When the new version is worse than the old one


#1

So I’ve had a couple of instances recently where one of my apps has auto-updated and the new version has been somewhat disappointing. So I thought I’d post my thoughts here as I have no chance of influencing anything at all and this allows me to vent.

First one is Google Fit. The new version is almost, but not quite, completely useless.
They have done some really good things with it and made some good changes. Unfortunately they have also removed most of the old functionality that made it useful.
This is what it used to look like:


You could set your own goals, have daily, weekly, (I think also monthly) goals. When you hit your goal you got a big green tick. You could see the history of the last 7 days of daily goals, and the last 4 weeks of weekly goals.
There were a couple of things about it I didn’t like:

  • Emphasis on steps. Only useful if you walk or run, not very useful for any other type of activity.
  • Default goal of 10K steps a day. I usually do well over 10K steps a day during the week, but in the weekends I like to take it a bit easier.

The first issue there was worked around by cheating a bit. If I went for a cycle for 30 minutes I would manually adjust the number of steps to something appropriate for 30 minutes of fast walking. A pain in the butt, but workable.
The second issue was a non-issue as I customised my goals to 1 hour activity a day and 60K steps per week. The only reason I mention this is because the new version addresses this issue and in doing so throws the baby out with the bathwater.
My hour of activity per day was just to make sure I wasn’t completely idle in the weekend, but my weekly goal was the main one - it averaged out to just over 1.5 hours activity per day, but I could decide whether I wanted to go all out at the beginning of the week and cruise a bit at the end or some other way of achieving it.

The new version looks like this:


Like I said earlier, there are some good changes in this version.
They’ve removed the emphasis on steps. You now concentrate on movement minutes (equivalent to the old active minutes) and heart points (which are basically vigorous activity).
Movement minutes are automatically calculated for walking and running. I’m not sure what else.
If you walk quickly or run, the heart points are also automatically calculated, but if you do something like a gym workout you will need a wearable device that measures your heart rate.
The old default goal of 10K steps was removed and you get 2 new default goals of 30 minutes moving and 10 heart points.
That’s about it.

Now to the problems.

  • First off, this new version has 2 indicators on the same dial. That’s never a good sign. This is just cosmetic, but it’s the first thing you see when you open the app so it’s important.
  • They’ve change the week start date. It used to be Monday through to Sunday, it’s now Sunday through to Saturday.
    Again, this isn’t a huge problem, but it’s a nuisance because i tend to do a lot more exercise when I’m at work because I go for a 60 minute walk at lunch time. This makes it harder to plan my cruise time.
  • You no longer get a good visual indicator of progress. The image above has one of the goals achieved, the other one not achieved, but it doesn’t hit you in the face immediately when you look at it. You also do not get the same easy to see goal history. You can’t see it easily in the image above, but you get a bar chart with a tick at the top of each bar where you met your goal. But only one goal shows there.
  • This is the big one. Really big - this is what makes the app useless.
    You cannot set your own goals.
    You can modify the 2 goals they give you, but you cannot create your own.
    Weekly goals? Forget it.
    I do actually have a weekly goal in the new version, but that’s only because I had one set up before the app got updated. If I accidentally delete that goal then I would toss Fit completely and try to find something else that worked better.

The developers of Fit justified their changes by saying that people found the 10K steps a day intimidating and a disincentive.
They also said that they worked in conjunction with medical professionals to work out the heart point thingy.
Both of those things are valid and I support those changes. However, there have been numerous occasions I used the weekly goals as an incentive to go out for a walk on a Sunday just to complete the last 5K or so steps. Removing the ability to set your own goals is just stupid.


#2

The other one I found recently was my Vodafone app.
They took an app that was a bit ugly, but really useful and usable. They converted it into something that is pretty but almost useless.

I manage 3 phone accounts - all prepay, all with variable number of minutes/Mb/texts.
With the old app I could see on the front page everybody’s current information - how much of each they get per month, and how much they have remaining, how long before the plan renews. Like this:
image

The new app shows you 1 phone, and 1 portion of that information. Like this:

So in order to see all the information I got in one screen before I now need to select a dozen or so items.

Like I said, the new app looks so much better than the old one. It’s just completely useless. I guess Vodafone have never heard of usability testing.


#3

I wonder if they also wanted to make Google Fit look less like the Fitbit app.

A while back, the developer made major sweeping changes to the alarm clock app I use. I liked the original version so much, I paid for the ad-free version. Then the guy changed, like, 80% of what was good and basically ruined it. I was not the only one who was displeased - there were a number of outraged reviews. Thankfully, the developer read the feedback and started fixing the brokenness. It still isn’t as good as it was. My biggest current objection is that, after an alarm is cancelled, the app stays running with focus, including displaying the time and bypassing the screen off timer.


#4

Why not fork the project, so people liking the v1 version can stick with it if they don’t like the v2 version?


#5

If it’s a “paid” product, this can be risky as you never see v1 die. And then it’s decades later and someone is asking why your Win95 app doesn’t work in Win10. (OK, this happens anway.)

I think a more reasonably is to support both for period of time, especially while the new code is being brought up to stability and feature parity.

It is probably interesting data when companies do Mobile v1 and Mobile v2 and ‘overlap’ a bit like this. I went through that with clients for Reddit and my IOS PDF reader solution, GoodReader. Both had an update that put it into ‘nagware’ mode for a few months to push people to v2 but finally had to say “enough is enough”.


#6

If we go simpler to where we just list versions that take away useful features, we can add iTunes in there. The change to QuickTime about the point where iTunes went from version 11 to 12 took out the feature where you can do a frame advance. That came in handy for me numerous times.


#7

Agreed. It makes more sense to keep v1.00 on the air for a while whilst the build of v2.00 is tested and debugged. After v2.00 goes gold, v1.00 can be placed out to pasture.


#8

And not add other irritating “new” features. Yes, Apple, my wife is NOT impressed.

I had to upgrade our iThing from iOS10 to the latest and newest… now there’s a couple of extra things that’s irritating her (which you cannot turn off)…

Well done.


#9

Which features? IOS12 (I assume you’re going to 11, though…) has been pretty nice in beta other than app compatibility in a couple cases. (There seems to be certain apps that always break on iOS betas for some reason…)


#10

Just an update on the Google Fit nonsense.

After 3 days on the new app it suggested I bump up my goals. The original goals it set were 60 minutes active time and 10 minutes vigorous activity. What I’d managed in those 3 days was 75/41, 124/99, 119/97.
The recommended new goals were 120/100.
The Fit developers removed the old goal of 10K steps a day because it was too intimidating.
The new Fit app then proceeded to recommend one new goal that I had only hit 33% of the time, and another goal that I had never hit. That wouldn’t be demoralising at all.

I’ve gone back through my history and worked out that I would probably hit the 120 minute goal about twice a week, and the 100 minute goal about once a fortnight. Yep, that’s encouraging.

I left the goals as they were.


#11

special :snowflake: gonna do some seri-ass :snowflake: - I’m not intimidated by 10K steps a day - on a quiet day I do 2k steps a day, on a really busy day I do 4 to 5k steps a day…

…and when it’s market day, I do 15k to 20k steps on that day…

I can hear the conversation in a doctor’s examination room : “But Mr Kaputnik, a goal of 1000 steps a day is not even real excercise…”


#12

I did 1000 a day on a chemo day.


#13

Actually, in the new Fit regime 1000 steps could be okay if it’s vigorous and raises your heart rate - that would equate to about 10 minutes and that would hit the goal (well, maybe about 1200 steps).

I forgot to mention that the World Health Organisation recommendation is equivalent to about 150 heart points per week - or about 22 per day. My activity over the last few weeks would have me at about 450-500 per week and Fit wanted me to have a target of 700. Not that I could actually set a target of 700 per week as weekly goals have been removed :roll_eyes:


#14

That’s just wacky