On Apple Letting Users Switch Default Apps on iOS

Apple Weighs Letting Users Switch Default iPhone Apps to Rivals.

The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

I remember following with keen interest the antitrust case against Microsoft for restricting users and manufacturers the ability to choose browsers other than Internet Explorer as default. I’ve been expecting the same antitrust case brought against Apple regarding restricting competing third-party developer apps to be made default by users on the iOS platform.

I cannot see this having any severely debilitating adverse effect in the long run if Apple allows users to switch to third-party apps as their default. If anything, this should spur competition which will see Apple not rest on its laurels and do more to keep their apps on a seriously competitive level as the company continues to push on its Services front.

We have already started to see many of the default Apple apps receive significant enhancements from the barebones state they once were — Apps like Mail, Safari with desktop-class capabilities on iPadOS, Reminders and Maps, to name a few.

I regularly switch to using all default apps during iOS Beta periods. Over the years as I’ve watched some of the default apps evolve with ‘power feature’ capabilities I relied on third-party apps for, it’s prompted me to switch to using some of the native default apps on a more permanent basis.

Some Apps and Services I’ve switched away from in favour of default Apple alternatives:

  • Evernote (Notes)
  • Spotify (Apple Music)
  • 1Password (iCloud Keychain)
  • Todo/Task Management apps (Reminders)
  • Podcatchers (Apple Podcast)
  • Dropbox (iCloud Drive)
  • IFTTT (Shortcuts)
  • Google Maps (Apple Maps)

Continued enhancements with feature parity to the default native apps will continue to elevate their prominence and stake a claim as worthy options without the need for Apple to force them as the default on the OS.

Source: Bloomberg.

Expressing Gratitude to Developers

A Thank You Letter To Developers.

I can understand that this path you have chosen can feel thankless but please know that there are many of us out here that appreciate your hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, the perceived value of the work you are doing is being warped to an unsustainable level. Perhaps this is because of the faceless nature of your work, or the warped sense of values and entitlement in the world of technology. Regardless, please know that that the vocal minority does not represent all users. There are many of us who care, and care deeply about the relationship we have with each of you. I admit, we do not express our gratitude often enough or loud enough, but it is unwavering.

The launch of the iOS App Store in July of 2008 with an initial 500 apps was received with merriment. After making do with web apps, I cherished the opening of the App Store with third-party apps, some of which offered a more superior functionality compared to the default native apps of the same ilk by Apple. The App Store gold rush of yore was one of the most exciting and enjoyable periods in the App Stores history. The slogan ‘There’s an App for that’ was so befitting as the App Store continued to receive a plethora of new apps that fulfilled an incredibly wide variety of use-cases. Thanks to Developers.

Today, in 2020, third party apps and services on iOS continue to play a pivotal role in the growth and stability of the platform. And long may that continue. I have been a huge proponent, and supporter of third party apps throughout their revenue-generating business model changes on the App Store over the years. Changes that have always been necessary for helping keep app development sustainable as the platform grows. A thriving App Store holds so much benefit and value for the platform, its users, and developers.

Like many, I have bought – and continue to do so – apps I had no immediate need to add to my workflow and put them to use because I may have others in the same category that are far superior and commanded a Homescreen spot. I do it to support and contribute towards maintaining the healthy state of the app store economy because I respect and value the core ideas behind the apps, the quality of care, and the skills that went into building and maintaining the software.

Even more importantly, there are humans behind the apps. Humans that recognised the importance and role the devices we use and rely on daily to run our lives require the right tools to carry out the tasks efficiently. You can argue because of such talented developers creating some of the undeniably great tools we use on these devices, said devices wouldn’t have held the same level of importance in our lives.

Anyone that used iOS before the launch of the App Store feels my pain. We have been spoilt rotten, living in such a healthy, well-maintained app ecosystem, thanks to the many talented developers that despite some of the hardships they face, they maintain their high-level craftsmanship. Developers that continue to walk this path, spending their lives building and maintaining these tools regardless of whatever fulfilment goals they have, be it financial or otherwise, deserve gratitude.

I salute you. Thank you for all you do.

Source: GABZ/ML via Jason Burk.

Distributing Mac and iOS Apps as a Universal Purchase

Updates to Universal Purchase and App Store Categories.

Starting in March 2020, you’ll be able to distribute iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS versions of your app as a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across platforms by purchasing only once.

Although I’m currently iPad only as my main computing device, I’ve never ruled out getting a traditional Mac computer if the need ever arise. Today’s announcement from Apple that Developers can transition any Mac app to a shared purchase with iOS, iPadOS, watchOS and tvOS is a very deliberate user-friendly move by Apple I must say.

I hope developers can find a way to benefit from this — as much as users will — when it comes to finding the right pricing balance going universal, especially developers that currently have a separate pricing structure for iOS and Mac, and rely heavily on the Mac counterparts of their apps as the main source of higher revenue.

Source: Apple Developer News


Update: MAR 23, 2020 — Universal Purchase for Mac Apps Now Available:

The macOS version of your app can now be included in a universal purchase, allowing customers to enjoy your app and in‑app purchases across iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS by purchasing only once.

Switching Default Safari Search Engine on iOS

DuckDuckGo iOS

DuckDuckGo has been one of the default Safari search engines since iOS 8. I tried keeping an eye out on its progress as an alternative search engine to Google Search because of their Policy advocating on protecting user privacy. It wasn’t until late 2018 when a tweet from Walt Mossberg triggered me to revisit and review the progress. I switched my iPhone default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo and initially thought I wouldn’t stick with it.

I thought Google will always be better at delivering the most relevant and correct results. I was wrong. I found DuckDuckGo equally useful to the point I switched to it on all of my iOS devices as the default search engine in Safari. It’s been a year since I made the switch and DuckDuckGo never faltered, to the point, throughout the year, I never thought about going back to using Google Search. Such is the way the mind works when you see no faults in whatever defaults you use as your go-to tool.

iPadOS Reignites My Love for iPad

 Apple 12.9” iPad Pro running iPadOS 13 Beta.
Apple 12.9” iPad Pro running iPadOS 13 Beta.

In January 2010, Steve Jobs revealed to the world the iPad, the device Apple believed to be the answer to fill the gap between the smartphone and a laptop. Having converted to using an iPhone two years earlier in 2008, I was definitely in that camp; the need for real screen estate portable touch device that allows me to perform the majority of basic tasks I used a laptop and desktop computer for at the time, such as; web browsing, email, reading and media consumption etc. Nothing trivial.