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Why Apple's opacity with developers is bad for users

Marco Tabini | June 2, 2014
It may cause customers to ultimately suffer from its opacity since third-party apps are often the most front-facing part of the iOS and OS X user experience.

Change is hard
Obviously, this doesn't mean that Apple couldn't (or shouldn't) improve the situation. The sheer number of participants in the company's developer program is likely to translate into a very large number of bug reports reaching its technical support systems on a regular basis, which probably makes managing those reports a challenge.

Still, Apple's deep pockets should make it possible for its engineering team to hire enough manpower to at least provide developers with better feedback, if only to let them know that their bug reports are not falling on deaf ears. "If [Apple] can't handle the load, [it needs] to hire more technical support people, pure and simple," says Dark Sky's Grossman. "If [the company has] to charge more for support emails, so be it."

The problem, however, may be institutional in nature. "I see Apple as behaving in black and white in many instances, and this is one of them," explains Red Sweater's Jalkut. "Rather than figuring out the nuances about how [it] might be slightly less opaque, [it] sticks to what has worked,' which in [its] case is to draw a pretty stark line over which [it] will not cross when it comes to sharing details about unannounced products or, yes, even unannounced bug fixes."

Ultimately, adopting a more transparent approach may well be in the company's interest: Happy developers who can place their trust in a well-curated programming ecosystem are likely to continue cranking out better apps, which translate into loyal customers that continue to invest their hard-earned money in Apple hardware—and that's something we can all agree on.

 

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