Forced Upgrades and Celebrations

October 08, 2013 by Gabe | [mmd] |

Like many, I was impressed with how quickly the iOS user base upgraded to iOS7. Surely it's a marvel of deployment and user education to have so many non-technical users upgrade to a new operating system so quickly. But there's a secret cost that nerds tend to ignore and it's the trust and comfort many mainstream users had for their Apple devices.

While I anxiously awaited the arrival of the new operating system, millions of other users walked around oblivious to their flat and washed out future. But they could not escape their fate. Even against my explicit warnings to not upgrade until I could assist, many of my relatives unwittingly accepted the iOS7 update.

Within days of the availability of iOS7 I also began to find tweets full of surprise and confusion tinged with anger. It's far too easy to dismiss the plebs and tell ourselves that this upgrade is for their own good but let's change shoes for moment.

I have a cable box that works. It changes channels and records most shows I tell it to. Periodically I receive a notification that the system needs to be updated. No intelligent change list or warnings are provided. There are just "OK" and "Cancel" buttons. If I press "Cancel" I'm allowed to go about my regular activities for some unspecified amount of time, but I ultimately receive the prompt again and again. This is not opt-in, it's nag-in.

Inevitably I breakdown and accept the terms of our arrangement. Each update makes me enjoy using the device and service less. There has never been a time when I've looked forward to reprogramming a device and re-learning how to perform the same functions from the day before.

The iOS7 upgrade has been unsettlingly similar and it's not creating happy and confident users. It's creating frustration and distrust. When users are nagged into submission and are then required to re-enter every password and re-learn how to use a utilitarian device, it's not a testament to the success of the new OS. It's a testament to our common threshold for nagging.