Countless times, we see software that has promise go away. We get hooked on a new app or new software package, it gets better, we sing its praise. Ultimately, and invariably, at some point the developers take a sharp turn away from sanity.
I haven’t upgraded to the latest major version of iTunes because of the overwhelming negative feedback about it. I know that many people satisfied with the version I have, can’t be wrong. There was no reason to do a major overhaul of the interface, yet Apple did. Not only was it a major overhaul, it was not intuitive, and a drastic change from the comfortable and working. That has alienated many of their users.
A few days ago, I noticed that the ‘Shazam’ app has removed one of the best features. It was not one most people used, and it was not advertised. It was however, brilliant. It was the feature that someone added because they actually used the app themselves, and they had been in the position I find myself in frequently. A new song comes out, the app can’t identify it. I get that, there is a time between song release and adding to the catalog. Previous versions would keep that tagged sample and label it ‘Unknown’, very logical. Even better, you could then wait days or weeks, and re-submit the sample to be identified. This let you wait for the song to get more airtime or make its way into the system. A version or two ago though, that feature vanished. Why? There is not a single logical reason for that to happen. There is no logical contract or political crap between companies that would make it go away. Yet it did.
Tonight, I noticed Shazam introduced something else that defies logic. I try to identify a song playing at the end of The Walking Dead (S03E12) and it comes up as “The Walking Dead”. At first I think, hey, it can’t ID the song but it knows where it came from, that isn’t bad. Then I see all kinds of crappy options below it. “Music in the Broadcast” that has many songs not in the show. “Listen now on Rdio” (sic) even though it couldn’t identify the song. “Celebrity Buzz” because identifying that song is so close to me wanting to know the latest spew about dipshits. “Cast”, because I might be curious to know John Doe plays Fred Blerp as a result of hearing a song toward the end of the third season of the show. “Latest Tweets” because that is a total crap-shoot on getting any real information. “IMDB” because hey, that web site is bound to give me all the music I need. “Wikipedia” because .. what the fuck, really? “Official Site” because now this app I paid for wants cross-marketing and click-through revenue no doubt. “Share” because I want to share that I watched this episode, and not share the actual song I was after in the first place. Last, “What is Shazam for TV?” advertises this new feature. Top bullet point and why I should like this new crap? “And get more info about what you’re watching, as you’re watching it! – Music in the show”.
This all makes me think, what software found a sweet spot of just working, where users were happy, and the company left well enough alone? No web browser has, very few operating systems have, no office packages have, no online services have…