An idea for how apps should be purchased

Just spit-balling here, but it’s an idea nonetheless.

Yes, I acknowledge that there is a vast amount of people who own a smartphone because the phone store sales rep persuaded them to get one instead of a ‘dumbphone’ so don’t really use the ‘smart’ feature of the phones much, but, there is also a large proportion of people who use their phones to their fullest extent.

My idea started off with the frustrations of switching mobile platforms. Admittedly I change my phone significantly more frequently than most people, but the majority do still change their phone, say, when their 24 month contract has ended. They won’t necessarily stay with the same platform. Yet they’ve invested potentially hundreds of dollars into apps. And now they have to buy them all again on a different platform.

Before you point out what you think is a flaw, yes, if you buy a PS3 game you shouldn’t then get the Xbox 360 version for free. But I think mobile apps are different. For starters, they’re at a much lower price point.

Here’s the idea:

  • All apps are free. As in, on the app store/ marketplace/Play store etc, all the apps are listed as free to download. In fact, while I’m thinking about it, let’s also throw in a Windows Phone style incorporated trial version into the apps if the developer so pleases so that you can try basic functionality before unlocking the entire app.
  • The user pays for access to the app by using an account – this is the only flaw, a universal account would be needed (or you’d have an account with every single developer – not so manageable if you have a lot of apps)
  • To appease the platform providers (Apple, Google etc.), the yearly subscription is bought via an in-app purchase, so the platform provider still gets their 30% or so.

As I said, just an idea, but it’s an interesting one. Many companies are trying to push for ‘universal’ accounts, such as Facebook commenting on many websites, Google account commenting on some websites, using your Apple ID to purchase Macs, iPhones, iBooks, movies, TV, music etc. so perhaps this idea could be even more realistic once the battle of universal accounts has been won. I may have confused myself with the account explanation and therefore you as well, so let me clarify: You would pay for the in-app purchase subscription using your Apple ID or Google wallet etc., the current payment system on the platform in question. But to authenticate that you already have a subscription, you would need to prove that somehow on the second platform, thus needing a cross-platform account of some sort. Unless Apple and Google played nice of course… but that’s never going to happen.

Personally, I think I’d be happier with this system of payment. If you like an app, you get to reward the developer on a yearly basis rather than a one-off (of course the subscription price wouldn’t be as high as the current prices to buy apps are so as to be more appealing). Personally, I don’t see any flaws with this purchase model, but do you? If so, please feel free to offer “your two cents” in the comments below.


What I miss about Windows Phone 7

So, as those of you who may follow me on Twitter, you might have gathered that I now have the HTC One S, a month or two earlier than I said I’d move on from the Trophy. So, I’ve now been using the One S with Android 4.0.3 and Sense 4 for nearly a week, and am certainly missing several WP7 elements.
When I moved on from WinMo to WP7, I was missing a lot. No multitasking, no IRC app that worked properly, hardly any customizability. However, I adapted. I learnt to live with the closed ecosystem and the pitiful amount of non-expandable storage. In fact, I must take a minute here to thank Microsoft for preparing me for the One S’s limited amount of storage space, which, when using the same syncing ethos as I used with the Trophy, has made me think that there is ample storage space.
So, after that slight diversion, what do I miss about Windows Phone 7, or, what do I find annoying about Android?

1) Awful smiley keyboard. Look, I use smileys a lot, and I much prefer, for example, colon P, rather than colon dash P. On the Trophy, straight from the alphabetical keyboard screen, I could tap a smiley button and instantly add any of two pages of very diverse smiley choices that pandered to anybody’s tastes.


The first page of smileys on WP7. The button to the left of Space is there on the alphabetical keyboard to instantly get to smileys.

To type colon P on the One S with the Sense keyboard, I can do one of two things. 1, tap and hold the period key, then shift then P. Or 2, hit 12#, 1/2, 😛, ABC. Either way is long winded and rather stressful. Stressful in that typing a smiley should be a thoughtless task, a break from the mental exertion of typing and trying to get autocorrect to stay away from words it isn’t welcome to touch.

2) It isn’t friendly. WP7 was a very apologetic operating system, all the errors seemed sincere and as if they were to blame rather than the user. But that isn’t my main point here. When I got a text message, the Trophy would buzz and the screen would stay off. Then, when I took it out of my jacket’s top pocket, the screen would warmly turn on within a certain time frame and I could see the text. With the One S, as far as I have tried, it doesn’t do that. I liked that feature, it meant I could just lift the phone briefly out of my pocket, see the text, and let it drop back down into my pocket, without pressing a single button. Coincidentally, once again, WP7 providing a way of doing things with as little exertion as possible.

3) Live tiles. Now, I don’t miss this as much as some people may if they made the transition, but it was nice having tiles on the home screen automatically update. I had and have an unlimited data plan, so I am not at all bothered by the system fetching new data. The HTC people hub doesn’t seem to automatically update, which just adds.waiting time for the user.

There are other such minor things as the lack of a hardware shutter button, the space bar being far too keen to insert a . between words (the double tap space timing on iOS is perfect, the Sense one waits no time at all before inserting a period, and I’m a pretty fast typer). Also, the Sense app drawer is unbelievably unintuitive. I know I can order it by install date etc., but on iOS you customize the entire layout, and on WP7 you can jump to the letter in the alphabet. All in all, the shortcomings are bearable, though the lack of a fast smiley keyboard is infuriating. Congratulations Microsoft, in hindsight, you created a very friendly and usable OS. The dictionary may have got in the way all the time, but all in all, it was how a smartphone should be. Smart.

HTC website refusing to publish my review, claiming “inappropriate language”

I have just spent a fair amount of time painstakingly spilling my views on my current phone to the HTC form-based review system. However, when it came to clicking “Preview”, it rejects my review, citing “We’re sorry, but we have encountered the following issue(s): Your review text contains inappropriate language.” Does it tell me where? Well, it does to the extent of ‘which box on the form the offending text is in’, but any further than that is anybody’s guess amongst the 722 word-long review.

Please feel free therefore to read what I wrote, copied below, and please do point out to me where the “inappropriate language” is. Was it because I ticked the “no” box for “Do you recommend this product?” ???

Features? WP7 rather limits that, but with Mango it’s a bit more bearable (though don’t expect any proper multitasking, and do expect it to get slow).

Ease of use? Well, WP7 is seemingly designed for kids, which doesn’t help. Also, If you have a reading age above that of a two-year-old, you’ll constantly be frustrated by it changing real, legitimate words that you type, with ones that are irrelevant and simple. The so-called ‘dictionary’ and keyboard fill up about 80% of the screen, and if you want to type in say, IM+, say goodbye to being able to see anything other than the keyboard and word ‘suggestions’ in landscape view. The auto ‘correct’ is a complete nightmare for even the slowest typer, especially with the form OVER function keyboard design. Always tapping space, backspace, enter… always when you aren’t trying to.

Battery life? Appalling. Doesn’t last me through the day, its usually turned on power saver by midday. I bought a 3500mAh battery for it, which makes it last a whole day, but ruins the entire form-factor of the device, which brings me on to…

Design. Beautiful. The actual design of this phone is, in my opinion, the best looking of ANY Windows Phone out there, 7.0 or 7.5. If you don’t mind your battery dying after some usage, you’ll really appreciate the elegant stealthy design of this phone. It is rather prone to scratches all over, including the screen, and I’d buy a second battery cover if I were you, y’know, one to pop on when showing it off to people rather than showing them the smudged, scratched, and soon-to-be-incomplete “HTC” lettering, as it will inevitably fall off. Not that I personally show my Trophy off of course, I don’t find it anything to boast about, as it’s not just the cover…

It’s the rest of the book. The OS can become ridiculously sluggish. I’ve been using Windows Mobile since WinMo 2003 and this is my fourth Microsoft-powered pocket device, so I’m no stranger to the inevitable slowness. However, WP7 removes all the power-user functionality of WinMo, and replaces it with an undeniably smooth and original UI. However, it still slows down. Just try having internet sharing turned on and three devices linked, see your battery vanish and the tiles on the Start screen take time to jitteringly load. I know that would slow it down, but even when you don’t do that it can just get really slow.

Also, syncing with the Zune software can welcome you to a new hell you thought was only possible with iTunes. It’s not awful, but it can be incredibly restrictive.

Now onto the pros… the speakers, so long as you have the right setting in the HTC sound enhancer on (personally I find Dolby Mobile for phone speakers and SRS enhancement for headphones provides the fullest, clearest sound), they are superb. The entire design looks fantastic, and I genuinely do find this phone to be the perfect size, the screen is ample enough for videos, but doesn’t even come close to bordering on the tablet-size phones that are becoming increasingly common nowadays. You will probably find yourself accidentally brushing your hand on one of the capacitive buttons though, pulling you right out of whatever app you were in. My Trophy’s screen is pretty scratched, but unlike my iPod it isn’t at all noticeable when the screen is on.

The bottom line is, if you aren’t a power user but are a “social fiend” with a good sense of taste, this IS the phone for you. It looks really nice, it’s fast if all you do is social stuff (the “what’s new” area on the people hub can keep you in the know with everything on twitter and facebook all in one fluid feed).

if you do:

-Facebook updating (text or photos)

-Facebook liking and commenting (as well as viewing text and photos)

-Tweeting (posting and replying/retweeting)

-Quickly emailing people

-Snapping a quick photo of a passable quality

-Like listening to music with the opportunity to use great inbuilt speakers

-Like getting to everything quickly

-Group people’s social streams, e.g. twitter and Facebook view of just your closest friends,…

…then you will love this phone. If you are looking for a business phone or a device to heavily consume media on, look somewhere else.”

7 days of Windows Phone 7

(yes, I know I’m late posting this for it to have been 7 days, but I got a bit delayed)

After using Windows Phone 7 for 7 days (so far it’s actually 11 days), I have found it to be a speedy and efficient mobile OS. Whilst it is missing many key features that made be long to return to Windows Mobile or even leap to Android, I made do.

  • It’s great for communication. The speed I can now send a text message or manage emails is amazing. The on-screen keyboard is rather annoyingly small and it is very easy to tap the wrong button , but it’s still bearable (and I can imagine it’s a lot more comfortable to type on the HTC Titan)
  • It’s great for media. Yes, videos (seemingly) need to be converted, but let’s put it this way. The Zune software is a LOT more bearable than iTunes. The limited amount of storage space on WP7 devices can get annoying but isn’t too bad to be a major annoyance. To get a video onto the phone, just plug it into the computer, the Zune software starts, drag and drop the file from the Zune library onto the phone icon in the Zune software and then wait. Simple.
  • The multitasking is rather annoying in WP 7.5. It’s like the iOS 3 to iOS 4 update, where app developers slowly and NOT surely release multitasking capable updates. I’m not quite sure why Microsoft would have wanted to follow this path, especially after seeing how it worked out for Apple.
On the whole, it seems to be the most efficient mobile OS for communication by far. However, it does have many drawbacks and I do have to frequently turn back to Windows Mobile when I really need to get something done properly.

My new computer’s name :P

Right, firstly, (to fill you in) I name the technology I own after characters in the Matrix (hey ,it’s one of the best films ever and most people DO name their technology after something, and normally the same something, a film, an area of science, animals, who knows :p). Here’s the list of used names so far:

  • Neo – My better HP ZV5000. It’s six years old and still has the shelf specs. Unfortunately, it’s also my primary computer, hence my constant PC woes.
  • Trinity – The slightly worse spec ZV5000. Currently resides in a cupboard, but if I had about £80 spare I would turn it into a decent server.
  • Morpheus – The late great Tiny (yes, that was the name of the company). It’s from 2001, but last year I swapped most of the internal parts for some newer ones. However, after two functioning months, the motherboard shorted (by itself). The (now empty) case currently resides on top of a bookcase:

(click on image to see more of the 'funeral')

  •  Link – The router, naturally 😛
  • Operator – My Touch Pro2
  • Tank – The Qtek 9100 (as someone once said it was a “tank of a phone” (it’s rather large))
As you can see, most of the good names have been taken. However, I will hopefully be getting  a new desktop PC soon, and it needs a name. I think it would be in rather poor taste to name it ‘Morpheus’ (as the PC called Morpheus is dead), so the next best names left are ‘Agent Smith’ or ‘Oracle’. Given my distaste for the Oracle Corporation, it looks like it will have to be called ‘Agent Smith’, but that is rather awkward to constantly type, and shortening it to ‘Smith’ just sounds plain :/ Maybe ‘Agent’ for short?

My opinion on Google Music

Mainly, I don’t really see me having a use for it. I listen to my music on three devices, my HTC Touch Pro2 (phone and pocket computer, also only thing with ‘reliable’ internet access), my iPod Touch (holds my whole library from it’s state in 2009, but can’t sync so it’s an outdated collection) and my laptop (internal HDD is only 40GB, so almost all music is stored across two external 500GB drives, but the laptop never moves so portability isn’t an issue). My iPod says “431 Songs”. In total, I probably have around 550. When out and about, I use my phone for music as one of it’s few good features is it has dual speakers with amazing quality (whereas the iPod isn’t powerful or particularly crisp when outside). Okay, I guess that could be seen as the perfect opportunity for Google Music. I only have about 30 songs on my phone’s storage card, so it’s hardly convenient to listen too music of my choosing. My laptop is my music ‘hub’. All music is on it, but it goes nowhere. This would seem to set the perfect scene for a Google Music usage opportunity. However, my main issue is internet. I don’t really have an Internet connection. Well, it’s on and off. Mostly off (long story). Pretty much all tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, browsing, IRCing etc. is done on my phone. I do sometimes tether my phone to my laptop, but that ends up somehow burning through at least 100MB in two hours. Carriers in the UK don’t quite understand the idea of ‘unlimited’ or ‘fair’. 500MB a month isn’t good enough for any phone made after 2008 (approximately). Or maybe it’s just that I in particular need to access everything online via it. Well, imagine if your data cap on your broadband was 500MB a month. You probably wouldn’t cope. I’m not getting at anyone here, or trying to make you feel I’m hard done by. I am trying to switch to the 3 network, who while not being famous for coverage, would appear to offer truly unlimited data. So, when I’m on the go, I can’t just stream my music due to the data cap. Oh, and nothing that’s fancy online works on Windows Mobile. So, I’d have to tether my iPod to my phone and use that for streaming. Which means no awesome speakers. And it means my phone would have to be switched on permanently (if I turn the screen off, wifi goes off, so tethering stops). The battery, to put it bluntly, doesn’t last long.

Maybe it’s just my specific situation that makes me dislike it. I suppose I see an ‘end’, there’s just no means (as in a means to an end. Google Music would be the solution to my slight music problem). If I lived in America with slightly nicer carriers, and if I had an array of devices that weren’t a) knackered b) incompatible and c) outdated, maybe I would use it.

I guess part of my ‘beef’ with it is that it’s Google. They do search. And adverts to monetize the search. And email to also increase ad revenues. And maps to provide a feature-full platform… Okay, maybe they don’t just do search. But Music? They killed newspapers (allegedly). Apple killed the singles with iTunes. That is a pity. I like having the thing physically. A film on DVD always feels more worth it than if it was purchased of iTunes. Same with books and music. But, digital does have a great benefit. Portability.
If it was Amazon Music, I probably wouldn’t oppose it as much. Google do seem to be trying to improve everybody’s lives in every possible way. But remember, they’re a 14 year old search engine.

I’m considering changing the name…

‘’ is fine, however, the header ‘Is Apple evil? No.’ is rather dated. For starters, the main conclusion has been reached, and most of the stuff now posted here is Apple news (which is fine by me, but do you mind it? I do try to write more opinionated pieces, but I don’t have all the time in the world). So, if you have any snappy suggestions for a new name that relates to Apple, news, and the domain, please leave a comment. Any suggestions are appreciated 🙂