Opinion: Why the iPhone SE Should Have 3D Touch

iPhone SE, by Apple, Inc.

Before I tell you why I won’t be buying one, let me say this: I love the iPhone SE. I love its form factor, I love its power.
As a matter of fact, I’m still using – and loving – my iPhone 5s and I think, for me, the 4’’ screen is just perfect.

Why I Won’t Buy the iPhone SE

Personally, I want to keep to the 4’’ form factor, but I can’t. As a user, I probably could do without 3D Touch, but since I want to develop for it, I need some way to test it. While the simulator with Magic Trackpad (Force Touch) support is nice for initial development, I’ll have to test on a real device sooner or later (and better sooner rather than later).

So as a user, I’d probably purchase the iPhone SE, but as a developer, I can’t do it, so I’ll have to wait for the iPhone 7.

But let’s get on to the actual point of this post.

IPhone 6s Taptic Engine 3D Touch

Why The iPhone SE Should Have 3D Touch

It’s clear to me why Apple isn’t including it – it gives the iPhone 6s and Plus (and future “mainstream” iPhones) a USP and makes it more attractive for surely lots of users, while allowing to offer a slightly cheaper iPhone for those that don’t have as deep a pocket.
Still, I think it’s a mistake not including 3D Touch in the recently announced iPhone SE. Here’s why.

It “Cheapens” the Technology

To play a Live Photo, normally you’d Force Press. On the iPhone SE, you long-press to play Live Photos. The question then becomes, what do I really need 3D Touch for?
Live Photos kind of were presented together with 3D Touch (Live Photos on the Lock Screen), but a long press does this just as well, so, yeah, whatever.

IPhone 6s 3D Touch Quick Action

It remains useful for Peek & Pop and Quick Actions, of course. So not having that on the iPhone SE is bad for all involved:
– The User, because they can not use these functions on an iPhone SE
– The developer, because their apps could be perceived as less functional because of it
– Apple, because of those two reasons

It May Stifle Adoption and Innovation by Developers

Quick Actions as well as Peek and Pop are pretty easy to implement with the APIs Apple provides for it, but anything that goes beyond it does take a certain amount of work and effort.
With only the “premium” iPhones having 3D Touch, developers (especially indies, who have less resources) will think twice before taking what might turn out to be a couple of weeks to implement a unique or innovative use of 3D Touch, seeing as they might not reach the entire market with it and having to develop and maintain different code-paths for different devices.

TL;DR

The iPhone SE will probably be sold for years to come and seeing as it’s a lower-priced phone, its customers are (in my way of thinking) less likely to upgrade, say, every year, which means 3D Touch will not be available “everywhere”™ for too long a time to come for the technology to go “mainstream” among developers to do something beyond Peek & Pop or Quick Actions.

“New Year, New You” – Apple includes Yoink in a Mac App Store feature

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Apple is currently featuring Yoink on the Mac App Store, in the category “New Year, New You”, and it’s in great company with the very popular apps MindNode Pro, 1Password, OmniFocus and Evernote.
I couldn’t be more proud and humbled.

This certainly wouldn’t have happened without all of you, so

Thank you!

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My name is Matt, I’m the developer of Eternal Storms Software. If you’d like to comment, you can catch me on twitter here: or by eMail.

Contacting customers through the App Store

One of my biggest gripes with the App Store is not being able to contact customers who leave a review directly.

A tweet by @fafner (developer of the App MindNode) today, August 13th 2014 in which he asked if developers read reviews on the App Store, made me think about this some more.

The one thing I really miss about selling Apps on my own, outside of the App Store, is the contact you have with your customers.
If there was a problem with one of my Apps, they had to contact me directly, since there was no other way. And we could take things from there, have an ongoing stream of communication.

With the App Store, customers are inclined to leave a review of my App with feature requests, bug reports or more general criticism rather than contact me directly. Even though I make it very easy to write me through my website and the Apps themselves.

While I really appreciate every review, there’s nothing more frustrating than getting a review about, say, a request of a feature that, unknown to the reviewer, has already been implemented and not being able to tell them about it (replying to the review with another review of your own app is possible, but there’s little to no chance the customer will ever read it, plus you’d have to rate the App to do so and that opens up an entirely different can of worms (in short: don’t do it)).
Or even worse, you get a bug report and you can’t contact them for more information in order to reproduce it.

What I currently do when this happens is fire up google and search for the reviewer’s nickname – a more than often lengthy procedure. When a Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, tumblr (and so on) account finally comes up, I use that to contact them, well aware it might not even be them – it has happened before that I contacted someone and they were the completely wrong person. It’s embarrassing, but they usually understand and think nothing of it.

It takes a lot of time and nerves that’s only worth it if you have the right person in the end. Otherwise, that time could have been so much better spent.
Additionally, you’re never entirely sure if they check their messages on YouTube, for example.

I understand why the App Store doesn’t allow for direct contact from the developer to the customer. First and foremost, it’s a privacy issue and that’s more important now than it ever was.
Threaded comments on the App Store seem unappealing to me as well plus it could escalate quickly if the customer or developer gets upset for some reason, so threads would have to be curated somehow. Also, other people could chime in in what was meant to be a two-way communication. Unfavorable as well.

Nevertheless, a solution on Apple’s part would be favorable. Actually, I’ve filed bug reports (radars) with Apple on how they could improve this.

They are based on the premise that not the developer initiates contact, but the customer does (and why wouldn’t they want to – they bought the App, they want it to work).

One (rdar://13367865) is to pop up a “Contact Developer” button when a user selects two or less stars for a review on the App Store. It might also be based on keywords (crap, useless, sh*t come to mind ;))
So the user selects one star and before they can click send, another button is shown directly next to it asking the reviewer to contact the developer. Problem solved.

The other one (rdar://13379347) is for crashes. You know how, when an Apple App crashes, you get a text area to supply some more information and send that to Apple?
This could also be done for third-party Apps.
The developer could supply their support email in the Info.plist (a collection of metadata for the App, like version, copyright info, etc) in the App’s bundle.
When the crash happens, you get a crash report window. Additionally to the buttons “Reopen” and “Cancel”, there could be a “Contact Developer” button, if the email has been supplied in the plist. You click it and it opens up a new mail message with the crash report already attached, leaving the possibility for more info (or it is done in-window like the Apple App Crash dialog).

Developers do get crash reports through Apple’s iTunes Connect, but that’s all they get. There’s no contact information attached (again because of privacy issues, of course).

It surprises me that not more work has been done in that area on the App Store.

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My name is Matt, and I’m the developer of Eternal Storms Software. If you’d like to comment, you can catch me on twitter here: or by eMail.