Remember when the iPhone was new? "There's an #app
for that" quickly became a meme.
Nowadays, it's more like, "You need
an app for that." The number of things that absolutely require a #smartphone
app is increasing rapidly.
Now you may ask what's so bad about that. What's so bad about that is that "smartphone" means either an #iPhone
or an #Android
phone with Google Play services installed and running. The app in question is a non-free, proprietary, closed-source binary blob that is only available at the Apple App Store (for iOS) and the Google Play Store (for Android). And no, the app isn't available as a simple *.apk download anywhere. You want the Android app — you need the Google Play Store and a #Google
Don't ask for #FLOSS
alternatives available on F-Droid or even on OpenRepos for #Maemo
. The app communicates with the service via a proprietary, undocumented connection. No chance for an API. Even if somebody were able to reverse-engineer the protocol and create a FLOSS alternative, whoever owns and runs the original will do anything to stop the alternative from working — from changing the protocol on short notice every now and then to deleting accounts of users of the alternative and denying them the creation of a new account to suing the creator of the alternative into surrender.
Needless to say that these official apps aren't, have never been and will never be open source and/or Free Software, so no official apps on F-Droid. And they aren't, have never been and will never be available for any mobile platform that doesn't have any million-selling devices in Germany (or the USA or whichever big Western country is mainly targetted by the app), so no official Sailfish port.
So not only do these things require a smartphone app, but they require a smartphone with the right OS, they require Google to spy on you unless you've got an iPhone, and they make a Google account a necessity so you can acquire the app in the first place unless you've got an iPhone.
And there's a lot that absolutely requires a smartphone app meanwhile, and it gets more and more. Some banks have shut down their online banking portals; online banking now requires a smartphone app. New banks start to pop up that require a smartphone app for everything. Needless to say that these apps are only available at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Public transportation wants to increasingly move towards the use of smartphones as tickets, and guess where the required apps will only be available.
Sure, the companies want to appear modern and up-to-date and save money by shutting down Web servers and such. But they imply that everybody has got either a more recent iPhone or a more recent native Android device with stock firmware and a Google account.
This excludes the following kinds of people from more and more services altogether:
- People who don't have a smartphone because they can't afford one.
- People who don't have a smartphone because they don't know how to use one.
- People who boycott mobile phones altogether.
- People who don't have a smartphone because they want to avoid being spied on, and not having a smartphone is easier than finding a secure one or tweaking a regular one, especially for non-tech-savvy non-geeks.
- People who have an older smartphone which still works, but which is too old to run that app.
- People who have a smartphone running an OS that isn't supported by the app developers (Maemo, Firefox OS, Ubuntu Mobile, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, Blackberry OS, Symbian etc., essentially everything that's neither iOS nor Android).
- People with not officially supported Sailfish OS devices which therefore don't have Aliendalvik. (Or people with Sailfish OS devices altogether if the app requires Android > 4.4.4.)
- People with Sailfish OS devices who flat-out refuse to activate Aliendalvik.
- People with Sailfish OS devices who do run Aliendalvik, but no Google Play stuff.
- People who have installed a Google-free, more or less vanilla Android flavour on their Android device.
- People who have a theoretically compatible device, be it Android, be it Sailfish OS with Aliendalvik, but who boycott Google and refuse to register a Google account.
It's the same crap as services of whatever kind that can only be contacted via WhatsApp — and neither via phone call nor via e-mail nor via snail mail nor via any other messenger service.