February 22, 2024

So why do companies keep adding features that are convenient for a few and overlooked by others? Is there a better way to design products?

Cliff Kuang, a designer in the tech industry and author of a book on the history of product design, identified three culprits behind the growing functionality. First, companies increase choice as it helps them market their products as new and exciting. Second, a product with millions of users must appeal to people with widely different needs. And – and it hurts – we’re obsessed with options that look great but we can’t or won’t use.

Kuang describes this third factor as “Users can’t tell the difference between ‘Hey, this looks good’ and ‘Hey, I need that’.”

If that makes you feel better, Kuang says he’s guilty too. He marveled at a feature in his Tesla, automatic parallel parking. “The first time I used it, it was cool,” he said. “And I never used it again.”

Technicians often complain that they are in a win-win situation in product design. Loyal fans demand more and more options that often make no sense to the average person. (This phenomenon is often derided as “bloatware,” as in bloated software.) It’s one reason why technology often feels like it’s designed for the 1% of digital diehards and not the rest of us .

But some users will hate it if the company tries to cut back on rarely used options or change anything people are already used to. Everyone has an opinion.Former Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky once joke Modifying widely used software like Windows and Microsoft Office is like ordering pizza for a billion people.

In April, tech writer Clive Thompson provocative proposal Resist the temptation to add more functionality to existing technology: Say no.

Thompson, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, said companies should decide ahead of time the feature set they want to work on and stop when they get there.

“Feature creep is real and breaks software every year,” he told me, citing Instagram as a product that he believes will perform worse the more options you add.

Of course, the product cannot remain frozen in the past.There are also functions such as automatic Notifying emergency services after a car accident, it might be worth it even if they are not used very often. It’s also unpredictable which add-ons might be useful to the masses.

The best tech products change little by little to propel users toward the future imagined by their creators, Kuang said.He said Airbnb did this by moving its website and app toward a recent major change that prompted people to Explore different types of homes No destination or travel dates.

To escape the bloatware trap, Kuang said, “you work from the future you’re trying to create.”

Tips of the week

Whether all the features are useful or not, you’ll soon have updated software for your phone. Brian X. Chena consumer technology columnist for The New York Times, tells us how to prepare for this change.

In this week’s column, I review what Apple and Google have changed for smartphones in the next OS updates this fall.

How should you prepare? First of all, I recommend against installing any early beta versions or betas of currently available software. Those unfinished OS versions are still being checked for bugs.

But here’s how to get your phone ready for the new OS once it’s done:

  • Backup your phone data to another device, such as your computer, or if you subscribe to a cloud storage service. This will prevent disaster if something goes wrong when you update your phone’s software.

  • Turn off automatic updates. In your phone settings, there is an option to automatically install software updates after sleep. I recommend disabling this feature. When the OS arrives in the fall, take a wait-and-see approach to assess what other people think online about any major mistakes that may arise. New products are often imperfect on day one. Manually install the new OS when you’re sure it won’t break your phone.

  • take the opportunity to do some digital spring cleaning. Delete apps you no longer use and files you no longer need. Sometimes new operating systems take up more space than their predecessors, so it’s a good idea to do some cleaning ahead of time to make sure you have a fresh start.

  • Controversial plan to revive US chip manufacturing: A group of unlikely billionaires, including longtime Democratic donors and Trump supporters, wants $1 billion from Congress to set up a nonprofit investment fund to expand U.S. computer chip manufacturing. My colleague Ephrat Livni wrote that the group’s unusual proposal has divided Washington.

  • His TikTok post claims he was a juror in the recent trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. He’s not, CNN explainanother example of an online craze that is often misogynistic.

  • What are kid-oriented apps doing? Washington Post columnist wrote More than two-thirds of the top 1,000 apps for kids are sending personal information to the advertising industry. (Subscription may be required.)

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