Monday, October 28, 2013

Bad Apple

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published October 31, 2013]  © 2013 

As any designer of software upgrades knows, the way to identify bugs is to inflict it untested on your customer base and wait for the anguished cries.  Half of what worked before no longer does, and worse, from my point of view, it all looks different. I really hate different.  Hence, I have an inviolable policy of letting working software lie.

So it’s all the more surprising that I could have accidentally installed the new Apple iOS 7 operating system on my iPhone while we were on vacation recently.  OK, I might have been drinking. All right, I was definitely drinking.  We were up in the San Juan Islands with friends and I was checking email when a message popped up asking if I wanted to upgrade to iOS 7.  I inadvertently pressed yes.

Instantly I realized my error.  I tried to cancel pushing every button I could think of, and even turned off the phone. “Abort!  Abort!” I wailed as the iPhone I knew fairly disappeared before my eyes and was recreated in a Technicolor horror of all new icons.  In desperation I even exhorted Siri to intercede on my behalf.  But as usual, the nasty robot wouldn’t perform.  “I’m sorry,” she simpered innocently.  “I don’t know what you mean.”

Yeah, right. Siri knew EXACTLY what upgrade I meant.  But she knows on which side her bytes are buttered.  She probably gets full medical and dental.  Even when I ultimately told her I hated her, she replied, “Well, I’m still here for you.”  Her exact words. Siri-ously.

Now, as a certified techno moron, it’s not surprising that I don’t like the new operating system but this time I have plenty of company among the internet-posting techno-scenti.

It’s not just that it all looks different but none of the app-y things work the same.  It took me a full year to master them the first time.  Now that's all shot to hell.  A lot of my settings changed too and since I had the sales children at the AT&T office set them up for me in the first place, I have no idea how to change them back.  Even the default ring tone was now a new, and icky, default ring tone.  The iOS 7 calendar app morphed into a sullen, gum-chewing, diurnally-challenged clerical, and it turned out it wasn’t my imagination that the new operating system was sucking the life out of my battery.

But worst of all, a mere week before, I had actually succeeded, with the heroic help of Customer Service for Idiots, to whom I pay $10 a month, to change the number of seconds to voice mail from the default 20 seconds to 40 seconds so I wouldn’t miss all my calls.  IOS 7 changed it back.

So I called my new best friends at Customer Service for Idiots only to discover that overnight, it had morphed into Customer Service BY Idiots.  They have no idea how iOS 7 works either. 

I started by asking them to restore the former default ring tone, called Marimba, to my phone and to help me sort out the seconds-to-voicemail problem.  The Customer Service BY Idiots guy put me on hold for five minutes but finally came back to report that Marimba was no longer available on iPhones. Really?  The classic iPhone ring tone?  So I put him to work on the voice mail problem, and gave him the link to the instructions which had worked a mere week earlier. 

We attempted to implement the instructions four times, but always ended up with the same error message at the end. A bug? A different set of instructions now?  He put me on hold again (ten minutes this time) and while he was gone, I played with the ring tone thing and discovered that Marimba was alive and well; you now just have to access it through a sub menu.  (I do have my techno-idiot savant moments.) 

Customer Service Guy ultimately concluded that there is no reason why the instructions we used shouldn’t work, but he agrees they don’t.  He recommends that I “keep trying it over the next few months to see if it fixes itself.”  Golly, thanks!

So here's my idea for Apple’s next upgrade:  Forget a new operating system. It only annoys people. Instead, tackle the real issues of the “end user experience,” like end users experiencing their phones dropping in toilets.  The way I envision it, as soon as Siri sensed imminently impending moisture (i.e. a commode), she’d shriek May Day! May Day! which would deploy a flotation device from the bottom of the phone cocooning its immersion-averse microchips in blissful dryness as it bobbed like a life raft in a very small sea.  The only downside of this app is that I really wouldn’t mind flushing Siri.

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