Are template-based apps next on Apple's list of No-No apps?


appstore.png

Update (3/9 2:54pm): From what I can see so far, this banning/not approving apps that are template-based/cookie-cutter type apps doesn’t seem to be happening. There is a new developer, LMK.com, that has added 51 new apps all of which use the same app to display different data. Just the kind of think that Apple would not be approving if they were targeting them. So, as of this moment, template-based apps are still being approved.

All I can say is: Its about fracking time!

iPhone app purge: Are template-based apps next? | Software | iPhone Central | Macworld: “Apple’s campaign to get tough on iPhone applications is reportedly continuing with a new target: template-based iPhone applications. You can find services that build these so-called cookie cutter applications all over the Web, and they have been used by a variety of prominent celebrities, bloggers, and brands including Ashton Kutcher, blogger Seth Godin, and the U.S. Army.”

There are soooo many applications in the AppStore that are just duplicates of a single app over and over again, sometimes hundreds of times. One of the biggest contributor of “template-based” apps is Brighthouse Labs. Latest approximate count puts them at 4332 applications. An example of this cookie-cutter/template-based application is “iNewsPro”. That single application template has 282 apps so far with titles like:

iNewsPro – Johnstown PA • iNewsPro – Joplin MO • iNewsPro – Parkersburg WV • iNewsPro – Peoria IL • iNewsPro – Rocky Mount NC • iNewsPro – Saginaw MI • iNewsPro – Salinas CA • iNewsPro – Salt Lake City UT • iNewsPro – San Angelo TX • iNewsPro – San Antonio TX • iNewsPro – San Diego CA • iNewsPro – San Francisco CA • iNewsPro – San Luis Obispo CA • iNewsPro – Santa Barbara CA • iNewsPro – Santa Fe NM • iNewsPro – Sarasota FL • iNewsPro – Savannah GA • iNewsPro – Scranton PA • iNewsPro – Sebring FL • iNewsPro – Sharon PA • iNewsPro – Sheboygan WI • iNewsPro – Sherman TX • iNewsPro – Shreveport LA • iNewsPro – Sioux City IA • iNewsPro – Sioux Falls SD • iNewsPro – South Bend IN • iNewsPro – Spokane WA • iNewsPro – Springfield, IL • iNewsPro – Springfield, MA • iNewsPro – Springfield, MO • iNewsPro – State College PA • iNewsPro – Steubenville OH • iNewsPro – St. Joseph, MO • iNewsPro – St. Louis, MO • iNewsPro – Stockton CA

Trust me when I say that there are many more of this specific template alone.

The article says that Apple isn’t planning on removing the existing apps, just not letting any new ones into the store. Personally, I think they should send the developers a letter stating that they need to turn these multi-app templates into a single app with in-app purchasing or Apple will remove them.

There is just no reason for developers to produce thousands of apps when in-app purchasing can compress hundreds of apps into a single app. This will please customers since it means that they don’t have to have several app icons taking up valuable Springboard space, it will be way easier on the developer since they only have to maintain one visible app. I can’t speak for the in-app catalog, but it has to be easier than using Apple’s interface to update entries.

Now it’s just a matter of time to see if this actually happens.

Rogue Android Smartphone App Created


Drew Android logo.jpg

With all the whining about Apple’s review policy in the AppStore, its a little comforting to read about fraudulent applications getting into the Android Marketplace:

12.22.09 Rogue Android Smartphone app created
We recently learned that a fraudster developed a rogue Android Smartphone app. It creates a shell of mobile banking apps that tries to gain access to a consumer’s financial information.

Droid09 launched this phishing attack from the Android Marketplace and it’s since been removed. It’s called phishing because scammers go fishing for information about you or your financial account that may be used for identity theft.

Please note that this attack didn’t target First Tech accounts. Accessing your First Tech account from your phone’s web browser is completely secure.

If you did download the Droid09 app, please remove it from your phone and take it to your mobile provider to ensure it’s completely removed.

As a reminder, we don’t currently have an app for the Android phone.

It’s interesting that Google doesn’t seem to have much to say about the incident. If I were an Android user, I would want to hear from Google about the issue to know that they are doing all that they can to prevent future occurrences of similar incidents.

I know I have been one of the many voices complaining about the review process in the AppStore. However, I am well aware that the main purpose of that review process is to prevent just such occurrences as the one that Android is dealing with now.

With more than 100,000 apps in the AppStore, we have yet to see any malicious applications appear. Sure, there have been some apps that AT&T didn’t like (tethering and video streaming) and some that were just rude (the Baby Shaker app comes to mind), but overall, the applications we have had were very safe to use.

Its a shame that Apple was proven correct by this incident. I would have liked to see an open marketplace for mobile applications. However, now that mobile apps are taking off in popularity, they are going to be attracting all kinds of unsavory developers and open marketplaces are going to be very dangerous places to be purchasing/downloading mobile applications.

Letter To iPhone/iTunes Dev Staff At Apple


itunes-icon.png
iphone-icon.png

I’m sure this letter will never see the light of day at Apple HQ, but I feel it really needs to be written. If not for me, for all the other iPhone/iPod touch owners out there that collect AppStore Applications like philatelist collect stamps. You see, we have this unique problem with our beloved device. Organizing our applications in the devices SpringBoard.

I’m sure there are not many of us. Otherwise, Apple would be selling 20,000,000,000 (Billion) applications by now instead of just over 1 billion. That said, there is an average of 25 purchased applications per iPhone/iPod touch.

Now, 35 (10 Applications by Apple that can’t be deleted and come with an iPhone or iPod touch taking into account various OS versions and device versions) applications can easily be managed by existing means. In fact that’s barely 2 full pages on the SpringBoard.

However, there are a few of us crazy people that have way more than 25 purchased apps. I’m currently just 5 shy of 500 in iTunes.

itunes-icon.png
(Link to full image of all apps in my iTunes Applications list)

Clearly, not all of those apps are in my iPhone. Here is what my SpringBoard looks like currently:

itunes-icon.png

You’ll notice that several of the SpringBoard pages have only 15 of 16 icons on them. This is because, even with the 3.0 OS, moving icons in the SpringBoard app causes all kinds of problems with other pages as you scroll from one page to another to another.

In the 3.0 OS update, Apple allowed users to take an icon, drag it over to the right or left edge of the screen which causes SpringBoard to move to the next or previous page. If you don’t move your finger while on the edge, SpringBoard will continue to move to the next/previouos page until you move your finger back into the screen. This should allow a user to move an icon from page one to page 9 without messing up icons on pages 2 through 8. However, this is not the case. I don’t understand why, unless they just have a bug, but it causes all kinds of problems with the intermediate page icons.

Say you have all your pages full from page 1 to 11 except for one space on page 10. Also, you want to move an icon on page 1 to that open space on page 10. You hold your finger on the icon you want to move. SpringBoard starts jiggling all the icons. You drag your finger and the icon to the edge of the screen and SpringBoard starts sliding pages from left to right. For some reason, when sliding past page 3, SpringBoard gets confused and thinks you moved your finger back into the screen. This causes the last icon on page 3 to move to page 4, the last icon on page 4 to move to page 5, etc all the way to page 9 which moves its last icon to page 10. It stops on page 10 since there was an open spot.

Now you have a problem. You still want to get that icon to page 10, but doing so will knock the last icon on page 11 off the SpringBoard completely, assuming you are able to get the icon to page 10 without further incident.

Leaving an empty space on most pages allows for this weird error to happen and not mess up your organization.

A very bright person setup a Keynote presentation showing his/her ideas of how to use iTunes to help organize applications in the SpringBoard app:

Now, this video only shows two SpringBoard pages, but it would still save much time using iTunes to layout your apps and then sync to make the adjustments in your iphone/iPod touch.

Apple, you have made some great strides in the iPhone OS to make our beloved device the best that there is. However, there is always room for improvement. The SpringBoard app is one place that definitely needs improvements. Please, do something to make organizing applications on the iPhone/iPod touch as easy as the rest of the functions of the devices are to use.