Criticism and Clinging to the “Now”

I wrote this back in February when I was getting hammered by a small subset of people being at all critical of the impending HomePod release:

But I would not be good at my job if every time someone told me something was wrong I replied “well, this has to be like that because X, Y, and Z,” I’d be out of a job. Likewise, if I saw what our direct and even not-quite-direct competitors were doing and said, “none of that matters because we’re doing our own thing,” then we would be declining in influence. Finally, if multiple people brought up usability concerns and I dismissed them by saying, “you’re doing it wrong” or “you don’t get it, man,” then I would again be out of a job.

History likes to repeat itself, because this week I created a mock up for my proposal for how I’d like to see iOS notifications improve, and despite it being widely circulated and receiving mostly positive feedback, I still had a few people tech out to me to say that notifications on iOS are perfectly fine the way they are.

This is where I get a little annoyed, because as I said in that quote above, both my 9-5 job and this website are all about looking at what exists and trying to make it better.

While some (many?) people think iOS’s notifications are fine, a lot of people find them to be lacking. The obvious solution is to do something to make more people happy. With a user base over 1 billion people, it’s impossible to Mae everyone happy, but the goal should be to increase the number of satisfied users.

My proposal was just that, a proposal for a direction I think Apple could go to make things even better. I welcome feedback like “this would be challenging from a usability perspective” or “what if they did something like XYZ instead?” Unhelpful feedback is “Apple shouldn’t change notifications because they’re perfectly fine the way they are” or “they work for me, so you’re using them wrong.” Those are unhelpful and basically just shut the conversation down.

Nothing in computer software is totally nailed in 2018, everything can, and should get better. My position on this has long been to look at things that are clearly not good enough yet and propose solutions that move the bar forward. I find this to be a helpful way to be critical without being a jerk, and it also spurs conversation. Saying, “everything is fine” shuts down the conversation and is not a very forward-looking view of the world. Plenty of things are fine today, but we make tomorrow better by looking at what we have today and trying to push it forward.

A Major Apple Watch Market

Mike Murphy writing for Quartz:

You might’ve noticed that the person who took your order at the bar, brought you the shoes you wanted to try on, or perhaps even patted you down at the airport security line, is sporting an Apple Watch, which starts at $329 for the newest Series 3 watch. And there’s a pretty simple explanation: Many service-industry jobs where employees have to be on their feet all day don’t allow workers to check their phones while they’re on the clock. But that rule doesn’t necessarily apply to a piece of unobtrusive jewelry that happens to let you text your friends and check the weather.

I’m lucky enough to have a job today where I can have my phone on me at all times and use it as I see fit. And while Target was loosening their policy on cell phones when I left in 2015, the couple months I worked there after I got the first Apple Watch were amazing.

I was constantly walking around, and while my phone was in my pocket, it was on silent and I rarely felt vibrations that notifications had come in. Sending a quick message to my wife was a process that took a few seconds, but was too long in some cases. The Apple Watch enabled me to stay connected to the things I cared about when I was working in a way that made my life objectively better.

If you have never had a job like this since smartphones because a thing then you likely don’t realize just how amazing this addition to one’s life can be. It was amazing for me and I’m happy to see it being recognized out there in the larger press.