Tag: apps

Government expert says apps are pointless

22260927371_52cd33ca75Ben Terrett, the former head of design at the UK Government Digital Service has sparked a row by pointing out that mobile apps are pointless.

Terrett had been chatting GovInsider which had told him about the Indonesian city with a target of 300 mobile apps built by government per year. As citizens increasingly use smartphones, officials believe this is the best way to reach them. However, Terrett banned apps at GDS.

For those who came in late the UK GDS was the first government digital service in the world, and is held up as a global pioneer for its award-winning approach. Terrett is responsible for creating services that have been copied all over the world.

He said that apps were difficult because they were too expensive to make and very expensive to maintain. However, they were also not needed because you could still reach a mobile population by building responsive websites.

Sites can adapt to any screen size, work on all devices, and are open to everyone to use regardless of their device. When an upgrade is required, only one-platform needs recoding.

It is strange that no one noticed this before. Apps were part of Apple marketing and took over the world’s thinking. Why should you create a programme to do something when HTML does the job just as well and citizens will be looking for the service first on Google?

 

Mobile apps getting mature

A survey by Gartner has revealed that after eight years using smarthone applications, the penny has dropped with people and their interest in apps has “mellowed”.

That means that developers need to sharpen their wits and concentrate on keeping people happy by better development, better marketing and better branding.

Gartner conducted a survey of 2,000 people in the USA and Germany and looked at how people intend to use their apps in the future.

App use is high in all categories but unsurprisingly social media and video are top of the pops.

Gartner concludes that peoples’ engagement with apps could be reaching a plateau and that will force product managers to create and make money in different ways because people just won’t change their app consumption patterns.

People, however, “remain excited” about what apps can do for them.

Android app randomly takes photos, tweets them to NSA

A Redditor has built an Android app that randomly takes photographs and auto-tweets them to the National Security Agency.

“USA PRISM Plus” lets you select when to tweet random and secretly taken photographs to the NSA.

The description reads: “USA PRISM Plus will randomly, secretly take photos and tweet them, either straight to the National Security Agency, or just to your friends”.

There are options available to limit when the photos are taken and exactly what is tweeted.

App user Tom Fischer said in a review: “A pocket full of patriotism. He who would trade liberty for security deserves a smooth, hassle-free user experience.

“Freedom has never been so convenient”.

Another reviews reads: “Privacy no more! NSA now have bigger chance than ever to watch over all me and my wife activities 24/7. We have nothing to hide to the US government (FYI, I’m not resident in US at all), and I’m sure they will use this useful information about me to catch more terrorists (I don’t know how, but I’m sure they are)”.

Windows 8 can't pull developers

Microsoft’s new operating system is having problems attracting developers needed to create its app store.

According to Network World, Windows 8 may be exciting for its cross-platform access, but  developers remain wary of building apps, even if Microsoft has asked nicely with a cherry on top.

Vole put its hands on its heart and promised that cross-platform development across Windows 8 on a desktop to Windows Phone 8 would be a doddle. However, the word is that developers are still not getting the support they want.

This is happening when the numbers are stacked against it. Google Play has 675,000 apps and Apple has 700,000. While a huge chunk of those apps are trash, it does mean that developers have devoted time writing them.

One of the problems that Vole faces is that developers have already made huge investments in other platforms and don’t want to support another one.

While more than 80 percent of developers say they are interested in writing Android and iOS apps, only half of that want to write for Vole.

Microsoft is doing better than RIM. Only 16 percent want to write for the Blackberry which is the developer’s equivalent of getting a paper cut.

Tales are filtering into the developer sphere that Microsoft’s own policies are making it difficult for them to get apps accepted.

Writing in his blog, Jeffrey Harmon finally had his app accepted after six rejections. The last time the code was accepted by not changing any of the code, but just resubmitting it. He admits that his code initially failed because there was something wrong with it, but after the corrections were made the fact that it continued to fail was the fault of the certification process.

He wrote that Microsoft had done a great job with the tools and documentation, but where it really falls down though is in the last mile, app submission. 

China experiences staggering Android and iOS app use growth

iOS and Android applications are becoming more and more popular in the huge growth market that is China.

According to analysts at Flurry, while China ranked 10th in application sessions at the beginning of 2011, it has now jumped to second place behind the United States.

It is starting to look like China has become the world’s second largest app economy. According to the report, China now leads in new smart device adoption, specifically iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.

The Chinese also spend more time using apps, with the length of time using them going up by over a staggering 1100 percent between the first quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

The report notes that China’s growth rate is particularly impressive given that it was already the world’s 7th largest country in terms of app sessions by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

In January 2011, the US accounted for 28 percent of the world’s total iOS and Android device activations, while China accounted for eight percent. In February, Flurry worked out that China surpassed the United States in monthly new iOS and Android device activations for the first time in history.

This makes China the world’s fastest growing smart device market. For March, Flurry thinks China will account for 24 percent of all iOS and Android device activations, while the US will account for 21 percent. 

Google forces app makers to use its payment service

Search engine Google has been giving its app and mobile game developers a chinese burn until they use its Google Wallet service.

Google Wallet is not the payment service of choice for developers because it is more costly, but it seems that the search engine has been speaking softly and carrying a large stick to encourage its adoption.

The use of an integrated payment system has been one of the reasons that Apple did so well, and it seems that Google is trying to repeat the experiment in a bid to squeeze the maximum revenue from its Andriod operating system.

Google warned several developers in recent months that if they continued to use other payment methods, includingPayPal, Zong and Boku that their apps would be removed from Android Market.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald developers have been moaning that Google is telling them that it wants to simplify consumer payments, hoping apps-buying will rise and offset their higher costs.

But Google’s payment service charges a higher cut per transaction than some rivals’ and the fact the outfit is forcing developers to use it might anger any anti-trust watchdog that might be watching.

In one email sent to a developer in late August, Google said the developer had 30 days to comply, otherwise the developer’s apps would be “suspended” from Android Market. 

Apps cost more on Android

Industry watchers at Canalys have found that the 100 top developers on Android’s Market are charging customers 2.5 times the price of the iPhone’s iOS equivalent.

In its App Interrogator survey, Canalys found that to buy the top 100 Android apps in the US would cost $374.37, or an average of $3.74 per app. By comparison, the top 100 paid for iPhone apps cost $147.00, or $1.47 per app. One reason for this could be that the Android Market caters for a range of devices, including tablets, compared to the iPhone.

Canalys noted that there wasn’t much of a match for apps appearing in both charts. Only 19 in the US could be found in both top 100 lists. When they do appear on both stores, they are priced similarly, unless they’re undergoing an iOS promotion.

Senior analyst Tim Shepherd believes the report proves Android users act differently to iPhone users, which is, in part, to Android appearing “less consumer friendly”.

Apps or games that become a hit on the iPhone do not necessarily break the top spots with Android, the research says. As far as pricing goes, Shepherd thinks Apple has the edge – although its store is “mature”, the App Store is still a “very closely controlled retail environment”, which means companies must compete more to win business. 

“Price competitiveness is crucial in Apple’s store,” Shepherd said, “where the vast majority of top paid apps cost just $0.99, in a way that is not the case in the Android Market.” Games like Monopoly go for $5 on Android but can be bought for as little as $0.99 on Apple devices.

82 of the top 100 paid apps Canalys looked at were priced at just $0.99, however, in-app purchases are making up some of the difference. Shepherd thinks that particular feature also gives Apple developers an advantage, because the ecosystem isn’t as established over on Android.

App cartel bands together promising privacy

It seems the biggest names in the mobile apps business want to protect us from ourselves and are willing to go the extra mile to do it for us, at gun point.

Hot on the tail of Google’s Privacy Policy change, Larry Page, Google CEO received a letter from US lawmakers – underwritten by 36 Attorney-Generals – expressing “serious concern” about Google’s ‘flat-rate’ privacy policy that, it is said, isn’t cautioning users well enough on how to opt out in the first place, reports Reuters.

This has also prompted another warning from US lawmakers about the privacy concerns related to how mobile apps are picking at the carcass of the consumer. According to Kamala D. Harris, California’s Attorney-General, developers aren’t being diligent enough in warning users of the ways their private data will be used.

Harris further pointed out that the vast majority of today’s most popular apps will not provide specific privacy notices on how your personal data is accessed. To make matters worse, some apps will tap directly into your address book, willingly or not, to access your contact’s details.

The stern heads-up from top US lawmakers has been underlined by an impending threat of litigation in case nothing is done to protect users’ private data. Harris drove the message home: “We can sue and we will sue.”

In a moment’s notice Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, HP and RIM have rallied a covenant and agreed on a course of action to placate any types of privacy concerns Federal and State government may have.

The acts of contrition and redemption performed by this Hexarchy of Masters of the Mobile Internet will go through an initial process of expressing even greater concern and chastising developers who fail to provide users with adequate notice. This is followed by a patronising pat on the back and kudos as the companies update their developer programmes with enough legal jargon to tank a Supreme Court Justice, in the hopes it will bar app developers from stealing your private data, and avoiding being sued in the process.

However, there is no law in the land that will force people to read EULA / privacy notices when they simply can’t bother to skim through the legal jargon. How many times have you shrugged, scrolled down and clicked ‘OK’, even though you know better?

Apple’s App Store and Google Android Market number almost 1,000,000 apps, of which 35 billion downloads have been made, added Harris. The figure is expected to reach 98 billion by 2015, generating a $25 billion market for mobile app revenues.

With WOA on the horizon and provided it is met with moderate success, this prediction will definitely short-change the reality of mobile App revenues.

Businesses plan huge mobile spend

Businesses in the UK and the US are planning to double their mobile product spending over the next 18 months, according to a survey.

Antenna Software had Vanson Bourne survey 1,000 CIOs in the UK and the US. The survey found that 43 percent of the companies surveyed are already working on a mobile app for customers, while 42 percent are building mobile apps for their employees to use.

It seems companies are waking up to the fact mobile is here to stay. Just under half of companies surveyed said that they are working on mobile websites for customers. Frustrations among CIOs include the speed at which they can get software onto the market, while 42 percent claimed that at the moment, building services is far too expensive. The average time frame for a completed project was over six months.

Of the companies surveyed, the average all-time investment was £269,000. However, over the next 18 months that is expected to reach £590,000.

Businesses would be beyond foolish at this point to ignore the mobile phenomena. It’s clear to most industry watchers that there are plenty of opportunities to be found in mobile. It’s about convenience and usability.

An example is eBay. Along with other retailers it has seen a tremendous shift in consumer shopping habits.

“Definitely we’re doing more mobile marketing, we’re investing in developing and improving our apps, and we have a new mobile team in Europe specifically to drive the business forward,” an eBay spokesperson said. “This is all additional spending. The big picture is we’re targeting $8bn in global revenue from mobile in 2012, having achieved $5bn in 2011.”

What really matters isn’t solely being present on mobile platforms – but getting that presence right with the best kind of usability and end-experience to fit the customer.

Users complain Android app promotion plagued with problems

To celebrate what Google said was the 10 billionth app download from the Android Marketplace, the company has been running a promotion to flog many of its top apps for as little as 10p. But there’s a problem.

Users have found some of the apps outright refusing to work on smartphones that they really should run on. Some are being greeted with “licensing errors” and can’t get past the first screen, or open apps at all. One user writes of Flick Golf: “Bought it and it errors, says it’s unlicensed”.

Another says: “License not working, authentication not working. I got it on the 10 cent special but can’t play the app.” User DK said: “License issues, just bought the app but it says I haven’t bought it. This sucks. I didn’t refund. I’ll wait for a FIX!”

Still on FlickGolf, WayneS writes: “10 cent deal fails. Downloaded under 10 cent offer, but will not run. Keeps asking for license, even though purchased under this deal. Don’t buy with this offer. It won’t work.”

Then there’s “Can’t install, broken DRM, won’t ven let me install” and “License issues! Just downloaded for 10 cents. Won’t let me play. US Sensation”. .

Meanwhile, Gameloft’s racing game Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD was attracting similar complaints when it was on sale yesterday. “Invalid license, won’t let me play, fix your broken DRM, don’t screw over paying customers!” said one user. Another said: “1 star until they fix license, won’t let me play due to ‘invalid’ license”.

Other customers for Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD claimed that, despite the deal, they were charged the full hefty price tag for the app. 

Others still are flagging incompatibility problems. This is a challenge for Android anyway, because the OS works across so many different form factors, screen sizes and with different hardware configurations and chipsets. But high-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy S2 are also struggling to make the most of the deal.

Galaxy S2 users are reporting that Gameloft’s Asphalt doesn’t work at all on their handsets, while another promoted app on sale, the NFL Rivals game, has been taking in dodgy reviews.

“Force close, constantly force closing,” said an HTC Rezound user. “Buyers beware,” began a Galaxy S2 user, “Like others, cannot get past first screen. Game crashes after a few seconds. It’s worthless.” 

“wtf, Galaxy S2 freezes too,” said Zhong, while Michael B said: “Can’t get this to work on my Galaxy S2”.

“Keeps crashing, crashes on zoom,” said a user, while another claimed he couldn’t play it on a Motorola Atrix 4G. 

“Won’t even install,” according to a customer called Thomas, “Says it’s compatible with my device, but it won’t even install. Will never buy anything from this crappy company again.”

While 10p a pop might not seem like much money from an individual perspective, it does beg the question how many people bought apps that simply didn’t work for them – and how much money the app makers raked in from Google’s high visibility promotion.

We have contacted Google for comment but, at time of publishing, it hasn’t said a word.