Egregious Google Search Advertisements

The other day I heard about Microsoft Flow and wanted to learn more and see how it compared to my beloved Zapier. So, I did what any normal internet-based life form would do and googled it…

In case that screenshot doesn’t make clear, that’s roughly two entire iPhone screens worth of advertisements before I got to a single organic search result.

Look. No one does search better than Google. While I’d happily pay a monthly fee to search advertisement and tracking free, I’m more than willing to suffer relevant ads in exchange for finding what I’m looking for.

But does this level of ad nauseam (hehe, get it?) really do anyone any good besides Google? As a user it’s completely off-putting and erodes my trust in Google’s search “neutrality” even if the ads are (becoming less and less clearly) labeled as such. And as an advertiser? Do I really want to pay for my ad to be crammed right up against five other competitors?

Growth Hackers

This from Pauli Olavi Ojala basically sums up my feelings

The new push for services revenue feels totally off-brand for Apple. Or at least the old Apple. Maybe we’ve entered a new era for the company where growth-at-all-costs is the chief motivator for how they’re going to treat customers going forward.

There’s no way I can better sum up this attitude and the problems it creates for customers than this summary post by Michael Tsai.

In other words, the app is designed to optimize for Apple’s needs rather than the customer’s. I prefer the old strategy where Apple makes its money from hardware, so it’s free to design the software to do the right thing. “Only Apple could do” didn’t only apply to the technical aspects, but also to what it could do because of its business model.

Apple Push Spam

That’s not the best screenshot. The push notification banner kinda blends in with the light background, but OH MY DEAR FUCKING GOD APPLE FUCK THE FUCK OFF.

The entire internet is damn well aware that today, November The First In The Year Of Our Lord Two-Thousand And Nineteen, you have bestowed upon us mere mortals your “vision for TV”.

It is your entire damn homepage.

It’s advertised every five tweets.

It’s all over “regular” TV. I must have seen commercials about it during every game of the recent MLB playoffs.

It’s also practically lighting up and blinking like a shitty 2000’s-era HTML <marquee> tag on Apple TV (the hardware device, not the watered-down, also-ran HBO according to Variety.)

So, yes. WE KNOW.

So please stop breaking your own fucking App Store guidelines and cut this shit with the spam push notifications.

Deceptive FOMO from OneTravel

Just to prove I’m not a jerk who only calls-out Apple and that all software really is becoming universally awful, here’s a fun one about OneTravel that Ophir Harpaz pointed out:

All of those urgent “XX people are looking at this item!” warnings that litter the web? We all know they’re likely bullshit. Well, she took the time to verify that claim by taking a peek at the underlying JavaScript. And for OneTravel specifically, this FUD is literally a random number between 28 and 45.

So, shoutout to the web developer (née, engineer) who carried out middle management’s instructions to implement this lovely piece of software.

The new Catalina TV app and forced advertisements

Benjamin Mayo tweets:

Also the TV app on the Mac is a web view in a (very) thin wrapper and lacks key functionality like the ability to open a context menu. You can’t right click or long press on anything.

If you Force Touch on something, you get this wonderful artefact of it being a web view.

I don’t pretend to know the timeline the Apple engineers who built these shoddy new apps were under. Maybe there simply wasn’t enough time or resources available to make a native app versus a hastily constructed web view. Lord knows, I’ve fallen back to using a web view for complex layouts in my own apps when up against a deadline. But not for the whole damn app.

His entire thread is a good critique worth reading – particularly this bit:

The Apple TV+ experience will also suffer from the ‘advertisements of stuff to buy everywhere’ design of the TV app — something which I think will sadly never change — that I first described back in April.

As I’ve mentioned before, this goes hand-in-hand with Apple’s new push for services revenue at the expense of UX and what customers actually want. The Catalina and iOS 13 App Stores feature new Apple Arcade sections that you can’t get rid of. And the latest Apple TV update includes a dedicated, non-removable Arcade app that Apple helpfully places in the top row of your apps when you upgrade.

(Side note: Even the Mac App Store on Mojave is running a giant ad about Apple Arcade, which isn’t even available for those who haven’t upgraded to Catalina. Further, they can’t even be bothered to take the time to do it right. Just look at how the headlines are truncated when the window isn’t fullscreen.)

I get it. They want their services to be successful. And part of ensuring that is making certain everyone knows these new offerings are available. It’s called advertising and I’m totally fine with that. I’m even all in favor of Apple Arcade as a way for quality developers to get paid for making quality games without resorting to dirty in-app purchase shenanigans.

So, please, Apple. Tell me all about Apple Arcade and Apple TV+ and your “vision for television“. Sell me on their immense value and benefits. But then let me dismiss your advertisements and get the fuck on with using the hardware I paid for.

Severe side-eye for Apple’s podcast “URL”s

Dave Verwer, of iOS Dev Weekly fame, tweeted this helpful iOS interaction

And then in the conversation that followed…

I get that Apple is likely trying to be helpful (while also driving engagement to their first party apps), but this is purely arrogant design to “require” an HTTPS URL to open in a specific app, when that app isn’t even installed.

All other 3rd party Universal Links fall back to the browser if the companion app isn’t installed. Why don’t Apple’s first party links? The App Store marketing page says…

A store that welcomes competition. We believe competition makes everything better and results in the best apps for our customers.

So I guess we’ll soon see the ability to set a default 3rd party web browser or mail client?

Arrogant Design: The Twitter Share Sheet

Sure, maybe Twitter did user studies and learned that when someone taps on the standard system share button what the user really wants is a non-standard UI that presents two (IMHO) mostly worthless options:

  1. Send the shared tweet to someone via DM. Do people really send tweets privately to other people so often that this needs to be the most prominent option? Also, how is Twitter determining who to suggest I share the tweet to? The two users listed aren’t involved in the thread I took this screenshot from. Nor are they my most messaged contacts.
  2. Bookmark this tweet? I didn’t even know that was a thing. I thought people favorited tweets (or is Twitter calling “favorites” “likes” this week?) to do that?

Anyway, I’m guessing the vast majority of things people actually want to do when they share a tweet are buried behind a second tap on the “Share Tweet via…” button.

And it’s this sort of presumptuous design that angers me the most. Because that’s exactly what it is – presumptuous if not outright arrogant. It’s some designer (or worse, a growth-hacking-MBA) at Twitter who thinks they know better about what the user wants than the user themselves and then goes and decides to override a standard system behavior all in an effort to increase engagement. Meanwhile, yeah, we still have Nazis in our mentions.

Dropbox Fearmongering

I’m sure this is all due to some tech-bro-MBA’s idea of “growth hacking”, but Dropbox sure likes to scare you into using additional features.

The Mac in this screenshot has a 500 GB drive with 150 GB free – and that’s already including the full contents of the 25 GB Dropbox account synced locally.