Oh, the mental anguish of deleting the crappy iPhone Apps you paid for! - Macenstein

Oh, the mental anguish of deleting the crappy iPhone Apps you paid for!

By far the biggest drawback to the iTunes App Store (from a consumer’s point of view) is that currently there are no trial versions of any applications available. If you think an application sounds interesting, you are left to trust in the app’s description (written by the developer) a couple screen shots (again, usually the best-looking ones, chosen by the developer), and the comments/ratings (if any) of those customers who were brave enough to buy the application before you.

Unlike the songs, videos, TV Shows and movies, Applications are the one thing iTunes sells where you really go in more or less blind, and unfortunately, a fool and his money are soon parted. I recently deleted 2 apps I paid for, and I will admit, they hurt. The first was Steps, the pedometer app that, while nice looking and simple, simply did not count steps accurately. That one wasn’t too bad, as it only cost $1.99. But the one that REALLY hurt was deleting Disney’s All Star Cards, a $9.99 card game that was released extremely unpolished, and feels like a rushed-to-market port, IMHO. In fact, it has already received an update (listed as version 0.9.0? Not even a 1.0?), trying to smooth out a couple of the glitches (my favorite was the “Pres any key to continue” screen on startup, which has now been replaced with a more iPhone-centric “Tap Screen to Play”.

I admit I fell victim to trusting a big kid-friendly brand name with Steve Jobsian ties (Disney), and perhaps gave them the benefit of the doubt that there would be some thought put into the game, but no, it failed on every level – from confusing gameplay, iffy touch controls, and a complete lack of instructions (the update released today has now added instructions).

So anyway, I have now deleted both games from the iPhone, and am out $11.98 plus tax, making it $12.70 down the drain.

C’Mon Apple, we need video previews/demos of iPhone applications!

I have yet to have buyer’s remorse for any of the hundreds of dollars of music and movies I have purchased from iTunes over the years, primarily because thanks to iTunes’ previews, I can better see/hear what I am getting for my money. While allowing us to blindly take chances on apps may help some developers make sales in the short term, for the App store to truly be successful and continue to grow, we as consumers need to know what we’re getting for our money.

The solution here is simple. Apple needs to ask developers of “pay apps” to either put up short 30-second video previews/walkthroughs/demos of the apps (just as they do with all the other media they sell), or, better yet, downloadable, playable demos. Any legitimate developer should not have a problem with this. If you feel your application is worth paying for, then stand behind it and let us decide for ourselves before buying. Apple has a fair amount of experience with its DRM movie rentals in creating media that expires, so application demos should be no different. Even a 5 to 10-minute expiration time would be enough to let most of us get a feel for an application’s worth before plunking down our 99¢ – $449.

So Apple, please update the iPhone SDK to make video previews and demo versions of the pay apps optional, if not mandatory, on the iTunes App store listings. I know in retail stores I tend to come back and shop at the stores where I feel I have gotten my money’s worth, and the same holds true for virtual stores, such as iTunes.

11 Responses to “Oh, the mental anguish of deleting the crappy iPhone Apps you paid for!”
  1. Joost Schuur says:

    Byline did a really nice job of this:


    Of course, the app is free anyway.

  2. dev says:

    As a developer myself I second your request!

    Be sure to check out the linked website in iTunes, most serious developers already have a video on there.

  3. David B. Haun says:

    Twitterific is a good demo Twitterific Premium

  4. Jonro says:

    Demo versions, definitely, just like in the real world.

  5. I agree completely. A trailer of some kind would be a great addition to the app store.

    At this risk of being bludgeoned for shameless self promotion, Chopper has a demo of the iPhone version that runs on Mac OS X. That was the best solution I could come up with, but took a lot of work.

  6. Quinton says:

    i think if youve synched your iphone since you bought the app you can download it again for free

  7. Blesstsnake says:

    i think the best job as a sample video was done by the famous coding monkeys with circulator. Watch it yourself: http://www.codingmonkeys.de/circulator

  8. Paul Walker says:

    I was thinking that a good way of doing this would be to use the technology of the iPhone simulator in iTunes. Use the app in the store before you buy it; but to get it onto your iPhone, you would pay. Though now I think about it, I don’t know how (or if) accelerometre input is simulated… I guess they could fake it with the arrow keys (or fake it better in MacBooks with their accelerometres.

  9. Dave-O says:

    Paul Walker? I never would have guessed the Fast and Furious guy would read this blog.

    @Joost, Byline isn’t free. It’s $9.99, so it makes a big difference.

    From the headline, I thought you were going to talk about how apps come back. Deleting them from your iPhone isn’t good enough, you must delete them from iTunes.

  10. netman says:

    Jerad Hill started his new podcast. It’s called the iPhone App Review Podcast.

  11. John says:

    This is the main reason I have held off from buying some games.

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