App-less world: Why the App paradigm is flawed

tl;dr 

Apps interrupt the tasks we want to do. Wouldn't it be great if the tasks themselves were center stage rather than the places we do them?

My App World

I have over 600 apps upward of 90% of which are either defunct, outdated or I simply don't use. There is a core of say 140 apps that are organised in an ad-hoc manner on my 10+ screens. To be honest I rarely navigate past the 3rd screen and more commonly use spotlight to find an app.

Spotlight has in fact become my default way in finding an app so much so that I even use for apps that are on the second page. For me Spotlight is possibly the best software application Apple has ever made. Yep I'm serious. 

So if it's so good what's the problem? Well consider this scenario ...

What's Matt Up To?

I wonder what Matt is up to this evening. Matt is one of my goto guys I seek when I'm in the mood to banter about non-important-near-meaningless issues amongst other things.

where is Matt?

We work some distance apart so I can't rock up to his work. Anyhow I don't know if he's at work. I can't call him right now because I'm at work, also he doesn't answer his phone when he's at work. Finds it too distracting he says. I think I'll contact him via an app. 

Here is my messaging screen 

 

Apart for the mail app's each icon represents a different wall gardened communication network. Matt's not on all of these but is on most. That's part of the problem. Remembering where he has presence and where he doesn't. Even on networks where he has presence is he there now?

So what should I do? In general I "guess". I know he's probably at work right now and tends to turn off his phone so my chosen method must be desktop bound. Like me I always have a browser open and gmail is always one of the tabs... soooo I guess I could try GTalk.. 

It's all too hard. I'm investing more time in the mechanics of communication rather than communicating. If only there was a way I could just say "What's up Mat" and my device figures out where Mat is and handles the decision seamlessly.

Not A New Issue

The above problem is not a new one. Back in 2007 I joined a company (trutap) that was on the verge of solving this problem for the then virgining messaging market. Our V2 app communicated over all your presences (Yahoo / ICQ / Blogger / GTalk / facebook etc). When you messaged it figured out where you were and just like  I wanted above. 

Unfortunately we ran out of funding and it didn't see the light of day.

Imagine now if you could simply talk to your phone and it do the above without even opening an app. It just figures stuff out. This is what Siri and the like are eventually going to do however they not quite there yet.

Social Network Of 1

There are loads of articles about Ping's demise 

Ping announced 

Ping announced 

For everyone who has already forgotten Ping was Apple's attempt at social networking around music. It was poorly implemented, closed (could not access outside of  iTunes) and pretty much useless. 

Thankfully Apple realised this.

Apple-No-Longer-Accepting-Subscriptions-to-Ping.png

Conceptually it wasn't a bad idea. Create a social experience around music. Fans who love artist and their music could connect with the artist directly through iTunes while also 'like' and comment on the artists music. 

You could what they were hoping for in their marketing imagery. 

I believe they hoped that this would lead to more sales of iTunes content primarily however I also believe they had another agenda.

iTunes is really poor at suggesting content to me. I mean really poor. In fact I cannot believe It's just me. I struggle to believe the iTunes Store front page is good at suggesting content to anyone. It's 100% curated content and takes none of your preferences / behaviours into consideration.  

If you like Beyoncé you must like Sam Smith, which means you must love Frozen... and Ed Sheeran... gesssh, I know, you adore her... I mean him 

If you like Beyoncé you must like Sam Smith, which means you must love Frozen... and Ed Sheeran... gesssh, I know, you adore her... I mean him 

Even if you overlook the awful layout it really is a poor start page for the biggest music store in the world. There is nothing in the image about I am interested in.

I'm part of the dying breed of people who buy music and a large portion of my monthly purchases are from iTunes. Therefore for me Apple has the opportunity to offer suggestions more in line with what I like. 

Oddly Apple have never done this on the front page but do on search results pages and this used to contain Ping influenced results.

Odd Decision

iTunes Store front page strangely highlight the odd decision they made with the placement of Ping. Apple tends to chosen uniformity over customisation. 

 

 

 

iTunes Match Maxed Out!!

I wish iTunes would up their maximum limit for songs, or at least clearly identify what the real count is. There is currently a 25,000 songs limit after which iMatch stops allowing you to add tracks, and as you can see

maxed out!!

maxed out!!

I'm over the limit. This is because I buy music from iTunes and these songs are not included in your quota. Currently I purchase around 30% of songs from iTunes. The other 70% come from other music stores (www.bandcamp.com, www.traxsource.com mainly), rips and gifts.

The problem is I do not know what my actual limit is due to iTunes not telling me how many more non-iTunes sourced tracks I can add. Thus I'm having to make decisions about which tunes I add and which albums sit in my dropbox never to enter iTunes.

So now I have a 2 tier music library :(. I can't even play the tracks in my dropbox via iTunes as it will auto import them on first play. I know I can disable that feature but that would also mean iTunes would stop keeping my folders organized and that was the reason I started using iTunes all those years ago.

Wish Apple would remove the limit entirely and just charge for storage. It makes no sense having a cap like this as it doesn't encourage you to use iTunes Match it hinders you.

In any case even if you where Kim Dotcom your library cannot be shared (downloaded) by anyone but the owner. Sure you can share the library so everyone can play the tracks but that's surely something Apple would want to promote.

For now I'm making this decision daily... play in iTunes or store in dropbox.

I don't want to think.