Retail Software Update/Upgrades in the era of the Silver Surfer….
So I have this PVR box here in the UK called “YouView” which now pretty much standard fair – you know Series Link, Pause/Rewind Live TV etc. etc. This week they did a software update/upgrade which reskined the thing with quite a shift in the UI. The UI change is pretty typical of what’s in fashion nowadays, and you see it on modern day website designed for tablets. So reduce the detail; menus – and opted for the more stripped down ’tile’ view along the lines of say OSes like Window8/10. The kind of less is more approach.
Of course, this raises the thorny questions of when is software change – a patch, update or upgrade. This old catagory question has got even more blurry as stuff that was meant to just fix stuff is now generally sweetened up with additional features or a new look. The other SW vendors are doing are doing is “depreciating” features. This is a clever use language for what is affectively an arbitarary removal of functionality without notice. Finally, with domestic retail software we seeing an increase us of over the air updates which are mandatory, not optional – and happen automagically without your triggering them. I guess this is requirement nowadays as more and more devices are web-connected, as vunerabilities are discovered those fixes need to pushed out quickly in order to gain ‘herd immunity‘ from potentional virus or exploits in badly patched managed environments.
I guess my generation is probably going to be the last to be irratated by this, as the younger generation will be able to absorb software changes as fast rate, and have more important things to do like curating an interest image on themselves on social media platforms, and wondering why their uber hasn’t arrived yet.
But I think the retail software people are forgetting a core demographic. The baby-boomer generation or “silver surfers” who react badly to any change, of any type. I’ve seen this happen loads with my Mum as Microsoft ceasely change outlook.com an almost weekly cadence, for almost negiable benefit, unless they definie “benefit’ as confusing the shit out my elderly parents. So how to manage this radically divergent user types. Well, I think these vendors should be going back to a very simple Q/A of “Doing want our radical new update that makes everything bright and shiny, or would rather have the good classic look”. At the very least the ability to go back to a classic look and feel should be offered. With the rise in the aged population, there’s going to be rise in people who struggle to adapt change, and need to make notes on ‘how to do stuff’.
Of course the silly thing is. This ’tile’ UI is in itself quite old-hat now. I mean its been around for donkeys years and think the first time i saw it was on an early AppleTV. Personally, I prefer the good old fashioned list – when you could see more on a single screen and navigate through more content in a single page, and also see what shows I’d partly watched… Finally, we with every mass software update there is always a % of DOA updates. Mine went thru perfectly fine, others less so. I assume retail sofware vendors budget for and have the PR chaps ready for any blowback…