Over the past couple weeks, a lot of tech companies have been pushing updates to their products. Probably a lot of them are shipping year-end projects and teams want to get noticed during their year-end performance review.
Change is usually frustrating for a lot of people and I can understand why, so I'm just going to complain here a bit because Reddit throttled me for responding in two different comment threads within the same post.
Aesthetically, this meme is a good metaphor for the swath of updates that were pushed to many users in the past couple weeks. Apple even dorked up their UI with more UI noise and continued to try to push Siri harder than they have before.
For example, this time around, there was a non-skipable setup for Siri. It turned on my microphone without my consent, and then instructed me to "say 'Hello, Siri'". There was no out. I had to shutdown the program and disable Siri again for the 3rd time from Settings.
Practices like this are not a good sign and are, in my view, borderline violations and intrusions into user's personal technological choices and workflows.
I believe technology is more of a private domain than companies realize. Practices like this are akin to someone coming in your house and moving around some furniture because they think it's "better". The end result is you don't know wtf happened to all your crap and you're left disoriented.
They say there's an increase in deaths by car accidents when daylight savings starts just because of the disorientation it causes in people. I wonder what an analogous affect is of changing everyone's UI in this way. I know my father easily lost the ability to use a windows computer (to play a game he likes) when the screen font size was scaled up. It changed the position of the icons and changed the arrangement of the start menu items because they naturally repositioned themselves due to the new constraints of the space and layout. It was enough to send him into a state of confusion and mild panic.
I also believe in this way that technology is abelist, and is exploitative of the fallacies of human attention and ability. People who can autistically traverse the increasing labyrinth of pushed content that pollute our UIs exhibit behavior that is less neurotypical. These users are able to make better use of the technology, while others get caught in the bramble that's continually being placed between them and their intentions.
It is also placing uninvited demands on our time, as we re-engage with our recently changed device (because we have to, we have to use it to communicate with friends, manage our tasks, etc.) our time is allocated by the company to reacclimate to use their product. I'm also not comfortable with a company deciding that my time will be used in that way. I imagine a scenario where an emergency is occurring and the user is pushed into a new product onboarding flow, or a series of new setup requirements when trying to accomplish a goal.
I think eventually, over time, it will have to come down to products that allow users to manage their own UI. Either the company has control of your device (and can change whatever they want with their own interests in mind), or a device belongs to the user and they are in charge of arranging their UI for their own interests (as horrifying as that sounds). Right now, there are no tools that really enable the latter.
I'm a big fan of direct access product APIs, like Youtube API, Reddit API, and the like. In some ways, I've used them to Build My Own Damn Shit™️ into consolidated UIs so I can simply avoid a product's natural front door while still engaging with the product in an unintrusive way on my own terms.
Fundamentally, when I reach for my device, I reach with an intention to accomplish a specific task. What the device gives me however, is an onslaught of menus, notifications, and the plurality of possibilities that must be discarded and swiped through in order to simply arrive at the tool I need to accomplish the task.
So, thanks for reading my post. Like and subscribe, share this post with a friend, this post was sponsored by RAID: Shadow Legends, be sure to give me a thumbs up, and don't forget to assault me with mis-interpreted racist deconstructions of my words in the comment section below! Go!