Have you noticed that in smartphone commercials, everything performs perfectly and with lightning speed? No device ever freezes, is maddeningly slow, or explodes in your hand. Then you buy the product, and it’s as if the phone is immersed in a bucket of molasses. You could get faster results using a toy phone with painted-on keys. It’s a classic case of the tortoise lapping the napping hare.
Internet service providers are just as guilty, with their 3G or 4G or 44G cell phone service ads. Their networks are always available, incredibly fast, and capable of instantaneous downloads. Somehow these companies never got the word on “truth in advertising.” A special “exaggeration in advertising” law must apply to high-tech items.
Yet that issue pales like an albino opossum compared to the nonsense foisted on us by software providers and app developers. These modern-day Merlins evidently feel compelled to pummel the public with periodic updates of their product, regardless of whether they actually have something better to offer. The software revisions often appear to be arbitrary changes, rather than improvements. For example, function icons previously in plain view are now buried three levels down. We all love hunting for the hiding place they created for the print button.
A favorite functionality sometimes completely disappears. A new, useless function appears in its place. My personal favorite is the cyclical feature, which is alternately removed and added back with each update. It’s in, it’s out, it’s in, it’s out, and what the byte is that all about?
I believe with all my heart that app creators knowingly embed dysfunctional features. Then, when they remove or improve those features, they cluck about a major enhancement to their product. Pulllleeezzz! Removing suckitude that shouldn’t exist in the first place is not an achievement.
We must share some of the blame, though. The public is constantly looking for “The Next Big Thing” in the computer world. Smarter smartphones, appier apps, funkier functions – we want them, and we want them now. To prove it, we’ll camp out for 48 hours at Wal-Mart to get them. A public that has no idea what the technology is or how it works is putting pressure on our high-tech wizards to make leapfrog jumps in technology. Just give us the next miracle now!
Another reason bad features and bugs exist is, in my opinion, because of the inherent attitude of some denizens of the high-tech community. I guess I can’t blame them, because their world is basically a huge video game. Their products exist in a cyber-world without steel or concrete. If bridges, buildings, or airplanes fail, people die. If smartphones are subpar, people get annoyed. If apps are appalling, people get frustrated. So those who work in the concrete and steel world must execute more flawlessly, test more relentlessly. The app developer may be able to say, “The public will find the flaws and tell us how we should improve,” but the bridge designer cannot afford that attitude.
Imagine buying a Honda with the brake pedal in the back seat. How about a Chevy with a steering wheel that periodically quits working until you stop and restart the car? Maybe you’d like a toaster that occasionally takes an hour to toast your bread? Yet we routinely put up with the shoddy electronic equivalents.
I have a weather app on my phone that always displays a box that says “Connection error – check your internet connection.” However, the app is working fine, displaying current data. I wonder what it says when there really is a connection error. Did the app developer actually look at this thing before it escaped?
Twice I have contacted providers about a specific issue that was really draining my patience battery. What a flurry of finger-pointing that set off. It’s the phone’s fault, it’s the internet provider’s fault, it’s the app’s fault. Right – I forgot from the commercials, you people and your products are all perfect.
I don’t know if I’ve accomplished anything except working myself into a grumping, frothing frenzy. Maybe I just need a break from my connectivity, from my social media entanglements, from having my fingers buried in the molasses bucket of my smartphone. Maybe I need a break from all of it.
Except – I just heard a new phone that performs perfectly and with lightning speed is being released, and I have to go camp out at Wal-Mart.