This ended up being a longer list than I expected it to, but I felt it needed to keep it going… you see, there’s a bunch of devices that I own and use on a regular basis that are good. Really good. Good enough that I would recommend them to other people. But most of them have one or two irksome things that hold the device from being a great device. It’s usually some missing feature that you look at the thing and say “why can’t they do that?” For me, I ask “why don’t they do that?” because, after writing software for two decades, I know that most anything is possible even on new mobile devices. For me, it’s not a question of can but it’s a question of will and there’s almost always a CEO saying “It’s better this way, so we aren’t going to change it” rather than sucking it up and giving the public what they want.
And thus begins the list of shame.
Amazon Kindle: Page Numbers
This device is new to me, but I’ve already seen over three years of posts/rants/requests for this when I did a quick search online… why doesn’t the Kindle support page numbers? Because “we wanted to make a frictionless experience while reading” says Amazon. Lazy and obstinate is what I say. I’ve looked at a ton of other eBook readers: iBooks, Sony, nook – they all have page numbers. They deal with the “you’re in the middle of a paper-page 8” or “you’ve got text from page 8 and 9 on the screen” with grace. And it’s not like Amazon doesn’t use numbers to mark where you are in the book – they do but it’s an arbitrary value that they call Positions. It’s just that it’s stupid. If you get a text book on a Kindle for class and the teacher says “go to page 441” what do you do? Or if you have a Kindle and your girlfriend has a Sony eReader, and you’re both reading the same book – how do you talk about it? It’s full of failure and the only thing I see that prevents a page number option in the Kindle ecosystem is managerial stubbornness.
Apple/Microsoft: Wireless Sync’ing to Mac/PC
This falls into the “it is possible but you, the user, don’t want it” category. Or I like to think of it “this are not the droids you’re looking for” defense. After all, Windows Mobile used to have this way back in the day. Zune still has it. Windows Phone 7 may have it, but I don’t know that it does; my guess is that it won’t because Apple started the trend of laziness. Apple claims that no one ever wants to wirelessly sync from their computer to their iDevice …even though you can buy/sync media and apps over the air from their servers? No, I call bunk on this. There’s no reason why I have to take a device and physically connect it sync my content. Ever. People are working on wireless power – we’ll likely have that before we get wireless PC-to-Device sync. Fail.
MP3 Players: Shuffle By Album
iPod used to have it and they replaced it with “Genius Shuffle” which is fairly useless. Or better yet, it’s simply a way to promote new sales of “related” content in iTunes. One lost feature replaced by a piece of marketing. Lovely. On this one, everyone can offer it but no one takes the time to add the feature… everyone modern MP3 player maker is guilt of this one.
Apple: Halfhearted Driver Support
This one is a tricky one but it doesn’t have to be. Ever since Apple moved to Intel CPU’s there has been two major cries from the community: let us run OSX on non-Apple hardware and let us run Windows on Apple hardware. The first one Apple says no to, straight up… and on this one, I can understand their position. Right now, Apple only needs to support drivers for hardware they put out there – offering support for the near-infinite different variations of PC hardware? That’s a huge cost sink and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly… while it’s technologically possible, there’s a business rationale for not doing this. The other half of the public wants – running Windows on Apple hardware – Apple says they support, but they half-ass it. Ever try to use mutli-finger gestures in Windows while running Bootcamp? Windows 7 supports it; Apple’s half-complete driver doesn’t. Same thing was true when I tried to put a Magic Trackpad onto a PC. In this, they could do a better job, but they choose not to. Their reasoning? Stop using Windows. Or “we’re not a Windows OEM.” Hey, either do it right or don’t say that you do it at all. Pretty simple concept…
Nintendo DS/DSi/DSi XL: Crappy WiFi Options
I have no idea on this one and I yet I still own a DSi and DSi XL. All of the DS’s support the ability to use WPA/WPA2 to get firmware, but when you are attempting to play a network game, you can only use 802.11b with WEP. I haven’t used 11b/WEP for over five years. Maybe more. Hell, I don’t even know if my router supports WEP any more. Why they have two networking stacks for the same device is beyond me… it’s almost like they have to work harder to keep the old along side the new.
Xbox 360 Accessories: Lack of Rechargeable Battery Support
This one goes out to MadCatz, Hori, and the rest of the people making 360 add-ons: use the damned rechargeable pack that already exists! The whole reason why I bought the extra rechargeable battery for my 360 controllers was because I didn’t want to buy regular-Alkaline batteries. Made sense to me, yet I’ve got a room full of wireless musical instruments that require AA batteries… why in the hell would that happen? Guitar Hero actually went so far as to make their own rechargeable battery for some of their guitars, complete with a USB charger… somehow that doesn’t make it better.
Apple: Thou Shalt Only Sync With One Computer
Ridiculous. And it’s not just Apple: it’s anyone that has this “restriction” that prevents you from syncing with more than one computer at a time. The thing is that by now, most devices – that aren’t from Apple – support this. At least they stopped wiping the device, when you accidentally tried to sync with another computer, but even so: if you can get music/apps sync’d over the air, from iTunes, why can’t you sync from more than one computer at a time? Oh right… we’re told we don’t want that feature either. Pah.
Apple: Lack of Flash on iPhone/iPad
I could give a rat’s ass about Flash, but the sad truth is that since some website rely on it exclusively for navigation and other sites – Hulu – have a very strong use for it, the rationale of “we don’t think you need it” simply doesn’t fly here. We know the iPhone and iPad have the raw power to handle Flash; Apple’s gone out of its way to not support it in Safari or with a separate player… lame.
I’m sure of these things will follow…