Apple's obsession with apps

Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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I was listening to a couple podcasts this week discussing Facebooks's developer conference and all the hype around bots (Microsoft heavily featured them at Build too). In the case of Microsoft and Facebook I think bots are less about solving problems for consumers and providing great UX but more about solving Microsoft and Facebook's problems/desires on mobile. Microsoft wants a bigger presence on mobile and Facebook wants to be the new AOL where you do everything inside of one of their apps.

I'm not convinced AI 'chat' bots will catch on with consumers (they'll have to get a lot better) but it did get me thinking about the future of apps and Apple's obsession with apps. Apple trademarked the phrase "there's an app for that". The tagline for WWDC 2010 was "center of the app universe". When Apple TV launched last year Tim Cook said the future of television is apps. But as I looked at my own usage, outside of social media, productivity, streaming media and some games, the app I use most on my iOS devices is the browser. I wonder if Apple needs to re-think their obsession with apps. Look at the Amazon Echo where you can just say Alexa order me an Uber. We don't need an app for everything. Target is no longer supporting an app for the iPad. What's the point when I can just go to their website? I'd like to see Apple focus more on Siri and iMessage than an app for everything. Apple introduced Siri in 2011. It's 2016 and there still isn't a Siri API for developers. Why? Why let Amazon and others take the lead in voice as a platform? Where is Apple's answer to the Echo? Apple should be leading here and they're not. Which is a shame.
 
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MacDawg

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Mar 20, 2004
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the app I use most on my iOS devices is the browser.
Interesting you should say that... because I rarely if ever use the browser on my iPhone 6s

I use iMessage, Mail, Outlook, Evernote, Skype, Endomondo, MyFitnessPal, Waze, Apple Pay, Camera and even the phone more than anything else
I don't use Siri a lot, but I do on occasion, and if she directs me to the web I usually just close it out

Everyone's usage is different and is based on their personal preferences, work flow, and needs
I find it interesting how vastly different these can be

I don't game and I don't ever watch YouTube
And I rarely listen to music on my iPhone

Apple has a very challenging mission to create an experience that reaches so many different use cases
 

Jessica Lares

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Oct 31, 2009
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Near Dallas, Texas, USA
Having a speaker as your central device makes no sense in a world where we're all wearing headphones. People listen to podcasts with them, they listen to music with them, and they watch movies with them - and when they aren't, it's because they're watching it on their TV. They open the APIs for Siri, and there you go - You not only get audio content, but video too.

I have been listening to the podcasts too, and there's a thread on another forum I go on all about people using their Echo, but it would easily just get covered in dust in my household.

My most used app on my phone is the camera.
 

Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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Yeah everyone's use cases will be different. Still I think we need to get beyond "there's an app for that". But that would also require Apple make Siri better. Not better at giving me cutesy or sarcastic answers but really becoming useful. And where Siri could beat Alexa is Siri isn't just in your home it's pretty much with you wherever you go. But since Apple released it in 2011 others have surpassed it in usefulness. Same thing with iMessage. When are we going to see API for Siri or iMessageKit? Or is Apple perfectly fine with people living in Facebook and Messenger on iOS devices?
 

pedrom

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Jan 30, 2016
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Yeah everyone's use cases will be different. Still I think we need to get beyond "there's an app for that". But that would also require Apple make Siri better. Not better at giving me cutesy or sarcastic answers but really becoming useful. And where Siri could beat Alexa is Siri isn't just in your home it's pretty much with you wherever you go. But since Apple released it in 2011 others have surpassed it in usefulness. Same thing with iMessage. When are we going to see API for Siri or iMessageKit? Or is Apple perfectly fine with people living in Facebook and Messenger on iOS devices?
Pretty much any modern statistic shows that mobile browser usage keeps going down in favor of app usage. And it happens. The last companies holding are news/rumours media outlets and...

There's an app for that.

There was a time where all was going "cloudy" and cross platform and whatnot, but not anymore. Apps usage keeps going up (%), API levels keep getting lower and more specific, etc. EVerything is getting more "native". Even Chrome.
 

Jessica Lares

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Oct 31, 2009
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I don't see them NOT announcing APIs for Siri at WWDC this year. Bots will be next year, when companies will have a more definitive idea on what works best for them and can make an experience that isn't constantly changing and will end up confusing people between uses. Apple probably doesn't mind developers using Facebook as a sandbox instead of them.
 

Rogifan

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I don't see them NOT announcing APIs for Siri at WWDC this year. Bots will be next year, when companies will have a more definitive idea on what works best for them and can make an experience that isn't constantly changing and will end up confusing people between uses. Apple probably doesn't mind developers using Facebook as a sandbox instead of them.
I'm very interested about WWDC this year. The rumor mill, aka Mark Gurman has been pretty silent so far this year and usually by now Apple would have announced WWDC dates. Outside of iPad Pro software improvements what are obvious things they're likely to announce. I'd say Siri API but I could have said that in 2014 or 2015 too...
 

Pakaku

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Aug 29, 2009
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Apple seems to usually hype things to profit off them short-term, and if it survives longer than that, all the better for Apple. If they suddenly stopped making money off the App Store, they've already made a ton of money off of app sales anyways.
 

ApfelKuchen

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Aug 28, 2012
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The app "thing" goes way, way back, to the launch of Mac (and earlier, of course). App availability has been a key issue for Mac since the beginning, and Apple wasn't going to let that happen a second time.

You need to give people reasons to buy into a platform. In some cases, those functions can be built into the OS. In other cases, users needs are more task/profession-focused, or more sophisticated than a general-purpose tool (like Notes, let's say), can accomplish, or are too "niche," cover fields where the OS developer has no expertise.... Different folks need different approaches to the same tasks (different workflows, metaphors, etc.). Is it really possible for Apple or Microsoft to imagine every possible use for a computer? Is it reasonable to expect every end-user to adapt general-purpose tools to their specific requirements? In computing, if the device is limited to what the manufacturer can reasonably accomplish, the platform may never achieve critical mass.

Sure, many apps could be browser-based - often, they use a web-based back end. However, unless the end user makes an icon for each web-based application, accessing those apps is a two-step process - open Safari, open Bookmark/access already-opened page. Further, it's harder to monetize web pages - people are conditioned to getting the web for free.

Apps are tools, and you can look at apps vs. Safari as you might a toolbox. Sure, every mechanic has socket wrench sets and interchangable-bit screwdriver sets with every imaginable size socket and bit, but he/she will also have dedicated hand tools in their most-commonly-used sizes - screwdrivers and socket drivers, crescent and box-end wrenches, etc.

Siri, meantime, is a UI. It can only accomplish those tasks that tie into the UI. Over time, Siri will hook into every function of every app. For now, we're still in the general-purpose stage, where it only ties into a limited number of Apple-developed functions. Most complaints about Siri are focused on what it can't do, and the best way to achieve can-do is, again, to let millions of developers loose.
 

MacsRgr8

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Sep 8, 2002
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When the iPhone launched in 2007, Apple didn't deliver a platform for apps, and the iPhone was very, very useable.

It took a while before Apple decided how to enable the development and distribution of apps, and one it did start, Apple fell in love with the apps.
It's the software that sells the hardware. Make sure developers build apps for your platform, and your platform will flourish.

A mobile OS without apps nowadays is useless.

Apple hopes this way of thinking works on Apple TV and Apple Watch too. It works on the iPad because it's a copy of the iPhone. And arguably you can start thinking that maybe Apple is missing the point on tablets... it's hard to figure out what Apple is exactly trying to do with the iPad Pro series, IMHO.

I think apps are a of extreme importance on the iPhone. And Apple knows very well how to position the iPhone.
The iPad? Less so
The Apple Watch? Even less.
The Apple TV? I think Apple has gone wrong here.

But, it's better to have some sort of device than nothing, I suppose.
 

jaymzuk

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Jun 1, 2012
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I'm sure they'll announce APIs. After all, their most successful product lines (iPhone & iPad) have been built upon a cornerstone of making a great platform and leaving app developers to figure it out. The watch won't really take off until it opens up to developers and an ecosystem develops
 

Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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My point is this doesn't all have to be accomplished with apps. If I just want to order flowers for my mom for Mother's Day I don't need a 1-800-Flowers app to do it. How about Apple open up Siri and iMessage to developers?
 

Jessica Lares

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Oct 31, 2009
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Near Dallas, Texas, USA
My point is this doesn't all have to be accomplished with apps. If I just want to order flowers for my mom for Mother's Day I don't need a 1-800-Flowers app to do it. How about Apple open up Siri and iMessage to developers?
Why not just call them and talk to a real person? They are 1-800-Flowers afterall. You can even have Siri dial it for you.
 

ApfelKuchen

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Aug 28, 2012
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My point is this doesn't all have to be accomplished with apps. If I just want to order flowers for my mom for Mother's Day I don't need a 1-800-Flowers app to do it. How about Apple open up Siri and iMessage to developers?
I'm sure that further Siri integration is in the works (consider how Siri search is being extended to Apple TV apps). iMessage is a separate question. Not sure whether Apple would want to encourage extensibility of features (plug-ins) - it might undermine trust at a time when Apple has to build trust in the security of the platform.

However, bots and plugins are not going to stop companies from offering shopping apps. They're not creating apps because they want Siri, or might like launching from iMessage rather than Safari. They want the kind of exclusivity that comes when a customer chooses to shop with a preferred vendor. It keeps the customers off the browser, where they may search by product name and find a better price elsewhere. Apps help maintain a direct relationship between retailer and customer.

The whole Bots thing is just another take on plug-ins. FaceBook, Google, and their ilk have the same motivation for keeping customers within their private bubble as retailers do. The more dependent FaceBook users are upon the features of FaceBook's apps, the less dependent they are upon the features of any given operating system - a consistent user experience on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac. Long term, are we looking at another FaceBook attempt to launch its own hardware and operating environment?
 

Tech198

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Mar 21, 2011
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My most used app on my phone is the camera.
Hardly use the camera, if even on iPhone..

Its true that u can have voice assistants connected to Wi-fi and u don't need a phone, just to ask a question, convenient, but these devices are all connected to their own stores respectively... since they wanna pull u in much like Apple does.

What's better ? having a mission apps on a phone u have a choice to pick and choose or one or two bloated apps that do just about anything u could name ?


If u have one app that does too much, we all complain no one can fine anything.. If there are too many apps,,, people won't use them, so whats wrong with that ?

choice is better than no choice, but even when apps start of simple, they always branch out to something that becomes and manages like a truck in the end.. Only gotta look at iTunes to know this...

It handles music, syncing our phones, purchasing, and streaming..

I like using apps, but when we're after features, they won't stay easy to use for much longer.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Original poster
Nov 14, 2011
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I'm sure that further Siri integration is in the works (consider how Siri search is being extended to Apple TV apps). iMessage is a separate question. Not sure whether Apple would want to encourage extensibility of features (plug-ins) - it might undermine trust at a time when Apple has to build trust in the security of the platform.

However, bots and plugins are not going to stop companies from offering shopping apps. They're not creating apps because they want Siri, or might like launching from iMessage rather than Safari. They want the kind of exclusivity that comes when a customer chooses to shop with a preferred vendor. It keeps the customers off the browser, where they may search by product name and find a better price elsewhere. Apps help maintain a direct relationship between retailer and customer.

The whole Bots thing is just another take on plug-ins. FaceBook, Google, and their ilk have the same motivation for keeping customers within their private bubble as retailers do. The more dependent FaceBook users are upon the features of FaceBook's apps, the less dependent they are upon the features of any given operating system - a consistent user experience on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac. Long term, are we looking at another FaceBook attempt to launch its own hardware and operating environment?
This is why I'm skeptical about bots. It's the hyped tech of the month but it seems more for the benefit of Facebook and Microsoft (neither of whom have a popular mobile OS) and their business model than for the benefit of consumers. Let's face it, Facebook wants to be the new AOL and would love it if everyone spent all their time in Facebook or Messenger. Having said that I'm still not convinced that an app for everything is the right way either. I think Amazon is on to something with the Echo but that's only in your home. Siri is on your phone and with you wherever you go. Personally I think Apple could and should be doing so much more with Siri. And iMessage too, though I understand the privacy concerns with both.