Calm down, Ben [Update]

Ben Brooks has published his opinion on the “gamification” of iOS apps. The term refers to the process of requiring the user to jump through virtual hoops — like downloading an additional app — to unlock certain features. Most recently, an update to Clear shipped with several “secret” themes, two of which are unlocked by installing Path and Tweetbot.

Ben is understandably frustrated with the practice. It’s silly at best and manipulative at worst. I don’t understand why it makes him so angry. His short, 209-word post contains “dick” twice, “hate” twice and “bullshit” once. Then it ends with what seems like a virtual call to arms:

“It’s time to put an end to this.”

And how are you going to do that?

It’s OK to dislike the gamification of iOS apps. I certainly do. But is it worth getting this worked up over? It’s productivity software on a telephone. Let it go.

Update: Some nice perspective from Curious Rat:

“Clear isn’t an app for power-users. It’s a fun and whimsical little gem meant for casual list makers, so the idea of unlocking new themes by accessing different sections of the app isn’t off putting – it simply adds to the charm.”


So damned goofy, again

Ben Brooks recently dismissed Outside for the iPhone as “so damned goofy.” Too goofy, in fact, to even download. This week, he praised Shine, another iPhone weather app. After ripping on the app’s icon, [1. Well deserved.] he says:

“The visual styling of the rest of the app is top notch…”

So Shine’s obviously cartoonish rainclouds are less “goofy” than Outside’s cartoonish raindrops?

shine outside for iPhone

Of course, these icons represent a portion of Shine’s overall aesthetic, unlike Outside which maximizes the comic book art feel. Still, they are a significant part of the app’s “top notch visual styling.”

So damned goofy

Ben Brooks, regarding Outside for iPhone:

“It just looked so damned goofy from the screenshots I couldn’t bring myself to download and pay for it.”

This dismissal elicited a visceral reaction in me. I didn’t develop Outside, but I use it.  I consider myself a man of good taste; hardly someone who’d use a “damned goofy” app. Saturday morning-style animations aren’t for everyone. Neither are hyper-detailed weather apps. All I want to know is, will today be sunny, rainy, hot or cold.

If it’s “cute” in the meantime, that’s fine with me.

Who uses Flipboard and why

Ben Brooks:

“Flipboard is perfect for the audience it targets and truly it doesn’t surprise me that someone like my Dad uses it. The problem is that the casual browsing nature of FlipBoard is just wasted time for a power user that knows what they are looking for.”

It’s an interesting take. Read the whole thing.

More on mail rules

Ben Brooks was kind enough to respond [2. Incidentally, this is the type of conversation between bloggers that I enjoy. I’m much happier to write a thoughtful post than drop a knee-jerk comment on Ben’s blog, and vice versa.] to my post on email management which referenced his. Ben:

“I have great respect for the fact that Dave Caolo reads each email, treating them all the same, but that doesn’t and won’t work for me. Nor do I think I would want to do that, when you send me an email that I am copied in on along with 50 other people, without even referencing me in the email, here is what crosses through my mind:

‘This person clearly just wants to show how important they are by wasting 50 peoples time all at once. Bastard.'”

The feeling is mutual, Ben. I want to reinforce that I wasn’t suggesting my inbox management routine is The One True Way. I quite like Ben’s clever Mail rules, which is why I shared them with TUAW’s readers. Whatever trusted system works for you is the one you should use.

My email management philosophy is this:

Stuff > [Process] > Trusted System > Action

“Process” is the variable. However you define it, as long as it promotes efficient progress through the final steps, is fine with me.