Currently, a Microsoft Courier-inspired app, called Taposé, is in permanent rejection wasteland on the App Store. It got rejected by Apple and will remain a “what if” app until it gets revised enough for Apple to approve it — that is if Apple is willing to allow it on the App Store at all.
The app has been in development for quite some time and made public on March 23, 2011, according to the developer’s website. What makes Taposé truly stand out and make the app a very relevant topic to users who also happen to own iPads, is that it is based on the interface Microsoft originally planned for its unreleased Courier tablet. The Courier was to be a dual-screen tablet capable of simultaneous multitasking. Two windows would be displayed side-by-side with the tablet positioned in landscape orientation. Users could drag and drop items between the screens.
As you can imagine, this would be a great feature to have in terms of enterprise productivity — especially in terms of social networking, visual media or photo editing, and light tasks away from the office.
A developer named Benjamin Monnig came up with the idea of bringing this sort of an interface to the iPad. He got a team together that helped him put Taposé together to its current state. It was actually finished and submitted to Apple multiple times, but we will go into that later. Like the unreleased Microsoft Courier tablet’s interface, the app would also allow iPad users to multitask simultaneously using two side-by-side windows. It is quite unfortunate that as of now, Apple is not allowing the app on the App Store.
Why Was Taposé Rejected by Apple?
What makes the matter more disheartening for those patiently awaiting the app’s release, is that Apple ended up rejecting it not just once, but on two occasions. On the developer’s website, a post from Jan. 11, 2012 it reads:
“Upon Apple’s review of Taposé we regret to inform you that Taposé has been rejected.
Apple rejected the app due to rule 10.4 stating that Taposé presents multiple windows at once. We created an alternate where the Slide Bar couldn’t separate the screen into two to at least get an approval.
They still rejected citing a screenshot of the open Journal as evidence of the multiple windows. This obviously is not multiple windows and even if it was, they are being extremely inconsistent with this rule in approving apps.
We are currently filing an appeal against this decision.”
The message continued to encourage those patiently awaiting to not give up as the developers will do more to get it approved. However, it still paints a sad picture of Apple’s strict and rigid App Store review policies.
Could the reason it is being rejected is that it may show faults in Apple’s own iOS environment? Could Apple be afraid users will stop flocking to it and use Apple’s own tools for the iPad less? Some food for thought to consider.
According to Nothing But Tablets, the actual reason it was rejected has to do with Section 10.4 of the App Store guidelines. This section explains that apps creating either alternate desktop environments, or alternative home screen environments, are not allowed. It also explains that apps simulating multi-app widget experiences are not allowed.
In a way this is true for this app, but wouldn’t the same thing apply to some other approved apps like Flipboard? Is such a trivial pursuit by Apple really targeting a specific code in the guidelines that is open to interpretation? These questions still haven’t been fully answered.
Dual-Screen Multitasking or Windows Light?
The developers also posted a screenshot of the user interface and Taposé environment, asking for fans to help point out where exactly the windows environment is showing. To tell the truth the interface in the image looks a lot more like a book with pages in either side than a traditional PC-style of a windows environment. This again points to reason behind the rejection really being open to interpretation. This screenshot can be seen below.
However, from Apple’s standpoint, it doesn’t take a genius to tie the app to Windows or another operating system. There are also clearly widgets present and it does change the entire environment of the iPad into almost a different device. Apple may again see this as a threat. Keep in mind that multitasking wasn’t even available on the iPad when it originally launched and Apple has been advertising this aspect of iPad computing ever since it made it available during an iOS update.
One thing that I can see Taposé doing very well is allowing writers and bloggers a much easier and quicker method of content creation. Imagine using one window for research and copy and paste purposes; while using the other for the actual writing/typing. This would eliminate the need to open and close both the WordPress app along with Safari (or another browser app). It would also eliminate the constant memory hog that multitasking sometimes is on the original iPad.
However, the Taposé app goes beyond just simple multitasking and windows capabilities. It offers direct note taking and multimedia integration – taking it beyond most other apps. This promo video shows some of the app’s features, like dual-screen integration where multiple apps work side-by-side. At one point in the video, what looks like a recipe is shown on the right side of the display, while a Web browser and video playing is shown on the left side. Some may say that the app looks like it supports multiple apps within itself when judging from this demonstration, but that would not be a bad thing for the end user. Take a look at the video to see for yourself.
What I find strange about Apple’s stance against Windows is it seems hypocritical when the Mac platform uses windows sometimes in a similar way to a Windows PC. You can open up Safari on your Mac and without having to close it, or minimize it, you can open up a word-processing app. You can even use the word-processing as a window while Safari sits behind it and is clearly visible, thus not having to close or minimize it fully either.
A Brief History Behind the Microsoft Courier
The Courier was originally designed for a content creation environment by one of the two main teams behind its creation, according to Cnet’s in-depth report titled, The inside story of how Microsoft killed its Courier tablet.
Cnet reported, “the key to Courier, Allard’s team argued, was its focus on content creation. Courier was for the creative set, a gadget on which architects might begin to sketch building plans, or writers might begin to draft documents.”
However, another group of Microsoft executives didn’t share this philosophy behind its usage and what killed the device were competing factions at Microsoft. One group wanted it for content creation while the other argued for the focus to be on Outlook and Exchange e-mail management. The device was canceled on April of 2010, never to see the light of day.
Mac OS X vs iOS Philosophy
What gets me is that Apple seems to have a very definite line drawn between iOS and Mac operating systems. However, they never seem to want to make the iPad stand out too much from other iDevices despite advertising it as a bridge between a PC and a smartphone.
I think that by not allowing Taposé on the iPad, in this shape and form, Apple could be later kicking themselves in the foot. If the app gets changed too much before being approved, it may just as well end up being another browser app or a Flipboard clone. Right now, it is pretty unique and offers iPad users features many have wanted for quite some time.
These examples show the iPad’s untapped potential and how Taposé could truly bridge the gap between the iPad and the Macbook Air. Lets hope the creators will find a way to convince Apple it is in the company’s — and users’ — interest to have the app available for the iPad.