Hard times inside Apple’s forgotten App Store

Are you one of the many iOS users that ignores the row of apps at the bottom of the message composition window?

Apple, iMessage, App Store, iOS, iPhone
Apple

Are you one of the many iOS users that ignores the row of apps at the bottom of the message composition window?

Once the appeal of sticker packs wears off, there just doesn’t seem to be much inside Apple’s forgotten App Store for Messages.

In between the hype and the reality…

Apple introduced the App Store for iMessages to its customary forest of hype, as industry watchers predicted great things.

Forrester analyst, Frank Gillet said:

“Opening up the iMessage and Phone apps to third party developers is… a big deal, enabling Apple to offer a more natural fluid experience to customers that builds on chat innovations pioneered by WeChat and others.”

There sits the shadow…

Did it work? It seems fair to ask when you last heard of something you absolutely had to download from that store, or when you last actually used an app that wasn’t GIPHY?

I’m willing to accept that some U.S. users may use Apple Pay Cash to send payments via messages. Nice for you. But let’s just note that it has been over two years since that service was introduced to the U.S. and it still remains unavailable anywhere else.

Which doesn’t bode particularly well for international introduction of Apple’s popular Apple Card credit card.

Take the time to rifle through the contents of the app drawer (which is what Apple calls that row of apps at the bottom of your Message composition window) and you might find a few stars, beyond #Images and Apple Pay.

Power in the darkness

Exploring the store is a somewhat dispiriting experience.

You’ll find apps you know to be really useful on your other devices, only to discover all they offer via the iMessage App Store are a few sticker packs and the occasional relatively useful function.

It’s a place of inspirational darkness, within which you may find a small handful of stars to illuminate the space.

Game Pigeon, for example, is one of the better items you’ll find, in part because it actually does something. The app consists of a vast collection of games (including mini-golf, Checkers and Chess) that you can play with your friends using Messages.  

You may also come across a smattering of tools for knowledge workers, particularly Dropbox, which lets you find and share items with others via Messages. I do find it thought-provoking that Apple has not introduced a Messages app for iCloud Drive that works in a similar way. It makes me question if even Apple  takes its iMessage apps seriously?

Other apps you may find useful may include: iTranslate, which makes it easier to write a foreign language when you need to; Scheduling apps like Doodle, Open Table or Polls With Friends; List apps such as Loopy Lists.

But it's all a little vacant.

Apple’s forgotten App Store

The overwhelming perceptions I get when I visit this particular App Store are those of inattention and absence.

It feels a little like wandering through an abandoned home.

You can still see how it was laid out. You can still perceive the glorious optimism that went into building the place, but somehow those dreams were shattered as the inhabitants learned that it takes more than this to change hope into reality.

Realistically, the truth seems to be that App Store for iMessages hasn’t moved on much since I curated this collection of iMessage apps in 2018. (With the possible exception of Business Chat, which is actually useful.)

It feels like a lost opportunity.

Given the highly secure nature of iMessages it did once seem possible some developers may have attempted to create highly secure enterprise collaboration systems that used them. Perhaps they did.

So, what would the weakness of the product be?

Perhaps because Messages remains resolutely closed to other platforms.

We are where we are, of course, so let's hear it for the iMessages App Store: Apple’s forgotten place where all the useful apps sit sad and surrounded by endless collections of sticker packs. Weeping for the cross-platform solutions they should have been. Perhaps you’ll hear them next time you get a message. Or perhaps you'll tap the App Store icon in the App Drawer and visit with them for a while.

They don't seem to get many visitors, these days.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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