Архив метки: Windows Marketplace

Apple, Google, And Others Agree To Mobile App Privacy Policy Guidelines

cal-ag

Though Apple, Google, Microsoft, RIM, Amazon, and HP don’t always see eye-to-eye, the six of them have entered into an agreement brokered by California Attorney General Kamala Harris to take a tougher stance on the issue of mobile privacy.

Going forward, the six companies involved must provide users with a privacy policy if the app in question collects personal information. Though the move will affect the app submission and downloading process for users the world over, it was designed to bring those six companies into compliance with California state law.

“The majority of mobile apps sold today do not contain a privacy policy,” Harris said. “By ensuring that mobile apps have privacy policies, we create more transparency and give mobile users more informed control over who accesses their personal information and how it is used.”

It isn’t just enough for these companies to provide app-specific privacy policies to their users; they must also do it before the user downloads it, creating a much-needed means for them to opt-in. Apple and company also need to be consistent in how they display that information, as the agreement Harris brokered called for “a consistent location for an app’s privacy policy on the application-download screen.”

On top of that, users will also be given tools to help police their respective app stores. The terms of the agreement note that the platforms in question will allow users to report non-compliant apps, which could bring about some welcome change in some respects — while the Android Market already allows users to flag questionable apps, the iOS App Store and the Windows Marketplace don’t give users that power.

The past few weeks have made the mobile privacy issue a hot-button topic outside of the tech sphere, and the attention doesn’t just end with California’s AG — two congressmen sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook posing questions about user data privacy, and the White House will be holding an online meeting tomorrow to accompany the release of a white paper on online privacy. Regardless of how this privacy discussion began, don’t expect for the talk to subside any time soon.


Apple, Google, And Others Agree To Mobile App Privacy Policy Guidelines

Windows Phone Marketplace Hits 50,000 Published Apps

windows-phone-7-marketplace

With Microsoft and Nokia making a pronounced push to expand Windows Phone’s reach, they need the support of their app developers to give the platform some staying power. Fortunately, it looks like Windows Phone is picking up steam on the app front — All About Windows Phone reports that 50,000 apps have been published in the Windows Phone Marketplace ahead of their initial predictions.

There is, as always, a bit of catch — the number only refers to the number of apps that have been published, so you won’t find all 50,000 apps available for download in your neck of the woods. All About Windows Phone figures that nearly 6,000 apps were published in the marketplace and were subsequently pulled either by Microsoft or the developers themselves. Even so, Windows Phone has hit the 50,000 app mark in just 14 months — it took Android 19 months to hit that milestone, while iOS only took 12.

Even if the exact number is a bit sketchy, there’s one thing that nearly all sources can agree on: the platform is growing. Back when the Windows Marketplace hit 40,000 apps, new submissions happened at a rate of about 165 per day, while today’s milestone sees daily submissions hovering around the 265 app mark. That Windows Phone is being embraced by more developers is heartening, but there’s still the question of quality to contend with.

The Windows Marketplace is no stranger to spammy submissions that often buried better apps, although Microsoft has taken steps to make it less of an issue for developers on the up-and-up. Even so, the practice of mass uploading near identical apps continues: take rkg4u, for example.

This developer has had 20 apps released into the Windows Marketplace yesterday, and all of them essentially aggregate content from different sections of CNN and the BBC’s websites. Are these apps useful? Arguably. Do they add anything new or novel to the Windows Phone experience? Absolutely not. And lest you think that I’ve cherry-picked that example, take a look at the marketplace’s new apps section — for every useful app you’ll find, there are likely to be 10 feed readers surrounding it. Now the issue of app quality isn’t one that’s unique to Windows Phone, but in a time when Microsoft is fighting for market and mind share, it certainly isn’t helping.

While Microsoft tries to make it easy for Windows Phone users to sift through all the junk, the state of their app store could be a ticking time-bomb for them and their users. While potential customers may be swayed by the right hardware and the right OS at the right time, a bad balance between compelling and crappy apps could ensure that those who gamble on Windows Phone may not stick around for the long haul.

What we need now are killer apps for Windows Phones, the ones that make Android and iOS users look on with unabashed envy. Consider this a rallying cry for all you Windows Phone devs out there — make something great, and let us all know about it.


Windows Phone Marketplace Hits 50,000 Published Apps

Giving Windows Phone A Chance

wp7

If you take a look at Techmeme right now, you’ll notice that the top conversation in the tech blogosphere is about Windows Phone, and more specifically why it has failed to catch on compared to Android smartphones in particular (according to Charlie Kindel, former GM of the product division). I’ve read people’s different views on this with great interest, but I feel like something’s missing: the opinion of an actual Windows Phone owner and user with no real skin in this game. Enter, well, me.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to stop using my HTC Sensation (Android 2.3) and iPhone 3GS (iOS 5) in parallel and made the switch to Nokia’s Lumia 800 (Windows Phone 7.5). As you can tell, I’m not exactly married to any company or product – it’s just not in my nature. I switched to Windows Phone mainly to see if it can hold its ground when used intensively.

So far, it’s been a surprisingly pleasant ride, so I haven’t entirely dismissed WP7 as others appear to have done (even if most of them haven’t even used a decent Windows Phone yet).

As most who’ve experienced the Windows Phone platform will attest, Microsoft offers something truly unique in terms of OS design and on-screen interaction, and I’m extremely glad to see the company not adopt a copy-paste innovation strategy as they’ve done more than a few times in the past. Say what you will, but Windows Phone offers a superb user experience, indeed far superior to most if not all the Android smartphones I’ve used in the past. You can call me a fan of the Metro UI.

I already wrote up why I absolutely love the Nokia N9 (which sports nearly the same hardware as the Lumia 800 but with a different OS, namely Meego) but that no one will buy it mainly because the platform has no future, and there aren’t enough decent apps to even begin comparing the handset to an Android or iOS phone. I mean, I don’t see developers rushing to build Meego apps anytime soon.

There are more WP7 apps, but that doesn’t mean the platform isn’t struggling on this front, too.

While Windows Phone Marketplace appears to be steadily growing, most of the third-party WP7 applications I’ve tested genuinely suck. Of course, this is true for Android and iOS too (it’s a law of large numbers if you know what I mean) and at least the ‘essential’ applications – People, Messaging, Xbox Live, Mail and also Twitter, Facebook and YouTube – behave really well.

The reason Windows Marketplace frustrates me is that even the ‘good’ applications that I use regularly (Rdio, Foursquare, Kindle, Pulse, and more) have weird quirks, or are downright unusable – I sense a lack of attention given to those apps by their own developers. Getting cash in exchange for making a Windows Phone app is one thing, but you should be proud of what you do – better not to build an app for the platform than to deliver a crappy one that will make you look amateurish.

But all in all, a really amazing phone and platform with lots to offer, and I have no doubt that improvements will come quickly, and aplenty. That doesn’t necessarily mean customers will be lining up to buy Windows Phone handsets en masse, but there’s no reason they couldn’t grab more marketshare (and mindshare) in the future if Microsoft is willing to go the distance. Everything I’ve seen so far indicates that the company realizes that there’s not really an option – they have to matter in the mobile space.

If Kindel is wondering why Windows Phones haven’t exactly been selling like hotcakes, I doubt you’ll find all the answers by looking at the business models and goals of the many industry players. Alignments can change. Kindel does nail the problems with Android and its absurd fragmentation issue, but I get the feeling he’s making excuses for Windows Phone far too soon in the game.

Microsoft did enter this market extremely late, and, as I mentioned, there’s still a major app problem. Those are very big barriers to successful entry, but they can surely be overcome by a company the size of Microsoft, and as far as I’m concerned they still have a fighting chance.

In fact, I’m hoping Microsoft manages to put enough time, money and effort into Windows Phone to turn it into a viable competitor to iOS and Android. At the end of the day, this will be decided by users and app developers foremost, not carriers, manufacturers and retail salespeople, but one can hope.

What it will require is a lot more great phones, ‘big and bold’ marketing, UI consistency, far better apps and yes, more time. That’s no guarantee for success, but let’s give Windows Phone a chance.

The reason I’m hoping Microsoft succeeds in ‘getting there’ is because I happen to think more choice will bring more progress and more technological advancement, rather than more fragmentation, feature-chasing and patent warfare. I’m not rooting for Microsoft, per se, but I don’t see anyone within striking distance of becoming this ‘third major player’ and we shouldn’t discount the talent of Microsoft’s vast army of engineers and developers, and the mountain of cash the company sits on, and notably continues to generate quarter after quarter after quarter.

It’s still early days, and if the past few years have taught us anything it’s that industries can transform quite rapidly, and that it’s never a zero-sum game. No one knows what the future holds, but I can guarantee you the world will look be different – again – at the end of next year.

Sent from my Windows Phone, gladly.


Giving Windows Phone A Chance