Archive for April 14, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Over 70% of App Store Purchases Are for Games

Mayur Dhaka:

According to the study, the top 5 categories where money is being spent are, in order: Games, Music, Social Networking, Entertainment and Lifestyle.


I, like Michael, would love for indie developers (at least the one who make productivity apps and the like) to see their apps climb the charts too. But an excellently designed calendar app just doesn’t make enough users feel the same way as winning a game against a friend. So when it comes time to choose between spending $5 on a better calendaring system or spending those five dollars in beating a friend at a game, which developer you think is buying themselves a coffee that evening?

See also: Jim Dalrymple, who talks about what he sees being promoted in the App Store.

Update (2016-04-14): Craig Grannell:

Which makes Apple’s ongoing lack of interest in games all the more baffling.

Update (2016-04-15): Paul Jones:

While professional, productivity, and utility applications aren’t #1, I get the impression its still a huge market. Stranger still, the recent Game Center white-screen bugs seem to indicate that Apple’s incentives haven’t particularly swayed to providing to the needs of game developers, but the amount of new graphics APIs recently somewhat counter this.

The Trouble With 3D Touch

Jason Snell:

Unfortunately, after six months of using an iPhone 6s, I’m afraid that I’ve completely stopped using 3D Touch, to the point where I forget it’s there. My opinion about how brilliantly implemented this feature is hasn’t changed a bit, but I feel like Apple needs to rethink the meaning of the 3D Touch in iOS 10 for it to be a more useful feature.

John Gruber:

The gimmicky nature of peek/pop is alarming. I never got into “peeking” while using my 6S — like Jason argues, it solves a problem we didn’t have. It’s not any faster than just tapping whatever it is you want to see, and worse, it’s harder to read because your thumb is still there covering the display. It’s a demo feature, not a real feature, and I find that deeply worrisome.


A force touch should just be a shortcut to a long press. In fact, a few weeks ago, I got confused while using the system’s Weather app. I wanted to reorder my list of saved cities. It took me around 45 seconds to figure out how to do it. My first few attempts were by force tapping the city I wanted to move. But this just opened a peek. Then I tried looking around for an “Edit” button, but there isn’t one. I started to wonder whether the list was not re-orderable. Then it finally occurred to me to long-press on a city. My natural instinct was to do that by force tapping.

Joe Cieplinski:

Long press is a purposefully slow gesture. It makes you stop, literally, and wait a second or so before you can move on with other things. Therefore, it’s suited best for tasks that you want to do very deliberately and only very occasionally, like rearranging the icons on your home screen. The nature of the long press makes it very unlikely you’ll do it accidentally, and so it’s perfect for these sorts of tasks. You have to think about a long press, and that’s a good thing.

3D Touch, on the other hand, is meant to speed you up. Application launching shortcuts take you directly to a spot within the app in one gesture. Pressing hard from the left of the screen helps you invoke the app switcher faster. It’s all about the speed.

Nick Heer:

The peek gesture works surprisingly well in a lot of cases: peeking on an unfamiliar Instagram profile or a Twitter account from within Tweetbot has become second-nature for me. Instead of loading an entire timeline or photo stream, I see only very recent stuff, but I get to see their bio and full name, which is what I often care about. Similarly, peeking on a Mail message is great for previewing it but not marking it as read.

Where the peek gesture does get frustrating is when it needs to transfer significant data over an average internet connection. Peeking on a web page is almost always pointless because most pages are far too large and take a long time to load.


As I’ve written previously, I think we’ve entered a new age of experimental and “fuzzy” interfaces. The limitations of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, and new interface paradigms like 3D Touch are only discoverable if they behave consistently. All of these commenters are right: 3D Touch lacks that consistency, so it becomes a game of trying its functionality blindly and hoping for the best.

Peeking seems like a demo feature because loading the content is so much slower than going back from a normal tap. I love the idea of shortcuts—using 3D Touch as a tap modifier, like Option-clicking on the Mac—but in practice I have not found myself ever using them. I do use the multitasking gesture most of the time, and I miss it on my iPad mini. 3D Touch is very useful for cursor movement, but after about six months I still can’t invoke it reliably. It works perhaps 80% of the time, but when it doesn’t work it’s worse than the old press-and-wait.

Update (2016-04-14): Ben Brooks (via Nick Heer):

3D Touch is too new to judge and this sentiment [for consolidation] (shared by many) seems more like a lack of being open minded to the new technology, than it does a problem with the technology.

Update (2016-04-15): Nick Heer:

In some ways, I wish Apple shipped a lesser amount of 3D Touch functionality and simply waited to see how developers would interpret it. What they have shipped ultimately feels right, more or less, though.

Applying Styles to the Current, Unselected Word

Daniel Jalkut:

I’ve gone to lengths to preserve “traditional” Mac behavior in MarsEdit’s rich editor, then I see Pages defies it!

Both historically, and for nearly all current Mac apps, the standard has been that the Bold command applies to the text that’s currently selected. If no text is selected, it changes the style at the insertion point, affecting the text that you type next. However, the current versions of both Pages and Microsoft Word make the Bold command apply to the entire word surrounding the insertion point—when nothing is selected.

I guess the idea is that if it detects the word boundaries that you want, it can save you a step. (The Italic command does not italicize the comma after a word, which people often do because it looks better.) And the “smart” behavior doesn’t really cause trouble unless you wanted to start typing a few bold characters in the middle of a word—which seems rare. I could be persuaded that this is a useful feature, but I don’t like the inconsistency with other apps. There is also the question of which types of commands this should apply to and whether the inferred target range should differ for them.

Update (2016-04-15): Andrew Abernathy:

So many people don’t know to double-click to select by word. For them, selecting a single word to style is tedious without this.

Comparing Reactive and Traditional

Brent Simmons has a great series of posts about different ways to solve a typical coding problem:

My Brain, Apple, and the Transfer of Fragility

Łukasz Langa:

Two weeks ago I opened up my just like every morning. The list of folders and notes in them greeted me as usual. But when I clicked on any note, its contents were empty. They had titles on the list, they had correct metadata (last modified date, etc.). But there was no content.

I panicked, clicked through a bunch of notes, maybe ten or so. All empty. I froze, took my phone and checked if the notes are there. All were… except for the ones I clicked on in the OS X app. Those were wiped clean. iCloud synchronization “just worked” for once. Dammit, the information on those notes lost!


What if my Apple ID gets hacked one day and somebody wipes all the notes and that gets synchronized to all devices I use? Time Capsule is useless if I can’t easily restore my notes from it. What if iCloud silently “forgets a note” or two in time? How long until I noticed?

Notes are not one of the data types you can restore via