Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

15 July 2008 @ 10pm

The App Store: My Purchases (and Two Gaming Gems)

I ventured with our summer intern to the Los Gatos Apple Store early on Friday morning: we were in line by 4 AM, and were numbers 23 and 24 in line. We were back at Apple by 9 AM, iPhone 3Gs in hand: we both got the 16 GB model. I went with white (didn’t you hear? It’s the new black!), while he opted for fingerprint-revealing black.

When our iPhones finally unlocked for use and synced with iTunes later that afternoon, the Great App Store Purchase Binge began. I’ve bought somewhere between 30 and 40 apps: most of them have been free, but a few weren’t. Here’s my recommendations in no particular order (and a couple of games that everyone needs to try):

  • Twitterrific Premium. Twitter on your iPhone: it was meant to be used this way. Quite useful to stay connected when wandering away from a laptop, and much easier than text message updates.
  • Exposure Premium. Neat Flickr browsing application from Fraser Speirs, knowledgeable Mac developer and wrangler of the Flickr API.
  • Instapaper. A lightweight, quick web page “bookmark to read later” app. I’ve used the web version since days after its initial creation. The iPhone app is even better: it downloads offline copies of articles, with both the original page, and an extracted text-only version. A little birdy told me that 1.0.1 is forthcoming with deletion capabilies; currently, you have to delete or mark articles as read via the web interface.
  • Graffitio. You can create walls and post to them, anonymously and with no character limit. It uses Core Location to view walls at or near your location. This app is downright strange on campus, since the other buildings are close enough to let you read what iPod interns are posting in the Infinite Loop buildings.
  • Masyu, by Tim Burks, of Nu fame. A fantastic little puzzle application: there’s only two rules for mapping a route through pieces on the board, so it’s simple to learn. The larger puzzles use a few more pieces to great effect, making it difficult in spite of the inherent simple rules.
  • Cubes (gameplay demo here). A very neat reverse Tetris meets a Rubik’s cube puzzle game.
  • Sol. A simple display of sunset, sunrise and twilight hours. I’ve had this widget on Dashboard for next-to-forever, so this was an obvious purchase.

I have one suggestion for developers: in the application’s info on the App Store, post a link to a fifteen or thirty second screencast demo of the app. There’s several apps that I was unsure of, such as Cubes, but seeing a gameplay demo made it obvious that I would enjoy it. This goes for all developers, not just game devs: we want to see how the app works, what the flow is like.

All told, I’ve spent 63 dollars on the App Store so far. Most of the money has gone towards the ten dollar applications like Twitterrific and Exposure Premium. I think most developers are leaving gobs of money on the table: I’d have paid more for Cubes, Masyu, and other games, and applications like Instapaper could charge several dollars and I’d buy them. (Instapaper may have a premium version coming out in the future with more features.)

The maxim of Mac development still holds true for App Store apps: charge more now, you can always lower your price later.