I’ve started buying apps based on feedback on the developer

listen-devHave you ever been in the situation where you’re looking for a new app, there are several that would fit, and you don’t really have a reason to pick one over the other? I have, and I used to go by things like how the UI looks, features I thought I might end up using one day, last update date, and general app feedback when making my final decision to go with one. Recently though, I’ve found myself prioritizing something else: the developer.

One of the worst things I know is developers that simply don’t care. I’ve encountered several of those, most recently TeslaCoil Software, creators of apps such as WidgetLocker and Nova Launcher. I already knew that the developer didn’t care much from having used WidgetLocker for a year, so when I went to report one of the most critical bugs I’ve ever seen in an app launcher when trying Nova launcher (it causes all other apps that display widgets to stop working on my device), I was half expecting it to be ignored. Which it was. Two emails and a post in the thread started by the dev for Nova launcher on XDA (which he later responded to with a promotion for a new update), and nothing. I even waited and tried the updates for the app that were released some time after I reported the issue the first time, thinking that perhaps it had been silently fixed, but once again, I had to clean up the mess it left on my phone.

You can argue busy developers and the possibility of it being noted without being responded to all you want, but the result is still that I have a paid license to an app that does virus-like damage to my device, and a developer that seems to just not care. I’m just so tired of having to deal with developers like that, and the difference is just night and day when compared to some of the best developers out there. The Tasker dev, Pent, continues to provide support for Tasker despite the huge user base it now has, and even responds to things that are very clearly user errors or other pointless issues, showing that success doesn’t mean you have to stop caring. Auto*-developer joaomgcd is the same way, and there have been times where he’s added bug fixes or requested features to the app within hours of it being brought to his attention.

I bring up this topic because I recently looked around for a generic audio book app. I found several, all of which looked decent, all of which had good reviews, and all of which seemed to do the job just fine. Then I came across Listen Audiobook Player, and found this in the review section:

Chris Rock – May 12, 2013 – Samsung Galaxy S2 with version 2.3.2
The developer cares
Not only is this app a top-notch audiobook player–clean looking, simple to use, with a ton of useful features–it has a developer that really cares about the app and the users. I had two very minor issues with the app. Each time I wrote the developer and he had a fix for me THE NEXT DAY. The app is in continual development and new fixes, features, and style improvements are made regularly. You can tell that the developer uses this type of app regularly and cares about the user experience because it’s streamlined to do exactly what I need it to do. I almost wish this cost more so that I could support the developer better. At this price, it’s a steal.

After reading that, I bough the app immediately. It’s just such a different experience to use an app made by a dev like that compared to one made by a dev like TeslaCoil Software, that the decision was an easy one to make.

After using the app for a couple of days, I contacted the developer to query about ways of controlling the app externally, specifically a way to stop playback without killing it with root, as the app didn’t respond to standard media controls. I sent off my email right before going to bed, and when I woke up, a reply was waiting. It gave me exactly what I needed, and it had been sent 16 minutes after I had sent my initial email. Then I saw this at the end of the email:

 I’m going to be offline for the next couple of hours, but if you have any other trouble I should be able to respond later today.

So let’s  just sum up these two experiences:

  • Developer 1 ignores three separate attempts at reporting a virus-like bug in the app, over the course of several weeks
  • Developer 2 responds to a non-critical request within 16 minutes, and feels it’s necessary to let me know that if I need more help even though the response solved the issue, it might take a few hours to get it

And that is why I’ve started buying apps based on feedback on the developer.

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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.