Small features

Building a big Internet company is hard, and I guess not everything can be earth-shattering.

Sometimes, developments underwhelm: who at twitter thought that “hearts and likes” vs. “stars and favorites” was worth engineering time?

I have been similarly stymied by the changes in UI for changing apps in iOS versions. In iOS 4, a double-click of the home button led to a series of app icons scrolling by in the tray, one after the other, with the most recently used app to the left, and older apps to the right.

By iOS 7, the small tray icons were replaced by larger app previews scrolling from the most recently used app on the left with previous apps to the right.

In iOS 9, the app previews are overlapping, so there’s always a multiple set of targets, not all of which are active, AND the order of recent apps is reversed, with the most recent app on the right and the older apps on the left. WTF, Apple? All the problems in the world and in the iPhone and someone decided that it was most important to focus on changing the metaphor and the usability of this feature?

I am picking on Apple here because this series of changes seems so small and mostly trivial that I find it hard to believe that someone tested the new version in iOS 9 with users and got noticeably better results. I, at least, find it consistently harder to close the app I want to because it’s not perfectly centered in the sliding stack of cards, and I am doubtful that swapping L-R for R-L modeling of recent usage is supported by meaningful research. But I don’t know. It does make me wish that I could pick and choose these minor lame “upgrades” and the company might instead focus on improvements or bug fixes instead of things that look more like change for change’s sake.

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