How the iPad App Store Fell to Ruin

“The eleventh of June this year was just the beginning,” I told my friend as we compared issues with the “new and improved” iOS App Store. Nothing had changed for the many regular users of Apple’s mobile operating system, but there was a major release that day: iOS 6’s first beta. Developers — and users with developer accounts — were excited to test out Apple’s latest offering. It wasn’t exactly what we expected.

First there was the issue of Apple Maps, which had many appearance problems and was overall a disaster. Sadly, that was the main center of slating from the press, and no one paid any attention to the ailing new App Store. It was redesigned and apparently made better, but Apple forgot one big thing: fixing bugs. The beta really was just the start because issues continued to burden users, even to this day. Apple changed only a few things in the App Store, and it all its efforts, there was not a single bug fix issued. Let me explain.

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Search is Slow and Partially Functional

Let’s begin with searching, because everyone does that. People enjoy looking for an app their friend recommended or searching for a new Twitter client to make their day better. With the new App Store, this is nearly impossible.

Searching for Apple's Cards app.

Searching for Apple’s Cards app.

The first thing you do when searching is tap the Search Store field and start typing. That doesn’t always register though, so you have to tap it a few more times. Eventually you get impatient, and then the keyboard finally appears. Once you start typing, suggestions appear quickly, which is nice. If you tap that X in the right corner of the search field, however, the app locks up. You must erase text with the backspace key, else you’ll just be wasting time.

Browsing the search results for Bejeweled.

Browsing the search results for Bejeweled.

Next you browse the search listings, which are abundant. The new layout is actually very nice and having the sorting options right above the results is easier for users. What doesn’t make any sense is the Reset button in the right corner. It’s not actually usable unless you add sorting options, so why is it even there? One would expect it resets the search so you can start a new one, but the button for that is actually the grey X, which, as we know by now, does not work properly. So what’s the point of having a Reset button there when filtering isn’t on?

Moving on to results of larger quantities than 25. The app loads that amount at first, then more once you scroll down. It’s a bad idea to keep loading them though, because on my third generation iPad, things start going stagnant after the second set is loaded. Yes, you can still scroll, but it sure hurts your eyes in the process.

Images and Pages are Never Cached

The Top Charts tab used to be great. It had an understandable layout and looked nice. The new one actually improves upon what was in the previous version, but there’s one big problem: it will never stop loading images. Every time I open an app’s page and the head back to Top Charts or even the search results, I get the same grey-filled screen. There’s no way to make things load faster; I tried this on a 20 Mbps Internet connection. If only there were image caching.

You had better get used to seeing grey.

You had better get used to seeing grey.

I suppose some would see the lack of as a good thing since extra space isn’t used up on the iPad. Realistically though, caches are needed if Apple doesn’t want to speed up loading times for images. I’d much rather have icons and screenshots load one by one instead of all at once, but Apple doesn’t see things that way. For some reason, the developers thought it was more effective to keep things slower. That’ll just cause the user to leave the app though, and that’s not what you should be looking for.

Updates Either Doesn’t Load or Twitches About

The worst issue I’ve had in the App Store is the Updates tab. It refuses to function properly, not only for me but for everyone I’ve spoken to about it. Whether you’re on your iPhone or iPad doesn’t matter: this problem follows you across devices. What is the problem, exactly? Updates doesn’t do anything. It loads and loads to no avail, so you have to quit the app and try again. Once in a while you’ll get the update you were looking for.

This is what updates should look like all the time, but they aren't automatic.

This is what updates should look like all the time, but they aren’t automatic.

Not everyone gets annoyed when there’s an update badge on their App Store. If you do in iOS 6, it’s awfully hard to get rid of it. In iOS 5, you could at least tap the Updates button at the bottom to reload the screen when things weren’t working properly, but now that does nothing. Even going to another tab in the app won’t help you with the issue. Since updates are a very important part of using apps on an iPad, it’d be nice if Apple resolved this issue.

Better Aesthetics, Detrimental Functionality

The only thing that’s good about the new App Store is how it looks, at least in most parts. I enjoy the dark texture design and steady use of contrast, though it’s still hard to understand why the layout needed to be changed. All Apple really should have done is update the user interface to something more modern. Even though the new one doesn’t fit the rest of the operating system, at least users wouldn’t be confused or annoyed by everything else.

It sure looks nice.

It sure looks nice.

Instead of fixing the problems the old App Store had (Updates bugs and whatnot), Apple decided to create a hat of its own which you must draw from each day to download something. The iTunes Store app has the same problems, but they are not as widespread as that of the App Store. (Searching, for instance, actually works without the need to reopen the app.)

In conclusion, Apple shouldn’t have fiddled with something that already functioned fine, it should have changed the user interface a bit and let the rest be.

  • Bryan

    Fell to ruin? That seems a little overly dramatic. I agree that there have been some issues, but one can only hope that these will be solved once Forstall is gone. He seems to be the heart of everything that’s been wrong with iOS lately. Maybe I’m pointing the finger the wrong direction, but it makes sense to be rid of him. As for Maps, it’s unfortunate, but I think they had a little help. If I was Apple, I would have stuck with Google…Let’s hope they get it straightened out by the time iOS 7 is released, otherwise street cred will be jeopardized…Just my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure which app store you’re using, but mine isn’t half as bad as the one you’re describing. It’s not perfect, don’t get me wrong, but my updates tab works fine, my search works fine, etc. on my 4th gen iPad. Now, on my 4th gen iPod touch….that’s another story… This article is a bit overly negative IMO.

  • Lenny

    Weird. I have not one of those issues and think the new App store is a huge improvement.

  • Joe

    The search box problems are ones I’ve noticed as well.

    I just can’t believe the junk search results if you give it one word. Two words or more start to get results. One word and you get the kitchen sink and 2000 other apps.

  • john

    I cant believe how slow the AppStore loads. On both iPad and iPhone, but mostly on my macbook (pro 15″ retina, 100mb/s bandwidth). I never use Appstore on my mac since its so god damn slow. Sometimes it just keeps loading forever and i give up :/