Monthly Archives: March 2016

Premium Apps

Do you listen to Under the Radar with David Smith and Marco Arment? If you’re an iOS or Mac Developer you should consider it, it’s good.

The latest episode — Improving the App Store, Part 1 — is going to be quite controversial. I wouldn’t be surprised if Part 2 includes a bit of laughter and talk about how much mail they received.

Duct Tape, fixer of all things!I’ll admit, at first I was a bit miffed by how they couched their apps as Premium, maybe it was a bit of sour grapes on my part, but the more I listened the more I realized they were right, they do make premium apps. Once I got past that idea I was able to focus on what they were after; a Premium App Store.

The big question is this: What the heck is a Premium App Store? Well, I have some ideas, and they won’t align with what a lot of people believe is premium, but you have to find a way to separate Premium Apps from everything else.

Here are my thoughts on how to create a Premium App Category. This category would be front and center in the iOS App and Mac App Stores.

I belive a Premium App would be defined by the following traits:

  • Paid up front
  • Price starting at $9.99 and up for iOS and $19.99 and up for the Mac
  • No Ads
  • No In-App Purchase for tokens or fake money. Think Games.
  • Not a “Marketing Style” applications. Think Starbucks
  • Embraces new OS features where applicable
  • Possesses a level of fit and finish worthy of an Apple product

Some of these ideas are very subjective, others are objective. The idea of a Marketing Style application may be difficult to define as well as the Fit and Finish requirement. That’s fine. The App Stores already have this level of subjectivity and maybe there’s room for a bit more for this level of application.

I believe this small set of requirement could separate a small swath of excellent Indie and BigCo Applications from the Application Salad that exists today. Developers like David and Marco walk a fine line. They make their living writing applications in an extremely overcrowded app market. Something like a Premium App Store could make a YUGE difference in their bottom lines. Then again, it may fall on its face.

I think we’re going to find out really soon what Apple thinks. A few months back app developers received a questionnaire. That questionnaire was, as I recall, very marketing centered. I would expect the App Store to change quite a bit under Phil Schiller and I think those changes will begin as a set of marketing programs aimed at helping developers improve their “image’ in the eyes of users. I’d expect Apple to reach out to developers they believe have a strong product and offer to help them market their applications. This could be the beginning of an effort to indirectly build a Premium App Store.

That’s just a few thoughts on the matter.

Apple’s Cloud Infrastructure

Mac360: “In recent years Apple has used Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure and Amazons’s Web Services, as well as it’s own data centers, as a mashup melange which together makes up iCloud and other cloud services. That’s right. Apple’s iCloud and cloud services come from Microsoft and Amazon. And soon Google’s Cloud.”

I find this fascinating. You’d think Apple would have their own services, hosted on their own hardware, in their own facilities. Read the article and, like me, you’ll discover they just didn’t have the bandwidth to standup a facility the size of Azure or AWS or Google just to serve their customers. Wow, that is amazing growth.

I would really love to see a report outlining all the technologies Apple uses to serve iCloud customers. Everything from service providers to hardware to software stacks and how massive each of those really is. It has to be mind boggling. Makes me wonder if any one person at Apple knows the answer for all the services, top to bottom?

Cloud infrastructure: Dropbox

Wired: “But Go’s “memory footprint”—the amount of computer memory it demands while running Magic Pocket—was too high for the massive storage systems the company was trying to build. Dropbox needed a language that would take up less space in memory, because so much memory would be filled with all those files streaming onto the machine. So, in the middle of this two-and-half-year project, they switched to Rust on the Diskotech machines. And that’s what Dropbox is now pushing into its data centers.”

Read the entire story if you have a couple minutes, it’s a nice read. I love reading about custom infrastructure build-outs because they’re so rare and specialized. The bit I found super interesting and scary at the same time was the transition from Go to Rust in what looks like a move after proving it worked as expected. It seems like that is such a risky thing to do, but still entirely fascinating.

It’s also amazing how fast things change on the backend vs the native client side of things. I’ve been coding professionally for well over 20-years and in that time I’ve developed applications in C, C++, C#/.Net, Objective-C, and Swift. That’s it. In the past few years it feels like new languages are developed every day.

At Agrian we develop native clients on iOS in a mix of Objective-C and Swift, with all new code being written in Swift, and we have a combination of C#/.Net and Ruby on Rails for our backend services, with some new stuff being built in Scala. I know those aren’t what the cool kids use, except maybe for Scala, but they’ve proven extremely reliable. Our deployments are stable and easy to publish and the services continue to churn and chew on new data without issue. Of course we don’t have scale like Dropbox or a lot of the other big players, but it’s been very reliable depending on Ruby on Rails for our particular needs.

Nice Day

I know it’s only mid-March but it’s really beautiful here in the Valley.

The sun is sharing time with the occasional cloud. It’s warm, the birds are singing. 

It’s a great day and the weather is nice too. 

Home Matters

Nick Harris: “I’m about to start a new job search. After 5 years of remote work I’m particularly interested in working in an office again – maybe even a startup again – though remote work isn’t out of the question. What is out of the question is leaving Denver even if that means missing the opportunity to work at some pretty amazing companies.”

I’ve been through this process over and over. I romanticize living in other places. We’ve lived in Seattle and in San Luis Obispo, California, yet we always end up back in Exeter. It’s home and home is important.

Here’s hoping Nick finds the job of his dreams, at home, in Denver.