Introducing App List

When Apple released iOS 11 in September of 2018, it featured a redesigned App Store. Unfortunately, in the redesign process, a well-liked function was removed: the wishlist. Previously, if you came across an App that you did (or could) not buy or download immediately, you could add it to that wishlist and come back to it at later point in time.

When I first started using the iOS 11 beta full-time I was sure that this was just an accident, and that it would be added again later. After all, the wishlist was an extremely useful feature. As it turned out, Apple really did not seem to like it, because they never added it back.1

I personally really needed that feature, though, because I come across Apps all the time that I simply can not download or buy immediately. Not having some kind of bookmark quickly made me forget about the App. Some developers jumped on the opportunity and made wishlist Apps, but I tried them all back then and never liked any of them.

The good thing about being a developer for your preferred computing platform is that if you have an itch, you can just scratch it. So I quickly created a personal wish list app that I liked, and called it a day. But apparently I was not alone with my problem and my personal preferences, and during many chats with friends and colleagues I quickly realized that there was a real market out there for such an App. And so I kept working on it and improving it.

The result is App List, a comprehensive App bookmarking and wishlist solution for iPhone and iPad.

App List on the iPad Pro

App List serves all the basic functions one would expect from an App wishlist. It lets you quickly add an App from within the App Store2, just by sharing (it features a Sharing Extension for that), and lets you continue browsing the App Store afterwards. If you want, it will send you a Push Notification about price changes. And it quickly directs you to the App Store if you select an App.

But App List is so much more. It packs additional functionality that makes it a complete App bookmarking and monitoring solution. It features several tagging, filtering, sorting and search options to get the most out of your personal App collection.

App List offers comprehensive filtering and sorting options
(Screenshot from App List on the iPhone 11 Pro)

You can use it to track your own apps or that of competitors. It lets you build portfolios of Apps for design studies. Or you could use it to keep track of Apps that you do not use very often, for example travel Apps. Just give Apps a special tag, and you can filter and search for them. Ever wanted to share a list of all your favorite cooking Apps with someone else, all at once? If you added them to App List, you can just select them all and share them with App Name + URL.

App List lets you easily share Apps with other people

If you do not like the default look of the list entries, you can just reconfigure them. Display what information is important to you, and hide the rest. Do you want a huge App artwork, tiny artwork or no artwork at all? The list entry configuration of App List has got you covered.

App List lets you configure the list entries freely

You can use all of the App Store storefronts with App List. It not just supports iOS apps, but iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS Apps as well! In addition to this, App List will, via iCloud, automatically sync the contents of your App List with all your iOS devices. It also features a dark mode, full support for iPadOS screen orientations and splitscreen multitasking and has pointer support.

App List is now available on the App Store – for free! If you want to support ongoing development or just buy me a coffee, you can use the Tip Jar you can find in settings. No purchase is necessary to use the full functionality though! I hope you enjoy using it as much as I enjoyed making it. And please, if you like App List, share it with your friends.

  1. On a side note, the iOS 11 App Store redesign was a complete failure for me. Not just as a developer, because it did have a negative impact on the downloads of my own Apps, but also as an iOS user. Previously, I spent lots of time browsing the various category lists for new and interesting Apps. With the new editorial format, that browsing was not possible anymore, and I personally do not like the “news” approach. I never read the full-text articles on the App Store front page. I seldom miss the “old days”, but when it comes to the App Store, I do. 

  2. You can also share an App Store or iTunes URL from other Apps, and Springboard (the iOS Home Screen) itself. This lets you quickly create a collection of Apps you have already installed, without searching them in the App Store. 

A better iPad input solution

My current iPad input solution: Magic Keyboard & Magic Mouse (2nd Gen.) and the Apple Pencil

The last few months have been good for iPad users. At WWDC 2019, Apple announced an iOS fork for their tablet computer, unsurprisingly called “iPadOS”. They also announced substantial changes in the way apps and the operating system itself could interact with third party storage: suddenly USB mass storage devices could be connected to the iPad without much hassle, and apps could import photos directly from the camera without routing through Safari finally had a “desktop” browsing experience. And to top it off, there was a new accessibility option: basic pointer device support–-a forshadowing of a more substantial rethinking of input methods in iOS.

As it turned out, iPad users did not have to wait very long for that rethinking to happen. In an (for Apple, at least) unprecedented move, in March 2020 they announced not just a new accessory–the Magic Keyboard for iPad–but full pointer support for the whole OS. Nobody saw that coming.

It seems obvious that the iPad Magic Keyboard would be the perfect accessory for me. It provides both a good keyboard as well as a pointing device. At a price point of 399 Euros, however, I did not want to buy one immediatly. After reading a lot of reviews, and reading many opinions from people actually buying it, it basically came down to this:

  • The keyboard is great and the integration with the iPad hardware and iOS is excellent
  • The keys with backlight are a nice touch
  • It is surprisingly heavy (heavier than the iPad itself)
  • It should be seen as a keyboard stand more than as a keyboard case
  • There are some controversial design choices: there is no escape key, for example, or function keys
  • The build quality is hit-and-miss: the outer material seems to be very fragile and quickly leads to deep scratches even from things like bread crumbs. Many report scratches right out of the factory. And after a while, many people claim bubbles forming under the outer material - as if the adhesive was not applied thoroughly. It seems quality control has failed severely when it comes to the Magic Keyboard.
  • There are claims that the keyboard is draining the iPad battery quickly

All in all I was not very impressed by these reviews and reports. Given the price point, I expected a much higher quality. This is surprising for an Apple product, which usually has excellent build quality at a high price–the Magic Keyboard seems to have a high price only. And then there is the trackpad. I personally prefer mice over trackpads every time, as I find trackpads to be much harder to use, especially when trying to point precisely. Thankfully, the iPad also supports the Magic Mouse (2nd Gen, the 1st Gen is not fully supported), which has been my primary mouse for over ten years now.

Besides the Magic Mouse, I keep using a Magic Keyboard with my iPad. It is an excellent keyboard: light, easy to carry around (I even bought a small pouch for it), requires charging only every few months or so, and it has things the iPad Magic Keyboard is lacking: an escape key, as well as keys for changing the brightness, media keys and volume control keys.

The only downside to this setup is that I cannot use the iPad like a laptop, for example in bed or on the lap. iPad, keyboard and mouse are separate components which can really only be used on a table together. This is thankfully not an issue for me. Other than that, it is the perfect solution for me: I can keep using a mouse, the keyboard has no real downsides and the iPad is still as flexible as it can be.

Everyone takes on a new (old) hobby

During this time of the coronavirus crisis, most people are (hopefully!) staying at home more than they usually do–myself included.

With all the working from home and an eliminated commute time, I find myself having more time for hobbies than I typically have. So I start tinkering, working on new apps, and playing games. This leads to many things I would love to write about, but I really have place to write it anywhere (anymore).

Rather than wasting all my time on World of Warcraft Classic, I decided to revive my blog, and while I’m at it, redesign the whole website. So here it is, I hope it stays. Enjoy!