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You Won’t Use That Cool Feature

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Why, then, do firms keep adding functions which can be handy for a tiny number of individuals and ignored by the remaining? And is there a greater solution to design products?

Cliff Kuang, a designer within the tech industry and an writer of a book in regards to the history of product design, singled out three culprits behind ever-growing features. First, firms add options since it helps them market their products as latest and exciting. Second, products with many hundreds of thousands of users must appeal to individuals with widely different needs. And — this one stings — we’re infatuated with options that appear great but that we are able to’t or won’t use.

Kuang described this third factor because the “the lack of users to tell apart between ‘Hey, that appears good’ and ‘Hey, I would like that.’”

If it makes you are feeling higher, Kuang said he’s guilty of this, too. He was wowed by a feature in his Tesla to automate parallel parking. “The primary time I used it, it was cool,” he said. “And I never used it again.”

Technologists often grumble that they’re in a no-win situation in product design. Devoted fans demand increasingly more options that usually make no sense for normals. (This phenomenon is usually derided as “bloatware,” as in bloated software.) It’s one reason technology often feels as if it’s made for the 1 percent of digital die-hards and never the remaining of us.

But when firms attempt to pare back little-used options or change anything people have grown accustomed to, some users will hate it. Everyone has an opinion. Steven Sinofsky, a former Microsoft executive, used to joke that revising widely used software like Windows and Microsoft Office was like ordering pizza for a billion people.

In April, the technology author Clive Thompson made a provocative suggestion to fight the temptation to stuff more features into existing technology: Just say no.

Thompson, who’s a contributing author for The Latest York Times Magazine, said that firms should determine prematurely the set of features they need to work toward, and stop once they get there.

“Feature creep is an actual thing and wrecks software every 12 months,” he told me, citing Instagram as a product that he believes grows worse the more options it adds.

Products can’t stay frozen previously, in fact. And a few features, like those to robotically notify emergency services after automobile crashes, could possibly be worthwhile even in the event that they’re infrequently used. It’s also unpredictable which add-ons might transform useful for the masses.

Kuang said the most effective technology products change little by little to nudge users toward a future the creators have imagined. He said that Airbnb did that by evolving its website and app toward a major recent change that prompts people to explore various kinds of homes without having a destination or travel dates in mind.

To get out of the bloatware trap, Kuang said, “you’re employed backward from the longer term that you simply’re attempting to create.”

Tip of the Week

Whether all of the features are useful or not, you soon will probably be using updated software to your phone. Brian X. Chen, the patron technology columnist for The Latest York Times, tells us how you can prepare for this variation.

On this week’s column, I went over changes coming this fall to smartphones in the subsequent operating system updates from Apple and Google.

How must you prepare? First, I counsel against installing any early test version, or beta, of the software that’s available immediately. Those unfinished versions of the operating systems are still being checked for flaws.

But here’s how you may get your phone ready for brand new operating systems once they’re finished:

  • Back up your phone data to a different device, like your computer, or to a cloud storage service for those who subscribe to at least one. That can prevent disaster within the unlikely event that something goes mistaken once you update your phone software.

  • Turn off auto updates. In your phone settings, there’s an choice to robotically install software updates after bedtime. I counsel having this be disabled. When the operating system arrives in the autumn, take a wait-and-see approach to evaluate what others are saying online about any major bugs that may need cropped up. Latest products are often imperfect on the primary day. Manually install the brand new operating system when you find yourself confident it won’t muck up your phone.

  • Take the chance to do some digital spring cleansing. Delete apps you not use and files you don’t need anymore. Occasionally, latest operating systems take up extra space than their predecessors, so it’s an excellent idea to do some purging ahead of time to make sure you get a fresh start.

  • A contested plan to reinvigorate U.S. chip-making: An unlikely group of billionaires, including a longtime Democratic donor and a Trump supporter, want $1 billion from Congress for a nonprofit investment fund to expand computer chip manufacturing in america. My colleague Ephrat Livni wrote that the group’s unusual proposal is divisive in Washington.

  • His TikTok posts claimed he was a juror within the recent trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. He wasn’t, CNN explains, and it was one other example of the customarily misogynistic online mania over the case.

  • Apps for youths are doing WHAT? A Washington Post columnist wrote that greater than two-thirds of the highest 1,000 apps for kids are sending personal information to the promoting industry. (A subscription could also be required.)

Meet a goose named Duck-Duck and the person who became the goose’s adopted parent.

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