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2Chicks1Mac - Tip Applications: Hot? or Not?


Christina Warren. Erica Sadun. Two Women. Two Opinions. One love of all things Macintosh. This week, it's all about iPhone Tip Calculators. Are they a waste of Apple's time and resources, along with all those Sudoko games and Flashlights, or a clever and creative way for App developers to offer a useful product?

Tell us what you think... then read on for C vs. E in the tip-top battle royale.


Erica. Tip Calculators. Not everyone is quick on the mental math especially when we've been celebrating with friends. Why argue about check splits and tip percentages when there are handy tools around. It's not just about multiplying by 2 (or for the cheapskates, dividing by 2 and adding) -- a good tip calculator helps split the check while making sure the server gets their due.

And the tip calc win doesn't stop with the actual use. Sure there are tons of really ugly calculators out there but writing one is great experience. Simple apps help get your foot in the door, especially for first-time devs. Utilities allow programmers to learn about the AppStore submission process and get a handle on user reviews. The guy writing "Tip Me Over" today (yes, I made that name up) might be the author of the next Koi Pond, Tap Tap Revolution, or Trism.

The "too many tip apps" problem doesn't bother me. It's easy enough for poor programs to fall to the bottom of the AppStore search, fertilizing the ground for new growth. And should any tip calculator prove itself both novel and innovative (note how I'm not holding my breath), it can set itself apart in the top apps rating system.

So cheers for tip calculators. I'm voting "Hot".

Christina. I completely agree that writing a tip calculator is a great programming exercise, especially when you are just becoming acquainted with a language. I also agree that the calculators can be handy for some users, though I don't know how much more convenient they are than just multiplying the total by .15 or .20 in the regular calculator.

But I have to disagree with the notion that a good programming exercise, even if the underlying concept is useful for some users, is also a good enough to actually try to publish in the App Store. Look, for the first wave of iPhone applications, it was one thing. Even then, at least three tip calculators were available the first day. But it is September, let's move on to submitting something else as your "first" app.

Not only is telling the difference between these basic applications difficult for the user, the over-saturation of these programs is a real negative for the App Store as a whole. It just builds-on the notion that the store is full of crap. And every tip calculator submitted just dilutes the value of the concept that much more. For every Koi Pond, there are several more "random number generators" and other applications taken straight out of a programming 101 book. I think programming these types of apps is great practice, and a great learning experience. But let's leave the actual submitted apps to something with more promise -- and without 100 other look-alikes.

I'm voting "Not."

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