Monday morning articles are not good for technology publications and especially not for tech writers. Not much happens over the weekend, so Mondays require a rehash of familiar themes but with a little twist of differentiation. Unfortunately editors are not around on the weekend to correct the resulting rubbish that hits far too many publications these days. Here’s an example.
Absolutes Are Absolutely Wrong
A frequent contributor to a popular online publication says iPhones are just like cheap smartphones running Android. Alright, he didn’t actually use those words, but the result of his missive is the same.
Someone sued Apple for $5-million because the Wi-Fi assist feature in iOS 9 could cause iPhone customers to use more data than expected. Why? Because the iPhone will sense that a Wi-Fi connection is weak, and automatically switch to the cell phone’s data connection.
Ipso facto, more data is used than expected. And if ever there was a reason for a lawsuit, a shiny new feature from Apple is it. This problem should be viewed by Apple a sign. From God? No, just a sign of the times. Maybe the End Times.
It’s also a sign that while Apple can still come up with innovative new features for its mobile platform, it’s not able to integrate these into the platform in such a way as to make them visible to the end user.
So, Apple just can’t integrate such features in such a way as needed for customers to take notice. As if all customers even pay attention, but this one grabbed at the checkbook so it’s worthy of ruminating in a Monday morning article. This hidden Wi-Fi feature is part and parcel of a larger problem that’s been infecting Apple for a couple of decades. But only Apple.
And this is only one of hundreds of features that are buried behind a thick, near-impenetrable wall of menus and options in iOS.
Think Apple is too smart to get itself into a big software mess? Think I’m an idiot for even suggesting that Apple could make such a goof? Think again. I remember when iTunes was a sleek and simple music player, but over the years it’s had so many new features thoughtlessly bolted onto it that it’s not a long-winded, tortuous muddle.
In essence, iOS 9 is like iTunes. It has more features than it used to have. But isn’t that the nature of software? Do OS X and Windows have more features this year than last year? And, speaking of Windows, why isn’t there a comparison of the growing feature creep in iOS on an iPhone, and the obvious and similar problems of features bolted onto Android OS for no apparent reason, and how Android users have a very similar problem, but Android had it first?
Unless Apple gets a better grip on how features are added to iOS, this is the future that awaits iPhone and iPad users. And the slip-slide into chaos is already on the way. You can’t just keep on bolting new features into the OS and then scatter those settings far and wide throughout the settings app without creating a usability timebomb that’s will one day explode in the face of the users.
Chaos is coming, I tell you. Apple knows it but isn’t doing anything to prevent it.
Apple clearly knows that there’s a discoverability problem because in iOS 9 it made the options within the Settings app searchable, but that’s only any good if you know what you’re searching for. That’s not going to be any good to you in tracking down why your iPhone or iPad is burning through more cellular data since you upgraded to iOS 9.
Yet, now we know. Maybe. Maybe not.
Here’s the deal. Unbeknownst to most of Apple’s customers, but obviously obvious to the oblivious Android and Windows user, these little devices are complicated, complex beasts which are called upon by their owners to do many tasks many times throughout the day. An iPhone 6s Plus is as powerful as a new MacBook, so it needs to be treated as something more than a Selfie Machine.
Apple could have handled the default settings on the Wi-Fi Assist feature differently but didn’t. Bad Apple. Down boy. Sit. Yet, we have responsibilities, too, and one of them is to examine what we buy and how new features or changes may impact our lives and pocketbooks.
As to iOS becoming like iTunes, isn’t that really the nature of the software game? Features and functionality are expected by customers with every new upgrade, and bugs are expected to be identified and fixed with every new incremental update, so our expectations are being met by Apple and Android, but should there not be an implied understanding that we are still responsible to check out what’s new and different instead of relying on news headlines and lawsuits to tip us off to the age old axiom that change is inevitable, but that the change that annoys us today actually happened yesterday?