Virtual App Updates

21 08 2013

Via Apple’s App Store you are automatically notified if updates are available for any of the installed apps on your device.

Some developers seem to try to get back in the remembrance of their users by deploying updates which are no updates. Do they trip up their users? Or is it a suitable way to again force reports about their product on various websites? This would be an efficient but not new way to improve attention.

An example …

On June 14 an update of the app Speedtest was released with the following announcements:

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I compared the older version 3.0.1 with the reportedly updated version 3.1.
As you can see there are no visible differences between the two versions.

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So there are two questions left:

What was the reason for releasing version 3.0.1?

Note
There were definitely no significant bugs in this version and so there was no necessity to deploy it.

What was the reason for releasing version 3.1?

Note
Fact is that all of the announced improvements in version 3.1 already were implemented in version 3.0.1.
Is it just a faulty description of the developer?
Admittedly there might be improvements like greater stability. This cannot be estimated by users and remains a secret.

Hastily stitched together …

Apple is known as a company releasing finished products. That’s part of a successful marketing.
Other developers are on a completely different way by releasing products where everybody would say that the app is not yet in beta phase looking like a ‘code embryo’ with a UI and a UX from the Middle Ages.

In times of cut-throat competition, businesses need to be focussed, innovative, and aggressive to find potential customers. It is the prime responsibility of every business to give customers full product information and ensure after-sale customer services to retain them.

But does this pressure justify customer irritation?

The app I’m talking about is point.io.

Point.io offers an enterprise Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform (launched on July 16, 2013) and Enterprise Gateway products for specialized enterprise mobile application development. Focused on document management and workflow, the platform is designed to help enterprises embrace BYOD (Bring your own device) while maintaining control of their content.

Since the Point.io Gateway handles all secure communication across the firewall, a VPN is no longer required. Users have access to more types of remote storages, including behind-the-firewall repositories like SharePoint, FTP, SFTP, Google Drive and Amazon S3.

That’s part of the full-flavored announcement of the company.
Fact is that on an iOS device just FTP and Google Drive are supported.
The app is running from one update to another nearly by the speed of light.

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The actual flaws

  • The app cannot be used after opening in landscape mode although a bug-fixing was announced.
    But fortunately users can fix this bug by turning the iPad into portrait and then back to landscape mode.
    I ask myself whether the developer ever has used his app on an iOS device.
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets cannot be displayed.
    If you try to open a xls file the screen is simply white.
    This is definitely the best encryption method I’ve ever seen.
  • You will never get an answer when using the ‘Submit a bug’ function.
    What you get from the company when testing the app and writing extensive bug descriptions: a kick in the …

Why do I call these updates virtual? Well, the developers seem to live in a virtual world and lost the connection to reality and their customers. Sad to say that the basic idea of summarizing access to many clouds is pretty good but the marketing is beneath contempt.

The Pareto Principle …

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

80-20 Rule Applies To Bugs, Not Just Features by P. Rooney, Microsoft CEO

80-20 Mind Map by Liam Hughes, UK at Biggerplate.com

If this is true a developer should change 20% of an app’s code to satisfy 80% of it’s customers.

I tried to validate this principle several times by working 20% of my time in the office, drinking coffee in the remaining time to settle 80% of my tasks. I tell you all, I did not work.

Long-term bug fixing …

Last but not least there was an app named Files Connect by Antecea Inc. (a paid app and said to be the iOS app of the week in July 2011!), one of my first file management apps, with a severe display problem. Every time you came back from the folder view to the home screen (showing all defined storage connections) the screen was overlaid by cryptic patterns so that you could not use it for further navigation. Additionally there was a severe error when accessing clouds via WebDAV.

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Many times I filed this bug to the company, got an answer by mail telling me that an update is on the way and finally I received the update about one year later!

Check the version history of this app in the AppStore:

Version 2.4 Posted July 02, 2012
Version 3.1 Posted July 22, 2013

The consequences (German AppStore):
No review since October 2011, uncountable complaints

And by the way, apps of Antecea are expensive and some features you need in one app are implemented in another app of the company. For completing your feature list you have to buy them all.

Summary …

Releasing updates that are no updates is a good way to improve ad and loose a bit business confidence. Some other developers follow this strategy as well. As a customer I expect a correct and understandable change log not only in the App Store but also within the app. That helps to explore and use all the new features. Developers often ignore this service and long-term consequences are decreasing revenues and the loss of reliability in the eyes their customers, a company killer at its best.

Here is an example of a perfect communication with customers when releasing an update. It’s a complete description, accessible from within the app, and offers real improvements not minimalist rework of more or less useless features.

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Even developers are human beings and therefore do cloudy things.
That wouldn’t be a problem for users if there is a well-functioning internal control system.
Let’s be sympathetically with all the developers. I know they are always flat out like a lizard drinking.

If you are a proud owner of an iPad or iPhone mark the following text, tap on Speak, close your eyes, and listen what the American theologian R. Niebuhr told us:

God grant us the serenity
to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Internalize this wisdom when getting the next virtual app update.

Solely satisfied customers improve future business. Placebos, virtual updates, and extraterrestrial developers are not welcome.

Related links …

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