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Searching in vain for quality: apps on iTunes and Google Play Store

How the mighty app has crumbled into a tiny, trashy bucket of bits.  Yesterday I spent time wading through smart phone and tablet app descriptions that sounded like they are for caregivers on iTunes and the Google Play Store.  That is, the word 'caregiver' could be found in the description. The reviewers and links of many of these so-called apps are revealing: "this app crashes my phone" or "server error" and other less printable descriptions forced me to move on. Looking for a link to a developer website?  Hmmm. Are you looking for a phone # to call about a so-called service? There’s only a Contact Us Form – no e-mail address, no phone # -- really, what we mean is don't contact us -- we have no budget for answering e-mail or the phone. At the end of the day, a few were found that will be in the 2013 Market Overview published later this week on this website. These are firms that I believe are reachable, are not trashed in reviews and oh, they just might run on smart phones or tablets!

So how are apps vetted for ongoing quality or obsolescence? They’re not. So let's say that you’ve published an app that does this or that, or you have a website that purports to do this or that.  You tried to get more funding to continue, but no dice. So you are trying to sell the assets as one app founder told me -- and thus you leave the site up -- sort of.  Probably this app was not a good 'caregiver' app anyway.  But will it disappear?  Oh no – first you read blogs about how 'easy' it is to delete apps. Not that easy if it must be explained elsewhere. But is that too much trouble? What the heck? So you leave it there – considering the downside. Bad reviews? Maybe you can’t respond to those anyway.  And your app is in the count of 900,000+ Apple apps or whatever. Which is good for Apple.  Nobody can say that they don't have any apps. So you ask a rhetorical question – what percentage of those (or the equivalent gigantic number on the Google Play Store) are obsolete, no longer tested or supported, or one might find out-of-business companies behind these apps? 

Eventually this pile of you-know-what will backfire on the platform vendors. Instead of confronting the barrier to entry to becoming part of this, uh, app showcase, there will be a threshold to achieve to stay there, year after over-hyped year. To date some tiny backfires have happened, but in the context of sheer volume, these are drops in the app bit bucket. In fact, Google removed 60,000 "apps" (okay, so many of them were ring-tones) from the Play Store in April, right after Apple removed a pile of apps from its store that were promoting stores other than its own. Whew. What a relief. But can we feel good now that the remainder represent actual applications of value, apps that should have prices in excess of zero? Unfortunately, today, we are in a user-beware phase – and as long as your expectations are non-existent or you are selecting an app from a supplier that is a long-standing company and a reliable web presence that just wants to meet a checkoff box to have a smart phone or tablet version, then you will be fine with these caregiving app versions that are downloaded for your phone or tablet.

By the way, Amazon also offers an app store, but among the so-called health and fitness apps, caregiving is not yet a category.  Perhaps when it is, the threshold for being listed – and remaining over time – will be higher. We can only hope.

Comments

When we developed the "Apps as AT" assistive technology web resource for Maine CITE http://mainecite.org/index.php/apps-as-assistive-technology-at a year or so ago, I insisted that we have a clear "caveat emptor" on the page. Every time a new technology comes along a bit of a "gold rush" mentality sets in and you have lots of people jumping into the fray with no business being there. The App world is still like that and it is just a matter of time before things mature and the cream rises to the top (Note to self: how many metaphors CAN you squeeze into one paragraph?).

Your mention of it is the first I've heard of the Google and Apple attempt at cleaning house. Good for them, but I wouldn't have expected it. Their job is to make money.

Good for you to bring up this topic. There are certainly a lot of folks out there who need to hear this.

By the way, if anyone decides to weigh through the long and confusing Apple iTunes Store Terms and Conditions page - http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/us/terms.html - they only have to read this one statement: "All sales and rentals of products are final" to get the message!

When you download the Unfrazzle app we send you an email that has links to our downloadable Quick Reference Guide, Getting Started Videos, and the "How To" Section of our Website which has a growing number of hands-on help articles. We also provide an email address we monitor on a daily basis. True, we aren't big enough yet to have phone support (though we will call you or set up a call), but we will get there.

Unfrazzle is a free app that focuses on one very important aspect of caregiving, which is tasks. We help caregivers remember, keep track of, and share tasks. Our mission is to relieve caregivers of some of the stress of caregiving, save time and improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Through our website and Facebook page we also provide a wealth of useful articles: caregiving stories, wellness, issues, trends, advice, and a user guide.

We are a startup, but our team is comprised of technology veterans with many years of experience developing products and building companies. To learn more about our Company & People, click on this link:
http://unfrazzledcare.com/about/company-people/

Here's the link to our website: http://unfrazzledcare.com
and to our Facebook page: http://facebook.com/unfrazzle

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