From Shira Ovide's "You Won’t Use That Cool Feature" in Saturday's New York Times:
It happens like clockwork. Companies, including Apple this week, introduce new options to make their gadgets feel new and improved.
Soon you’ll be able to zap that text message you sent but regretted! A Mac computer will be able to use an iPhone camera for video calls! You can change the color tint of Android app icons to match the rest of your screen!
And like clockwork, a vast majority of people won’t use these features...
Cliff Kuang, a designer in the tech industry and an author of a book about the history of product design, singled out three culprits behind ever-growing features. First, companies add options because it helps them market their products as new and exciting. Second, products with many millions of users must appeal to people with widely different needs. And — this one stings — we are infatuated with options that seem great but that we can’t or won’t use...
Kuang said the best technology products change little by little to nudge users toward a future the creators have imagined... To get out of the bloatware trap, Kuang said, “you work backward from the future that you’re trying to create.”
My take: I don't often agree with Ovide, but she's put her finger here on something real. For the first half of Monday's WWDC keynote Apple seemed to be squandering its innovative energies on software gimcracks. The kind of working-backward that Kuang suggests in the last paragraph, on the other hand, is something at which Apple excels. Touch ID, for example, looked cool but useless when it appeared nine years ago on the iPhone 5S. Who knew that someone at Apple was already planning for Apple Pay and the fintech future?