Ever since iOS 7 was released, hordes of web sites have been telling us about so-called “hidden features” (which aren’t that hidden, by the way), and pointing out apps that look great in the new operating system. That’s all well and good, but what should be more important to any user is functionality, not looks. And developers need to realize this, even if they aren’t shouting it from the rooftops.
Granted, we want every screen on our device, be it the home screen, Twitter, or other app, to look pleasant. After all, when we like what we see, we tend to be more productive. Those looks, however, do us no good if the app lacks features or requires too much work to get the results we want.
Among the plethora of tech and social sites that released “awesome looking apps” galleries was Mashable. Their slideshow, called 20 Apps that Look Great in iOS 7 spotlights some cool designs, but the majority of those apps aren’t necessary for us to get work done.
We can ooh and ahh over cool animated weather apps all day long, but do we really need all those features? I’m not a sportsman, a boater, nor do I work in the weather field, so all I need to know is if it’s going to rain today and what I might expect the rest of the week. I don’t need animation or other flashy tools that drain the battery. Granted, some of them are pretty minimalist, but if someone launched an app that told me the weather on a screen that looked like nothing more than a text message, I’d embrace it.
I’ve been on the hunt for an ideal project management and tasks app. I’ve reviewed dozens of them, and the bulk of them continue to miss the point: we just want to get things done. Give me options to rank tasks by both color AND numbered priority, and let me export my content as hard data so I can analyze it a program of my choosing. Functionality over design is key in this department. (This is why I keep having a hard time deciding between so many of these apps, and currently just stick to Wunderlist).
I miss the days of Palm. While non-Palm developers, then and now, tout that the user base couldn’t keep PalmOS and webOS afloat, there are plenty of things developers did right. Like allowing me to store my data locally, instead of forcing me to store it in the cloud. Like letting me export all my tasks and archived projects into delimited files, because I might want to analyze data using Access, Excel or some other program. Owning my own content is very important to me, so whenever I see that cloud storage is the only option, I run.
Developers for business apps need to take note of a few things, including:
- Your users might be elderly, color blind, or even totally blind. Using color-coding as the only means to prioritize tasks is a fail.
- Your users might be techies who want to work with their data in a multitude of other programs. At least Wunderlist lets you email tasks in a “one per line” format. And it’s free.
- It’s not all about the cost. If OmniFocus added a few key features, I’d have no problem forking over the $120 it would cost me to run it on both my iPhone and my Mac. And if little guys charging a scant $2.99 would spend the time necessary to do it right, they could sell to more power users and eliminate a lot of unnecessary support calls.
- The bulk of complainers have no right. And the majority of dissatisfied users will never say a word. This is true most all businesses. (More often than not, the less money one pays, the less he reads and the louder he screams.
- The more you let us choose, the more we’ll respect you. Yes, I know there are some restrictions on what you can “hook into” on the platform. But anything that’s part of the app itself should have options, plain and simple.
With that, I’m still trying to find some apps that look great in the latest iOS, while still providing the functionality I need. If you find one, let me know, because I’d love to whip out my credit card.