Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Downside of Automatic App Updating

Matt Henderson:

Manual app updating, prior to iOS7, was beneficial to developers as a mechanism to notify their customers that a new version was available. Since Apple doesn’t otherwise provide developers with a way to communicate directly with their customers, that indirect mechanism served an important role.

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I have to admit I like the apps that when there are new features pop up a small window when first launched - often demonstrating how to find and use them. So there are ways to deal with this. I honestly don't think most people see anything developers say in manual updates. Most users (myself included) see a bunch of icons in the app store or iTunes and click "Update All" and that the limit of their involvement.

@Clark At least with the iOS App Store you can go to iTunes and see the release notes for recent versions. The Mac App Store only shows the changes for the most recent version.

@Michael The release notes are more often a joke than anything serious. Something like: fixed crash, compatible with iPad retina, etc. They are as useful as Apple's seeds release notes.

@Clark This is a solution but it's an intrusive one.

What I would like to see is the ability to be prompted only when an update is going to change either the UI of an application, how an important feature works or change the minimum OS required. Because in that case, I may not want to update. I don't care about crash and bug fixes release notes. Regarding bug fixes, considering the very limited features of iOS apps, if there's a bug, it's quite probable I stopped using the app anyway.

This could be an option in iTunes Connect for each version of the application.

I think Apple should make it easier to install older versions. You can do this yourself if you do backups. I think even Time Machine backs up the apps if you are syncing with iTunes. It's a real problem if you have a device that becomes unsupported by newer OS releases. Ideally, as Michael says, you should also be able to see version histories.

@Clark Agreed. I thought Apple would address the old version issue as they obsoleted more iOS devices, but they haven’t. I’m surprised more people haven’t reported problems because of this.

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