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October 5, 2012

I choose the iPhone over Android — Episode 2: The Apple Empire Strikes Back — by Paul Biba


Constant readers may recall Paul's post this past Monday in which he related how a pushed, unasked-for Android phone OS update can ruin your whole day — and maybe cost you your life.

Several commenters on his post took him to task for not spending time and effort to disable automatic OS updates before using his Galaxy Nexus.

Being a card-carrying TechnoDolt®™© (in fact, I invented the term — not to boast or anything) I wondered if Paul's critics had valid arguments.

I told him I would be very interested in hearing his thoughts on whether his critics had good points or if he still felt his position was  justified.

His response appears below.

Not one word has been omitted.



Absolutely justified! In a properly designed GUI I shouldn't have to have to go searching through all sorts of menus to ensure that updates are optional. As a matter of fact, proof that the GUI is badly designed is the fact that it — evidently by default because I didn't touch that setting — allows this to happen.

I'll go further: I never would have even thought to look for such a setting and so I got punished because I didn't think of it. Another example of bad design.

When I helped design GUIs for GPS systems, I made it a point that all default settings were set so the machine could be picked up and used by a totally ignorant person. Clearly the Android GUI is designed for propeller heads, not real people.  

What else that I have not thought of is lurking in the background of Android waiting to bite me? I read those comments and didn't think they were worth replying to. They were written by people who don't understand that real people use this stuff and even techie types like me often don't have a clue about a lot of things.

A GUI should be designed so that people who don't have a clue can use the equipment without getting hurt.

October 5, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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Looks like something fundamental got lost from the first post. Android does not automatically update the OS without user intervention. It will ask the user whether to proceed or not. My SO has been getting occasional notifications and this weekend asked me whether to accept the update.

On my iPad, etc. I get a red button on the Settings icon of the device as an indicator of a system update. In iTunes, I will be asked if I want to download only or download and install the update when I have a device connected.

If Paul Biba believes this is not the case and it is a failure of Android OS, I would invite him to reset his Android to factory settings to see what happens afterwards and report back.

Posted by: Miguel Marcos | Oct 16, 2012 5:14:53 AM

Dear God, we PC & Android users that have no or very little problems

admit total and irrevocable defeat to the supreme Apple Deity.

Please stop punishing us for things we never experience or don't

give a crap about. Now, may I have more Tawny Port Barkeep?

Posted by: JoePeach | Oct 5, 2012 5:43:05 PM

P.S., As a technical writer, I tend to believe that good design needs no instruction. Latest Example: I heard of a 3-year old using an iPad for an hour.

== PT

Posted by: PT | Oct 5, 2012 2:19:07 PM

Uh, isn't there a middle ground, where the app asks permission to install and the user can choose "Now" or "Later"? Seems to me that Adobe Reader does this on my PC every time I start up with a superseded version....

== PT, Technodolt® from The Days of DOS

Posted by: PT | Oct 5, 2012 2:13:01 PM

They are made with automatic updates because "real people" would never intentionally update their phone, as they can't be bothered with it.

Have you ever seen the average PC users notification area? Windows updates that have still not been installed for weeks/months, flash player and anti-virus that are 3 generations old, etc.

Posted by: EEJ | Oct 5, 2012 1:40:58 PM

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