I recently had to re-install most of the main Apple iOS apps as the previous versions were all crashing on startup. While I was doing this, I took some time to look at the feature sets of these apps, most of which I never use. I was pleasantly surprised, there’s actually quite a lot you can do with these default apps that look like it could be very useful. A lot if the apps are quite minimalist, and have enticing design.

However functionality is not obvious straight away. I find that most of these apps don’t seem to follow typical conventions for where features are or how they are implemented. Each one appears to do things in a sort of unique way. The first 20-30 mins of playing with an app, I was constantly taping the wrong place, opening the wrong menu items, getting stuck and having to close the app and re-open it just to get back to a place I recognised. It’s way too easy to delete things in iOS apps, and there’s no undo. I’ve lost / nearly lost loads and loads of stuff accidentally deleting something when the touch UI started miss-interpreting my gestures, or accidentally making an unintended gesture. So it’s not obvious and learning is very frustrating.

Having said that it looks like the following things might be possible with standard Apple apps:

  • Publishing ebooks (Pages)
  • Recording and editing audio (GarageBand, Voice Memos)
  • Recording and editing video (iMovie)
  • Some basic automation (Shortcuts)

Being able to do all these things from a mobile device would be awesome.

The design of these default apps have a very “Apple” look and feel to them which is great. However I’m a bit disappointed that documentation and marketing pages are a very scattered. The default selection of apps is actually quite good, but I don’t get the impression that Apple is taking them very seriously. Each one should have a canonical page on the website and there should be downloadable documentation. The whole offering feels more like a shabby patch work than a suite for creators. It’s like they did all the hard work of building the restaurant and then gave up right before creating the menus.

Anyway, in my experiments with GarageBand, though making music is probably a bit optimistic for me currently, recording an audio podcast might be possible. I’d like to be able to record audio segments and drop them into some form of template, and render out an episode, complete with intro and segment audio jingles.

I’m guessing the whole template thing probably isn’t possible, but having a rudimentary way to put together a podcast from some audio clips might be.

Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could add annotations in the Podcasts app while you were listening to a podcast, and a way to easily crop out short clips, so that you could insert them into a podcast you were creating?

I like the idea of being able to have an async conversation via the medium of podcasts, for fun but also could be very useful in a work setting too. Anyhow just wanted to mention briefly my recent experiences with iOS apps, frustrating, but I can see potential possibilities.

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