Is it possible to be 100% happy with software you didn’t create yourself?

happy with apps - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

I find myself typing up feature request emails quite often. Even with the apps I use every day and love, there’s always something that I wish it had, something that worked a bit differently, or even just looked a bit better/differently. It can be something major and not necessarily possible, like wishing Tasker could export scenes as widgets, or something almost insignificant, like wishing that TvShowFavs had an option for font size for the widget.

In fact, I can’t think of a single app that I’m 100% happy with. 99%, sure, but there’s always something. Something that I would have done differently if I had created the app. Thanks to Tasker, I am actually capable of creating certain types of apps myself now, like my todo list. I run it internally in Tasker, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at it, and I could make a standalone .apk of it in a minute if I wanted to – so I’ll refer to it as an app. The app is made by me, for me, and as such, the features it has – and lacks – reflect me. There’s no sync system, because I don’t need one. There’s no time based alerts, because I don’t need them. I get alerted based on calendar entries, WiFi connection status, AC charging status – but not time. To me, time based alerts are just stupid, since I can’t think of a single case where I would need to be alerted based on time. Not when I have an arsenal of other triggers, ranging from whether or not the phone is even on to how long I’ve been using a certain PC program for. And still, the idea of a todo list app without time based alerts is sure to sound ridiculous to many other people.

There’s really two ways of creating an app: By targeting a specific usage situation, or by targeting as broad an audience as possible. Many apps show clear signs of being made for the developer, despite being public. You’re pretty much guaranteed that the bugs that are present on the developer’s device and OS version will be fixed, while that’s not necessarily the case with the rest. If an app tries to target as broad an audience as possible, it might actually end up targeting the lowest common denominator, making it good but not perfect for most of its users. Even if you make an app that has 100 settings, there’s someone out there that will suggest number 101. Just as an example, the following is a quote from the support page for Francois DESLANDES, the developer of a series of apps that are extremely customizable:

I receive around 10 new feature requests per day. I let you imagine if I create a new ‘option’ for each request.
I already spent 1 year of developement for each app… you would have around 500 options in Pure calendar for example

I found this while looking for the proper way to suggest adding an option to adjust the font size of the hour indicators in week view of the calendar widget app he has. At that point I had tinkered with pretty much every other option in the app, and made myself a calendar widget I really liked. Looking at how specific my own request was, I think that proves his point about having 500 options in the app pretty well. His solution is to allow users to vote for suggested features, which is one way of handling it.

Another example would be the ever-growing todo list of the Tasker developer, a list that is publicly available here. The size of it once again proves how much work is involved in making an app that works for everyone. Release a stick, and by the end of the week, you have requests to make it longer, shorter, thinner, thicker, flat, square, curved, angled, blue, green, pink, transparent – as well as one request to make a Tasker plugin for it, likely requested by me.

My point here is that I’m not even sure it’s possible to be 100% happy with an app. Before I stared doing some app-like things in Tasker, I considered myself 100% happy with a bunch of apps, but I can’t think of any that I would add the last couple percents to now. I’ve gotten too used to being able to tweak my own creations just how I want them, and that mentality has changed how I view apps that I can’t do that to. I have to say that I don’t envy developers, and I’m not sure I would have released anything publicly had I been in their place.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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