A couple of days ago, I received a note from James DonFrancesco about an unexpected behavior change introduced in iPhone 3.0:
In 2.X, apps could launch a tel:// url to dial the phone without user input. In 3.0, Apple introduced a verification box to obtain user permission when an tries to make an outbound call.
This change breaks James’ baby monitor app — which makes calls parents when their kids wake — and diminishes the user experience of the whole genre of specialty dialer apps.
James, reasonably, wanted to gather a posse of similarly effected people to to collectively lobby Apple for a change; perhaps convince them to borrow from the Core Location user experience and let users grant apps permission to dial without validation.
James’ situation is a specific example of a larger pattern to address: there isn’t an acceptable way for iPhone developers to constructively provide feedback with gravity.
Sure, Apple takes bug reports. However, the system is effectively opaque. Is the submitter alone with his/her issue, or does it effect a silent majority of developers? Furthermore, while bugs are objectively resolvable, they’re a subset of the much larger category of subjective feedback, e.g., policy/behavior changes.
There is evidence that Apple responds to constructive feedback: They dropped the NDA, they’ve reversed app rejections (e.g., Eucalyptus), and there are reports that they actively try to avoid bad blood.
So, to provide the iPhone developer community with a mechanism to collectively submit constructive feedback with gravity to Apple, I’m pleased to announce:
The fine folks at UserVoice have provided us with a system for collecting feedback:
Anyone may submit feedback; the community then votes on the issues, producing a stack-ranking of the most important items on the minds of iPhone developers.
Developers can also enlist their app’s users to vote for more gravity.
The system functions as an economy: you have a limited number of votes, forcing you to make spending choices, concentrating feedback. With enough participation, the system will function as an efficient market, accurately indicating what’s on our collective minds.
Of course, without your participation this is for naught. Contrary to conventional wisdom, you can beat city hall — I personally, literally beat city hall in a fight this month. Apple can be moved too.
For further motivation: I’ll be running a new, regular feature here on Mobile Orchard highlighting new/hot/interesting feedback activity. So go make your voices heard!