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How Mobile Apps Are Reinventing the Worst of the Software Industry 333

An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, says the mobile app ecosystem is getting out of hand. 'Your platform now has a million apps? Amazing! Wonderful! What they don't tell you is that 99% of them are awful junk that nobody would ever want.' Atwood says most companies trying to figure out how to get users to install their app should instead be figuring out just why they need a mobile app in the first place. Fragmentation is another issue, as mobile devices continue to speciate and proliferate. 'Unless you're careful to build equivalent apps in all those places, it's like having multiple parallel Internets. "No, sorry, it's not available on that Internet, only the iOS phone Internet." Or even worse, only on the United States iOS phone Internet.' Monetization has turned into a race to the bottom, and it's led to worries about just what an app will do with the permissions it's asking for. Atwood concludes, 'The tablet and phone app ecosystem is slowly, painstakingly reinventing everything I hated about the computer software industry before the web blew it all up.'"
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How Mobile Apps Are Reinventing the Worst of the Software Industry

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  • Re:What can be done? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@NOsPam.hackish.org> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @04:46PM (#46338575)

    Often it is done in HTML5 too, by the same people. I've uninstalled several websites' apps because the apps were actually less featureful, slower, and buggier than just using the website in a mobile browser. A common organizational reason for this is when the mobile app was contracted out to a third party dev shop as a one-off. When it first came out, it might've been on par or better than the mobile site. But then it never gets updated, because it was just an outside contract job, while the website is actually maintained and quickly surpasses the bitrotting mobile app.

  • Re:Get an iPhone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:23PM (#46339019) Homepage Journal

    Well why not own an iPhone then? What the hell is the point of having a smartphone unless you can take advantage of the world of applications?

    Because iPhone owners can't "take advantage of the world of applications". For one thing, if I switched to an iPhone, I'd lose access to Wi-Fi network cataloging and troubleshooting apps like MozStumbler [slashdot.org] and WiFi-Where [wikipedia.org], which Apple forbids in the App Store [dvice.com] because it refuses to provide the required public API. For another, if I switched to an iPhone, running apps I developed myself would cost $748 extra for the first year for a second computer and a certificate and $99 extra for each additional year to renew the certificate.

  • by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @05:31PM (#46339123)

    You are relentlessly confusing my comparison. I am squarely comparing the PC to the smartphone. Not phones to other phones.

    Your primary excuse seems to be that a smartphone, which is slower and less advanced than a PC, is "good enough." If that were true, then the PC would have stopped advancing in 1998.

    Your other excuse is that "people are buying them" therefore they are good, which is pure dumbass.

    When the smartphone was invented, there were more than one billion PCs on the planet. The notion that normal people weren't using computers before smartphones is also pure dumbass.

    I vehemently disagree with the idea that smartphones are computers. Smartphones are elaborate televisions, and the "software" they make available is simply repeated attempts at building a channel-changing interface.

    That is not making computing more available to the normal user. Education makes computing more available.

    Smartphones do not allow users to compute anything. They cannot create or build anything. They cannot think with the aid of a smartphone. They simply point and grunt and a new picture appears. They are screens upon which are displayed colorful, annoying ads. Nothing more.

    There's a technical term for that: television.

  • Re:What can be done? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2014 @06:09PM (#46339483) Homepage

    I suppose 98% of the rest 2% can be done today in HTML5. :)

    Yup, just as long as you are willing to give up any sense of decent UI, performance, etc. Mobile devices are shockingly bad at rendering HTML at a good rate, and I'm yet to see a HTML5 page that properly scales to different screen sizes, has good information density, or works properlly offline.

    That's not to say these things aren't possible, but I have to assume that they are very hard because nobody seems to be doing them.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling