Ten Things I Learned at the App Store
18 Feb, 2011 - Laura Tokie
Confession time: I am a Mac user who owns a total of zero touch devices.
We have no iPhone in the house. Our fanciest iPod is a Nano without a video camera. We marvel at the magical iPad from afar.
Due to this lack of modern technology, I have been missing out on the App Store. I know this because of my chums with touch screen Apple devices. I should start slipping them calcium. I fear they will develop hunchbacks from hovering over their screens wherever they go.
It’s tough to see the value of the app while staring at their scalps, so when Apple announced the opening of their App Store for Mac, I was excited: my first personal exposure to this wonderful world of Angry Birds and Urban Spoon. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. I can delude myself into believing I have more self-control now than when I was twenty. More confessions: I once had a gaming addiction. I would share the number of hours I’ve blown on Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, and the PC versions of Hearts and Solitaire, but by rule I only do one story problem a month (see point 3), plus I’ve spent way too much on hair color to date myself in such an obvious fashion. I’m pleased to report that even after downloading Action Potato and Pangea Arcade, I’m not spending a lot of time gaming on the computer. This allows me to continue hollering at my video-game loving children, without hypocrisy, while I’m on Facebook or Twitter.
2. Computer geeks like a good soap opera as much as girls. I decided to ask my friend Ty, an app developer, to be my Glinda, sans singing and dress, in the Land of Apps. As a part of my tour, he recounted the saga of Jobs and Gates, their split, the exit of Jobs from Apple, the return of Jobs, and the Google factor (and this was before the shake ups at both Apple and Google in mid-January 2011). Tremendous story. Recommended improvements? Cast Susan Lucci as the many faces of Android and supply chocolates.
3. Apple wants to own my consumer soul, part one. Shortly after I started toying with the App Store, I noticed an odometer-looking counter at apple.com. It was tracking the number of apps downloaded through iTunes, and if my math is correct, will turn over the ten billion mark within hours of my submission of this article. I felt like it was aimed squarely at me. C’mon, it was saying, everyone’s doing it. Tick-tock. Don’t you want a chance to win $10,000 in iTunes credit? What’s the harm in one little app? Don’t you want to be as awesome as the rest of the known world? You at least want to see it roll over, don’t you? It was like a drug dealer inside my computer.
4. Apple wants to own my consumer soul, part two. I just said no to the ten billionth iTunes app slot machine/app-ometer, but they’ve got other ways of making you shop. The App Store shows me how badly I need to be unilaterally aligned with them. By teasing me with apps for my computer that are also available for the touch screen devices, I can see how much cooler it would be if only I could, say, take my notes with me (yeah, Ty-Glinda the App Developer showed me Evernote), add to them, and sync it all up, nice and pretty.
5. An app by any other name is software. Such a satisfying little word, app, but an app is really just a software application, a focused sort of computer program. Thus the App Store is a virtual marketplace with a really great name. I would say “merely” a great name, but I can’t discount the value of the phrase “App Store”: Microsoft is suing over it.
6. Nostalgia can lessen your appreciation of the new. Fireworms, a part of Pangea Arcade, is a fun game to play, reminiscent of Centipede. It stirred a sense of longing for the past in me. You might be thinking, ah, she probably misses her teenage years and all that is contained therein: youth, vitality, innocence. You would be wrong. I miss the arcade rollerball. If you do not know what a rollerball is, just imagine your touchpad with a pop-up ball in a socket that you could control with your fingertips or palm, and in moments of extreme gaming frenzies, whip your hand across it and make it spin really, really fast.
6a. You were right after all. Discussing this made me also miss the game Tempest. Thinking about how few readers will remember Tempest makes me feel old. Now I’m longing for my youth, etc.
7. Programming a yelling robotto keep you on task may be as distracting as not having a yelling robot at all.
8. Selling software through the virtual store means less overhead. Aperture version 3.1.1, Apple’s step-up photography software, sells for $79.99 through the App Store. Aperture 3, sold in stores, is $199.99. This seems like good news for consumers, or at least those owned by Apple.
9. Despite the distraction of programming a yelling robot, it is fun to name him Steve.
10. When entering a high score, I call myself ACE, even though I’m the only one playing the game.