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  1. GSOgymrat's Avatar
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       #1  
    I don't work in a technology field but as a consumer I am bewildered why developers release apps that don't work properly. I suppose with Android it is more understandable because it is an operating system for multiple hardware manufactures but in the case of Apple, who is developing the hardware and the software, or Microsoft with Surface it makes less sense. For example, the "Music" app that was installed with my iPad doesn't work and has never worked. The Xbox Music app on the Surface has synching issues. If someone reading this is a software development I would appreciate an explanation of why there are so many apps that don't work properly.
  2. akar33's Avatar
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    #2  
    There is a reason why computer science is not regarded as a "proper" science, mainly because of these reasons. With electronics and software development, infinite things can go wrong during the engineering and manufacturing - something that the engineer or manufacturer didn't think of. We are all humans trying to build a system and we are not thorough.

    Nowadays companies are under great pressure to quickly iterate through their products to meet consumer demands - consumers ask for more and more features and quick version updates. In this cut-throat industry and also to satisfy consumers, companies have to cut corners somewhere. They believe that they can release a product first and then polish it. It doesn't sound ethical but to perform all kind of test is time consuming. No one likes to wait and lose.
    RyanR47 likes this.
  3. GSOgymrat's Avatar
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       #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by akar33 View Post
    In this cut-throat industry and also to satisfy consumers, companies have to cut corners somewhere. They believe that they can release a product first and then polish it. It doesn't sound ethical but to perform all kind of test is time consuming. No one likes to wait and lose.
    I have noticed this with many of the Microsoft Surface apps. Amazon's Kindle app for Surface is very basic and doesn't support magazines. Barnes & Noble's Nook app wasn't ready at launch and I was hoping Microsoft and Barnes and Noble were taking their time to get the app working right. Unfortunately the app looks fancy but is slow and doesn't even have a built in dictionary, something I would think would be pretty basic. These were apps obviously rushed so Surface could have a functional ereader.
    Last edited by GSOgymrat; 11-25-2012 at 01:26 PM.
  4. akar33's Avatar
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    #4  
    Absolutely my point. Imagine if Amazon or B&N took their own sweet time to polish, test and release their apps, there would be a public outcry from Surface customers about lack of apps. Instead, they chose to do what is logical - release first and then iron out the kinks. That way customers have something atleast to work with. And it's not just Microsoft or Surface here that I'm talking about, it is true for every damn company, every damn product in this industry.

    Once upon a time (...well, about 6 months ago), I wanted to release my own app. I wanted to release something that work perfectly, was thoroughly optimized and had the proper fit and finish. I didn't want to release something half-baked and then improve it over time. I wanted to release the app that all the features I envisioned. You want to know what happened to that app? It is still in development and I now see others release apps that mimic the functionality of my app.
  5. GSOgymrat's Avatar
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       #5  
    I understand the rush to get an app released, especially when there is competition. In some instances where there is no competition I wonder what the problem is. For example Apple and Rupert Murdoch decided to produce an iPad only "newspaper" The Daily. There was no other app competing with this concept and it was only going to be on one device: iPad. This app reportedly cost $30 million to produce yet when they released The Daily it was unstable, crashed frequently and took several updates before it became usable. I remember wondering why Apple would release such a high profile app that was such a mess.
  6. akar33's Avatar
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    #6  
    Two possibilities:
    1) News corporation has crappy developers.
    2) Since they had an exclusive and people had nowhere else to look at, they probably figured that they could take their own time to release the app. Marketing was already done and since people were eagerly waiting for the app to arrive, it was going to sell despite its shoddy coding.
  7. SnailUK's Avatar
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    #7  
    Its like anything, developers want to do the job properly, but they have a timescale to hit, and do the best they can in the timeframe.

    Not everyone sees the value in testing, and therefore skimps on it, meaning very simple stuff works, other stuff doesn't.

    Money is also a big factor, developing, testing, designing all takes money, yet nobody ever wants to pay for something to be developed properly.
  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by akar33 View Post
    There is a reason why computer science is not regarded as a "proper" science, mainly because of these reasons.
    Computer science is a large field that involves many different disciplines. Hardware development or the development of optimal software algorithms (audio or speech recognition, path finding, etc.) is most definitely, and also recognized as, "proper" science. On the other hand, activities like designing software data structures is more akin to an art form, best left to people with a lot of experience and domain knowledge. Like most jobs in modern society, maintaining a companies IT infrastructure is neither art nor science. It really depends what you are talking about...

    Quote Originally Posted by GSOgymrat View Post
    If someone reading this is a software development I would appreciate an explanation of why there are so many apps that don't work properly.
    1)
    As previously mentioned, time-to-market pressures certainly are a big reason why imperfect software gets released. Consumers, particularly those without a technical background, dramatically underestimate the time required to develop software.

    2)
    Software development isn't just time consuming. It is also expensive, which will typically pressure management into releasing software as soon as it is deemed tolerable (sometimes even earlier), in the hope of getting some returns on their investments before gauging how much more they can afford to invest. Consumers, particularly those without a technical background, dramatically, massively, supercalifragilistically underestimate the costs of software development.

    3)
    Most smartphone apps seem almost embarrassingly simple/trivial. In many cases I'm sure WP app prototypes were "whipped up" in a matter of days. However, there is a very big difference between getting a prototype of an app to run (which may even seem almost completed at that point), and getting that app to work reliably and fail gracefully in all expected failure scenarios such as the loss of an internet connection, missing files, or any one of literally hundreds of other possible failure scenarios. Developers can easily spend 80% of their time getting apps to behave correctly when things go wrong, while spending only 20% of their time on signature features. Understanding how to create maintainable and reliable software is usually what separates the hobbyists from the professionals.

    4)
    Professional software development is hard. It isn't by chance that the professional software industry is inhabited largely by brainy nerds. Any activity that is hard is susceptible to mistakes.

    5)
    9 out of 10 times, the blame for half-baked software is more appropriately placed on bad management, not "crappy" developers.
    HeyCori and Laura Knotek like this.
  9. gsquared's Avatar
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    #9  
    A few developers I know use the 80% rule. You shoot for 80% your first time around. Then you go back again shooting for 80%. Finally, one more round shooting for 80%. After your third round you have 99.2% of all issues resolved. The 80% is a universal philosophy. It works in nearly every situation.


    Ex: Microsoft is known for only publishing 3 service packs for there products.
    a5cent likes this.
  10. thed's Avatar
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    #10  
    As others have said, developing software is hard. And believe it or not, testing is actually tough as well. Both of them get more difficult when you're under time constraints. Anyone who has been developing software for a while knows the feeling of having to push some cringeworthy, hacked together code into production just because they had to meet a deadline.
    a5cent likes this.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by thed View Post
    As others have said, developing software is hard. And believe it or not, testing is actually tough as well. Both of them get more difficult when you're under time constraints. Anyone who has been developing software for a while knows the feeling of having to push some cringeworthy, hacked together code into production just because they had to meet a deadline.
    Been there. Then there are those companies that hate change and resist improvements at every turn.
  12. GSOgymrat's Avatar
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       #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by a5cent View Post


    2)
    Software development isn't just time consuming. It is also expensive, which will typically pressure management into releasing software as soon as it is deemed tolerable (sometimes even earlier), in the hope of getting some returns on their investments before gauging how much more they can afford to invest. Consumers, particularly those without a technical background, dramatically, massively, supercalifragilistically underestimate the costs of software development.


    .
    Another thing I don't fully understand is why so many apps are free. I would think a good quality app would cost about $10; a free trial version and then $10 for full version. I would definitely pay $10 for Spotify, Angry Birds, etc. I would pay $100 for Skype if it and similar services were not free. I'm not complaining but I don't understand why developers are not charging more for quality apps. Of course some apps are not worth 2 cents.
  13. fardream's Avatar
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    #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by GSOgymrat View Post
    I don't work in a technology field but as a consumer I am bewildered why developers release apps that don't work properly. I suppose with Android it is more understandable because it is an operating system for multiple hardware manufactures but in the case of Apple, who is developing the hardware and the software, or Microsoft with Surface it makes less sense. For example, the "Music" app that was installed with my iPad doesn't work and has never worked. The Xbox Music app on the Surface has synching issues. If someone reading this is a software development I would appreciate an explanation of why there are so many apps that don't work properly.
    sometimes it's just bureaucratic..... You can obviously see this in messaging/people/mail/music/video apps on windows/windows phone.... There should be sharing across the two operating systems given they run on the same kernel, but obviously they didn't
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by GSOgymrat View Post
    Another thing I don't fully understand is why so many apps are free.
    There isn't a single reason that can explain the wide spread existence of free apps, but I can list some of them:

    • many people studying computer science will develop an app simply in the interest of learning. That alone will account for tens of thousands of apps.
    • many people enjoy developing software as a hobby. They are often more interested in renown than financial gain (software developers tend to be idealists).
    • some companies (like amazon) view their apps simply as a store front for selling music and books, so they actually have more to gain by giving their apps away for free.
    • some developers come to the conclusion, that their app just won't make them a profit, so giving it away seems better than trashing it.
    • some companies use a dual-app approach, like "My Stocks", where a free version (with adds and limited functionality) coexists with the full blown version that demands a price.
    • finally, many apps actually aren't free at all, but simply add supported


    Those are just some examples. Many more exist. Consumers can be happy that software developers often are very passionate about what they do, despite having much hope of ever being understood by "mainstream" culture (the whole nerd and geek thing).

    Quote Originally Posted by GSOgymrat View Post
    I would think a good quality app would cost about $10; a free trial version and then $10 for full version. I would definitely pay $10 for Spotify, Angry Birds, etc. I would pay $100 for Skype if it and similar services were not free. I'm not complaining but I don't understand why developers are not charging more for quality apps. Of course some apps are not worth 2 cents.
    Skype is another one of those "store front" apps. The long term business plan is to earn money by charging for calls made to devices not registered on the Skype network, albeit at cheaper rates than traditional carriers. Skype is extremely expensive software (particularly the back end infrastructure that is deployed all over the world), which is subsidized by investors with a long term plan to compete with the worlds telecom industry.

    I agree that $10 isn't too much to ask for a great app, provided you can get a free trial version. It's all about expectations (see this for more).
    Last edited by a5cent; 11-28-2012 at 03:45 AM. Reason: Spelling

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