Today is the tenth birthday of Apple’s App Store, which is hard to believe. It makes me feel my age just a bit as I type this. On the one hand, it’s hard to remember the world of mobile devices and smartphones before it, because it is so much a part of everyday life today. On the other hand, I also remember the Summer of 2008 like it was yesterday.
In case you haven’t already heard, earlier this week Apple reversed an earlier approval of Steam’s Steam Link app for iOS and tvOS, and has now rejected it based on what was initially termed as “business conflicts with app guidelines.” Well, whoever in marketing or PR at Apple dropped that line should think before they speak, because most of the controversy surrounding this decision is based on that poorly-worded quote.
I have never engaged in substantive political discussion here on the site, and its not something I plan to make a habit of. I only bring this issue up now, since the current re-awakening of the gun control debate has curiously intersected with Apple in a way that I doubt they ever would have foreseen.
In case anyone either wonders or cares, here is my baseline- I am not a Republican or a Democrat. In fact, I absolutely loathe the modern incarnations of both mainline political parties and the weak and pathetic candidates they routinely trot out. If that offends you, then you should probably stop reading now, because I am not sorry for it. I am a card-carrying Libertarian, and I am a Conservative by the classic definition, not the strange and decidedly not Conservative Republican one.
As for guns, I will say this for the record. I am a lifelong gun owner and shooter. I have hunted with my Dad since I was a kid. I received a lot of valuable instruction on how to handle and respect firearms while I was young, so I know what they are capable of and handle and use them accordingly. I still own many guns, but none of them are what you would call “assault weapons.” I am not an NRA member because I don’t approve of their use of fear tactics to hold a hard and unrealistic line on gun control.
If you’ve been reading this site over the last year, you may have come across one of my many rants on the Apple TV. It’s a platform that I used to love. A device I thought had so much promise just a few years ago. I was excited to get one back in late 2015, when Tim Cook told us “The future of TV is apps.” I thought that, at long last, Apple had finally taken the next step with their television platform.
While in-app purchases turned into dopamine-powered cash registers and Candy Crush knock-offs have dominated the App Store gaming scene in recent years, there are occasionally exceptions that show what is possible on the iOS platform and potentially what could haven been the norm. GRID Autosport from Feral Interactive (actually from CodeMasters originally, but ported to iOS by Feral), which was released for the iPhone and iPad a few weeks ago, is one such a example.
So who here is still playing games on their iPhones or iPads? Maybe I’m just jaded and cynical thanks to the once-bright gaming future that Apple never quite delivered on. While I can understand that many may disagree with me, it is hard to ignore how different things are at the moment in comparison with the salad days of 2009-2012, when apps were all the mainstream rage and games were at the heart of it all.
I’ve been using iOS 11 on my iPad Pro since I got my new 12.9” model, but I held off installing it on my iPhone until last week. I absolutely rely on my phone when I am in the field at work, and couldn’t afford outages, crashes, or widespread app incompatibility. I waited until I was sure that none of those issues would drag me down, and I’m glad that I did. I’ve had a good experience with 11 on my phone, so far.
iOS 11 is a far bigger and more wide-reaching upgrade on the iPad than the iPhone, so not too much jumped out at me at first beyond the new Control Center. However, once I started using it, the App Store quickly became the most notable difference for me between iOS 10 and 11 on the small screen. While I had looked through the App Store a bit on my iPad and updated my apps, I really didn’t notice how big a difference the new design made until I started using it on the iPhone, with its single-column layout.
Apple announced some huge numbers yesterday for the App Store. Crazy big numbers in fact:
— Customers spent over $10 billion in the App Store in 2013
— Over $1 billion was spent last December alone
— Almost 3 billion apps were downloaded in December, which was the most successful month in App Store history.
Jon Gruber adds some useful perspective on how striking this is:
Interesting comparison to today’s App Store announcement. Apple’s retail stores, which the company started in 2001 and which sell hardware costing thousands of dollars a pop, generate $20 billion in annual revenue. The App Store, which started in 2008 and predominantly sells apps costing a few bucks a pop, is already at $10 billion in annual revenue.
These are incredible numbers and it’s still a little amazing to see the momentum and impact of mobile apps. I know I’ve done my share to contribute to those crazy figures – to the tune of hundreds and hundreds of iOS apps purchased.
Apple has published their App Store ‘Best of 2013’ selections and the Disney Animated iPad app has been chosen as App of the Year. Here’s the brief text endorsing the selection:
This enchanting tour of Disney’s legendary film vault awes with a bounty of animated sequences , interactive character models, and a spellbinding presentation.
Badland is the choice for Game of the Year:
With haunting visuals and great controls, Frogmind’s side-scroller is an absolute joy. Alone or with friends, you’ll love overcoming each brilliantly designed challenge.
Runners up in the App and game categories are Traktor DJ and WWF Together (Apps) and XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Impossible Road (games).
I think Disney Animated is a very good choice; I know my daughter has spent huge amounts of time with it and loves it to bits. WWF Together is another excellent choice.
You can see the selections now in the App Store Featured section, and also check out Apple’s picks for movies, music and more in the iTunes store.
If you’ve ever used Paypal as your payment method for the App Store / iTunes you may have noticed that Apple seems to have quite a serious vendetta going against Paypal. I’ve used Paypal as my payment method since the very beginning of the App Store and several times over the years the iTunes Store has hit me with messages and roadblocks suggesting that Paypal was ‘not an accepted payment method’.
Well, I’m here to tell you that is nonsense. Paypal has always been an accepted method and it still is now.
This morning I had one of these occasions where the App Store got its knickers in a twist – apparently because there was some issue with payment for an In-App purchase I made recently. For some reason the payment did not clear successfully with Paypal. My balance in Paypal is always far larger than needed to cover any iTunes purchases – so I imagine on that particular day the App Store was just unable to hit the Paypal authorization server or some such circumstance. In any case, I never received any sort of notification of a failed purchase at all – from the ITunes store or Paypal.
The App Store is heading for another big milestone – one million apps. And apps designed for the iPad now account for more than one third of those available in the App Store, despite the iPad being released nearly two years after the App Store opened.
The last announced numbers from Apple, back on their Q3 earnings call, were 900,000 apps total and 375,00 iPad apps. Appsfire.com recently tweeted that the store had hit the 950,000 apps mark – and Appshopper.com shows 953,218 available apps as I type this.
One million apps will be a notable milestone for the App Store. 500,000 iPad apps will be a big one for the iPad as well – and I imagine that’s not far off. We should see a new iPads Apple event next month and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of detail on all these big numbers.