Why Apple Should Stop Making iOS Apps

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When you open a new iPhone and boot it up for the first time, you’ll notice that Apple has already installed a bunch of apps for you.

It’s a great idea, because it lets you use apps right out of the box. Even the newest, most confused user can tap on an app icon and start trying various things.

Here’s the problem: Most users don’t replace the default apps with third-party alternatives. They mostly use the apps that came with the phone.

And this is why Apple should stop making apps: The default Apple-made apps are giving iPhone users a second-rate experience. 

Nearly every app made by Apple for the iPhone, whether installed by default or not, should be replaced by superior alternatives.

Instead of investing vast resources in the creation of apps, Apple should instead have an annual competition, then choose the very best app to be installed by default in each fundamental category.

When the iPhone first shipped, Apple included a few Google apps, including YouTube and Maps.

In 2007, these apps were good. Today, they’re both absolutely fantastic. But they don’t come automatically on the phone. Instead, Apple has stopped offering YouTube by default without replacing it with an alternative. And they’ve replaced the world’s best map app and service with its own shoddy version.

As a result, the Android majority who stick with default apps are having a far better experience with their phones’ video and maps than the iPhone majority is. In other words, when Android users are using video and maps, they’re using a superior phone.

And while the world has gotten much better at designing and creating iOS apps, Apple has gotten worse.

Apple’s two most recent new apps were disasters. I’m speaking about the aforementioned Maps app, and also Podcasts.

Podcasts is one of the worst pieces of …. software, Apple has ever produced. It’s got impossibly small controls, especially the one-pixel wide red line for swiping forward and back in a podcast. Sometimes podcasts simply don’t download. The app loads info on podcast subscriptions from the beginning of time. Most of the interface in one view is taken up by that dumb cartoon of the reel-to-reel tape player. It’s ugly, inconsistent and unstable.

When people use Podcasts, they’re using a crappy, cheesy-looking phone.

Meanwhile, Google, of all companies, has evolved into a vastly better iOS app designer than Apple. And I’m not talking about features and functions. While Apple has been producing clunky user interfaces from the 90s and upholstering them with Corinthian leather, Google has been iterating breathtakingly elegant, minimalist designs.

Have you seen the new Gmail for iOS? Google+? YouTube? Google Maps? Chrome? They’re visually consistent, functional, beautiful and appealing. They are to software what the iPhone is to hardware.

The trouble for Apple may be that these apps are front ends to Google services. I personally don’t have a problem with that, but if Apple wants to favor partners like Facebook and Twitter over Google+ (which it does not with an app, but with default sharing options), or favor its own services for data harvesting or ad selling (such as for Maps and Chrome) over Google alternatives, then there may be a business case for giving users inferior default apps.

But other apps provided by Apple don’t even front for important services, or any services at all.

Here’s an example: Apple gives iPhone users its Notes app, which is a cheesy, skeuomorphic yellow notepad-looking place to just type words and keep them on the phone.

But Apple could and should replace Notes with Squarespace’s “Note” app. It’s elegant, minimalist and perfectly consistent with the high-brow look and feel of iPhone hardware.

Apple’s fugly Weather app, which fronts for Yahoo’s weather service, could be replace by Hollr’s Solar app. It’s a for-pay app, and Apple should make a deal with Hollr to offer it free to iPhone users.

I could go on and on showing how every single Apple app without exception has superior alternatives available.

Here’s the most powerful reason why Apple should offer the best third-party apps it can find rather than building its own: Because when you’re using the best apps, you’re using the best phone.

By essentially holding an annual contest and handing the winner in each app category massive numbers of users, Apple would strongly incentivize app makers to work even harder and invest even more in the development of iOS apps.

And if each new version of the iPhone came with a few new apps by default — rewarding quality upstarts by replacing the old-and-busted with the new hotness — the iPhone would feel fresher and less stale, as it does now.

Apple could devote fewer resources to building its expensive-but-mediocre apps, and instead put all their best people on perfecting the operating system.

I believe that for many users, the iPhone is the best phone. And I also believe that the very best apps tend to be on the iOS platform.

However, Apple is stubbornly failing to capitalize on these two facts, allowing the industry to believe that the iPhone is both staler than and inferior to Android phones.

All they have to do is showcase the very best third-party apps on every new phone instead of their own boring and mediocre apps, and that would transform the experience of using the iPhone for the vast majority of users who never replace the apps that come by default on iPhones.

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  • lockalsh

    I disagree with what you think of google apps. I really really dislike the new google maps app. and I generally find google designs are as sophisticated as their search box from 1999. simple, plain and unattractive.

  • Tallest_Skil

    Abject nonsense. What… how was this even given more than a split-second thought? This is utter crap.

    Having information is “ugly”? You hate skeuomorphism wherever it appears. Got it; your opinion’s mostly invalid because of that. You demand change for the sake of change. Got it; you’ve been sucked up into the “stale” argument. Do you whine every time a new version of OS X is released? “Oh, no, the Menu Bar still exists: how stale!”

    It’s 30 years old for a reason. Sometimes things shouldn’t change. Operationally it’s identical to its first implementation. It just has drop shadows now and you don’t have to hold the mouse button down to get it to stay open. They added and removed menus, and items are in different places, but it’s still the same Menu Bar with the same purpose as the first version in the Lisa OS. Know why? Because you don’t change things that work unless you have something better.

    Only being able to see the current temperature is not better in a weather app.

    >>I could go on and on showing how every single Apple app without exception has superior alternatives available.

    As could I about how you’re quite probably wrong in every situation.

    >>Most users don’t replace the default apps with third-party alternatives. They mostly use the apps that came with the phone.

    This right here should TELL you that you’re completely wrong. 600,000 apps, hundreds of different solutions available for nearly everything Apple preloads. AND YET PEOPLE STILL USE APPLE’S APPS.

    No, they’re not idiots. They’re using what is best for them. And that’s Apple’s apps.

  • kevin13769

    Do you work for Google…???

    Lets see, Apple should make a phone, not put Apps on it, make users go and search for Apps they do want, and compete with Android that comes with preloaded Apps that you say Apple shouldn’t have…? Ridiculous…!!! Try writing a piece that actually suggest where to find better than Apple Apps instead of trying to run a company better than people who do that for a living… I mean, if yo actually knew anything about making phones with great Apps, surely you wold own a company that does this… Instead you are giving an “opinion” that nobody cares about and is not useful in the real world….!!!

    And while on the subject of Google and there Apps, if i wanted Google to track, notify and harass me with the crap like they do with there search facilities, then i would have an android phone… I don’t have like Google, i don’t WANT google, and Google should take a running jump from trying to invade my life…!!!

    And i love the choice of mentioning Squarespace’s “Note” app as being superior to Apple Notes… Ermmm Would you use this…??? I guess as someone who gets things right 1st time, and never needs to edit anything, it would be suitable, but in the real world, EDIT is a very important function that doesn’t exist on YOUR choice of superior app…

  • ramunasbl

    Since most users don’t replace the default apps with third-party alternatives that may mean that the default ones are good enough and why then user should care about the some alternatives. If the programmer makes a good one – sooner or later it will find its user.
    So why an iPhone user should bother about the programer that makes the apps one do not need.

  • iHKDesign

    This article is so bad. I cannot begin to describe how bad it is. People expects apps with their phones. Not providing any would guarantee no users to the platform. You obviously haven’t used Podcasts. The bugs have been fixed for me, it downloads fine, and the most of the app is taken up by the neat tape reel when you tap on the album art. Otherwise, it is hidden. The buttons are not small for me.
    Meanwhile, most of Google’s apps have not been updated (Google voice, authenticator, currents, earth, translate, local, etc) and are ugly as hell. Gmail is still a webview. Google+ uses the very ugly Roboto font instead of the iOS default. Apple maps has had some data issues for some (not me), but the program is way better looking than Google. Additionally, Google Maps for iPhone looks way better than Google Maps for Android. So, in fact, Android users are at a disadvantage. Lastly, iOS has been known for its over 785,000 apps. Do you think users don’t know that? Apple has done a great job since iOS 6 of curating the app store with nicely designed and easy to find app categories and sections. Users know about the other apps. If they are still using Apple’s software, it is because it works best for them.
    Seriously, such a terrible article. No thought involved at all.

    EDIT:
    I would like to point out the Solar (the app you think should replace the Weather app, which looks beautiful on the iPhone 5 screen) has not been updated for the iPhone 5 yet and in fact, has not been updated since August.

  • JohnInDC

    You’ve might’ve picked a better comparison than Apple’s Weather app against Solar. I’m no great fan of the former but it sure packs a lot more useful information into a screen than the current temperature and cloud cover – both of which I can usually ascertain by opening the nearest window – and in less time than it takes me to get my phone out of my pocket.

  • JohnInDC

    You’ve might’ve picked a better comparison than Apple’s Weather app against Solar. I’m no great fan of the former but it sure packs a lot more useful information into a screen than the current temperature and cloud cover – both of which I can usually ascertain by opening the nearest window – and in less time than it takes me to get my phone out of my pocket.

  • gnomehole

    I disagree. I am an app freak and love finding the latest greatest, but I also appreciate some of Apple’s stock apps for what they are. Stocks and weather get used all the time. Find iphone, find friends, Remote, email, music, safari, phone, calculator, photo, even maps…

    Best bet, let people swap the “default” out, but don’t stop making them because there are many that just work great the way they are… simple, to the point, quick and easy to use. Too often other apps are too full of junk or too minimalist. Apple strikes a perfect middle ground.

    Bad article IMHO.

  • ChadGleaves

    This article is horrible. Its written on business practice by a person that appearently has no business practice. It must be written by a 19 year old with no real world education. Please go get some real world business experience so you can understand what is going on here and stick to entertainment articles.

  • hmurchison

    Mike the problem here is that Apple’s test apps tend to “test” features that a 3rd party wouldn’t have access to. For example go to the iTunes store and find and app and email yourself the app from within iTunes. The link that is sent to your email account in mail will produce a pop up sheet giving you direct access to the iTunes store. Apple cannot and should not acquiesce control to 3rd parties. They need to be able to offer a consistent featureset and try new features like the one I mentioned. Actually there are lots of small stuff being tested in Apple’s apps before they get folded into 3rd party API.

  • themrzt

    Mike, I think you overlook the hugely important perspective of someone coming to an iOS device fresh. Many of these devices, quite honestly, have superior accessibility to some of the similar Android devices out there (not all, perahps, but some).

    Is the Weather app the most aesthetically beautiful? Absolutely not. Does that make it less useful? No. Is it stale? Download another one. I think you’ll find outside the community of tech bloggers and columnists, most people are going to care very little about how fresh their Weather app looks.

    Is Apple’s skeumorphic bend reaching an end? I think so. iOS 7 will give us a glimpse. But really? Apple should stop making iOS apps? Let me guess, you’d rather we use something atrocious like Docs to Go? No, thanks.

  • Whodakat

    I wanted to leave a comment so the author would know that every aspect, every concept in this article have to be the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. So the company that grew to be the biggest company in the world by making great software that runs on great hardware should stop making the software? Is that you Steve Balmer?

  • Cgs101

    I’m looking at this from a completely different perspective… Why meddle with other apps when the iPhone comes with good perfectly working apps preloaded? ie: why look for weather apps? it’s pointless. And why would devs want to work on unnecessary apps?

  • Rowanova

    I have felt for some time that a loot of the stock apps on the iOS devices are lacking. In most cases there are better, in some cases, FAR better third party options. Another thing I dislike about some of the native apps is the redundancy, or maybe it’s repetitive, but in some cases one third party app can replace two or more Apple apps. Example: Pocket Informant takes care of all my Calendering, Scheduling, Task Management, and has the ability to do Notes-with folders, filters, tags, and more. It can also access Contacts from within the app for any type of messaging and calling, as well as creating new and editing existing contacts.

    To accomplish all of these things with the native iOS apps, I need to bounce between Calender, Reminders, Contacts, Messages, Phone, and Mail. WTF?!?!?!

    Weather? It’s ok for those who look out the window and don’t care or need more than that,,, I guess… But what about the hundreds of millions of people whose work, income, recreation and travel depend on knowing what the weather holds? Far superior options are plentiful because Apple’s weather app is a joke.

    I’m not sure if Apple should discontinue making apps of their own or not, but they themselves have fallen behind in a number of ways. IMHO.

    I wonder if Apple just puts these crap apps on their iOS devices out of the box so there is something there to start, but they really hope people will spend again to get what they really should be recieving on the devices out of the box, without needing to spend again.

    Don’t even get me started on the lack of an Office or iWorks suite coming native on iOS devices. GGRRRR…

  • howie_isaacks

    I disagree. You’re making the assumption that no one knows how to go looking for more apps than just the default apps. I have three weather apps on my iPhone, including the one that came preinstalled. Each of them offer weather information differently. The default app does a great job, but I sometimes want to look at a ten day forecast, or some other detail. Some users may not be interested in many third party apps. Maybe they bought their iPhone just for specific uses, so why strip them of the default apps that may come in handy from time to time? Next thing, you’ll be saying that Apple should get out of the apps business on the Mac… and then you’ll say that Apple should stop making iOS and OS X. This was really a dumb premise, and you actually contradicted yourself too. Whether an app is “superior to” an Apple app is subjective. You have your needs, and I have mine. I would hate for Apple to take your advice.

  • Steven Quan

    I’m using Note right now and it is NOT a replacement for the default Note pad. It’s designed to send messages (like emails) to other people. Do not download this like I did if you just want a notepad to jot down reminders to get things from the grocery store. I would have been pissed if I paid for that app.

    Solar is insanely cool. I don’t understand why they don’t do a better job of explaining what it does. When you pull up, it gives you an hour by hour of weather forecast, but it does it in the coolest way I’ve ever seen. The forecast is for rain, and when it gets to the proper time, rain starts to fall from the screen and the colors change as well. There is a clock in the corner of the screen that shows you the time as it’s hands move around the dial.

    I would never have bothered with Solar if my Weather App actually worked but for some reason it stopped working and I was using alternatives.

    I’m surprised the comments here. They sound like Phandroids. Have any of you people ever held an Apple product in your life? I guess it shows the great disparity between the minds at Apple and the general public. The general public wants “Good enough, I can get by” type of apps, which begs the question, how did they come about having an Apple product in their hands to begin with since Apple charges a premium for all their products? They obviously didn’t pay for it on their own or didn’t plan on having an Apple product.

    Apple strives to offer a premium experience for it’s users which obviously none of you people understand. The author here offers some sound advice because if there are better services out there, maybe Apple should consider putting them on their devices. I think it certainly warrants some thought. I don’t know about holding a contest because that just sounds cheesy. I think I’d leave it up to Jony Ive to figure out the best apps to include as a default. Then cut a deal with the maker of the app.

  • TheMacGuy

    Well, if Apple didn’t install any apps, then there wouldn’t be a phone app to make a calls or an App Store to download apps to replace the apps now missing, so it makes no since. ALL OSs (phone, tablet, desktop, or otherwise) come with software. When people buy the iPhone, they buy it because it is simplistic. It comes with what you need, and you can add more apps if you want. If you want to have a customizable experience, you buy an Android phone. If you want a simplistic experience, you buy an iPhone. Simple as that.

  • TylerHoj

    I think skeuomorphism is a dying design choice these days as we continue to move away from and replace modern alternatives of the items skeuomorphism depicts. Though Apple seems to be addressing this ‘trend’ and are making active choices in management to achieve better apps. It will be interesting to see if Apple applies a cleaner, less-skeuomorphic-look, to iOS in iOS 7 or will wait until the software has run it’s course, maybe in iOS 10; Before they clean the slate and start fresh.

  • jonnyb098

    The overall point of this article is good in that apple needs to step up its game on apps. Most like the weather and stocks apps for example have barely been updated in 5 years. However holding a contest is the dumbest thing they could do. If anything they could buy those companies and use their software on future devices. Holding a contest creates so many problems I can’t even begin to explain. 2013 will be the year for Apple to bring iOS up to par with other mobile OS’s. If it doesn’t happen this year, then the competition will overtake Apple which is why Apple made some critical executive changes last year.

  • bdkennedy

    Well, logic tells me that if people aren’t replacing those apps, then they don’t feel a need to replace those apps because they do what they are supposed to do.

  • ulyssesric

    Mr. Elgan, in this article you told people nothing but belittling people who feel Apple’s solution is OK for their needs, and you’re expressing your superiority over other people for your “taste” and your capability to spending a lot of time and money finding replacement Apps.

    Now I’m telling you: I’m spending about $50 per month on Apps, but I’m “still” using the default Weather, Clock, Note, Mail, Safari, Calculator, and Reminder without any problem, and I don’t feel I’m “second” to anyone, including you, Mr. Elgan.

  • theotherphil

    Any sources to back up these claims of “Most users don’t replace the default apps with third-party alternatives. They mostly use the apps that came with the phone”?

  • Sayed_Ahmed123

    From the very first lines I figured out this is gotta be Mike Elgan’s article even before I see his name. I know his style is so imaginary with no real grounds, he only imposes what he wants and what he feels and always a weird title that sound kinda Sci-Fi stuff, no professionalism, no objectiveness.

  • vinteris

    Apple’s choice in using skeuomorphic designs is not rejected by all users, just some. Skeuomorphism is used because it is known to work – and it does, making software more attractive and more familiar to the user by imitating its tangible alternative. If it didn’t work, why does it even still exist today? I agree that Google’s software is getting better, but google’s concept of just-buy-the-company-and-add-them-to-our-design-team (like how they ate up Sparrow and updated their gmail app with a lot of sparrow features) is not something Apple does for design.

    The belief “Here’s the problem: Most users don’t replace the default apps with third-party alternatives. They mostly use the apps that came with the phone” may not be an issue if you consider that maybe people WANT to use the default apps instead of buying an alternative and maybe they are fine with the stock apps? And maybe the reason behind not replacing the default apps is that they are HAPPY with the apps?

    The default apps that come with iOS Devices are there to allow any user to complete their most basic tasks as soon as they open up the box without needing to download specific apps. And though your idea of an annual app-contest for third party default apps sounds great, do you honestly think Apple will allow third parties that level of control over the basic iOS app experience? This whole idea is counterproductive to Apple as a company, as any deals made with third parties will definitely increase the price of an iDevice, making it available to less people and therefore decrease sales. Just because some third party apps are superior to the default iOS stock apps, some users do not need the extra functionality because maybe they don’t even need that app. The bottom line is that most users want simple basic out-of-the-box functionality with the CHOICE of upgrading their experience in the selected apps they use frequently by purchasing a superior third-party alternative. If every single iOS stock app was replaced with third party apps, many users will be paying for some apps (say, calendar, or notes) that they will hardly ever use. Unlike you, some people don’t need to know the weather through the fancy solar app – the stock iOS weather app is good enough for them. And even though I have Solar installed, I find myself using the stock weather app more than Solar, because sometimes I want more than a three-day forecast or want to see the highest and lowest temperatures of today easily without needing to scroll through every hour. Oh, and maybe I want an app that actually fits fully in my iPhone 5 screen?

    I know this is getting very long and I want to finish up. I do not think apps are THE deciding factor of ‘how good’ a phone is. Though it does play a major part in the experience, it is not the only factor that needs to be considered. Instead of looking at applications, maybe look at the operating system software and how stable and reliable it is? Maybe look at if scrolling actually works without crashing the phone? Look at the design of the actual hardware? So, say the idea that apps decide everything is true. If I gave you a device that scrolls with huge jitters with really bad battery life and launch a twitter app, how will you be able to use it if it? Not easily. Maybe next time write [opinion] in the title of your post and avoid getting these comments.

  • leetut

    Shame you don’t work for apple then!
    #weWantAnOpenIOS

  • vivekr127

    This article should be titled “Why Mike Elgan should not write for COM anymore”.

  • wanner251

    Sometimes, Cult, I wonder why you even exist. This is one of those times. Apple’s creation of ios apps provides consistency for the user. Gavin a contest every year for the best apps to include with every iPhone would take all of this consistency away. We would all have to change apps against our will. Seriously, this kind of drivel is the stuff of retards and dipsh*ts everywhere. How much did Google and Hollr pay you to write this crap? Clearly you are not plugged into Apple’s philosophy and strategy. I hope Cult fires you for your “perspective”.

  • David Renner

    Look competition is good. I believe that good design, interface functionality and intuitiveness are important. I think that these things are subjective, but good design lasts and adds value. Let’s hope the author realizes this and so does Johnny Ives (Though putting the SD slot on the back of the new iMacs might not be encouraging).

  • HunterD

    I won’t bother disagreeing with this article any more than other users already have. Instead, I’d like to note how wrong you are in saying that Google’s applications are “visually consistent, functional, beautiful and appealing.” and how they are “to software what the iPhone is to hardware.”

    This is so ridiculous it’s funny. Google’s apps are consistently buggy, annoying, and in many cases useless. It’s just Google attempting to invade on Apple’s space, and they’re doing it badly.

  • t87

    An infected donkey can write a better article than this. Utter bullshit.

  • G. Thomas Wilson

    Could you possibly preface this and future Mike Elgan articles with a warning of some sort? Something along the lines of, “WARNING: MIKE ELGAN WROTE THIS”. Perhaps utilizing .

    It’d be greatly appreciated.

  • RYFO117

    This is the dumbest thing ever, saying that Apple should make an OS, but they shouldn’t include apps on it. What if Google didn’t include apps with android phones. Also, not including apps on the iPhone and iPad would instantly ruin the usefulness of iCloud with all the pre-installed apps on iPad, iPhone and Mac. If I don’t have contacts on my iPhone made by Apple, how am I supposed to sync with contacts on my Mac made by Apple. It’s just stupid. Saying Apple shouldn’t make iOS apps IN THE APP STORE is okay, assuming you logically back it up, but there is NOTHING to say to back this claim up. You boot up a phone and can’t do anything. Want contacts? NOPE! Want camera? NOPE! Want to know the weather? NOPE, can’t do that. Why? Because Apple decided that they shouldn’t include any apps on the iPhone/ iPad/ iPod Touch.

  • NotImportant

    iOS should be shipped with Apple apps. Look at the picture for example. If I download the app on the right, how the HECK am I supposed to know what the weather will be later on? And the idea of an annual ‘app-election’ is just complete bull. No one makes better Apple apps that Apple. And some apps just don’t integrate with iOS as well as native apps. I’m sorry, but this article is just a load of complete and utter BULLS***.

  • lwdesign1

    Oh Mike, you’ve put yourself out on limb on this one and then proceeded to saw it off.

    First: Holding a yearly contest for “be best apps” would be a disaster that would force people to change every year to apps they may not like. This is a recipe for user discontent and disaster.

    Second: You consider the ultra minimalist temperature and date app “superior” to Apple’s current temperature app, even though Apple’s app gives a week-long forecast AND the projected highs and lows for each day, and the other app doesn’t. You think it’s a better app because it looks cooler? Seriously? Give me data over faux cool.

    I agree that some of the interface design elements of iOS apps could stand to be updated and made more elegant, but I find nothing egregiously wrong with any of Apple’s built-in apps. I’m not a big fan of the leather look, but this is insignificant when compared to functionality. Function and usability always come before design, however, good design should accentuate and improve on function and usability.

    Now that Scott Forstall has been removed and Jon Ive is head of human interface design (and Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue have taken over his various other duties) I’m expecting to see elegant and major changes in iOS 7 and all the basic built-in apps. Apparently Scott didn’t play well with others, especially Ive, so much so that Ive wouldn’t be in the same meeting with Forstall unless Tim Cook was there to mediate. Getting this distraction out of the way should lead to Ive being able to bring his utterly cool industrial design skills to the software end, which I find incredibly exciting!

  • AlbertoMS89

    Failed post. enough said.

  • iCult

    Oh no, please not. Apples YouTube app was way better than googles and I like most of the other default apps, too. The reason why I never replace them is that I really like them. Too many 3rd party apps just ignore the given iOS Human Interface Guidelines and that’s a bad thing.

  • kriswm

    You mention some good points at the begging. but it turns into a rant half way through. Also, Solar is an interesting app, but by no means could replace even the default weather app. Sometimes you just need the cold hard info and not some color wheel of uncertainty.

  • joe_exp

    Why YOU should stop writing silly articles!

  • geoadm

    Normally I get all fanboy to this type of article but lately I have to agree. iOS 6 is a downgrade to iOS 5 and the quality of every iPhone 5 I’ve seen is poor. Whenever mine rings it sounds like it going to fall to bits, apparently due to Apple using the cheapest vibrator module they could find. I’ve hated every Android device I’ve used but when this iPhone 5 does fall apart or annoys me enough to throw it into the wall Ill be looking into android devices closer. $800 is a bit much to pay for a phone that appears to be of the quality of a carnival prize and then $100 in Apple care to be told rattling is “normal”

  • Dan B

    If you guys had not written so much in the last months about:
    (1) Ding Dong the witch is dead, after Scott Forstall was fired and how,
    (2) Johnny Ive and his new design team are going to be the hero of ridding Apple of Skeuomorphic design and make AMAZING native Apps for the next iOS
    … I might actually have read this article and thought about what you wrote. But, either you guys never talk to each other except on the frickin’ podcast each week, or are schizophrenic and cannot say one consistent thing at all. The worse option is this, which I am afraid is more true. I saw an article on Apple News from the Zite App, and I often see you guys copying articles from other Apple writers out there. Shame you guys can’t even write an opinion article without (1) Contradicting your other posts and/or each other all the time, and (2) WITHOUT COMPLETELY COPYING SOMEONE ELSE’S opinion!

  • Dan B

    Normally I get all fanboy to this type of article but lately I have to agree. iOS 6 is a downgrade to iOS 5 and the quality of every iPhone 5 I’ve seen is poor. Whenever mine rings it sounds like it going to fall to bits, apparently due to Apple using the cheapest vibrator module they could find. I’ve hated every Android device I’ve used but when this iPhone 5 does fall apart or annoys me enough to throw it into the wall Ill be looking into android devices closer. $800 is a bit much to pay for a phone that appears to be of the quality of a carnival prize and then $100 in Apple care to be told rattling is “normal”

    Go for it… I have a friend who has a Galaxy SIII, supposedly the best thing out there, and the integration between software and hardware is so whack, I hope you get stuck in a 2 year contract with one of those POS’s

  • geoadm

    Go for it… I have a friend who has a Galaxy SIII, supposedly the best thing out there, and the integration between software and hardware is so whack, I hope you get stuck in a 2 year contract with one of those POS’s

    Do you have an iPhone 5? If you do and it doesn’t rattle you got lucky. High level of integration between software and hardware means nothing when the hardware is cheap and badly made.
    People say all iPhones have the rattle but I have a 3GS, 4 and access to a few 4S’ and you can hear the rattle slightly if you listen closely. The 5 is loud enough to piss you off.
    Sorry, your hope is in vein, I have been on a contract for <>10 years

  • crateish

    The built in apps give users a short cut to learning the iOS user experience and they give developers a template to fit into that experience. If developers want to go outside that experience, so be it. I like a unified iOS like experience. If I didn’t, I’d go into the Android wilderness.

  • TyBooyzen

    1. A lot of users don’t mind Apple’s own Apps and use them over the alternative third party apps because of integration.
    2. The idea of an annual contest is moronic. If a new app is chosen for weather every year then you are going to have a lot of rowdy customers especially when they don’t like the App as much as the previous years’.
    3. Also, many developers won’t enter their Apps into this contest because they want to be paid by customers for use of their work!
    4. Apple historically likes to control the whole experience to ensure a deep level of integration between hardware and software. Why would they start using 3rd party apps for tasks which are often fundamental to the user while still retaining responsibility for the user experience themselves!
    5. Apple didn’t stop offering Google apps because they couldn’t improve Youtube and Maps applications but because Google was being unfair and would not let Apple add turn-by-turn directions etc. and come on, Google is Apple’s competition!
    6. As for skeumorphic design; I’m not the biggest fan or hater of it. I think Ive will fix certain things that are overboard and dramatically simplify the look and feel of iOS. However, Apple has never used skeumorphic design where it would be harmful to the user’s experience. Case in point, the Podcast app. The Podcast app shows a tape player when you listen to Podcasts, but what else would you have put in its place? All the necessary information and controls are present and it works!

    Mike, your writing isn’t half as bad as a lot of writers out there! However, I think you should either cogitate more on your ideas before writing or stop writing about Apple. This piece makes you seem like someone who has no clue about Apple but rather like someone who looked at trending stories about skeumorphism and decided that you would add your own two cents (which honestly was worthless).

  • Pseudonomian

    An annual contest would probably lead to annual changes in stock apps. No matter how good the apps, such a strategy would be too disruptive for users who use those stock apps (what percentage of iPhone users only use the stock Mail app? I’ll bet you it’s pretty high).

    Consistency is a feature.

  • Allan Cook

    How is the weather app illustrated here better than Apple’s? The native app gives us a lot more useful information. I’ve tried a lot of third-party apps — including the latest iteration of Google Maps — and I keep coming back to the Apple apps. For most of the people most of the time, the stock apps are just fine.

  • technochick

    It is YOUR opinion that the built in apps are so shoddy and you are backing that up with talking about the not built in apps and Android.

    Wow, I thought some of your other ‘articles’ were a joke but this one should be retitled “Why Mike Egan should be fired from Cult of Mac and never write for anything again” because, in my opinion, this one shows how completely over the wall you have gone.

    Or just move you over to Cult of Android since that’s such a better experience in your opinion. Let you write about that all the time

  • rydonwunali

    I have to say good ideas from both parties, do keep those ideas coming because this discussion is quite interesting.

  • technochick

    5. Apple didn’t stop offering Google apps because they couldn’t improve Youtube and Maps applications but because Google was being unfair and would not let Apple add turn-by-turn directions etc. and come on, Google is Apple’s competition!

    With YouTube the issue was Ads. Apple wouldn’t allow them and Google, rather than removing them from the videos that had them, didn’t allow access to those videos. And in both cases wanted demographic details that Apple wasn’t giving up.

    There was very possibly no intention to keep those two items on the phone for life. A 5 year contract was probably all there was (or perhaps 5 iOS version contract). Which is why Google was ready with at least an iphone version of youtube on day one (or at least week one). But they never believed Apple would give up their map data base despite the buying of other companies, the lack of discussion etc. They figured no way would Apple want through the issues of starting that game (as Google did some 7 years ago and still don’t have some issues worked out). They got a big surprise of course. But once done, Apple is in this for good. They aren’t recanting and begging Google to have back that data. If folks want to use Google Maps, Mapquest etc they can. But it won’t be the built in app etc

  • technochick

    But, either you guys never talk to each other except on the frickin’ podcast each week, or are schizophrenic and cannot say one consistent thing at all.

    It’s a blog. It used to be a blog that had journalistic sensibilities but that is gone. Now it is just a hit whoring blog. So no they don’t talk to each other, they often don’t think for 2 seconds about what they are writing and so on. And it wouldn’t shock me to find out that they are apeing and even copying other blogs.

    John and Mike are the worst about the not thinking issue although Killian is getting up there.

  • technochick

    and I generally find google designs are as sophisticated as their search box from 1999. simple, plain and unattractive.

    That the search box was simple and plain was the reason I started using it. I didn’t like Yahoo etc trying to be all for everyone and the clutter it created. It didn’t help either in Yahoo’s case that you couldn’t really search so much as dig though their table of contents which for me was rarely useful.

    But then Google went for the money and added all the clutter to their system and now the clutter in their search results with the featured (i.e. paid to be at the top) results etc.

  • technochick

    And i love the choice of mentioning Squarespace’s “Note” app as being superior to Apple Notes

    And only ONE note app, only ONE weather app.

    Rather makes me wonder if he got some kind of kickback for mentioning those two apps and no other of the sort.

  • technochick

    Could you possibly preface this and future Mike Elgan articles with a warning of some sort? Something along the lines of, “WARNING: MIKE ELGAN WROTE THIS”. Perhaps utilizing .

    It’d be greatly appreciated.

    Better idea. Let us select excludes. By keyword or author. Then we can not see those things at all in the list.

  • Michael Breed

    Your article’s title is TOTAL link-bait. Your posts seem to become more anti-Apple by the day to boot. This is entirely opinion-based… WHO are you to decide what is aesthetically pleasing? By the way, Solar sucks as a weather app, and I’m a scientist. We prefer a little something we like to call DATA in our information streams.

    Do you truly expect Apple’s apps to be everything to every user? Get real. I personally find Android’s offerings very lacking.

    Here’s an idea… start writing for Cult of Android, throw away your free iPhone, and buy an Android phone. You’ll regret it eventually, just as I do reading your article.

  • Harlemite

    Uh… Really? I mean, REALLY???

    I’m really wondering what the editorial requirements were for this one.

  • stefn

    Cart before horse? No way Google would create great iOS apps without a push from Apple’s apps. Google love alert.

  • efforting

    What’s with all the hate against the author and all the blind fanatasim of Apple?
    He’s right. Apple apps are lacking in almost every regard compared to the top 3rd party alternatives.
    You can disagree wether or not skewmophism is an abomination (it is) but your delusional if you think the stock Apple apps are anything else but filler, to give you something to use until you wisen up and download some real apps. I for one would like the option to hide all those crappy unused apple apps cluttering up my screens. I’d like to be able to set alternate defaults.
    Google on the other hand is showing that stock apps can really be amazing, clean looking and not second rate. Lately I have been having Andriod envy. I recently purchased an iPhone 5, but I’m not sure if my next phone will be made by Apple. Google really is getting their stuff together.
    Apple should step up their game or step down as the author suggests.

  • Howard_B

    Having been an iPhone user since the first model and being an iPhone 5 user now – I can say I prefer all of the Apple apps.
    I love Notes. It’s simple and straight forward. I don’t want more functions.
    I love Podcast. I tried another app but it’s to complicated.
    I love Email where I get all of my email including gmail.
    I love the weather app. It tells me the weather. WTF more do you want ?

    I think this author should move to Android. He seems to prefer it. For me I think Android is total crap. I was forced to use a Galaxy for a wee in November and I hated it.

  • Howard_B

    Your article’s title is TOTAL link-bait. Your posts seem to become more anti-Apple by the day to boot.

    Here’s an idea… start writing for Cult of Android, throw away your free iPhone, and buy an Android phone. You’ll regret it eventually, just as I do reading your article.

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • MrsCleaver

    Seems like a slow news month for everyone. Fiscal cliff and Newtown ennui has settled everywhere, rightfully so. But really, skewering Apple iOS apps this way? Besides, I fundamentally disagree with the author’s premise. Apple has always provided a good starting point for applications. This leaves room for developers of Macintosh and iOS apps to build upon. This model has worked for Apple for decades. Both developers and end-users are the winners.

    I don’t read Cult of Mac to learn about every possible fault with Apple, certainly not these subjective “faults.” There are plenty of stupid sites for that kind of thing, and, amazingly, plenty of Apple naysayers. Do we really need more of that here?

    Sometimes the old adage applies: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

  • xxbeermanxx

    To earn Amazon Gift Cards and Paypal giftcards on IOS just for downloading new apps go to https://featurepoints.com/r/B4XRDH

  • menithings

    The columnist fails to grasp one important fact. Forstal, who championed a tacky variant of skewmorphism, is gone. Ive, who is one of the world’s best designers, is now in charge of iOS design. If you take a look at the iPad’s new clock app you’ll see the first glimpse at where all the iOS native apps will go design-wise. It’s beautiful, minimalist, but still subtly skewmorphic so as to be forward compatable with Apple’s eventual application of 3D UI and advanced haptics. Starting later this year all native iOS apps will start adopting a unified look similar to that iPad (not iPhone) Clock app.

  • Shane Bryson

    “While Apple has been producing clunky user interfaces from the 90s and upholstering them with Corinthian leather, Google has been iterating breathtakingly elegant, minimalist designs.”

    Sorry, but I absolutely love the design of Apple’s apps. Skeuomorphism is alive and well and I am sick of media outlets telling users it’s ugly when it isn’t.

    “Have you seen the new Gmail for iOS? Google+? YouTube? Google Maps? Chrome? They’re visually consistent, functional, beautiful and appealing. They are to software what the iPhone is to hardware.”

    Ummmm, have you seen these apps yourself? Each of them has a completely different design than the last. There is absolutely ZERO consistency in design and interface with these apps. Google+ looks and feels like a 3rd grader with crayons designed it, GMail is crippled well beyond use. Chrome and Youtube, I will give you that those are great apps but Chrome doesn’t stack up against Safari, especially for Mountain Lion users. Maps, I love but it isn’t consistent with any other the other apps as face as design is concerned.

  • Dan B
    Go for it… I have a friend who has a Galaxy SIII, supposedly the best thing out there, and the integration between software and hardware is so whack, I hope you get stuck in a 2 year contract with one of those POS’s

    Do you have an iPhone 5? If you do and it doesn’t rattle you got lucky. High level of integration between software and hardware means nothing when the hardware is cheap and badly made.
    People say all iPhones have the rattle but I have a 3GS, 4 and access to a few 4S’ and you can hear the rattle slightly if you listen closely. The 5 is loud enough to piss you off.
    Sorry, your hope is in vein, I have been on a contract for <>10 years

    I do have an iPhone 5. I am lucky the vibration module doesn’t seem as bad off as yours (though it does vibrate differently than the past iPhones, likely because it is so much lighter), but I can’t see that as a reason to switch. The bloatware on Android alone is enough to make me barf.

    I had some problems with my iPhone 5 when it first came out, with it easily scuffing (having scratches after the first day) and that screen glitch. Then when I went to have Apple replace it they only had scratched scuffed iPhones in their replacement batches, but I did not take them and they sent me to another store. I was lucky to find one that wasn’t scratched. Sure that sucks, but I don’t feel that is enough to make me switch. Also the hardware on Samsung or any of the other phones is not so hot, just a big crapball of plastic…. Did I also mention that this is a stupid article!

  • Dan B

    I’m using Note right now and it is NOT a replacement for the default Note pad. It’s designed to send messages (like emails) to other people. Do not download this like I did if you just want a notepad to jot down reminders to get things from the grocery store. I would have been pissed if I paid for that app.

    Solar is insanely cool. I don’t understand why they don’t do a better job of explaining what it does. When you pull up, it gives you an hour by hour of weather forecast, but it does it in the coolest way I’ve ever seen. The forecast is for rain, and when it gets to the proper time, rain starts to fall from the screen and the colors change as well. There is a clock in the corner of the screen that shows you the time as it’s hands move around the dial.

    I would never have bothered with Solar if my Weather App actually worked but for some reason it stopped working and I was using alternatives.

    I’m surprised the comments here. They sound like Phandroids. Have any of you people ever held an Apple product in your life? I guess it shows the great disparity between the minds at Apple and the general public. The general public wants “Good enough, I can get by” type of apps, which begs the question, how did they come about having an Apple product in their hands to begin with since Apple charges a premium for all their products? They obviously didn’t pay for it on their own or didn’t plan on having an Apple product.

    Apple strives to offer a premium experience for it’s users which obviously none of you people understand. The author here offers some sound advice because if there are better services out there, maybe Apple should consider putting them on their devices. I think it certainly warrants some thought. I don’t know about holding a contest because that just sounds cheesy. I think I’d leave it up to Jony Ive to figure out the best apps to include as a default. Then cut a deal with the maker of the app.

    If us readers had not been lambasted by the Big Great Hope that Johnny Ive’s design team was going to save the day with a great new design of native iOS apps every week since Scott Forstall was fired I don’t think everybody on here would be reacting as strongly to this stupid article. All we’ve read from COM is “We can’t wait for Johnny Ive’s designed iOS and Apps!!! Yeah! Yeah! Whoopee! Johny Ive! Woohoo! Johnny Ive is my hero!” Now they write this opposite pessimistic article “Apple get rid of all Apps.” WTF? I real mean WTF? WTF? It is the stupidest turn around I have ever heard. COM writers, get you sh– together, meet each other, and discuss WTF kind of junk you’re floating out here to us, otherwise you are losing credibility.

  • Dan B

    The columnist fails to grasp one important fact. Forstal, who championed a tacky variant of skewmorphism, is gone. Ive, who is one of the world’s best designers, is now in charge of iOS design. If you take a look at the iPad’s new clock app you’ll see the first glimpse at where all the iOS native apps will go design-wise. It’s beautiful, minimalist, but still subtly skewmorphic so as to be forward compatable with Apple’s eventual application of 3D UI and advanced haptics. Starting later this year all native iOS apps will start adopting a unified look similar to that iPad (not iPhone) Clock app.

    All the dudes at COM have all been cheering like cheerleaders about Johnny Ive’s design team being their hero and going to save iOS and save the native apps. They know this man… Then they dump this crappy article on us as if we have not been reading their love poems to Johnny Ive the whole time. Other than scanning Apple News on the Zite app I am really wondering if these guys know about what they are copying from all of those other articels that can be found in the Zite App under Apple News.

  • seelee

    That’s actually a pretty strong piece. The springboard becomes a “Best of the App Store” for basic functions. I don’t agree that the problems with Maps could be overcome with this approach, however.

  • Moehio

    What a ridiculous article. Yes, spend $600 on a phone only to turn it one to discover… nothing! Great idea slick. Will go over well with the non-tech crowd that makes up about 80 of Apples customers.

  • Robert X

    I don’t agree at all. They are a “good enough” first impression. My wife even knew to go look for better apps if she wanted something that was better.

  • ericschultheiss

    As I was reading this, I thought “what moron wrote this” then I get to the bottom and see it was Mike Elgan and I’m not in the least surprised. Pretty much all of your articles are childish and/or dumb. You really should give up writing, considering that your “logic” isn’t very logical.

  • Brady Wurtz

    you are a moron. did you know google makes android? and that google makes google maps and owns youtube? ever put together why apple doesn’t have google maps and youtube as default apps anymore?

    And a new default app every year? Do you know or have any idea what an apple product is? How would the default app that’s new every year still look consistent and work with all the other apps? Do you have any idea how to make a good software experience? like, at all? are you just a moron?

  • Brady Wurtz

    Also, it sounds like you are very against other developers. it sounds like you just want apple to make the apps we use and that we shouldn’t have to look for independent ios app developers. do you realize how bad that is? Yes apple can improve on their apps but they should not be constantly imitating every good app out there, or then you will be writing an article about how apple is not letting any independent app developer out there make a living because they can’t sell anything because apple keeps stealing their ideas.

    Think before you write.

  • DrM47145

    With all due respect, shut up, Mike.
    The fact that third parties now offer alternatives for many of the core iOS apps doesn’t mean Apple should stop making iOS apps.
    I like your style, but nope… you totally missed it here.

  • skywiz17

    Some of these comments here are just crazy. Just because someone dared criticize our beloved Apple apps we got to go all whoop ass on him. I see this as a kick in the a$$ of Apple. We’re loosing iphone users day after day due to the lack of iOS innovation. How the hell is Apple going to get back to number 1 without waking up, looking around and innovating something?

  • Shyam Bhat

    The least Apple should do is give that tiny little cross button on the stock apps when they wobble and let users decide what stays on their phones and what doesn’t. And they should do that right now!

  • iSteve

    Hey buddy, that’s complete nonsense your article. Apple’s apps are the best and provide a premium experience.

    Apple must and will continue make native apps.

    Who are you to tell what Apple must do? It’s their phone, their platform and system. So just shut up!

  • stealthmouse

    Your article is spot-on. It’s been true for quite a while that the Big 3 (in this instance they are, anyway) – Microsoft, Apple and Google, hate each other. Then throw in Motorola and Verizon, and you have explanations for why nothing seems to work together, and why inferior apps still make it through the system, or why even Appstore apps have incredibly low user ratings. It’s because 1) Apple prefers its own apps over anyone else’s, even in the instances where they know the competitor products are superior (Maps, for instance); and 2) Apple thinks it’s smarter than everyone else. So while it tries to control its users’ own phone environments, those users are smarting from their android buddies having better apps, which is what you get when you have thousands of developers competing on an open-source OS, releasing products into the marketplace directly to users on a real-time basis, including betas. If we all could only have iPhones, we’d still be waiting around for real keyboards, arrow keys, an autotext engine that actually works, and apps that aren’t approved from on high. Such phones have a place, and plenty of fans, but the overall product is just what you get when hubris takes the place of innovation and creativity.

    I just wish they could find some time in their busy schedule to fix the f*ing battery drain issue on 2009 MacBook Pros. But alas, they’ve moved on to other things, like trying to make my 23-inch monitor look like a giant, cheap iPhone screen.

    iSteve is right, too. And when Apple continues losing customers to android, and the stock price plummets, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

    Ah, time to go. Gotta set up a new ROM slot on my RAZR, and install one of the new Paranoid custom ROMs on it.

  • dave_margolis

    I don’t have a problem with Apple making iOS apps. Some iPhone owners will never seek out a more functional note-taking app, and the built-in app will continue to work well enough for those users. Better they have a minimally functional weather app than none at all.

    I do have a problem with Apple insisting which iOS apps I use for certain functions. After switching over to Google Maps, I am frustrated that the ‘show in maps’ functionality of my contacts list only works with Apple Maps. I use the built-in Safari browser, but I know other iPhone users are frustrated they aren’t able to directly open links with their browser of choice (Chrome, Opera, etc.)

    I’d also like more control over the ability to hide certain apps from the interface. Why can’t I make Passbook go away? Why can’t I hide Newsstand in a folder with other rarely-used apps?

  • CharlieDonahue

    Puhhhhhh-lease!

    The subtleties that the average Cult of Mac reader/writer picks up on are thousands of times more acute than those of the average user. The average user loves the weather app. The average user doesn’t feel the pain from the maps debacle. The average user doesn’t run out into the app store like me to find the best “email management app”.

  • daov2a

    I would have to agree. I only use the phone, contacts and mail apps on the iPhone. I no longer use: Music, Maps, Note, Weather; have never used Stocks, Compass, Newsstand, Clock, iTunes, Videos, Game Center, Passbook. BUT this is not necessarily that those are bad apps. They have their appeal as single functions and I guess obviously some folks, as exhibited by these replies, find them useful: I do not. I have yet to open most of them.

About the author

Mike ElganMike Elgan writes about technology and culture for a wide variety of publications. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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