Archive for July 10, 2023

Monday, July 10, 2023

The App Store Turns 15

Phil Schiller:

Happy 15th Birthday App Store 🎂

Ken Case (Mastodon, podcast):

Fifteen years ago today, on Thursday, July 10, 2008, Apple launched the iPhone App Store. And we launched the first app we ever built which could fit in your pocket, OmniFocus for iPhone.


At its launch, there weren’t any mechanisms for free copies of paid apps: no promo codes, no TestFlight, no trials or in-app purchases. What to do? The next morning, we went to the local Apple Store, bought a bunch of iTunes gift cards matching the price of our app, scratched the backs of each one to get at their codes, and then emailed out all those codes to potential reviewers.

Craig Grannell:

Let’s (try to) crowdsource the names of the original iPhone App Store apps and games!

I’m writing a piece on the App Store turning 15, and I couldn’t find a list of the original ~500 App Store apps and games from 11 July 2008, which I thought was strange. @jamesthomson, whose PCalc was there from the start, suggested we might be able to crowdsource this, for posterity and future research.

Here’s the spreadsheet.

If you have info to add to it, please do. Please share!

See also: BasicAppleGuy.


Update (2023-07-13): Mike Rockwell:

But here we are, fifteen years later, and the App Store feels like more of a hindrance. A limitation on the platform that prevents entire categories of applications from even being developed.

Update (2023-10-25): Christina Warren:

Looking through my decade and a half of App Store purchases is like looking through a time capsule of the last era of tech, seeing all the fads, the booms, and the busts of the era. The first app I ever downloaded was the official Obama app. My other first-day apps included two different Twitter clients, the official Facebook app, an RSS client, and an $8 copy of Scrabble. Today, the Facebook app is still active and amazingly, that old version of Scrabble still works.

It’s also a remnant of a time that has largely passed. Because even as App Store revenues continue to grow each and every quarter, lining Apple’s pockets to the tune of tens of billions a year, our cultural reliance on mobile apps themselves has changed.


Yes, I have an app for my bank, but I’m just as likely to visit its website when trying to check my balance. Whereas I used to get excited about a new app on my iPhone, I now often resent being asked to download an app when I know that the website will work just as well and cause fewer disruptions or take up less space on my phone.


There is still a lot of money to make on mobile apps, but usually not just on the app itself. The most successful app developers today aren’t the same as they were 15 years ago, where a good novel idea could net millions of downloads overnight. Now, apps need to serve as part of an ongoing business and not necessarily be the business themselves.

How the Threads App Was Built

Emerge Tools (Hacker News):

Two things stand out for Threads on iOS:

  1. Threads has 0 dynamic libraries, whereas the Facebook app which heavily utilizes dynamic frameworks.
  2. Threads has one of the largest plugins we’ve ever seen. BarcelonaShareExtension is 81 MB.


As with the Android app, it looks like they were able to share significant amounts of code between Threads & Instagram to help speed up development. Threads team wanted to move fast and took whatever code it could from Instagram and shoved it where it needed to go.

Cam Roth:

99% native, with a home grown cross-platform solution for a few lightweight flows (think tables or reporting)

We utilized a bunch of existing obj-c/obj-c++ things within IG, but 95% of the new code we wrote was Swift.

We’ll have an eng blog post coming eventually. Mostly Swift, almost all UIKit, a dash of SwiftUl.


Update (2023-07-14): Ahmad Shadeed:

One of the most noteworthy use cases of CSS Grid in a production app is found in Threads. CSS Grid is used to build the post layout.


That line connecting my avatar to Mark’s one is an SVG path.

Fraudulent Yelp Reviews

Stephen Council (via Hacker News):

It seemed the clinic had hired a local lawyer to demand that Dean remove her negative review or face a lawsuit. The envelope included a $50 check.


Since then, Dean, 60, has mounted a yearslong crusade against Yelp and the broader online review ecosystem from a home office in San Jose. Yelp, founded in San Francisco in 2004, is deeply entrenched in American consumer habits, and has burrowed itself into the larger consciousness through partnerships with the likes of Apple Maps. The company’s crowdsourced reviews undergird the internet’s web of recommendations and can send businesses droves of customers — or act as an insurmountable black mark.

Dean follows fake reviews from their origins in social media groups to when they hit the review sites, methodically documenting hours of research in spreadsheets and little-watched YouTube videos. Targets accuse her of an unreasonable fixation. Yelp claims it aggressively and effectively weeds out fakes. But Dean disagrees, and she’s out to convince America that Yelp, Google and other purveyors of reviews cannot be trusted.

Her channel is Fake Review Watch.

Dan Luu:

I find it interesting how businesses have been able to co-opt review sites to get negative reviews removed. If I see credible negative reviews on a major review site, they’re often gone when I check back later, replaced by positive reviews.

The flip side of this is that when I’ve reported obviously fake reviews (negative or positive), those almost never get removed. I guess it makes sense that people who specialize in getting reviews removed would know how to do it better than an honest actor.


Evernote Acquisition and Layoffs

Joshua Bote:

The Redwood City-based note-taking company — which has weathered all manner of tumult over the past decade, capped off last November by the sale of the company to Italian app maker Bending Spoons — axed nearly all its employees in the United States and Chile, according to a statement from Bending Spoons CEO Luca Ferrari provided to SFGATE.

Most of the company’s “operations will be transitioned to Europe,” Ferrari said in the statement, due to the “significant boost in operational efficiency that will come as a consequence of centralizing operations in Europe.”


The layoffs come less than six months after the company eliminated 129 workers — a decision that came as a result of the company’s unprofitability making it “unsustainable in the long term,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch at the time.

Via Dare Obasanjo (and Christina Warren):

VC funding may not be right for every app. You don’t need $290M in funding to build a note taking app and you definitely can’t live up to the billions in valuation it implies.

Martin Pilkington:

When I was there initially there was a lot of “build new products” rather than focusing purely on the core app. Then it pivoted (correctly IMO) into build up the business tools to help bring in more revenue.

Unfortunately expectations of revenue seemed to be a bit out of whack for what the initial steps were, so there were cut backs and some higher ups left.

Unfortunately that led to a new CTO coming in who didn’t really know about or care for native apps, so pushed for electron rewrites, at which point some of the engineering org was let go (most of the contractors, including myself) and a lot of the rest left very soon after.

If you’re in the market for a replacement, I know of one that can import from Evernote and convert your data to standard formats.

Gleb Dolgich:

I’m using EagleFiler with Resilio Sync to mirror the entire library across all family computers and iOS devices, works like a charm.

Resilio Sync is interesting because it works peer-to-peer. You can sync very large amounts of data quickly, without actually storing it in the cloud. EagleFiler also works with more traditional cloud services such as iCloud Drive and Dropbox.

See also: Hacker News.


Update (2023-12-11): Ben Lovejoy:

After an earlier test, all Evernote free users now have their accounts limited to a single notebook containing just 50 notes.