Pete Davison: Updates Are Available

Posted on March 18, 2011 by

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Remember when we didn’t have to update things? I do. It was a good time. You could put something in to your computer or console, safe in the knowledge that it (probably) worked… and if it didn’t work, it would probably get recalled and/or refunded. It was a binary state. In the world of consoles, this situation prevailed until the last generation ended—the era of the 360 and PS3 ushered in the Age of the Patch.

Of course, PC users have been dealing with this for considerably longer. Anyone who has ever used Windows will be intimately familiar with the incremental update process. It just used to happen slightly less regularly before we had the Internet there with easy access. You might get a disc (or huge pile of floppy disks) with an updated version on providing significant new features, rather than just plugging Security Hole Number 5,237,429.

Nowhere is “update culture” more apparent than in the world of smartphone apps. It’s like keeping on top of your email inbox—you’ll never beat it. Update everything on your phone and within an hour or two at least one app will have been updated with either “bug fixes” or “AMAZING NEW FEATURES”. And people have come to expect, nay,demand these updates. Read reviews in the App Store (I know, I know) and you’ll see products which have just been released with consumers demanding updates.

Of course, you don’t have to update things when they come up. People who don’t have an Internet connection don’t, of course. And in theory, this shouldn’t cause much of an issue—unless you own an Apple device.

I’ve become convinced with the past few iOS updates that Steve Jobs has a big magic “obsolescence” button in his office that immediately renders all iOS-based devices nigh-on unusable unless they’re running the absolute latest version of the system software—even if they were happily working just fine the day before.

You may accuse me of paranoia at this juncture, and it wouldn’t be an unreasonable assumption. However, let me cite the example of last night to you. Last night, Twitter for iPhone started playing silly buggers and decided to start crashing every five seconds. I deleted and reinstalled it and still it had trouble. So I downloaded Echofon instead. This ran, but slowly and jerkily. Given that I’m running an iPhone 4, supposedly THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE UNIVERSE (Smartphone. I meant smartphone.) the word “slowdown” really shouldn’t be in the vocabulary I use when talking about it. But slowdown there was. And lo, it was annoying.

It then occurred to me that I hadn’t updated to iOS 4.3, which came out a few days earlier. So I quickly (ha!) updated my phone. And wouldn’t you know, everything suddenly, magically ran the way it was supposed to. How about that?

So, the moral of this story, then, is update your shit. Otherwise the CEOs of the world will enjoy torturing you from afar.

 

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Posted in: Pete Davison