What if you don’t want the latest Twitter app?

What we have here, is a fundamental update problem.


iOS, and to a certain extent the evolution of the Mac OS, makes it too easy to update an app, and too hard to un-update. App developers sometimes make radical changes in their apps, and if a user just blindly updates it, say, on a routine iTunes visit, whoa, the user could be in for a sorry awakening.

Scrabble for iPhone in my case, came out with an ‘update’ that took away some of my most-used features and changed the app to an internet/sharing-focused app. I enjoyed playing one-on-one vs. the iPhone, and do not share my every life’s move online. Now I rarely use the app since it loads slowly and I have to fight my way past the ‘sharing’ opportunities to simply just play a short game vs. the computer. Wish I could revert to the previous version!

Today’s issue is what has been reviewed as a, ahem, ‘less than optimal’ change in the Twitter app for iPad. Previously, it was the wonderful Tweetie by Loren Brichter, but now, says the rajam report, “This has to be one of the most regressive updates I have seen to an app in a long time”, removing functionality and elegance for, shall we say, business concerns.


So, let’s say a person is not as diligent as to check each and every app update in iTunes to see if they want it, and also that they haven’t really been monitoring their favorite web sites to see if their favorite apps have stumbled in an update, and mistakenly updated, what then?

Since iTunes puts your previous version in the Trash when you download a new version of an iOS app, you could choose the offending app in iTunes, right-click for “Show in Finder”, delete the app, and drag the good, earlier, version back into iTunes or the Mobile Applications folder in your iTunes folder.

Let’s say it’s been a while since you updated, and you’ve emptied the trash! What about Time Machine? if you use it, great, but you can’t look at old Trash cans that way; when you open the Trash window in Finder, then open Time Machine, you find yourself in the user folder, which doesn’t contain Trash.

Instead, you can again find the offending app in iTunes, right-click “Open in Finder”, then, from the resulting Mobile Applications window, go back in Time Machine and Restore an earlier version if it exists in your Time Machine backups.

But then you’d still be presented with availability of an update on future checks in iTunes. There is no apparent way to mark app updates as ‘ignore’ and thus not show them in iTunes, as there is with Mac app updates.


In Sum

There is a big tech company whose co-founder was fond of pointing out their location at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. Yes, technical and liberal arts folk live in different universes, and being able to bring them together in a product is a phenomenal achievement. The Twitter app episode here shows the disconnect at that company. The app update situation shows something of a disconnect at that big tech company. User beware. User be ready to workaround in those instances where you haven’t paid attention when clicking update!