But one feature that that iOS 7 is bringing to the table is auto-updates for users for their apps – at first glance this seems like a really good idea but I think it’s the exact opposite. I think it’s a terrible idea.

John Saddington

I should start this post by saying that I’m not using iOS7. I’ll get to it when it comes out as release software. Till that time I have work to do that doesn’t involve playing with beta phone software.

The premise of John’s article is that auto-updates are a bad thing for business and users. He sites 3 things that we lose with auto-updates.

  • Education: for new features and app changes
  • Engagement: another touch point with clients is the update screen. More important if the app makers don’t have a blog, Facebook profile, Twitter profile
  • Trust: what if a user wakes up and finds the interface for an app totally changed

That’s a seriously short summary of the article so go read it all.

I think that John has missed the mark. Yes it’s a change and a bunch of companies will totally botch it. That’s what most media will focus on at the beginning. No it’s not a bad thing – we have some seriously huge room for innovation in client engagement and education. Doing those things right will mean more trust in companies.

Almost no one reads the update notes

I’m a ‘technical’ user but I never read the update notes. I had no idea that Dropbox had a new gesture till I read John’s article. Using the update notes to expose new features is a waste of time for most users.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 9.09.00 AM

When I updated Byword recently I didn’t read the release notes but they still managed to expose new features with a guided walk through. App makers won’t be able to take the easy way out and call release notes ‘education’. They will have to step up their game.

Not only did the guided walkthrough address the education argument it also addresses the engagement point. Does a bunch of lines of text on release notes engage me better than a guided walkthrough?

No way. I was way more engaged by Byword than I have ever been by Dropbox or Acorn (sticking with John’s examples).

Finally we come to trust. I do bet that a bunch of companies will have big interface changes after looking at iOS7. I do expect a bunch of them to not inform users properly (only using those useless release notes) and they will lose trust. I don’t think this is a bad thing.

Those apps that really botch the change will either learn or die. Those that learn will turn out some awesome innovative ways to bring users forward with interface updates.

iOS7 auto-updates are a huge opportunity for companies to build more trust with their users by being truly innovative with how they educate and engage users. Once they innovate they’re going to get huge amounts of trust from their users.

5 responses to “John’s got it wrong: Auto-updates are a place for innovation”

  1. John Saddington Avatar

    “loose trust” or “lose trust”?


    well written and a good counter-point to my argument for sure.

    but reading updates after the fact versus before the fact has one critical point that you didn’t address directly or well-enough: that is the opportunity of choice. Don’t take it away yet completely (which is nice with the opt-out) feature.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Ha and I spell checked.

      I think that users opt-out now because they just can’t be bothered way more than they don’t want a new feature. At least users in general. My wife updates her phone and Mac because I’ve drilled it in to her. It took 2 years of asking her about updates, if I hadn’t done that she would have never updated anything.

      Any technical user that wants the choice is going to turn off auto-updates. Sure they’ll complain but we all like complaining anyway.

  2. John Parris Avatar
    John Parris

    I’m not a fan of auto updates because I got bitten a few times by software bugs. I left iOS a few years ago for Android, so I don’t know the exact rules of the App Store now, but in the Google store I’ve seen a few apps that went from free to trial ware with an update. I’ve seen terms of service change with updates. For these reasons and others I’m for choice.

    On Android I can choose to allow auto updates, or I can choose to manually update. I can even do that on an app by app basis if I want. That’s a great way to handle things in my opinion.

    I always read the update notes before updating apps. I also read the latest reviews before updating. Not just on Android, I do it on my Mac too.

    A final thought – forcing automatic updates is similar to the cloud concept where software updates happen with no choice and/or no user action required. That can be good or bad. Food for thought.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Auto-updates is something you can turn off on iOS7.

      I actually run my whole MU Network with an automatic update plugin and beta tester. That means I’m always running the bleeding edge nightly for WordPress.

      1. John Parris Avatar
        John Parris

        If auto updates can be turned off, I don’t see what everyone’s complaining about. That’s choice.

        I’ll say this though, I think it shows the direction they (and others) plan to go in computing. The whole cloud thing reminds me of the modern day mainframe.