Confessions of an app aholic

Hi, my name's Rick, and I'm an app-aholic. Now comes the part where you say, "Hi, Rick," and we move on to talk about my problem. So here we go.

Hi, my name’s Rick, and I’m an app-aholic.

Now comes the part where you say, “Hi, Rick,” and we move on to talk about my problem. So here we go.

The full scope and longevity of my app-addiction came clear to me about a week ago when, having mislaid my Sony portable MP3 player, I fished out my old, semi-defunct iPod from the junk drawer.

After powering it up, and discovering it will no longer sync with any of my computers, I also discovered that I had a full 56 mobile applications on it that needed to be updated.

“I can’t believe I even have 56 apps on this thing,” I said to myself. So I went to my Settings app, opened the “About” section, and discovered I, in fact, had 113 apps on it.

Way too many apps; and now, with about half of them out of date, I would probably spend the better part of three hours getting them all current and operational – but I wouldn’t do that, since I wasn’t planning on using any of them other than the music player.

Though I had apps enough to fill up seven “pages” on my iPod, all the truly useful ones were on the first two. The rest were mostly sports, radio and book-reading applications that I probably used once or twice and quickly forgot about. Mercifully, because I am a congenital cheapskate, almost all of them were freebees.

But all that wasted storage space, and the potential wasted bandwidth involved with downloading a panoply of updates, got me thinking about where we are headed in the age of mobile computing, and that we are heading in the wrong direction.

It may be hard to do anything about the situation, right now, but I am becoming more convinced the “app” model for delivering content on mobile devices is already seriously flawed, and likely to get progressively more unwieldy and technologically unjustified.

A recent survey reported in CNET estimates that there are presently something like 350,000 apps available for the Apple iPhone and iPad, and some 88,000 for the competing devices using Google’s Android operating system.

A majority of the apps in the Apple store are pay-for-use (about 66 per cent), while only some 39 per cent of the apps for Android devices require you to pay for them – though that percentage has increased from 22 per cent a year ago.

There is therefore a considerable amount of commercial inertia involved in preserving the app-driven model for providing content to mobile devices. But, with the growing availability of high-speed cellular connectivity, and the rapid increase in the on-board computing capability of smart phones, the rationale for this approach is rapidly going away.

Since most apps are really just customized tools for accessing information from the world wide web, it stands to reason that the tool of choice for accessing that kind of information is properly the web browser.

At the moment, the limited computing capacity of the current smart phones prevents them from running web browsing software powerful enough to deal with many web sites on the Internet. But it is already a common practice for many websites to identify that a certain kind of mobile device is trying to access them, and to direct it to a version of the web page that is friendly to the capabilities of that particular device.

This approach makes enormously more sense in the long run, allowing you to use one generalized tool for going about your business, rather than finger-swiping through a clutter of custom-designed apps to find the one you need to get your information fix.

Even as things are now, there are a whole host of apps that really don’t do anything you can’t do equally well, or better, by just using you mobile’s web browser.

The Google Search app, for instance, adds precisely nothing to the functionality you can get by just typing in your query in the Google-search box of your iPod’s Safari web browser, or the Android Chrome browser.

Other applications, like the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) one, actually dumb down the content available on the website – to the point, in the IMDB app, where you find yourself continuously clicking on the app’s “View on imdb.com” link and opening up your web browser, anyway.

Sooner or later, the cost of buying so many apps, keeping them up to date, keeping them organized, and even just finding out which apps you need or want, is going to start overwhelming the average consumer.

All of us would be better served by having the option of choosing from a selection of more powerful, better-designed web-browsing applications on our smartphones, rather than mucking around with a mess of apps of wildly varying quality and functionality.

I, for one, hope the logic of the computing environment will bring that about sooner rather than later.

That way, I will be liberated from my app-aholism, and free to indulge the information junkie that is the real, inner me.

Rick Steele is a technology junkie who lives in Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read