Sunday, July 22, 2012

Find: Nice piece on mobile apps and simplicity

Why I Prefer the Featureless App [Opinion]

Why I Prefer the Featureless AppAt some point recently I realized the bulk of the apps I actually use on a daily basis are very simple. They don't have a lot of features and they don't have a lot of customization options. It turns out the featureless apps provide a system that works well for me.

Two years ago our own Adam Pash talked about "everything bucket" apps, aka, the apps where you're supposed to throw every thought into them. A lot has changed since then, but feature bloat is still common.

Now, nearly every major service is an "everything bucket" of some kind. Google implores you to dump everything you own into it. Bookmarking services like Pocket now let you add video and images. Evernote is one of the most popular places to store everything you do, going so far as saying in an interview with TechCrunch that the company's goal is to become a storage space for everything in your life.

That's all well and good for some people, but for some of us, the Unix Philosophy of "do one thing and do it well," still holds true.

While many apps have grown bigger and more encompassing over the years, others have popped up to fill the single-service, hyper-focused holes. While these types of apps never disappeared, they've become more and more necessary as our devices—and our ideas—have grown more fragmented. For me, I find myself using these nearly featureless apps more often when I'm on my iPhone and iPad. I want something that opens immediately and starts doing what it's supposed to do without any additional taps.

Recent iPhone apps like the simplified to-do list Clear, the notepad Pop, the sketch app Paper, and the slightly more functional notepad Drafts (just to name a few) all serve one specific function and serve it well.

On a mobile device this is key. When you open an app like Drafts or Pop you immediately get a blank page to start typing in. When you open Clear, you're shown a very simple to-do list. Paper op...

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