What’s really retarding the iPad? Apple’s App Store

What’s really retarding the iPad? Apple’s App Store, Lukas Mathis writes for Ignore the Code. No third-party developer is going to make the investment in time and money into an iPad killer app when Apple can, on a whim, decide not to carry that app in their App Store.

Lukas Mathis:

App Store retarding iPad - image: Apple App Store on Apple devices
Apple’s App Store
The thing that truly hurts the iPad is the App Store.

When the original Mac came out, it didn’t have multitasking, either. But it also didn’t have an App Store. There was no gatekeeper deciding what was allowed on the Mac. So when Andy Hertzfeld wrote Switcher, he knew that he could sell and distribute it.

Who is going to write something like Switcher for the iPad? Nobody, because it can’t get on the App Store, so it can’t be sold.

Who is going to write a real, truly integrated file manager for the iPad? Nobody.

Who is going to invest a year – or more – into creating an incredible, groundbreaking new app, the killer app, the desktop publishing equivalent for the iPad? Knowing that Apple could (and probably will) just decide to not put in the App Store, destroying all of that work?


MacDailyNews Take: Apple could free the iPad, but that would open up the platform to all of the same security and privacy issues we see on traditional platforms. If Apple wants to keep the iPad tied to the App Store and within their walled garden, they should continue to make iPadOS not only more powerful (and more intuitive), but also work to provide certain App Store guarantees and engineering assistance to promising third-party developers who are interested on taking iPad to the next level.


  1. I’ve said here before and I’ll say it again. Apple has not put enough effort into their productivity suite of applications (Keynote, Pages, Numbers) and it’s ability to interface with cloud storage (iCloud). It’s clunky at best. Meanwhile, Googles G-Suite works very well, runs circles around Apple’s efforts, and is constantly improving (though their interface and attention to details on everything is terrible).Sure, all of these various apps exist on the iPad, but they is not feature parity across their Mac versions. This is a huge stumble. Apple needs to make these apps work seamlessly in a cloud environment as well as across their desktop platforms with 100% feature parity. Until they decide to do that the iPad will suffer. As it is, it’s an Internet viewer, movie watching, and game playing only device. This is exactly why school districts across the country buy Chromebooks, they don’t have to pay for expensive MS Office and kids can do all of their homework on devices that cost $300 or less. Clearly the iPad is a better and more capable device than a Chromebook, but without a legitimate productivity suite of applications, it’s stuck being what it is. It’s sad to see how bad Apple lost the K12 market. S. Jobs would be enraged at their lack of execution.

  2. I continue hearing people say they want OSX on the iPad, so I figure they don’t think the current OS or applications are robust enough for the work they want to do. If that’s the case, then Microsoft Windows tablets are their preference. I don’t really understand why they can’t accept Apple’s solution with the iPad. If they don’t like it, then they should use a MacBook Pro instead of complaining. My take is that some people will never be satisfied with anything. Either way there are going to be compromises they’ll have to make. I don’t think a perfect solution is possible with current tech.

    I like MacBook Pros for doing work and I’m not really interested in using a tablet for anything except content consumption. OSX on an iPad might be nice, but I still want a keyboard and a touch-pad, so why bother asking Apple for something I don’t really need.

  3. Now that I agree with. As a developer, I have some ideas on how to make the iPad even better, but I KNOW they wont get through the damn approval process because it maybe better then what Apple may have.

    On the other hand, I also agree with Apple for not letting the App Store become a free-for-all, like Android. So it is a double-edge sword.

  4. Perhaps Apple refuses to partner with an iPad developer to develop a robust desktop publishing app because Apple intentionally designed the OS to not have that capability or because it knows that the OS does not, and never will be capable due to its inherent nature, to handle it.

  5. Apple’s selling more iPads than Macs, yet iPads are held back. Apple’s selling more iPads than most of the competition is selling laptops, yet iPads are held back. 🙂

    Most people “get” the iPad and they’re having a blast with them. There are a bunch of older folks that are having a problem with the interface, though and will never get it.

  6. It’s not the App Store. It’s Apple still not effectively explaining what the iPad is. Telling people it’s not a computer was the dumbest thing they ever did.

    The iPad is a computer. It’s an EP device, EP = Extremely Powerful, Extremely Productive, and Extremely PERSONAL. i believe it should be called an EPC, as in Extremely Personal Computer. Once you give it a named class like that, people will start to get it. Like with “wearables.”

    As Steve Jobs said when he introduced the iPad, it fits somewhere between the iPhone and conventional computers.

    So you have the iPhone, the iPad, and the Workstation aka Mac. Each of these computers can perform many of the functions of the other two, but they each excel at a very specific subset.

    Everyone complaining the iPad is useless is trying to apply the iPad to the wrong subset of tasks. Some people don’t get this. Some are utterly John Gruber stupid with an old man’s hidebound perception of what a computer is and is not.

    The AppleWatch is a wrist notifier. Yeah, you can send email, but it’s no joy in trying. Too small. But being freed of all other devices and having that steady stream of personal intel flowing in is totally sweet. The watch fits between off the grid and still reachable.

    The iPhone has become their personal COMMUNICATIONS device of the future. Keeping us constantly connected to the world at large, through text, web, video, voice, books, etc., of course it’s addictive. It is also the greatest personal information capture device sporting cameras so intelligent that pro photographers should be ashamed if caught using one.

    The iPad is where you handle all of your personal computing. Your reading, writing, document management, and ever increasingly notes. Students have fallen in love with the iPad and the variety of ways it allows them to take notes. Especially handwritten notes. Handwriting notes commits notes to memory better. Students are starting to create their own textbooks for a subject over the course of the class. High powered iPad students swap their “textbooks.”

    IPads are where people manage their lives, not just watch movies. They ar seriously flat and thin. You pick it up, spin it around and open the Apple keyboard and you can start writing. It is a godsend for writers.

    Just as A.I. is back from the dead, so is the concept of paperless living. The number of paperless discussion groups is growing. There are new YouTube channels, Facebook groups, and so on. At the center of all of this is the iPad. Every book, magazine, comic book, tech paper, etc. is on my iPad.favorite YouTube videos live there.

    If you were to get into my iPad you’d find a record of every important thought I’ve had for the last decade. Notes on online conversations, recordings of phone calls. Edited video. Private photos. Drawings of my dream loft. All of the administrivia of my world. The iPad is My Extremely Personal Computer. It should claim the title PC.

    In addition, the iPad doesn’t operate like a conventional workstation. This is why I just go nuts when I see people trying to retrofit it into the world of a laptop or desktop workstation.

    When I have to do work… I switch to my personal workstation… my MacBook Pro. That’s where you find my software development tools, my FileMaker development environment, my multiple distributions of Linux, and Windows 10. With 64GB of RAM and 4 terabytes of storage I often run macOS, Linux, and Windows 10 simultaneously. It is so convenient to solve network glitches from one machine.

    And I’m sure people who need the heaviest amount of work don’t go out and buy a MacPro class workstation to take notes, keep their invoice diaries, etc.

    THE IPad, due to its remarkable touch UI, is (as someone put it yesterday) a delight to use. It has carved out a space in computing quite effectively. And because of the whole Apple ecosphere, it is just that much more convenient than a competitor’s device.

    We don’t even need to discuss how it excels at media consumption, though we should note that any who believes it can’t create is prejudiced. You can create in an iPad. Every form of content. Quite easily.mif you have the time, there is a tool.

    Yes, there is overlap with other devices, perhaps most notably the MacBook Air, but the iPad handles it’s territory best. Someone who need a big workstation class machine may enjoy having a portable workstation more than an iPad, but that is a matter of choice.

    And here’s the thing. They may not know it yet because Apple is doing a lousy job of explaining it, but the iPad TRULY IS THE PERSONAL COMPUTER FOR THE REST OF US. It is the most computer most people need.

    1. Another interesting thing I’ve noticed by using an iPad everyday is that whenever I do bump into something I’m not sure of how to do, I pop open the AppStore and more often than not, I find a tool. As such the iPad becomes a phenomenal tool chest for creating or editing or insuring whatever I might need. Instead of massive monolithic Multipurpose applications, I have a portable drawer full of discrete tools that excel at a specific purpose.

    2. You bring up an interesting point about iPads. They are indeed ‘personal’ products. In the educational market, that may be just the aspect that makes Chromebooks more attractive. It is the difference between a personalized cubicle and an open workspace. The personal cubicle may with some effort be used by multiple users. The Chromebook on the other hand is built to be allow easy use by ‘guest’ users. As most data is not stored on Chromebooks it is fairly easy to have a user move from one to a new chromebook without much lost time.

  7. Hey MDN, there was no gatekeeper for the Mac. Are you suggesting that iPadOS is more vulnerable than macOS?

    The iPad is useless as a real productivity tool. Absolutely useless.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.