My iPhone and iPad have apps. Apps like Reeder, Twitter, and Facebook that take their web-based content and reformat it to fit the smaller screens, providing a more touch-friendly experience. My MacBook Pro and Hackintosh have applications and programs like Photoshop, InDesign, Final Cut Pro and Google Chrome. They harness the powerful graphics and processing ability of their superior computing platform to allow me to create websites, publications, logos, and in general do my job. Simple, right?
Apple, not content with this software model, wants to change everything. With the recent release of the Mac App Store, they want to blur the line between apps, applications, and programs. While they think moving to an iOS model on the OS X platform will further unify the two and simplify the process by which we get software onto our systems, I think it’s just confusing.
Now, there are apps on my computers. Lightweight, single-function apps like Twitter and Kindle. Apps that require me to periodically open the App Store, which I often forget that I have, in order to update. Apple thinks this is the easier way to do it. Am I missing something, or was an application telling me that an update is available when I launched it particularly cumbersome? “A new update is available for VLC, would you like to install?” *Clicks yes* Whew, that was hard! There has to be a better way!
Ok, maybe I’m being picky there. It is easy to have multiple apps update at once, and it is fun to watch them jump into your dock upon purchase. But do we really need them? Take Twitter, for example. It’s clunky to try to go to the web version of Twitter on your iPhone. The app is filling a need. On your desktop, however, you’re two clicks away if you have the site bookmarked. In fact, most of the things these optimized apps achieve are already elegantly done in-browser.
And what about creative professionals like myself? While Apple has it’s iLife and iWork apps available for purchase in the App Store, their strict regulations will keep the programs that I use daily on the outside looking in. I kinda sorta understand the strict rules in the iOS app store, but porting those same rules over to a store for a full-fledged computer just doesn’t make sense. We’re big kids Apple, we can handle the responsibility that comes with running big kid apps.
I’m not saying this won’t find its niche. For people who could do all their daily computing on an iPad, I’m sure this and the further iOSification of OS X coming in Lion will be a hit. Those folks will love its simplicity, and feature that little blue marble prominently in their dock. But for those of us who require real programs to do our daily duties, there just isn’t an app for that.
(Wait a minute… this article was written on an iPad app and tweeted using Twitter for Mac. I reject my entire argument!)