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Stop the Madness: Auto-Updates for iOS 7 Suck

I’ve already shared a few thoughts on iOS 7 and since then I’ve reverted back to iOS 6 for my iPhone 5 since it’s most definitely a beta application and shouldn’t be used on any primary device that you use. Some time later this year I’ll move back as I get ready for the official release of it in the Fall and also to get Pressgram ready for it as well.

Which, by the way, if you haven’t kept tabs on it you really need to – I’m in the final stages of my core development and I’m spending most of July refining it for public release in August. I’m sharing this journey here and is a candid look at building a product from scratch and (perhaps) a business (who knows…?).

But one feature that that iOS 7 is bringing to the table is auto-updates for users for their apps – at first glance this seems like a really good idea but I think it’s the exact opposite. I think it’s a terrible idea.

Disable!

Disable!

Thank goodness you can actually disable it as you can see above.

Why is this a bad idea? A few thoughts:

  • Education – Updates to applications allow developers and companies interface with their passionate users and educate them about the new features that are being pushed out to their favorite apps. It allows them to showcase their hard work as well as allow them to highlight what things they can expect in terms of their user experience, features that they might actually miss if not told explicitly. This is an intimate relationship between the end-user and the company and it’s a beautiful thing.
  • Engagement – Closely aligned with education is the opportunity to again engage with their users providing another touch-point between both entities. But even more so, this is sometimes the only way that some app companies actually communicate with their customers – they don’t have public blogs (they should) or an active Facebook or Twitter account, sometimes because they are so busy developing the actual app. Removing this point of contact for engagement forces significant changes in the entire business-customer lifecycle. What a pain in the ass. Seriously.
  • Trust – What is more of a pain? Not having your apps auto-update or waking up one morning and seeing your entire expected user experience vanish and instead have a new app there instead, one that you may not have wanted. I can think of a dozen examples of how v2.0 of an app sucked in comparison to v1.0. The most poignant example is Skitch, which totally fucked their users over when they released a terrible version version, some of that being the fault of the new acquisition by Evernote (which I hate, btw). The internet responded and demanded a roll-back, or at least the v1.0 package to use. I eventually abandoned it entirely and use Glui instead. WTG Skitch/Evernote.

Those are just a few top-of-mind thoughts. Here are two examples of recent updates to two of my favorite apps, one native desktop and the other via iOS:

acorn

Do you see the size of that update to Acorn 4? Thank goodness I didn’t have auto-update for it so I can not only appreciate all the hard work that Acorn put into this release but also walk through the changelog and see what new features I can enjoy. Nothing but pure win here.

How about this one:

Dropbox Update

Dropbox Update

Dropbox updated to v2.3 last night. Look at these awesome new features, some of which are visually obvious. But, what about the swiping feature? That’s neat… except if I had accidentally swiped and deleted a file by accident if I hadn’t known that this new gesture existed. I would have been majorly pissed off and I could have wasted tons of time trying to figure out how/why I had just deleted a file from my device.

Oh, and that last bullet point is a pure gem – pure and simple customer engagement. Hell yeah I’ll take “magical performance improvements to keep me happy.”

Again, auto-updates suck for everyone. Stop the madness.