After last week’s heartfelt thanks, I think I need to revert to type and complain. It is, after all, my superpower. Thankfully (hah!) something presented itself to make me want to complain. So here goes. The recurring $10 problem, in four acts:
Andi is sitting on the couch, and downloads new app on her iPad to do something important with work. Let’s say… Grading.
Andi: (talking aloud, even though no one is around) Yay! I have found a new app. It was expensive but will hopefully be worth it. (Pause while typing) But wait, now I need to learn how to use it. It’s gonna take some doing.
Andi is sitting on the couch, grading.
Andi: (talking aloud. And likely swearing.) CRASHING AGAIN?! Since the last update, this app is constantly failing and making my work unbearable.
Andi sets her iPad down in disgust and gets chocolate from the kitchen instead of grading.
Andi: now I have to find a new app. But argh! They all have middling reviews and cost at least $10 a piece. I can’t try them all. What do I do?
Int. late night
Andi is still sitting on the couch, now surrounded by chocolate wrappers.
Andi: after hours of research, I have chosen this new app! I will spend the $10 and rejoice in victory. Huzzah! But wait, I have to learn a new system now…
Andi wails in defeat.
Worthy of Beckett, right? It’s like Waiting for Godot, except in this case Godot is app failure and it ALWAYS HAPPENS. Ok, so it’s nothing like Waiting for Godot.
My point: this is an ever repeating cycle. I’m not saying developers shouldn’t get to update their apps, or that they aren’t entitled to making money. I just find the system really annoying both in terms of money and time wasting. If only I could try apps for myself to see what the features are, that would be great. Most of them, though, don’t offer a “light” version or trial period. In-app purchases are unpopular, but I would much prefer that option to what I’m left with, which is guessing and keeping my fingers crossed. Reviews help, but only up to a certain point. After that, it’s trial and error.
Case in point: Goodreader. I have used and loved the app for years now. It’s the centerpiece of my grading system. But since iOS7, it crashes. every. five. minutes. So I researched and researched and found pdfExpert, on sale for Black Friday, no less.
And… The reviews and description weren’t enough. The app has more features than expected in some ways: for instance, it connects to sugarsync, which was not indicated when I was doing research. However, it also lacks important features: yes, I can annotate, but students can’t see my notes on mobile devices – only computers. Is it a deal-killer? Probably not. But it’s a step back.
And then, another annoyance: less than a week after downloading the app, I got a notice when opening it today that I’m “invited to update” to the new version… for $10. Of course.