Thursday, July 31, 2014

The bane of our lives - android/ios apps

Most of us use mobile telephones, whether we are or are not photographers. I know I certainly do and I'm no exception. I'm a rather mundane ordinary fellow that wears glasses to read. I don't like beer, I don't like sport. I love working and earning money (well, maybe I am unusual because most people regard work as a necessary evil). Seriously, I do enjoy working. When I'm not working, I tend to get bored.

Meanwhile, back to the issue - mobile phone apps. It doesn't matter whether it's an Android-based phone, an iOS based phone or one of those strange Windows phones. I'm sorry - I can't really take a Windows phone seriously. I just can't imagine anybody wanting a phone where midway through a call, the phone freezes and needs to be rebooted or stops working entirely and needs the operating system to be reinstalled as seems to be the case with every Microsoft operating system I've ever seen. The apps are the weakest point of most of the phones.

Having a smartphone can be fun until things go haywire. On my Android as an example, the email app got an update that meant it burned through battery life in no time at all. The battery went from 2 days to 2.5 hours before it was flat. This is one of the problems - apps that have poor power drain features. This is why most iPhone users constantly seem to be plugging their phones in. My choice - just to remove the apps that burn through the battery.

The other day I thought it might be nice to play a game on my tablet (which is also Android). There was a spectacular selection and all free. Generally the games tried seemed to fall into one of several categories:
  • Failed to install - quite a lot with high-ratings just failed to install, coming up with an error message. This made me look more closely at the ratings where I marvelled at how the ratings looked so faked. "Great game" is not a review. Google does not charge by the letter for reviews. 
  • Ridiculous amount of advertising. The "free" apps are only free because they carry advertising. One app I tried had an enormous amount of advertising. Every 60 seconds the app would pause to show an advert. The app itself was pretty pointless - it had clearly been written as an advertising vehicle rather than anything else.
  • Generally low-quality applications. I've tried quite a few that could easily have been better. It takes just as much time to write a good app as it does to write a bad app. From installation (which can take minutes) to deletion is usually around about 30 seconds.
  • Many variations on exactly the same app. How many times can Jewel Quest be redone? It has been out as Bubble Quest, Bubble Magic, Bubble Cannon, Bubble Buster etc. Just changing the name slightly and the screen layout does not change the game. It's the same game copied and changed very slightly. 
  • Ludicrous amounts of memory needed. What happened to the old IBM PC games that loaded in under a megabyte? Why are the games now so massive? 20mb is nothing - there are some now that are over a gigabyte. Some will claim they're 20mb then by the time they've downloaded their little extras, they're up to 70mb and beyond.
  • OK applications? Well, the games tried were all hugely disappointing. Generally the only apps worth mentioning are those written and supplied by Google. None of the independent apps seem to perform at all well. Thus, I stick to the most mundane apps - the browser, gmail, navigation, clock etc. 
Now that's the free apps. There are paid apps but since all they will largely bypass is the advertising, are they really going to be so much better that they're worth paying for? Going by the example of the Blackberry I had a few years ago on which I did buy a couple of disappointing apps, probably not so it's not worth paying the money. The generally poor quality of the free apps does not engender belief that the paid apps will be any better.

I look at my smartphone and wonder sometimes whether I really need a smartphone when publically available wifi will help in most areas and since it's not essential that I actually have 24x7 access to email and so on. In days gone, I used to use the Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest apps. I deleted them all. Do I miss them? No. I don't miss Facebook pinging to tell me that somebody has uploaded yet another photograph of their cat taking a poo in the geraniums. I don't miss letting the burglars know when I'm not home by posting my location on Foursquare. I don't miss casually adding things that I had no interest in to Pinterest. I don't even miss the inane Twitter application.

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