Archive for July 10, 2020

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Raison d’Être for the App Store

John Gruber (tweet, Hacker News):

Feel free to file Google’s release this week of an update to their iPad Gmail app with support for split-screen multitasking under “better late than never”, but this is so late it borders on the absurd.


I worry that this sort of “Who cares, it’s better than nothing” attitude has seeped into Apple itself, and explains how we wound up with barely modified iPad apps shipping as system apps on the Mac.


I’d like to see all the vim, vigor, and vigilance Apple applies to making sure no app on the App Store is making a dime without Apple getting three cents applied instead to making sure there aren’t any scams or ripoffs, and that popular apps support good-citizen-of-the-platform features within a reasonable amount of time after those features are introduced in the OS.


The primary purpose of the App Store should be to steer third-party apps toward excellence, to make the platform as a whole as insanely great as possible. When Steve Jobs introduced the App Store in 2008, he said, “We don’t intend to make any money off the App Store. We’re basically giving all the money to the developers and the 30 percent that pays for running the store, that’ll be great.” Really. It’s impossible to square that mindset with the App Store of today, where the highest priority seemingly is the generation of ever-increasing revenue in the Services column of Apple’s quarterly finance spreadsheet.

I’m against adding subjective quality requirements to the App Store, but requiring split-screen seems more like the objective requirements to support 64-bit or the iPhone X notch. It could nudge apps in a good direction without being onerous or unpredictable.

Dave Mark:

I do think it’s possible Apple’s hand will be forced by Antitrust investigation/regulation. But the financial forces, the pressure from shareholders for year-over-year growth, will not change. Some balancing force needs to come to bear here, pressure to make Apple value a world where, as John says, their most used apps are best-in-class.

Quality doesn’t come from App Store guidelines or antitrust requirements. It depends on the people in positions of power having the resources, motivation, and taste. That goes for Apple as well as third-party developers.

Jeff Johnson:

Job’s quote about not making money off the App Store was striking, but IMO the money quote was “what made Apple users Apple users is that they complained vociferously if they had to use a terrible app.”

Devs didn’t used to need the App Store review “stick”. Users were the stick.


Update (2020-07-30): Troy Gaul:

It’s a little odd that @gruber’s article lamenting Apple not using the App Store to enforce higher quality apps that support platform features fails to mention the reason for this change and its timing is that an App Store rule now required it[…]

Ryan Jones:

Here’s the official text on multitasking.

John Gruber:

So split screen is “strongly encouraged”, not mandatory.