iPhone AppStore: user and developer complaints

iPhone AppStore: user and developer complaints

Ben Wilson
3 min read

In the days since the AppStore's debut, we discovered a few issues with iTunes 7.7, iPhone OS 2.0, and the mechanisms for interacting with applications. Likewise, developers are expressing concerns regarding application placement in AppStore listings, deployment of updates, application debugging, SDK limitations, app distribution issues and the rating/review system.

User Complaints

The update mechanism in iTunes exhibits a few mildly significant bugs. In house, we were presented with an application update through iTunes, appearing as a "1" next to the Applications entry in the iTunes sidebar. The notification was accompanied by the following message lower right hand side of the iTunes screen: "1 Update Available."

Clicking that message brought us to a screen that showed not only one application needing an update, but also nine others. The lack of an accurate update count appears to be a bug.

You might also see two alerts: one that tells you that updates are available and gives you an option to view them or one that tells you none are available. We've since discovered that this is a documented bug that Apple is aware of documented under Bug ID #6072194.

In addition, we confirmed with one game developer that a purported update was actually the original version submitted to the AppStore.

Developer Complaints

Developers have expressed some concern over application placement in the iTunes App store "Sort By: Name" listing. Initially there was some controversy regarding the fact that developers submitted their Apps with extra spaces added to the front of their Apps title. This would immediately place that developers App at the top of the list, perhaps unfairly providing a viewership advantage. Apple quietly resolved the problem by fixing the listing system. This change effectively put apps where they belonged in the first place.

We also received complaints from developers about that fact that updates were not being deployed fast enough, if at all. Updates on Sunday prior to that were actually of the same version of Apps previously purchased or downloaded. It's unclear why the duplicate updates appeared. Some theorize that Apple was testing the waters for updates prior to pushing others in mass out to iTunes.

One developer in particular lamented the fact that there are currently no venues for distributing review copies, offering discounts or sales on apps. Users pay full price no matter what until Apple changes some of its policies.

Yet another developer voiced a complaint about the "sandboxed" environment surrounding iPhone Apps. Bugs reported by users are hard to track or even get feedback about that would be used to determine the cause of the bug. Beta testing in a user environment is non-existent. This makes confirming whether or not the bug is fixed prior to releasing a new version of the App next to impossible.

Another complaint from developers concerns the restrictions placed on them by Apple's SDK. Developers cannot patch into dialing to provide voice dialing, the camera to allow for video recording, or to add many missing features to the iPhone. Many developers are abandoning the development of some quality apps because of the limitations.

Reviews on the iTunes Apps store are also of are major concern for some developers. Of primary importance is the fact that users of the iTunes App store can post reviews without first having purchased and trying the product.