Andrew Travers

Andrew Travers is a designer and researcher. He’s the author of Interviewing for research.

Better defaults

Posted on 31 Mar 2018

From Recode, via Daring Fireball.

‘Swisher posed a question for Cook: What would he do if he were Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg? His answer: “I wouldn’t be in this situation.”’

It's a fire emoji of a quote, but the thing is, Apple might not be in this situation, but its users are.

Apple’s stance on privacy is one of the things I’ve come to admire most about the company. I’d rather use an Apple app over a third party app, and the opaque privacy statement that comes with it, every single time. By choice, I wouldn’t have a single Google or Facebook app on my phone.

Long term, I think Apple is seeing the benefit of its self-imposed constraints but it’s a strategy that is dependent on Apple delivering services good enough that users know they can rely on them. They don’t have to be the best, they don’t have to be bleeding edge. But they have to be good enough.

Maps is one example where this, I think, falls down badly. In the UK at least, and certainly outside of London, Apple’s Maps is not good enough. Reliant on uneven, frequently out of date third party data, it’s unreliable to point where you can’t confidently trust it even for simpler tasks like finding out a shop’s opening hours never mind turn-by-turn navigation. For a number of users, the consequence is that the only realistic alternative is to use Google Maps.

Every time I have to use Google Maps and leech yet more data to Google about where I am and what I’m looking for, that’s a ‘situation’ Apple has put me in.

Every time I reluctantly have to use WhatsApp and leech data to Facebook about my friends and the conversations I have with them, that’s a ‘situation’ that’s down to choices Apple has made about iMessage and Android devices. Photos, Siri, I could go on.

If I have one plea for iOS 12, it’s not for new features, it’s for better defaults that mean I don’t have to fall back on companies who care far less about my privacy than Apple does.