As a company, Apple is constantly innovating: rolling out new features, making changes to old ones, fixing bugs, and so on. That’s great. It’s exactly what we expect from technology companies.
But an equally important part of that process is finding a way to communicate those changes to its users, and that’s one area where Apple has recently demonstrated a more mixed record. The company has made a few choices that have left some users scratching their heads, trying to figure out exactly how to use or find a feature—or whether they should at all.
Finding Find My
As of iOS 13, Apple rolled two of its location-related apps—Find My Friends and Find My iPhone—into a single program called Find My. The app itself is perfectly fine: it maintains the most important features of those apps, but groups them together in a sensible fashion.
Unfortunately, one thing Apple didn’t do as effectively was communicate that change to its users. Sure, if you’re the kind of person who pays close attention to Apple keynotes or reads Apple news sites regularly, you were probably aware of Find My. But for users who aren’t as attuned to the vagaries of Apple software updates, the first indication they had that anything was different was when they went looking for the Find My Friends app and it was simply gone. My podcast co-host and fellow Macworld alum Lex Friedman told me that he had several acquaintances ask where the app had gone. I heard from one friend—who works at a tech company, no less—who was befuddled by Find My Friends seemingly vanishing, and concluded that it didn’t run on his phone anymore. Many of these users even went to the App Store to see if they could redownload the Find My Friends app, only to discover that it wasn’t there either.
While Apple has started including splash screens in many of its apps to give users an overview of what’s new, that’s not very useful if you can’t find the app in the first place. And though it’s quite possible that some of these users would have eventually stumbled across the Find My app, they probably weren’t going to be feeling too charitable by that point.
It would have behooved Apple to find a gentler way of indicating this change to users. Perhaps when they searched for Find My Friends on their phone or the App Store, it could have provided a notice that its features had been subsumed into the new Find My app. Or perhaps it could have displayed a more prominent note upon updating to iOS 13—because whatever it did just wasn’t enough.
No trust Shortcuts
The other week, I went to share a useful Shortcut with my wife. For some reason, however, my attempts to AirDrop or iMessage it to her were unsuccessful. In the first case the shortcut never appeared; in the latter, she couldn’t seem to open…