Remember the Shelf

I remember iOS 11 like it was just 4 decades ago. There was so much excitement for the new drag and drop features on the iPad that I can feel my adrenaline increase as I write this missive. “Finally”, the iPad was getting real. I took my enthusiasm and invested it in every “Shelf” app on the AppStore. It was fun. It was unproductive. It didn’t stick.

I still use Gladys and occasionally Copied, but I use them mostly as a shared clipboard history between my Apple devices. Now, all these years later, I rarely hear mention of these apps and I almost never see them on anyone’s home screens. It’s a strange and sad conclusion to an app category that I thought would change how I used iOS. What went wrong?

Despite my recent enthusiasm for macOS, I spend at least half of my computing time on iOS. I use my iPad Pro daily, even while I’m working on my Mac.1 The feature I miss most on iOS is the clipboard history I get with apps like Alfred or Keyboard Maestro on the Mac. Both Copied and Gladys are still under development but they aren’t innovating much anymore and I’m beginning to see strange behavior with the macOS clipboard when they are running.

I think I will always be an edge-case and this is what life is like on the AppStore for me. The apps I love the most are also the apps that are the least mainstream and least profitable. The AppStore doesn’t feel like a place for nerds, weirdos, and the crazy ones.

  1. My iPad is a wonderful reference device. I won’t even consider buying a technical book if I can’t download it as a PDF or eBook. ↩︎