Apple’s Dog Food

The saying goes that you should eat your own dog food. It seems to me that Apple should be doing this with respect to their iOS (specifically iPad) applications. Unfortunately, it’s their apps that I have most to complain about.

Missing iPad versions

Firstly, why do they have applications that aren’t universal? (Or at least don’t have an iPad version)? I probably don’t have all of Apple’s apps, but three that I do have, and use, are stuck in the ugly 2x mode.

I use Remote all the time. An iPad version would be great – basically the same as the small version, but all the controls could be on screen at once, rather than having to switch between “Control” mode and menu selection. The “Now Playing” screen could probably always be displayed, too.

Texas Hold ’em: I don’t use this a lot, but it’s a reasonably good, simple, poker game. Basically nothing needs to be done to the interface, except add higher resolution graphics and flick the iPad bit. It would be much more playable at the higher resolution. I get the feeling this was written as a demo, but so little work would be required to update it.

Mobile Me Gallery: ok, so Mobile Me is pretty much a joke at this point, apart from “Find My iThing”. Still, I do have some photos there, and there must be a few other people. While we are waiting for Mobile Me to turn into something worth using, why not update this app? There are plenty of good photo browsers that show how it can be done, and showing off photos is a great use of the app. Alternatively, build Mobile Me support into the Photos app.

External Display

The external display support really opens up what the iPad can offer. There’s a lot that can done with limited resources such as the iPad has, making it a great lightweight laptop replacement (it can’t replace every use, but it can replace every use within specific situations). Unfortunately, barely any apps currently make use of it, including Apple’s own.

In particular, why is KeyNote the only iWork app to use it? Sure, presentations are the most common way of showing data, but there are times when you want to show a spreadsheet (e.g. interactively make changes) or a word processing document too. Just adding mirroring capability to Pages and Numbers would be enough, but a “presentation mode” where the iPad display was all controls and the external display for displaying the data would be extra nice. (Since iBooks handles PDF now, it’d be handy there too – sometimes the data you have is a PDF, and there’s no point converting it to a Keynote document).

Missing Apps

Then there are the missing apps. It would have been pretty simple to include clock, weather, stock and calculator apps. It’s easy to fill the void with third party apps (I’ll post another time about the apps I use and love) but it would be nice to have these included. I actually use the clock all the time (no pun intended), and weather makes a nice demo of graphics, location awareness, and always-connectedness. I generally calculate in my head, but an always-handy calculator is very convenient too. I only use the stocks app to track the exchange rate, but I also use it a lot.

I’m not going to write about issues with the iPad apps that Apple does have. I think in general they are fairly well done, especially for first versions. I just wish they would set a better example for others, by making use of the functionality that they themselves are offering. I do think that the situation is likely to improve, although I suspect that Remote won’t (new AppleTV will obsolete it), Hold’em won’t (no one cares), Mobile Me Gallery won’t (no one uses it), and the ‘missing’ apps won’t come back (not sexy enough to demo, third party apps fill the gap).

(FWIW, I wrote all of this on the iPad, in the excellent WordPress app).

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