Automatic Updates, iCloud Drive and backing up your data

After a major OS release, you can typically count on application updates from developers. With iOS 8, there was also the launching of iCloud Drive which involved major changes to the structure of the data we store and access in iCloud. Most of these updates happened in the background, and don’t require our attention.

But some apps do require our attention. I tend to read the release notes [1] with app updates on my Mac and devices. I find them interesting/useful. I’ve been finding an alarming trend with developers warning users to take actions before updating their apps. They range from problems with an update crashing on launch and recommending to skip the version and wait for the next update to telling users to make a backup of their data before updating.

App developers cautioning users to make a backup of your iCloud data before updating the app doesn’t work.

 
 Typical App Store Updates view.

Typical App Store Updates view.

Like this one:

Important Note for iCloud users: if you sync Contacts Journal with iCloud, please backup your data before updating the app. You can create a backup from More -> Manage Data > Backup iCloud Data.

If I’m reading your warning, it’s probably already too late.

There’s a fundamental problem with these types of warnings. In most cases, 1) assume your users don’t read release notes. Cause they don’t. 2) With Automatic Updates turned on in iOS, chances are good, they’ll be unable to stop the update.

One could argue that developers should issue ample warning in the previous versions, allowing users to plan ahead. However, that doesn’t help with users who don’t read release notes.

 

But the reality is, the iOS App Store needs a delayed download and update feature like the Mac App Store. In addition, developers could request to Apple that users have to initiate the update manually after highlighting where to read the release notes. Users would launch the App Store and see a separate notice, saying something like, “there were a few updates that require your attention”.

 

Pending Updates view concept 

 

Users can choose to take appropriate precautions, or just manually start the download. The action wouldn’t add much time to the whole workflow, and the users would have a chance to backup important data.

The example above includes:

  1. A separate section above 'Pending Updates' for updates that need review.
  2. A header containing the number of updates that need review.
  3. A unique badge that grabs the users eye and attention, in this case I used an orange Info icon (i).

  1. That “What’s New” text below the version number. ↩

SpiderOak for iOS 2.0

Well, I'm excited to announce after working on this project for over a year now, the app is done. The SpiderOak 2.0 mobile app for iOS is now designed, developed and available for download on the iOS App Store.

Some takeaways I've learned from redesigning an app from the ground up over a year-long process.

  • Operating systems update and change
    • Two OS updates - iOS 5-6 (iOS 6 changed many UI elements)
  • Design trends change
    • We called an audible, changing the entire menu structure a couple of times.
  • Screen sizes change
    • Designing for Android made this less of an issue for me.
  • Minimum requirements change
    • SpiderOak's feature set and mobile API has updated many times in a year, and our feature set has grown substantially.
    • Many of them have come in the last month, so be adaptable (not just be willing to adapt - but actually adapt).
    • Make sure your designs and specs are scalable to include last minute changes that make sense to everyone involved in writing and testing.
 
 SpiderOak Mobile
 

Now to work on some updates...

You can check the app out here - SpiderOak for iOS:

SpiderOak - SpiderOak, Inc.
Source: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spideroak/...

Wasted talent

Scam apps like this one here irritate me to such an extent that I am actually writing about it, which in fact only helps the developer out. There is no bad promotion. But the fact remains there is too much crap in the App Store. Search is broken, unless a developer has fantastic marketing through word of mouth, they really have to choose smart creative keywords to be found. They would also be wise to enroll in app reviewer and promotion programs. But before I digress too much, let me state my point. Smart developers, please, apply yourself and your talents in a better way.

Since the launch of the app store I have been curious about the market as a whole. I check out craigslist and job boards with keywords like iPhone, developer, Cocoa, Obj C, etc. There is a market with job openings, the mobile developer/programmer job openings are astounding given the economy. Go off and do some good. Stop putting apps out there that only tech savvy people would know are fake. Claiming the app will track your friends phone if you give it the number, unlock your phone with a thumb print scan, there are even hand warmer apps. Actually I think my phone has that app already installed, it opens after an hour long conversation.

This practice is especially evil when you charge for it. Unfortunately given the structure of the store it breeds a window shopping experience asking for impulse buying. Typically there will be a disclaimer telling the buyer that this app does not actually do what we just told you it did. But awesome news for shady developers, don’t fret, you can still trick your buyers. That wonderful “more” button is so convenient. Depending on the length of the description the disclaimer on the bottom could be hidden, only revealed when clicked. Why would someone develop an app where ratings dwindle and reputation is tarnished? I don’t know, I want to understand, I do. Does the feeling of “taking someone” give that of service.

Yes, the claims of millions and billions of apps and download’s and dollars made is justified. But frankly too much of the app store is reminiscent of that guy in the trench coat selling fake Rolex watches to trusting tourists. Both will give the time, it’s accuracy is another story.

Really to the disingenuous developers in the crowd, check craigslist. You will make more money that way, and guess what? There’s an app for that. Personally I like this one.