4 questions about the troubling app subscription model

The news coming about the new App Store subscription model -that, by the way, will be applied to Google Play as well– are really interesting, but I find them troubling.

There is certainly content on which subscriptions make sense, but I’m not really sure apps and games can really benefit from this model. The questions arepretty obvious:

  1. Developers won’t probably give everything they have in mind in the first version to ensure they have something new to offer in future releases for their subscribers, right?
  2. Developers that offer the (near) perfect app -at first, or through several updates- will have a tough problem to justify new updates and the subscription model itself. What will users be paying then? New features they don’t need (that can spoil the original app)?
  3. Does this subscription model give the users more rights to ask for features? That’s not the case for video, music or “text” subscriptions, but again, the case is different.
  4. What about security patches? We took for granted that when we paid for an app we had some support associated to it. What will be the new terms of use on this cases? “Only critical updates are free“?

I’m sure developers like the idea, but hopefully this will be just an option for certain kind of apps that deserve that model.

Hopefully.

#Build2016 signals the death of the Windows phone

Not a single mention. That’s what we had at the Build 2016 keynote from Microsoft a few minutes ago when we tried to get some news from the Windows 10 Mobile operating system.

We’ve got lots of other news: the promising rise of the conversational bot (either with voice or with text), the transformation of the Xbox One into a PC, and the surprising arrival of a Linux console natively in Windows 10.

win10mobile

But again, nothing about Windows on phones. We saw some Lumias on the stage for the demos, yes, but what about new apps, or developer tools, or games for that platform? Nothing was mentioned, and that is the biggest disappointment of a conference that should have followed the ‘Mobile first, cloud first‘ mantra.

It certainly could follow that first part, but not with Windows 10 Mobile, that’s for sure. With a late final version of the OS that isn’t even available on every Windows phone, a diminishing software catalog, an inmature (that’s sad but undertandable given the maturity of the project) Continuum and a worrying lack of devices, the platform has big shadows over it.

#WhereIsWindows10Mobile, Microsoft? Where?

Ubuntu convergence: dream or nightmare?

Last year Canonical and bq launched the first smartphone based on Ubuntu. Now they will launch the first tablet that is based on the new Ubuntu convergent platform. This device can act as a tablet, but also will act “like a full-blown PC when you connect a keyboard, mouse and display to it“.

I’ve already written about this in Xataka and Incognitosis in Spanish, so I won’t go much deeper here because mostly everyone is covering the news superficially. It doesn’t matter if the tablet maker is bq, it doesn’t matter what are the specs, and it even doesn’t matter that the device can actually offer the user a desktop experience when the tablet is connected to that display, mouse and keyboard we were talking about.

bq1

What matters is the quality of that experience. And that quality isn’t gonna be high enough to convince users to make the switch.

I’ve reviewed the bq Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition not once, but twice. I’ve followed the progress of this project since Mark Shuttleworth first mentioned it in October’2011, when no one had talked about this convergence thing before (at least, not to my knowledge), and I had great expectations even though that dream was delayed many times.

The final arrival of Ubuntu approach has been so late that Microsoft has won that race: they’ve stolen the idea and applied it to Windows 10. The execution is still far from perfect on smartphones -I reviewed the Lumia 950 XL and Continuum a few days ago, again, in Spanish- and the problems I’ve seen on that device –UX incoherences, lack of universal apps on many cases, buggy behaviour everywhere– will for sure appear to on Ubuntu.

Launching a platform that wants to change the statu quo is a big challenge, and you won’t succeed with a platform in beta or even alpha status as these two are now.

Even Remix OS  is more promising than what I’ve seen on the Ubuntu front, and I suspect that the Ubuntu team will not be able to offer us that convergence dream they talked about for so long.

In fact, I suspect this will be more of a nightmare. Not only for us, the dissappointed users, but for Canonical as well.

Ballmer is wrong about Windows 10 universal apps: Uber shows the way

Ballmer recently criticized Microsoft approach to apps and the mobile space and pointed out that the universal apps philosophy “won’t work“. Matt Weinberger at Business Insider makes us think that Ballmer could be really wrong:

On Wednesday, driver-on-demand app Uber comes to Microsoft Windows 10 — making it the first time ever that Uber has been available from a desktop PC. […] Getting Uber on Windows 10, as an official universal app, is a huge coup for Microsoft and Nadella. It means that Uber, at least, thinks that Windows 10 is worth the time and energy to support.

Maybe he should take a look at the new Uber app for Windows 10, that works indistinctly on a PC and on mobile phones with Microsoft’s new OS and that lets developers discover how a universal app can really transform itself to adapt the interface and its features to each device conveniently.

That’s the way to go, Microsoft.

The Windows 10 Mobile app debate

Tom Warren talks on The Verge about the lack of apps on Windows Phone and the gradual disappearing of several apps that are no longer available or that were available but weren’t updated.

Windows 10 Mobile will try to fix this with the technologies that allow iOS and Android developers to port their apps and games to this platform, and I recently asked one Microsoft exec if that wasn’t something that would stop native development.

He told to me that he believed it was not the case. They see that as “bridges” (and they call them that way), so those developers don’t have to start from scratch. The transition can be made softly this way, and that could lead to developers that really take advantage of the promising Windows 10 ecosystem. As Warren writes:

With constant Windows Phone change, the only thing that has remained persistent is a lack of apps. Windows 10 Mobile is rumored to arrive to existing handsets in December, but Microsoft still hasn’t officially revealed a launch date. A lot is changing in the new OS, with different built-in apps, a new design and navigation, and Microsoft’s expectation that developers will create universal apps. It’s unlikely to make any difference to the fate of Windows Phone overall. It’s another reset, and Microsoft can’t keep hitting the reboot button forever.

I doubt it will be the case: few announcements and lack of details don’t talk very well about the future, but we’ll see.

Source: Windows Phone has a new app problem | The Verge

Volkswagen, proprietary software, heroes and villains

Xeni Jardin on BoingBoing quotes Eben Moglen, a long-time Open Source supporter:

Proprietary software is an unsafe building material. You can’t inspect it

That’s true, and I’d like every company to open source their software, but this is an utopia. In the end more than the difference between proprietary software and Open Source / Free Software goes beyond the development and sharing philosophy. Why?

Because you can use both to do more harm than good.

Software is a tool.  Even licenses are. True, proprietary licenses prevent software from being ‘inspectable’ like Moglen says, but software has to be good (and harmless) in the first place.

Source: In Volkswagen emissions fraud scandal, proprietary software is the real villain / Boing Boing

Do you trust Apple News praise from Wired?

Same old hardware, refreshing news twist.

I don’t buy the article at Wired. The author talks us about how ‘articles from these publishers remain distinctly, recognizably theirs’, but I see this not as revolutionary, but mandatory for publishers, who want the experience they give unchanged.

I don’t see the real difference with Flipboard -I must try both on an iPad- so I can’t speak yet about the quality of the experience, but I can’t trust an article that gives that publicity to the Apple News application when they are partners at the app launch.

In fact, they were one of the first media assets to publish something that could be only read on the Apple News app.

I do believe Apple News can be an interesting way to distribute news and content. I just think Wired doesn’t need to do this and do without even a disclaimer.

Source: Apple News Is the Best New Thing About the iPad | WIRED

Begun, the mobile adblocker war has

The new content blocking feature in the new iOS 9 seems to have started a renewed interest for privacy. Marco Arment just released his own tool based on the Ghostery (a well known extension for desktop browsers) database.

I wonder how many others will take advantage in iOS, Android or Windows 10 Mobile.

The name of the app, Peace, is a little bit too much for me, though. Misleading and exaggerated.

Source: Introducing Peace, my privacy-focused iOS 9 ad blocker | Marco.org