to start the second decade of the modern smartphone era. I think it’s fair to say that although there were phones before the iPhone that connected to the web, installed apps, and did contact management, but they were a totally different breed from the iPhone, and by the time Android phones came out roughly a year later, original smartphones like the Palm and Blackberry were already feeling the pain. But folks that was almost ten years ago and in the tech world, that’s an eternity. Today’s smartphone users don’t marvel at the amazing nature of their devices, they simply use them. You don’t crane your neck to see someone using a smartphone or marvel at the idea that they can surf the web from anywhere. That’s just life today.

So, if Apple and Google want their devices to stay relevant, they have to get better. It’s a little hard to imagine what more they could do, which is why the last few years have seen smartphones get more rugged, not more capable. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of garbagey apps have invaded both Android and Apple stores, making it hard to find something really new and interesting to do.

That is, until yesterday. I honestly hope that Apple ditches half a million apps. No one is interested in raw numbers anymore, it’s all about finding something new and different to do. The top 100 apps really have things sewn up with the exception of the occasional new game release. It’s time to shake things up a bit, or iOS and Android will be as obsolete as Windows Mobile, Palm OS, and Blackberry OS.

I’m just glad I could do my part to help Apple see that. You’re welcome.