Archive for February 1, 2023

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The State of Enthusiast Apps on Android

Matt Birchler:

I recently commented on Mastodon that I thought when it comes to third party apps, iOS is remarkably far ahead of Android. My feeling is that you can take the best app in a category on Android, and that would be the 3rd to 5th best app in that category on iOS.


This app (again, in beta) is way behind apps like Reeder, Unread, and NetNewsWire in both functionality and design.

This app was presented to me as an example of how Android apps are better than iOS apps, and it instead made me more confident in my opinion.

John Gruber (Hacker News):

Whilst we iOS users celebrate the recent releases of Thomas Ricouard’s Ice Cubes, Tapbots’s Ivory, and Tusker, and look forward to the imminent release of other new Mastodon clients like Shihab Mehboob’s Mammoth, over on Mastodon I asked what the best clients for Android are.

Long story short: crickets chirping.

The app that got the most recommendations is Tusky, an open-source client available free of charge. It’s fine, and for now, it’s what I’ve got on my home screen on my Pixel 4. But if Tusky were an iOS app, it wouldn’t make the top 5 for Mastodon clients.


Update (2023-02-03): John Gruber:

Android enthusiasts don’t want to hear it, but from a design perspective, the apps on Android suck. They may not suck from a feature perspective (but they often do), but they’re aesthetically unpolished and poorly designed even from a “design is how it works” perspective. (E.g., Read You doesn’t offer unread counts for folders, has a bizarrely information-sparse layout, and its only supported sync service was deprecated in 2014. It also requires a frightening number of system permissions to run, including the ability to launch at startup and run in the background.) And as I wrote yesterday, the cultural chasm between the two mobile platforms is growing, not shrinking. I’ve been keeping a toe dipped in the Android market since I bought a Nexus One in 2010, and the difference in production values between the top apps in any given category has never been greater between Android and iOS. And that’s just talking about phone apps, leaving aside the deplorable state of tablet apps on Android.


Of course there are Android users and developers who do see how crude the UIs are for that platform’s best-of-breed apps. But we’re left with two entirely different ecosystems with entirely different cultural values — nothing like (to re-use my example from yesterday) the Coke-vs.-Pepsi state of affairs in console gaming platforms.

Steven Aquino:

iOS apps may attract more software aesthetes, but it’s also the case accessibility on iOS is far more expansive and polished than on Android. This isn’t to say Google ships inaccessible crap or cares less, but they certainly don’t match the breadth and depth Apple provides. This is well known in a11y circles. Not a trivial matter.

Nicolas Magand:

Outside of Google’s own apps and others from big tech companies, apps on Android are generally terrible. Feature-wise they do the job, they are stable enough, not too buggy, decently integrated with the OS, but they are either ugly, weird, or both.

Federico Viticci (Mastodon):

To say that I found the ecosystem worse than I remembered would be an understatement.


I do appreciate the greater freedom Android grants power users who care about aspects such as split-screen multitasking, total control over default apps, or theming. But the whole experience feels fragmented, and as a result crude, when it comes to using your phone with apps in everyday life. The general baseline of quality for design and expected system features is simply higher on iOS.

Update (2023-02-14): Barbara Krasnoff:

On the other hand, I have to admit that when I hear about an app that looks really easy and useful, go running to its site to see if I can try it out, and find that it’s only available for iOS, I can become, for a moment, something akin to an angry five-year-old. I want to play with this new toy, and I deeply resent anyone who says I can’t.

Bypassing iOS 16.2 Location Privacy

Rodrigo Ghedin:

iFood, Brazilian largest food delivering app evaluated at USD 5.4 billion, was accessing his location when not open/in use, bypassing an iOS setting that restrict an app’s access to certain phone’s features. Even when the reader completely denied location access to it, iFood’s app continued to access his phone’s location.


An educated guess was revealed by iOS 16.3 release notes, launched on January 23th. Apple mentions a security issue in Maps in that “an app may be able to bypass Privacy preferences”.

Via Nick Heer:

I do not want to spread fear or uncertainty, but it is hard to believe iFood would be the only app interested in using location data even if the user has opted out of it. There were several privacy-related bugs fixed in this most recent round of operating system updates.

John Gruber:

If the iFood app was really doing this, why is it still in the App Store? If circumventing location privacy by exploiting a bug doesn’t get you kicked out of the store, what does?


Pausing Finder Copies and Dragging to the App Switcher

Tim Hardwick:

When you copy a large file or folder to another location in Finder using the Copy and Paste options, a pie chart progress indicator next to the copying item’s name gives you an idea of how long the copy will take to complete. If it looks like it’s going to take longer than you’d like, you can always pause the copy and resume it later.


An oft-overlooked function of the App Switcher is its ability to open files. Simply begin to drag a file from a Finder window, then invoke the App Switcher and drag the file onto the relevant app icon in the overlay. Let go of the file and it should open in the selected app.

This is a good list of some less commonly mentioned tips.

Renewing the App Store Small Business Program

Greg Pierce:

I got an email from Apple saying I’m eligible for the Small Business Program–which I am already in. Do we need to re-apply?

So did I, though I don’t recall getting such an e-mail last year. There doesn’t seem to be a place to actually check your status, so of course I re-applied. I’m guessing that Apple sent a mass e-mail without bothering to scope it to those not already in the program, but now they’ll have to process lots of duplicate applications.

Jesse Squires:

Wouldn’t it be nice if App Store Connect showed some kind of “small business program” badge or other visual indicator of your status?

Instead, I see developers talking about back-calculating Apple’s fee from their financial reports to see whether they’re still in the program.


Update (2023-02-03): John Siracusa:

I had to email Apple to find out if I was still enrolled in the Small Business Program. (If it’s anywhere on any website, I couldn’t find it, and the person who answered my email at Apple didn’t tell me where I could have found it myself.) The result: I am still enrolled, despite getting that email about the program.