Software updates have become incrementally more annoying in the last year or so – and this has highlighted a real issue for app developers: Think business over technology!
It’s simply off-putting when apps on my iPad and smartphone are perpetually trying to get my attention with banal requests like: “Do you want to replace version 18.104.22.1681 with version 22.214.171.1242?”
Well, actually I guess most users don’t really want to. If it’s a sub-sub-point release then what’s new? Has one line or so of code changed? Is this critical? Does it require wasting often-restricted bandwidth on downloading multiple MB updates, and always-restricted time in waiting for updates to install, then (often) rebooting, when all you wanted to do was a quick check on mail, or Facebook? Thought not.
In order of the frequency with which they offer updates, I’m using iOS, BlackBerry OS, Windows 7 and OSX Lion. The iPad is out in front as I’ve got way more apps than on my BlackBerry. Even though my app-ification isn’t excessive I’m very often getting two or three updates messages every day. I’m currently avoiding all things Android so can’t make a call on how often those devices get app updates, but I’d hazard that it’s just as regularly as iOS.
The update blight is in danger of becoming a real turn-off for consumers – does it really matter if there’s a minor glitch? The important question that app developers should ask themselves is: just because it’s technically possible, does it really need to be done? I’d prefer to update only when there’s a patch for a new flaw (which in the case of some Adobe products, is all too regular) or a spanking new version with more bells and whistles.
Like many others, my interim solution to the too-frequent-update problem has been to carefully weigh up whether I actually need the app that’s asking for Yet Another Update. In many cases, it’s easier to junk it, or look for an alternative. If you’re an app developer, watch out for the backlash on all-too-frequent-updates.