Not even Apple gets it right all the time!


October 28, 2011 by dannybishopcreative

I love Apple. Yes, call me a fanboy.

But I’ve never been so much of a groupie as to not recognise when they’ve done things wrong. Like the hockey-puck mouse for example. Yuccchhh!

The one area that Apple has almost always gotten right is understanding that users get confused easily. Needing to click menu button that says “Start” to shut down a computer? That’s not Apple’s way at all! Making the device, be it a computer, and iPod, an iPhone or iPad, and its interface intuitive and self evident is one of Apple’s key strengths.

Sadly, there’s one user interface that continues to be Apple’s equivalent of the “Start to stop” madness. It’s in iTunes, which this week celebrated 10 years as a keeper of things you buy from Apple. It’s not a new bug. It’s been around for years now.

If you’ve got an iOS device then you might visit this page several times over the course of a week:

iTunes Apps with Free upgradesIt’s the App updates page within iTunes.  Nothing wrong there. (Well, nothing I’ll complain about in this post!)

Notice the button at the top right? It says “Download All Free Updates”.  Let’s review that – Download All FREE Updates. That’s the way iOS apps work.  You buy them, and any point releases are free (ie Version 1.01 to 1.99).

If you click that button, the one with the Free word in it’s label, you get the following confirmation screen if you haven’t saved you iTunes password.

iTunes "Buy" action labelHere you have to enter your Apple ID and Password. And the final step? Click “Buy”.

Wait… what? Buy?

You told me these were free updates!

At this point your average user goes through a loop of “Surely this is free…. But it says buy… did I buy something…. but surely this is free….” And around and around they (might) go until they convince themselves that either a) “Buy” really means “download free”, or b) they panic enough that they click “cancel”.

Now I know, many (if not most) people will have the “remember password” checkbox ticked. I’m the odd one out maybe. I don’t let applications where my 4 year old daughter could download thousands of dollars of apps, music and movies keep my password pre-filled. That’s just sensible.  But no matter if you let iTunes remember your password or not, the fact is you’re a pretty good chance to be presented with this screen the first time you update any iOS apps via iTunes.

It’s not a good look. Asking someone to click a button labeled “Buy” for any action that has $0.00 cost associated is just plain lazy on the part of Apple’s engineers, no matter if I’m the odd one out or not.

Sadly, Steve’s no longer with us for me to send him an email, despite the fact that this has been bugging me ever since I bought my first iPhone about 3 years ago.


One thought on “Not even Apple gets it right all the time!

  1. BrandDNA says:

    That’s been bugging me for ages. And I do mean ages. Although I never really thought about it until I read your post. Now it’s really bugging me!

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