How Not to Develop a Mobile App

Apple released its (over)hyped Maps app with iOS 6, and as you may have heard by now – or if you’re unlucky, experienced – the reviews are less than glowing.  Of course, the internet is pretty good at deriding failure, and Apple’s latest innovation has provided an ample amount of fodder.  One wry commentator in the Twitterverse wrote, “Art should be difficult.  Art should make us question the world we inhabit.  Art should take us into the unknown.  iOS 6 maps are art.”  The Washington State Department of Transportation felt compelled to reassure citizens that the bridges of Tacoma were not, in fact, melting, and we suspect the people of Stockholm were shocked to discover that their famous cathedral had turned into a Burger King.

Apple laughingly referred to its new map app as “the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever,” but there’s so much wrong with it that one wonders why they would even consider releasing such an underdone product in the first place.  We at AppMuse shepherd a lot of mobile apps from the idea phase to the roll-out, and when it comes to developing apps, there are a few simple guidelines that every developer should follow.  Among those are:  1) identify an unexploited (or insufficiently exploited) niche your app will fill; 2) test extensively; and, 3) don’t release it until it’s ready.

Apple is Apple, of course, but its failure to respect even one of these rules left a lot of us scratching our heads.  There are dozens and dozens of other navigation apps on the market (although Apple does exclude the best one – Google’s – from its operating system), it cobbled together mapping data from at least twenty different sources (which didn’t include driving a single mile, as opposed to the five million miles Google logged), and clearly no one bother to test it before its release.

Apple is now telling its customers that it’s “just getting started” with maps, so presumably those customers are just supposed to be patient.  In the meantime, one thing we do know is that had this been an independent developer rather than a multi-billion dollar company who’d put this app in the store, by now he’d be scanning the classifieds for his next job.

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