in general, rant

Another rant on software updates

When I opened my blog today, after quite some time, I didn’t have any idea I wanted to write about. Just an ache to see my space. I’ve been reading my RSS feeds a lot more recently, since I’ve been able to get my homelab going on a new mini pc I bought. I also setup Cloudflare tunnels to the software I’m running on said mini-pc-turned-server so I can access it anywhere. The majority of blogs I follow in my feed reader is personal blogs and with reading all those blogs comes the ache of wanting to write to my own.

But soon as I opened it, it prompted me to deal with 15 updates. I hate software updates. They’re so irritating. I get the point, but come on. This is part of the reason why I like working for the company where I recently joined – JFrog. One of their big ideas is “liquid software”. Updates shouldn’t come in your way. They should just happen in the background. So I went into the WordPress interface and turned on automatic updates for as many plugins it made sense for. I’d rather deal with updated and broken plugins by removing them than have to update them every time I come to the blog to think. I also took action on this previous statement by deleting the Apple News plugin. It throws some sort of error on the WordPress Gutenberg editor which always irks me. Besides, I don’t think Apple News works for personal blogs any more. Hasn’t worked for a while. So why keep a relic around? Out with it!

I recently had about half an hour of “me” time and chose to pick up my rarely used Nintendo Switch to play something, anything on it. I own Zelda Breath of the Wild on it, but I never feel like diving into a storymode game any more. So I had remotely installed Apex Legends on it at some point. I thought I’d dive into that game and setup my character and maybe play a quick match.

First the Switch had some software updates it forced upon me. Then Apex Legends had a software update it forced upon me. I keep the Switch plugin in and charging at all times. This way if I ever have the time, I can pick it up and just enjoy it. But no, updates got in the way again. You’re plugged in and charging. How about just download these damn updates in the background? Dejected, I shoved the device back into its charging slot while Apex Legends was downloading its update. I’m almost sure that the stupid thing didn’t finish the download and install and will irk me the next time I have a few minutes to myself.

I have a policy on my iPhone – no software updates unless I’m forced to. Banking apps and my Car Insurance app will often force me to update. The insurance app is the most egregious. It’s almost always needed when stared in the face by a cop or in an accident. Instead of letting the user get to vital information, this stupid app forces an update. So I’ve taken to opening it once a month or so to get any potential updates out of the way. The banking app, I open regularly enough to get the updates in as needed.

All other apps can shove it. Facebook has figured out that people hate updates, so they have a shitty SDK that does the updates for them, all within the app. This leads to a loss of control, but at least it’s consistent – I can open the app and use it, even if I have to deal with a whole new UI when I do. Still other apps will keep working till things break, and that’s when I go hunting and realize there was an update a year ago that fixed said bug. So I missed a year of updates. No worries.

I could just turn on autoupdates on iOS, but there’s a stark difference between WordPress and iOS – on WordPress, on the plugins view, I can choose which of the plugins would get the autoupdates feature. Plugins that are critical or those that I don’t trust enough should not be autoupdated OR force updates on me.

iOS has no such features. Autoupdating is an all-in or all-out approach. This is a horrible UX. Granted, we all have hundreds of apps on our phones and such granular controls can be cumbersome. But it’s a better problem to have than to have no autoupdates at all.

What do you think?


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