iOS 7 wishlist: web-based account administration

iOS 7 wishlist: web-based account administration

Summary: Apple needs to add more web integration if iOS is going to be competitive with Android.

iOS 7 wishlist: web-based account administration - Jason O'Grady

Last week's Google I/O conference inspired me to dust off my Android phone and I've been using it a little more than normal lately. I've been testing Google Play Music All Access to see how it compares with Spotify (and with Apple's rumored iRadio) but I've also got my eye on the unlocked Galaxy S4 that Google starts selling on June 26. 

Anticipating a new Android phone in my future, I've been doing some house cleaning and deleting a bunch of Android apps that I rarely use. When my Droid ran out of power, I was re-acquainted with an extremely useful Android feature not available on iOS: web-based administration. 

With Android devices you can easily add/update and delete apps on your devices(s) by the using the web-based Google Play tool. It's a simple and convenient feature that Apple doesn't offer. 

The only way to administer an iPhone or iPad is on the device itself or via the atrocious bloatware known as iTunes. While editing apps on the iPhone is novel for a while, it's extremely time consuming, especially if you need to drag apps across multiple pages. Editing apps in iTunes is slightly better, but not by much. iTunes is slow and clunky and has trouble getting out of its own way sometimes. iTunes is further limited by being tied to a single computer, iTunes Match notwithstanding.  

A web-based interface is a faster and easier way to edit apps, music and media. Using the Google Play web interface, I was able to add, update and delete dozens of Android apps in minutes and my changes were synchronized with my Droid as soon as it came back online. In addition to apps, the Google Play Store also allows me to organize (and play!) my music and movies and read my books and magazines in a web browser, features noticeably absent from Apple. 

The closest thing to web integration that Apple offers is a hokey "App page" that forces you to "View in iTunes" to download the app. Apple needs to give users options other than iTunes when it comes to managing their app and media purchases if it's going to be competitive with Android.

Apple would tell you that using iTunes is "a feature, not a bug." Apple engineers have told me that it prefers that all iTunes account administration is done via iTunes to add security to your account, presumably to prevent hackers from brute-forcing a web interface with a script. But that defense doesn't hold water any more, especially now that two-step verification is available for Apple IDs. And if the web is such a security hole, hole is Google doing it?

Topics: Apple, Android, Google, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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  • Apple doesn't need to do anything

    Apple just knows what consumers need. ZDNET articles like this are worthless tripe.
    • Wrong

      I'm a fan of Apple and use an iPhone 5 after 2 long years of the original Droid. While I do believe Apple has a better OS then Android at present, Apple has done little to keep that lead and if you look at Android's Google eco system I have to say that Google is moving into the top innovator spot. Apple needs to get moving because Android is not sitting still.
    • Ignorance? or head in .. sand?

      Appropriate for the great unwashed who eliminate possible productive thought by having all senses tuned to diversion or entertainment.
      • ROTFL I would expect Google Play to be aimed

        strictly at "the great unwashed". These things usually are.
        Laraine Anne Barker
    • Plus, Apple has iTunes.

      You don't even need an Internet connection to manage the apps installed on an iOS device. You can do the exact same app management as Google Play on your desktop in iTunes. You can move apps to different pages. You can add or delete apps. It's all there. Apparently you've forgotten this.
      • Sorry, that comment was unclear...

        My point was, iTunes is actually better than a web interface, in my mind. You don't need an active connection to the Internet to manage apps on your phone.
        • Missed the point.

          Bill you totally mis-understand the article.
          1. I do not need iTunes for any of my devices. Android, Win 8 or Nokia 820 to manage them.
          However to do any maintenance for my iPad I have to fire up iTunes then work out where to go in iTunes to do something basic. See Apple keep messing around with the layout hide / change things making it harder to navigate.
          My iPad is for my Autistic son and instead of a simple GUI set up they change things around. Autistic people dislike change so by constantly moving things about sets him off into a tantrum as he does not know where things are.

          2. You answered your own argument as you NEED iTunes to do anything to an Apple product. This means you need to have iTunes installed on any computer to do admin on it. The author is clearly stating Apple needs to move away from this to allow web based admin.
  • Multiple devices

    I have several devices, that share purchased apps. I might want one app on one of the device, but not the other (for many different reasons).

    How does this work with your web based tool?
    • Just try it :)

      In the web interface of Google Play you can choose right device from the list of your devices.
    • Remove App

      Easy if its on any android phone just go into Application manager on the device, then scroll down the list of apps to find one you want, press on the app to open it and then press uninstall the app.
      If on Windows Phone long press on the app in list view long press on the app and from the drop down list select delete and the app is deleted.
      Again all done on the phone with out need for iTunes aka as per this article.
  • Officially, Apple Has No Competition

    It doesn't matter how much Apple's real-world market share dwindles, it still has 100% of the Apple fanboi market, and that's all that matters.
  • A web app?... that all? Firstly, Android & Security are like oil & water, security is not a consideration. Secondly, I'm not sure that dropping iTunes functions into a clunky web-app (they're all clunky) is progress of any kind.

    These wish lists are becoming tedious, let's hope Apple's designers are a little more inventive than the technorati.

    (A web-app? Really?)
    • Security.

      Interesting. Apple is more at risk of security flaws as they & Android are built upon Unix. Go back 30 years and the hackers choice to hack was UNIX. They just turned to MS OS as more users than Unix etc. Now Apple is top dog the hackers will start to look at it again. Apple live in denial that they have a secure system. Even more so now they are moving to a web based cloud this increases their risk of hacking.
      If Apple iOS was so secure then there would never be a jail broken phone. PS jail breaking is a breech of Apple licence agreement as you agree not to hack or try to find access to the OS.
      • Apple has been top dog for years, and…

        This security through obscurity nonsense is getting old. It has been disproven so often that its continual reiteration verges on the annoying. First, predators, both in nature and online, go for where the money is, not where the numbers are. If numbers make then money, so be it, but that is not the driving factor. Second, there were platforms with far LOWER numbers that had higher malware counts, so that in and of itself disproved this assertion. Third, it is also about ease of penetration relative to rewards. Hackers went after Windows because it was a wide-open door. While hackers were "hacking" Unix thirty years ago, it was not the type of malevolent hacking that you are referring to. This simply did not happen. Feel free to cite any evidence that this type of cybercrime existed then.
        Just like lions don't tend to go after healthy, adult wildebeest, but prefer to go after the young and the sick and the elderly, so too, hackers go after the easy targets, and the ones that have money. Period.
        Fourth, as the subject line states, Apple has been top dog in mobile for years, and their consumers spend more money than all other platforms combined. Yet you will be hard pressed to cite many (or any) examples of successful large scale exploits).
        As to your irrelevant nonsense about jbs and Apple's license, so what? What possible relevance does that have to the subject?
  • I've never understood the iTunes hate.

    Genuinely, I've never had a problem with it. With the irritating exception of some consistently album artwork it does what it needs to do and has always seemed fairly fast in the process.

    I feel it is "accepted wisdom" that iTunes is rubbish, in much the same way as it is "accepted wisdom" that IE is horrible and that Windows is full of bugs.

    I often get the feeling that the majority of people complaining about it have never used it (you can find statements like "I've never used piece of software X because its rubbish" all over the web, and when challenged these people normally just respond with a variation on "it is and everyone knows it").
    • Wrong.

      iTunes was good in earlier versions as it was easy to navigate, now it is changing making it harder to navigate.
      Ever tried to shoe someone with a disability or the like how to search for an item after it has changed, it can take months for them to learn. My son has Autism and I dread each update to iTunes as I know it will take me months to teach him where the basics are.
      The only reason I stick to iPad is for one application that is a great communication app for adults or young people with speech or other disabilities. The makers of the app have stated they will only write it for iPad. The app cost $200.
      • Nothing you said makes him "wrong"

      • You mean

        Just like changes made to windows, have made it harder to navigate? After using both, Windows is much more dramatic a change.
        Troll Hunter J
  • Sorry Charlie, err Jason

    "A web-based interface is a faster and easier way to edit apps, music and media" I don't agree with this statement. A web based interface into the apps, music, and media is not easier for me.
  • It's ironic

    People use apps to avoid using web sites, but in order to manage the apps Google proposes that you use web site.