A perfectly logical road to highly inconsistent names for apps in the iPod, iPad and iPhone
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010
Apple's gone a bit wonky on its naming of things. In the beginning there was iTunes, then came the iPod and the iTunes Music Store. Eventually the iTunes Music Store became the more general iTunes Store. When the iPhone came out it had an 'iPod' app, and an 'iTunes' app was added later, linking specifically to the store. Later on an 'App Store' was added for the part of the iTunes store that sold apps. When the iPod Touch came out, it it split the 'iPod' app into a 'Music' app and a 'Video' app presumably because, unlike the iPhone, the Touch is an iPod. Now the iPad appears to follow the iPod Touch's convention of splitting video and music into two separate apps, though the music app is again called 'iPod' because the iPad is not an iPod. Each decision has a certain logic to it, but it leaves us with some strange inconsistencies (or are they?):
  • Both the iPhone and iPad have an 'iPod' app, but on the latter videos live in the 'Video' app.
  • The primary task of Videos and YouTube is the same: Watching videos.
  • There are two stores on the iPad, 'iTunes' and 'App Store', but one is named after a free music player and the other is a self-described store, but the one that distributes more free items is the 'Store' and the one that charges for almost everything isn't labeled as such.
  • App names are self-describing using english terms except for apps that weren't originally developed for the iPhone: 'YouTube', 'iTunes', 'Safari'' and 'iPod'.
  • The word 'Music' doesn't appear on the factory-issue home screen at all, and if you didn't already know that an iPod was a music player then neither the word nor the 'Classic iPod' icon would give you any indication that that's what it was for.
  • The same is true (perhaps to a greater degree) with 'Safari' and a compass. If you weren't already familiar with the app you'd think it was probably a game.
  • There are two default apps on the iPhone with a compass as the icon. One is a compass and the other has nothing to do with a compass or maps, despite there also being a 'Maps' application.
Finally, this one brings up an interesting point:
  • The iPod Touch and the iPad have both 'Videos' and 'Photos' apps, but user-shot videos reside in the 'Photos' app, not 'Video'.
The argument could be made that the iPod Touch can have a 'Videos' app because there's less likely to be user confusion than there would be on the iPhone, where users can shoot their own videos with the device. The iPod Touch doesn't have a camera, hence no device-created videos, so there's less likely to be cognitive overloading of the 'Videos' term. If this is the rationale for why the Touch has a 'Videos' app while the iPhone doesn't, the implication would be that the presence of a 'Videos' app on the iPad signifies that it won't have a camera either. Or maybe they just kept 'Videos' and 'iPod' combined in the iPhone because, hey, too many icons to fit on one screen already. Which makes me wonder: How many more Apps does Apple sell because they pushed the Address Book app to the second screen and left an open square on the home screen? I'm guessing a lot.
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