Thursday, April 5, 2012

Old Man versus New Things

Is there some sort of requirement for software developers that have this everlasting craving to constantly update applications? I know this sounds like an old man vs technology question, and I realize the answer is blatantly obvious, but I'm finding it to be a bigger inconvenience to my lifestyle than it should be.

Just to be sure, I am mostly talking about interactive web sites and phone applications, not actual software that you purchase from a "store," back when people bought software at stores. First off, I already know the answer: updates add features and make things run smoother behind the scenes. It also corrects bugs and mistakes, which, now that everything has to run off of two or three different platforms, is understandably a mess. So I'm fully aware that software updates are a necessary evil.

But lately, I have found that the following things are true:

  • Software updates rarely actually seem to change any additional features. This leads me to believe it's all stuff under the hood getting fixed. While I suppose I should be glad, this is sort of the thing that makes me think "Why wasn't this done in the first place?"
  • These updates--especially for phones--always seem to make things worse, until they release yet another patch, and then it works pretty much how it did before. The Facebook application for Android is notorious for this; when I download the update, I call it the "I can't use Facebook on my phone for two days update." Sadly, they seem to update it once every two weeks or so.
  • When a web page is redesigned--such as, say, I don't know, Blogger?--I'm never impressed. For example, the Blogger redesign doesn't really make anything more efficient; it just moved things around, and added dynamic bits that take slower to load. Where this demand was for a redesign I'll never know. Facebook Timeline and Google Reader are also good examples.
To be fair, I understand that some of this is just getting used to: a common note is "once you get used to it, it will be better" which while I suppose is true rarely ends up being the case. And I know that these updates may not happen all that often, especially online, but when a user might use two or three dozens applications a day and has to put up with a wonky update a month, once can get a little cranky about it. Do I want developers to never update applications? No. Obviously I want them to make it a better experience, especially since most likely they are free. But the attitude of modern software development always seems to be "we can patch it later if it doesn't work." With software you can do that--and again, with as many platforms and interactions between different programs out there, it's impossible to catch adn fixt hem all upon release--but it seems more of a crutch for laziness than a feature.

I say all this with the caveat that if I were a software developer, I would fully be on board with the "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THIS WORKS SO SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE" sentiment, so take all of this with a grain of salt.

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