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Author Topic: Software is Boring, Apps are Fun (Hint: Apple Discussion again)  (Read 3060 times)
Paul Keith
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« on: March 18, 2011, 01:23:30 PM »

"Most of the software released these days, is boring. If you don’t believe me, browse around the software section of your favourite (online) retailer. See anything that excites you? No? Thought so."

[/size]

Quote
How different is the world of apps. Apps are fun! They usually do one thing really, really good. It’s not as if ground-breaking mobile apps are released everyday, but there’s more innovation here than there has been in software land in the past five years. These apps vary in price from free to a couple of local currency. Only a few are what you would call “expensive”. While it makes sense to have small, easy to use apps on your phone, I wonder whether it’s a good thing the apps are now making their way to desktop land.

Some of the comments:

Tim Acheson said:

"Apps" are overrated.

Most are either pointless gimmicks duplicating functionality already available in the web browser. Apps are popular on iOS partly because the web browser is so bad! (Flash doesn't work, etc.)

Please don't compare the "Apps (trademark)" on iOS and Android to the real software applications available on Windows including Windows 7 tablets.

This article sounds like it's written by somebody utterly brainwashed by Apple's marketing.

Author replies:

Quote
"This article sounds like it's written by somebody utterly brainwashed by Apple's marketing."

That's why I wrote this article: because people are going on and on about apps (and it's not hard to see why) - not about new software. I don't think it is necessarily a good thing that the app model makes its way to our desktops (It's not just the Mac App Store, but also the Chrome App thing and future Windows Marketplace that try to cash in on the app hype). Still, software could learn something from the user-friendliness the best apps have to offer. Compared to some of the crap that lands on my desk every week, these apps are HEAVEN.

Tim Acheson replies:

Quote
"people are going on and on about apps"


That's so true. Of course, the word "app" is just an abbreviation of the term "application", but from Apple's marketing you could be forgiven for believing that Apple invented the concept of software installed on a base OS! Indeed, Apple is actually trying to copyright "App" in the context of their App Store.

Quote
"Still, software could learn something"

So true -- many of the apps I've seen look beautiful. I even think web apps could be improved by taking lessons from software apps on mobile devices. I asked a UX designer I work with about this, and he pointed out that the smaller screen real estate forces him to focus on the interface like never before.

Food for Thought:

Consistent with the mega-trend that reached the knee of the hockey stick curve 3-4+ years ago - the hyper-fragmentation of all things digital. -Philip Hotchkiss
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Renegade
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2011, 07:42:20 PM »

Quote
The fact that the released software lacks innovation and often uses features that are standard in your OS already.

That is an example of what comes out of your mouth when you've been drinking the mobile kewl aid.

If you ignore what's happening in desktop/traditional software and only look at what's happening in mobile software, I suppose you could say that. You'd still be wrong, but you could say it.

Please allow me to blow the author away in a single word:

Melodyne.

The level of technology, innovation, mathematics, physics, and pure coolness in that is simply unmatched by ANYTHING in the mobile world. NOTHING comes remotely close.

It is way farther ahead of any research or academic theory out there.

To deny it that recognition is to not understand the issues involved.

They can separate individual components from mixed music. That's the same thing as taking a cake then giving you neatly arranged piles of sugar, flour, water and whole eggs that you could either scramble for fry sunny side up!

CHALLENGE:

I will give anyone all of the credits in my DC account if they can give an example of anything in the mobile world that comes close to that level of innovation.


Mobile is cool, and there's a lot of great stuff in there, but the hyperbole it just way too much.
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ak_
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2011, 09:09:39 PM »

Maybe software doesn't look exciting, but i guess it's actually what you can do with them that is exciting.
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Renegade
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2011, 09:31:20 PM »

Maybe software doesn't look exciting, but i guess it's actually what you can do with them that is exciting.

I think that's lost a lot of the time.

One of the "innovations" in mobile software (apps) is that they're so limited and simple that "features" don't get in the way of letting you get things done. If you think of some mobile app, then think of what it lets you do, then think of a desktop professional package that lets you do that, then compare the difficulty levels, it becomes more apparent just how bloated a lot of things on the desktop are becoming.
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ak_
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2011, 06:32:33 AM »

Renegade> Well, it's true for rather simple projects. If your project is simple, you'll do better with a simple tool (ie a mobile app). I can doodle on my ipad and make some nice stuff, but for serious work i'll switch to Photoshop, Manga Studio etc.
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Renegade
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2011, 07:37:08 AM »

Renegade> Well, it's true for rather simple projects. If your project is simple, you'll do better with a simple tool (ie a mobile app). I can doodle on my ipad and make some nice stuff, but for serious work i'll switch to Photoshop, Manga Studio etc.

The telling thing there is that you mentioned Photoshop. (I use it too and love it.)

It really puts people like you and I out of the picture. Wink We don't fit into the normal user demographic at that point.

I think that it suits what a lot of people want to do though. Photoshop makes you a god, but few people have divine aspirations. Most of what I do is relatively simple, but impossible on a mobile. I think most people have pretty simple needs.

The only thing that I really do much of on my mobile is read news and post it to Facebook every now and then. The form factor, for me, is simply too limiting and frustrating to use. But, it suits a lot of people.

Those like us out there will continue to crave the raw power you get on the desktop. Different strokes I suppose.

I think simplifying things makes functionality more accessible, which in turn is kind of like what you mentioned with "it's actually what you can do with them that is exciting." Most people can't do ANYTHING in Photoshop, but a doodle program is accessible.

Oh -- off topic, but have you seen any of those MS Paint videos where someone creates some wicked amazing art?
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« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2011, 10:18:32 AM »

Different strokes I suppose.
I think so. There's no need to say "Apps should be more like software" or the opposite, we just need both.

Ye, i saw those Ms Paint videos. It's a nice performance, but that's all it is to me.
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Renegade
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« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2011, 10:35:47 AM »

Different strokes I suppose.
I think so. There's no need to say "Apps should be more like software" or the opposite, we just need both.

I think you're right there, and I think that's a problem when people get religious about X or Y. We need screwdrivers and hammers after all. smiley
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JavaJones
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« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2011, 12:55:52 PM »

For me the divide between desktop and mobile app is very much about creation vs. consumption. On my desktop I spend a good portion of my time (or at least much more so than on my mobile) actually creating content/media, whether it's doing photo editing, writing emails, doing forum posts, blogging, rendering, or any one of a dozen other things. None of them I would do now, nor likely ever do, on a phone or tablet unless A: the input devices are much more capable and B: the speeds are comparable. On my phone virtually all my apps are consumption-oriented, from RSS feed readers to weather watchers to email to Facebook. The only "creation" I do is minuscule by comparison to my desktop experience: brief instant messages and texts. I've done a little bit of email on there but in most cases I'll have access to a proper computer soon enough that I don't bother.

All that being said sure I could see how desktop software is "boring". Guess what, that's the sign of a mature market. The app market is *not* mature, that's quite clear. I would venture to say its current appeal may have little to do with how great and different and "fun" apps are, and more to do with their newness and the fact that the app market hasn't reached maturity. In other words "this too shall pass", and soon enough we'll be talking about how apps are "played out" and "experiences" (e.g. "jacking in" a la Strange Days or any other cyberpunk story) are where it's at.

- Oshyan
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2011, 03:36:19 PM »

Apple paralyzed people in the name of 'GTD and less is more type' of thingy. Some jobs requires a lot of detailing and features, take any music software or finance software for example, they need a lot of features. Not a single mobile platform app, is going to solve this issue. You may find some apps doing job of desktop software, but you're limited with view, typing and many other thought inputs that makes you do better on desktop, not on mobile. So my point is in case of niche softwares (music, finance etc), you can attract customers but can't get them to run on longer term with apps. Desktop softwares come with detailing and features so these softwares.

Quote
I will give anyone all of the credits in my DC account if they can give an example of anything in the mobile world that comes close to that level of innovation.

Nokia 1110i and previous phones used to have feature to bar unwanted numbers, all modern nokia and sony erricson phones lack this feature in their mobile sets(as per my observation). Zen wisdom says, 'face yer fears, don't run away from it' and following that quote all the mobile app companies and apple cuts features like this which are necessary. That's ancient solution to demanding innovation Wink

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Renegade
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2011, 06:51:23 AM »

+1 for create vs. consume.

I think that will change though as input technology evolves, e.g. voice with decent environmental background noise filtering (see Melodyne above). Hopefully it will change.

What would be cool is to see "the room" as the computer. The next level in desktop computing. smiley

Apple paralyzed people in the name of 'GTD and less is more type' of thingy. Some jobs requires a lot of detailing and features, take any music software or finance software for example, they need a lot of features. Not a single mobile platform app, is going to solve this issue. You may find some apps doing job of desktop software, but you're limited with view, typing and many other thought inputs that makes you do better on desktop, not on mobile. So my point is in case of niche softwares (music, finance etc), you can attract customers but can't get them to run on longer term with apps. Desktop softwares come with detailing and features so these softwares.


I think that desktop and mobile need to compliment each other more than we see now. That would be exciting.


Quote
I will give anyone all of the credits in my DC account if they can give an example of anything in the mobile world that comes close to that level of innovation.

Nokia 1110i and previous phones used to have feature to bar unwanted numbers, all modern nokia and sony erricson phones lack this feature in their mobile sets(as per my observation). Zen wisdom says, 'face yer fears, don't run away from it' and following that quote all the mobile app companies and apple cuts features like this which are necessary. That's ancient solution to demanding innovation Wink


Might be ancient wisdom, but it's not earning you the rest of my credits~! smiley
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wraith808
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2011, 10:54:23 AM »

+1 for create vs. consume.

I agree to a certain point- though the lines are becoming blurred for me.  I use my ipad more and more during creation for ancillary benefits to the process, i.e. having reference up while I create on something else.  Though that's definitely consumption- it does feed into the creation process...
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JavaJones
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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2011, 01:51:10 PM »

I used to think voice input was going to be huge some day, but now I sort of hope not. Can you imagine sitting in a cafe with everyone talking to their smart phones? UGH! Sure the "background noise" tech for speech recognition may be improved to the point where that would work in a technical sense, but in a humanistic sense, it's not a world I want to live in.

Ultimately it's also not just about input devices either (though that's a big part of it). I guess maybe it's a feedback loop where the limited input controls, screen size, and processing power (compared to a desktop app) influence the app developer's programming and UI development to the point where consumption is the easiest and most well realized use case. The only way that's going to change is if these portable app-centric devices gain more CPU, more display size/resolution, and better input precision and speed. The latter is probably the most challenging, though there will be limitations on smart phone display size for the foreseeable future just as a matter of practicality (until they can beam it right into our brains cheesy).

Tablets are a bit different, and that's where I'd expect to see some divergence from the typical consumption-oriented app development paradigm, if at all. Certainly that has shown to be somewhat the case already, but I wonder how much that will really grow. There seems to be a practical limit to just how productive most people will be able to be on tablets without significant changes to the input systems and/or form factor.

- Oshyan
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Shades
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« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2011, 05:03:05 PM »

@JavaJones:
See the opening scenes from the movie, "the invention of lying'. Those show you the perfect example of awkwardness that voice input can establish   tongue
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