Every year at Macworld I enjoy reconnected with my international Mac friends. One of those people is Oliver Breidenbach (Twitter) from Boinx software who makes the trip from Germany every year. Boinx makes some of my favorite software applications including FotoMagico and iStopMotion (Mac and iPad). Moreover, Oliver has some great insight about the relationship between Apple and iOS developers. So Oliver, show us your home screen.
What are some of favorite apps?
I don’ t really have favorite apps. The thing that got my attention about iOS was at an education event the summer after the iPhone was introduced. A teacher brought a couple of students who presented the cool video stuff they were doing. I had an iPod touch and was playing around with it. I downloaded a VNC app and used it to remote control the Mac OS X servers used at the event. The kids saw me doing it and I had never seen demonstrative boredom turn into utter fascination so quickly. I knew then that this was the next big thing.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
Is Email considered a guilty pleasure? 😉
(From David: Umm. No.)
What is the app you are still missing?
There really is an app for almost everything. The big gripe I have is that Apple does not allow them to collaborate with each other. Adding a soundtrack to my iStopMotion movie is a major pain. Why can’t I create a soundtrack in Garageband on the iPad and simply send it to iStopMotion? If I need to change anything, why can’t I send it back to Garageband? I am sure that people who get paid billions should be able to work that out.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?
I am not so much using my iPhone a discreet number of times but rather constantly. I don’t use the iPad nearly as often, some days not at all, mostly because it is missing the collaboration between apps which makes it unusable for my daily work.
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?
When I was at the education event I was talking about earlier, I got really excited about these new post-PC devices, more excited than about anything that happened in the 15 years before in IT. The immersiveness of a touch UI is still very fascinating. But that excitement has worn off a little as I am getting disappointed with the lack of progress the platform has made in terms of using that great power to improve our daily tasks. It certainly was a smart move to get people to use it for leisure activity first, but I think it’s about time that we get to use it for serious creative projects as well.
If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?
I would definitely drive the platform towards collaboration. Both apps and people want to collaborate. It is necessary for being creative. Imagine how useful the iPhone would be if you couldn’t dial the phone numbers in your Address Book but would have to note them down on a piece of paper and type them in again in the phone app. Yet this is exactly what you have to do with most other content. The dream was to have small apps that do one thing really well, but with the current environment, every app needs to do everything. For example, instead of focusing on the task of keeping my passwords safe, 1Password also has to be a web browser so that you can actually use the passwords you stored. An HTML code editor also needs to be an image editor, an FTP/SFTP client and a webserver. To be able to make a complete movie, iStopMotion would need a video editor and an audio editor built-in. This seriously hinders innovation as we developers have to spend too much time and resources reinventing the wheel.
Also I think the business environment needs to be improved. Apple likes to point out several times on their iPhone 5 website that apps are what makes the iPhone great, and yet most apps don’t seem to make enough money to even cover the development costs. Apple also likes to point out that “many of the apps are free”, causing consumers, who happily just spend $500 on their new iPad, to expect that they don’t have to pay for the apps. That is a big issue threatening the success of iOS in the long run. Developers need to make a living and eventually will have to look for other opportunities.
But closing on a more positive note: The iPhone and the iPad really are magical devices, making technology much more accessible and usable to a much broader range of people than the PC ever could and I really hope that we see this eventually replacing our desktop/laptop computers with their broken metaphors from the 1970s.