Opinion

Can we stop with the app updates please?

Rachel Cormack asks if the endless app iterations are really necessary, or if we've simply become so desensitised to novelty that social media has reached the point of no return.

I always thought I was reasonably tech savvy, but the speed at which app updates are coming is making me feel a little, dare I say it, technologically challenged.

Just as we get a handle on things, those handles are pried from our hands, updated with shiny new bells and whistles and then given back – only now, they’re really hard to hold.

We all just worked out that Boomeranging yourself holding booze was the cool thing to do, and now there’s a new stop-motion camera for Insta stories. I need a new app to tell me what’s new in apps.

Facebook is spending $1 billion to fund original video content, has introduced a new snooze function that lets you temporarily hide people in your news feed and is working on pre-loaded instant videos.

Snapchat is now letting you link to websites.

Instagram has created polls and made their stories two-times bigger and inserted them mid-feed. It’s enough to make marketers’ heads start spinning like Mac’s dreaded wheel of death.

Sure, I understand the need to update and reinvent – to ensure the applications stay relevant, work well and don’t keel over and die like Bebo or Myspace (RIP, you ‘spaghetti-ball mess‘).

But sometimes the changes seem strange and unnecessary. Why did Instagram change its logo when the retro-looking Polaroid was both cool and easily recognisable?

Why did Facebook expand its options for reacting to a post when a ‘like’ was enough? I liked the like, its simplicity and at times passive-aggressive quality. I used to ‘like’ people missing their trains and leave them wondering whether I was acknowledging their anguish, or revelling in it. Now, I can be sad, angry or do some weird laugh with arrow-shaped eyes. Stop forcing me to examine my feelings, Facebook.

I know, I sound like a technophobe that’s terrified of change. I’m not. I loved it when saving my school assignments moved from the encumbering floppy disk, to CD, to USB, and when cutting film stopped being about Betacam tapes, reels of film and splicing and Premiere gave me endless editing options.

The difference was, back then we were given adequate time to farewell, and move on from, these now-primitive technologies. We had a minute to catch our breath.

You could argue those were major advancements and app updates are minor, but even something as simple as videos autoplaying with sound on can seem pretty major when you’re attempting to travel incognito mode on your morning commute and your phone starts blasting music mid-scroll.

When something is good, we don’t always need to chase something better.

Do consumers really need a bot ordering me pizza whilst they’re talking to a friend? On second thoughts, I could get behind that…

Rachel Cormack is a Sydney-based freelance writer.

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