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Do Apple and Google Sabotage Older Phones? What the Graphs Don't Show

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the maybe-apple-fans-are-driven-by-pheremones dept.

Stats 281

Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan takes a look in the New York Times at interesting correlations between the release dates of new phones and OSes and search queries that indicate frustration with the speed of the phones that people already have. Mullainathan illustrates with graphs (and gives plausible explanations for the difference) just how different the curves are over time for the search terms "iPhone slow" and "Samsung Galaxy slow." It's easy to see with the iPhone graph especially how it could seem to users that Apple has intentionally slowed down older phones to nudge them toward upgrading. While he's careful not to rule out intentional slowing of older phone models (that's possible, after all), Mullainathan cites several factors that mean there's no need to believe in a phone-slowing conspiracy, and at least two big reasons (reputation, liability) for companies — Apple, Google, and cellphone manufacturers like Samsung — not to take part in one. He points out various wrinkles in what the data could really indicate, including genuine but innocent slowdowns caused by optimizing for newer hardware. It's an interesting look at the difference between having mere statistics, no matter how rigorously gathered, and knowing quite what they mean.

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DID SLASHDOT SABATOGE FIRST POSTS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542283)

fp

Re: DID SLASHDOT SABATOGE FIRST POSTS? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542521)

Suck my nuts

Not Just Phones (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542287)

It seems like *everything* starts slowing down or breaking for no reason. I don't buy wear/tear as a reason when everyone and their grandmother suggests that you need to update the firmware to get it working again. If it worked fine with the old firmware, why is updating the firmware fixing the problem? WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY OLD FIRMWARE!?

Re:Not Just Phones (3, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47542471)

When the old firmware has security issues like the Apple SSL bug it is a bad idea not to update the firmware.

I do suspect they do not even bother compiling the binaries for the older architecture by switching a couple of compiler flags though. The performance difference is just too big.

Re: Not Just Phones (4, Informative)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 3 months ago | (#47542523)

I do suspect they do not even bother compiling the binaries for the older architecture by switching a couple of compiler flags though. The performance difference is just too big.

Well your suspicion is incorrect. There is a separate build for the OS for each supported device. If you download the OS on the computer from iTunes you have to download a copy for your specific device.

Re: Not Just Phones (4, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47542985)

The question though is whether they're instructing the compiler to *optimize* for each target platform, or if the only difference is the drivers, etc. included for the different hardware.

Re: Not Just Phones (4, Funny)

Frank B (3767007) | about 3 months ago | (#47542519)

Yeah, come to think of it, my washer is a lot slower these days......

Re: Not Just Phones (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 months ago | (#47542661)

I've noticed the same thing about my body. Damn you, Apple!

Re: Not Just Phones (2)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about 3 months ago | (#47542669)

Hell, I'm a lot slower than I used to be.

Wonder where I can get a firmware upgrade?

Re: Not Just Phones (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542787)

Viagra will upgrade your 'firm' ware. . .

Human recall slows down too. (3, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | about 3 months ago | (#47543011)

Studies have also shown that as humans age their rate of recall also slows down, not because their brains are slower but because they have to navigate a database filled with entangled excess information. I've noticed that google searches by voice are vastly more word-accurate than siri searches by voice. But that's because google is doing something in the context of something else-- it has clues to context. Siri is trying to do free-form semantics over a much greater realm of possibilities. When you narrow Siri to a phone specific function, it does better than google. As the AI realm grows, perhaps to include sarcasm and slang, these services will require even more compute power to keep going.

However, these days, phone services are done on back end servers, so there is no great reason they should slow down in "modern" times.

my ipad 2 still works (3)

alen (225700) | about 3 months ago | (#47542291)

speed is about the same too. i plan to use it until it dies or i can't get any new apps which will probably be a year or so after ios 9 ships

Re:my ipad 2 still works (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 3 months ago | (#47542427)

My Galaxy note still works fine too, though I no longer use it as a phone. High end hardware tends to remain useful for years.

Re:my ipad 2 still works (4, Interesting)

blahbooboo (839709) | about 3 months ago | (#47542443)

You must not be very observant or extremely patient if you think iPad 2 is the same "use speed" as it was 2-3 iOS versions ago. It's tremendously slower under iOS 7...

Re:my ipad 2 still works (5, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 3 months ago | (#47542495)

If you turn off some of the animation stuff that has been added in iOS 7, it is fine.

Re:my ipad 2 still works (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543021)

But faster again under iOS 7.1, which gave some pretty major perf boosts.

Re:my ipad 2 still works (gee. i wonder why?) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543179)

in case you missed this:

http://apple.slashdot.org/story/14/07/21/1746206/researcher-finds-hidden-data-dumping-services-in-ios

Re:my ipad 2 still works (4, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | about 3 months ago | (#47542489)

What I find with my iPad 2 is that some websites have a lot more Javascript than they used to, and the iPad 2 isn't really fast enough to cope with them. Previously, those websites would have used flash, which didn't work at all, but generally you could still use the website without the flash plugins.

Re:my ipad 2 still works (1)

Cochonou (576531) | about 3 months ago | (#47542865)

You can't really say the same about the iPad 1. It's much slower on iOS 5.1 than on iOS 3.2. Of course, these operating system revisions don't have the same features...

Much ado about nothing (0, Troll)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 3 months ago | (#47542295)

In the end, the professor, after writing thousands of words, comes to no conclusion. In other words, what a waste of time. Additional new code will take more cycles to run. Gee, what a simple explanation.

Re: Much ado about nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542525)

Thousands of words? Can't count, eh?

Re:Much ado about nothing (5, Funny)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 3 months ago | (#47542789)

In the end, the professor, after writing thousands of words, comes to no conclusion.

He's an economist. That's his job.

There's two paths... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542301)

Apple, who continues to provide updates to older phones years after they're released. Some users find these new features slow down their older phones.

Google, who doesn't have a mechanism to provide updates to almost any of their phones years after they're released. Some users find their phones slow down years after release anyway.

Graph is search results, not speed measurements. (3, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47542313)

The methodology of testing the hypothesis is to look for google searches about "iphone slow" or "samsung slow". Assumption made is if people search for "iphone slow" Apple might have done something to slow down iPhones. The control group is Samsung which has the same motive as Apple but not the means because it does not control the OS.

It is a big leap, there could be various other explanations of varying degrees of malice. As the new release comes through, bug fixes for older releases are put on back burner, apps are changed and tuned to take advantage of new version run slower in older version.. Or the way graphics subsystem is organized in iOS might have different bottlenecks based on the display resolution. So as new releases come in, default sizes for buffers and hashtables might change deep in the OS slowing down older apps.

And if you are going to postulate "Apple might slow down older versions deliberately", why can't you postulate, "Google might spike and skew the history of the past searches to make Apple look bad"?

Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (3, Interesting)

boaworm (180781) | about 3 months ago | (#47542365)

It is a bit strange they did not correlate to iOS releases, but iPhone releases.

I find it much more likely that when you upgrade to iOS+1, the new features slow your phone down. I've experienced that several times, my 3GS became "much slower" after upgrading it. The new iOS had more eye candy etc.

But that's not the same as saying the old hardware is slower.

Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542375)

So the basic argument is that Apple are not evil, they're merely inept buffoons who cannot keep their software working on any hardware but the single new platform they're putting out next. Wow, let me go buy an iPhone right away! I love inept buffoonery!

Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (5, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 3 months ago | (#47542417)

The methodology of testing the hypothesis is to look for google searches about "iphone slow" or "samsung slow". Assumption made is if people search for "iphone slow" Apple might have done something to slow down iPhones. The control group is Samsung which has the same motive as Apple but not the means because it does not control the OS.

Actually, the data was gathered to see if the professor's view that his phone had slowed down was also shared by other iPhone users; they found an interesting correlation between search spikes and new iPhone models but were careful to say that doesn't prove anything other than people perceive a slowdown when a new phone comes out. He points out some valid reasons why the Samsung / Apple data differs, primarily that Apple releases a new version of IOS with the new iPhone and thus the new iOS may not be optimized for older hardware while many Android users remain on an older version. In addition, since the Andriod device makers don't control Android they may find it cheaper not to spend a lot of time on the OS and rather invest in hardware improvements as the differentiator.

Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 3 months ago | (#47542699)

The methodology of testing the hypothesis is to look for google searches about "iphone slow" or "samsung slow". Assumption made is if people search for "iphone slow" Apple might have done something to slow down iPhones. The control group is Samsung which has the same motive as Apple but not the means because it does not control the OS.

It is a big leap, there could be various other explanations of varying degrees of malice. As the new release comes through, bug fixes for older releases are put on back burner, apps are changed and tuned to take advantage of new version run slower in older version.. Or the way graphics subsystem is organized in iOS might have different bottlenecks based on the display resolution. So as new releases come in, default sizes for buffers and hashtables might change deep in the OS slowing down older apps.

And if you are going to postulate "Apple might slow down older versions deliberately", why can't you postulate, "Google might spike and skew the history of the past searches to make Apple look bad"?

There's another problem with his theory as well; as we all know, Android phones don't get many OS updates, if any at all. Every study that checks (using real methods) the Android versions currently in use based on hardware, vendor, or general population finds that unless you bought your phone very recently, there's almost no chance you're running the latest version of Android. So how is it that Google is managing to slow down old phones with code in the new versions of Android in the first place?

Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542701)

Bullshit question, but I'll bite. Google has no financial motivation, nor any indication that htey can keep a project running long-term, that would encourage them to deliberately manipulate the search history of something like that.

On the other hand, querying google search volume is very valid, as manufacturers routinely do things in the OS to sabotage benchmarking software, but the feelings of hundreds of thousands of people can be influenced by their experiences. As the good professor repeatedly points out, his observation draws no conclusion.

Re:Graph is search results, not speed measurements (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543055)

The interesting thing to me actually is that the rate of searches on Samsung phones increases faster than the iPhone, which increases in spikes at major OS versions. The implication is that Samsung phones get slower over time without updating them, while with iOS it's simply that newer OS versions add more code and more for the phone to do.

They learned this practice from the most (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 3 months ago | (#47542325)

experienced and best- Microsoft!

Every time they come out with a new OS, the old one suddenly needs security "updates" at a faster and faster rate, and for some reason, more and more of them require reboots. Likewise MS Office- they change the file formats with each release to prevent compatibility with older versions and especially compatibility with freeware office suites.

Re:They learned this practice from the most (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542341)

What people in the West generally don't accept (being the cattle that they are) is the following:

1. Most Pharmacists are modern day drug pushers.
2. Most Doctors and dentists (especially dentists) are assassins.
3. Most tech companies are also glorified pushers.

Re:They learned this practice from the most (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542629)

Maybe this is true, but still... WP is the most stable mobile platform without performance degradation and without feeding it's users with "mandatory" updates.

Validity of the Data (2)

SirAudioMan (2836381) | about 3 months ago | (#47542333)

Interesting musings but the first thing that came to my mind is the reverse - is Google sabotaging the search results? I know this sounds a bit strange but could it be possible that Google is being 'creative' with the raw Google Analytics data. Would it not serve Google's best interest to fudge the results to make Apple look bad right around the time of one of their releases trying to drive people to Android.

My $0.02

No need for a conspiracy (5, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | about 3 months ago | (#47542357)

I don't think there's any reason to read a conspiracy into the situation. They release a new phone that's much faster, and then they release an updated OS with new features to take advantage of that extra computing power. Adding features that use more computing power makes the old phones seem slow.

I'm tempted to compare it to the development of desktops and laptops, both of which went through similar upgrade cycles before leveling off a bit. However, there's a big difference in that desktop and laptops were developing quickly to cram features into the OS, at the cost of focus on efficiency, which serves as a partial explanation as to why things became "slow" with upgrades. Desktop and laptop software went through a period of bloat, and then in recent years, additional features traded off against speed gains from recoding things with efficiency as a goal. Meanwhile, Android and iOS needed to be written to be efficient from the start. They wanted to make the hardware as small/thin/light as possible, which meant that the power requirements had to be low. To give an example of the effects of this, a requirement for using as little power as possible has been the reason iOS has always limited multitasking.

Re:No need for a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542465)

>> they release an updated OS with new features to take advantage of that extra computing power.

And there is the crux. Apple tends to err towards updating older models and sometimes that makes them slow down on the new OS. Android manufacturers tend to not upgrade older models so they don't slow down but also don't get any new features.
What is better? I suspect apple would be getting heat regardless of what option they chose.

Re:No need for a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542533)

makes the old phones seem slow

not "seem" .. it is not perception, it is reality. latest IOS on older models is in fact complete shit compared to previous versions on that hardware, even one generation older than the hardware released at same time. same goes for ipads, too. yes, apple does this, and does it knowingly and intentionally to generate additional hardware sales for them, and renewed contracts for carriers.

but apple and phones is not the only place you see this. forced obsolescence is a common strategy utilized by any company with enough pull and market share to get away with it. apple, microsoft, and google are three such companies... with apple doing it themselves and partnering with carriers, microsoft teaming up with hardware (component and system oems) and other software vendors in addition to their own antics, and google partnering with handset makers and carriers

bloating software to spur hardware sales is a little more 'hidden' than, say, EOLing software despite 33%+ global market share but it does the same thing... generates additional hardware sales that would not have otherwise been seen.

Re:No need for a conspiracy (2)

guruevi (827432) | about 3 months ago | (#47542971)

If you make such claims, please back them up with statements. The latest iOS upgrade has been a great improvement to both speed and usability for my iPhone 4 and my iPad 1 is no slower today through all the upgrades than when I started using it 3 years ago, it still runs all the games and whatnots.

http://www.macworld.com/articl... [macworld.com]

Re:No need for a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543175)

Well no, Android is written in Java if I am not mistaken, no conspiracy folks!

Re:No need for a conspiracy (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 3 months ago | (#47542537)

And I'm tempted to compare it to the behavior of users who want the latest and shiniest, but complain about the shinies eating performance.

Desktop analogy:
I sometimes suggest to users of Vista and above that they switch back to the "traditional" XP look of the desktop. Most of the time that suggestion is met by derision. Only those who disliked the change in the first place tend to like my suggestion (if they have not already changed their desktop settings themselves).

Re:No need for a conspiracy (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 months ago | (#47542719)

Actually, they would be switching back to the 'traditional' Windows 95 look of the desktop, since XP was itself a bubblegum-shop abomination.

Re:No need for a conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542681)

And how exactly do you rationalize the addition of features that will degrade performance for the old hardware?
They could easily just add a patch for the old version and halt updates completely. But they don't.

This "conspiracy" might not be intentional, but they're not doing anything about it either.

Re:No need for a conspiracy (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 months ago | (#47542697)

then they release an updated OS with new features to take advantage of that extra computing power.

Sadly, they mostly release new eye-candy to use up that extra computing power. This has been the case for decades. It also has to do with boosting the ego of the dev team by letting them shovel more of their 'cruft' into the software 'just because.'

A newer improved version of software should run faster than the old version on the same hardware, unless substantial new features have been added, and even then should only bog down if those new features are invoked. It's one of those 'what the fuck is this' phenomena, and it's staggering how many people will say 'that just isn't realistic.'

Re:No need for a conspiracy (1)

Skarjak (3492305) | about 3 months ago | (#47543123)

If you know the older phones were not designed to take advantage of the update... why release it to them? Isn't that deliberately slowing them, as the "conspiracy" claims? I certainly don't want an update that will make my phone slower, no matter what functionality you may be adding.

Re:No need for a conspiracy (2)

strikethree (811449) | about 3 months ago | (#47543163)

So in other words, what you are saying is that Apple released a new version of iOS and intentionally did not test it against older models because, well, fuck you, that's why.

So explain to me how this is different than intentionally slowing down older models? Yeah...

I had a iPhone 2. It went to shit (not just under optimised) once the 3 came out. I bought a 3GS. It went to shit when the 4 came out (but haha! I only upgraded my friends phones, not my own, so my 3GS was still useful for a few more years).

Once I saw the writing on the wall concerning the upgrade treadmill, I stopped buying Apple products. I had still purchased an iPad 2 and a Macbook Pro 15 inch, but I am done with Apple. I will not be upgrading the iOS on my iPad and I am still on Snow Leopard for my Macbook. I am done. I just do not wish to dedicate so much of my resources just to "stay in the same place". There is nothing any of their newer devices or operating systems offer to me that I want... and certainly nothing worth my money. But then, I would still be on XP64 if I could. Grrrrr.

This is one of the features of a capitalist society that I hate. Every business thinks they need to suck as much revenue out of you as possible regardless of whether or not it even makes sense from your own point of view. That leads to this kind of shit: Perfectly good phones needing be thrown out.

Oh, one other thing, once I tossed out iPhones, I went to Android. You certainly do not have to worry about updates rendering your phones useless in America. The carriers actively block all updates whatsoever because they refuse to update their own "control" software that they built into the original Android software that they shipped in your phone. That means unless you are running Cyanogenmod or some other custom "ROM", you will never see an update... which means that the updates do not actually slow down your phone because their is no economic incentive to do so!

But meh. Capitalism is infinitely better than Communism but the warts really show in these situations. Is there anything better?

In conclusion... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 months ago | (#47542367)

Finally, we see a big limitation: This data reveals only correlations, not conclusions. We are left with at least two different interpretations of the sudden spike in “iPhone slow” queries, one conspiratorial and one benign. It is tempting to say, “See, this is why big data is useless.” But that is too trite. Correlations are what motivate us to look further. If all that big data does — and it surely does more — is to point out interesting correlations whose fundamental reasons we unpack in other ways, that already has immense value.

And if those correlations allow conspiracy theorists to become that much more smug, that’s a small price to pay.

And the cost is going to be paid by some company or the other for the benefit of some class action house or another.

It's the OS, silly (2)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 3 months ago | (#47542377)

As the author points out, each phone release is accompanied by a major OS release. With a major software release comes bugs, as well as a raft of CPU-eating new features to play with, so it makes perfect sense that there would be a spike in complaints about performance and a host of other issues. No conspiracy necessary.

Re:It's the OS, silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542511)

but google and apple could include code in the new OS to detect which phone the customer has (ie: how much RAM and the processor) and disable features that will overtax the phone. my suspicion is that it's not that there's a conspiracy, but google and apple are aware that a new version of their OS will bog down older phone and they don't care. so they don't intentionally make new versions of their OS to make old phones run like crap, but they also intentionally don't include optimizations or tweaks to make the new OS run relatively well on older hardware.

Re:It's the OS, silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542665)

Planned obsolescence.

Anyway, there is code that detects devices and disables certain new functionality on older device (for example parallax effect is disabled on iphone4), however this feature toggles still consume CPU cycles and code is still there in the memory. They would need to implement different upgrades for each device, but this is ofc very time consuming (they'd need to test everything many more times) and at the end of the day, it helps them force users to make them buy new devices...

Summery header is a lie. It is not about Google. (-1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 3 months ago | (#47542379)

The article is about Apple and particularly iPhones perceivably slowing down, as older hardware struggle with the latest versions of iOS. This has nothing to do with conspiracy. It is simply about Apples misguided attempt to pretend to have a product line, by selling older versions of its products to differentiate. It creates a crazy situation like Google selling the Moto E 540 x 960 pixels, 4.3 inches; 1 GB RAM; Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 and Apple selling 640 x 960 pixels, 3.5 inches; 512 MB RAM; 1 GHz Cortex-A8. They do this because they want to push consumers to the latest phones. Google on the other hand want everyone on there latest of OS which is why they are working on Project Butter and Project Svelte to optimize hardware.

Is not so much evil as Apple simply do not do software well.

Re:Summery header is a lie. It is not about Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542505)

>> Google on the other hand want everyone on there latest of OS which is why they are working on Project Butter and Project Svelte to optimize hardware.

Google want people on their latest OS? So why are they doing such a miserable job of it? Only 17.9% of android devices are running 4.4. Meanwhile 90% of ios devices are on ios 7.

Eh? (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 3 months ago | (#47542619)

Meanwhile 90% of ios devices are on ios 7.

The problem under discussion is Apples earlier products not being able to cope with the the latest version of its OS which means a massive percentage of those products should never have been upgraded to iOS7. It is a problem Android does not have.

Re: Summery header is a lie. It is not about Googl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542541)

Apple doesn't do software well? That's the stupidest thing I've read here in a long time.

Re: Summery header is a lie. It is not about Googl (1)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 3 months ago | (#47542543)

Google on the other hand want everyone on there latest of OS which is why they are working on Project Butter and Project Svelte to optimize hardware.

You obviously don't know how slow and inefficient Dalvik is.....

Dalvik is dead, long live Dalvik! (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 3 months ago | (#47542593)

You obviously don't know how slow and inefficient Dalvik is.....

Except that was never true; ART is going full steam ahead in replacing Dalvik.

ART will increase the speed and efficiency of apps on Android phones. However, it will use up a bit more space on a user's mobile phone, along with longer install times. ART is also said to be able to give a slight improvement on a phone's battery life.

Again further improvements only earlier versions.

Weird premise (3, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47542387)

The article says, "phones feel slower over time as they hold more software". How does this follow? How does the phone get "slower" just because more software is installed? This sounds an awful lot like the cargo cult thinking of "well the hard drive is full so we have to buy a new computer because this one is slow."

I know some software will start agents on boot, but they just sit in the background and do little. top reveals very little CPU time and memory consumed by these.

Re:Weird premise (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47542499)

It does get slower with upgrades man. I have an iPhone 3GS and it is way slower after the upgrades than when I bought it. To the point I way forever for applications, even Apple's, to start, scrolling is jerky. Even the phone startup and shutdown are slower.

Sometimes I feel like the graphics driver is not optimized and the binaries have been compiled with the wrong processor flags and aren't being scheduled properly.

Re:Weird premise (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542581)

It's clearly your fault for upgrading without doing extensive research, first, as another user here on Slashdot has just informed me. I have to admit, my loyalty was threatened a little by what happened to my iPhone 3G, and Apple is a great company, you see, with our best interests at heart. To take advantage of all of this enormous corporate beneficence and goodwill, you just have to remember not to trust a single update that Apple ever offers for a device without doing extensive research, first! Apple: The Computer for the Rest of Usà as long as we stay Ever Vigilant to fall prey to Apple update fuckery. Clearly iOS is the superior smartphone ecosystem.

Re:Weird premise (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 3 months ago | (#47543007)

>"well the hard drive is full so we have to buy a new computer because this one is slow

You should know that is actually possible, I am disappointed here.

On a spinning drive, once it gets close to full you start running out of contiguous space to write files, which of course means fragmentation occurs. Multiple seeks greatly increase filesystem latency. The end result of that latency is the system feeling slow.

Of course hard drives don't directly correlate to flash memory, but they have their own host of issues. Cells where out and write amplification occurs. Just read about how SSDs and flash slow down as they fill up.

How about the cell characters? (1)

InPursuitOfTruth (2676955) | about 3 months ago | (#47542403)

I have one of the first HSPA+ ("4G") phones, the T-mobile G2, and it still works 100%. But, it seems lately that getting a solid 4G connection is getting harder in the same places I've been using it for years. Shouldn't it be improving? Obviously, the carriers benefit from phone upgrades, too, as they are he primary retailers of them.

Re:How about the cell characters? (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#47542509)

Let me guess it doesn't support all the 4G frequencies modern phones do.

Re:How about the cell characters? (2)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 months ago | (#47542739)

More and more other people have 4G phones using those frequencies, is my best guess.

The innocence of optimisation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542411)

It seems rather backward to "optimize for newer hardware" since it is presumably faster than older hardware and so ought to need less "optimization" to function properly. So, focusing just on newer hardware artificially but wilfully puts older hardware on a bigger than necessary disadvantage, and is thus far from innocent.

It is de rigeur, though, and not just with hardware. Witness all sorts of websites previously functioning fine yet suddenly needing every visitor to install newer software (which is not always available!) to be presented... the exact same content as before, just in a newer and wilfully incompatible wrapper. This is a new face on the old refrain of browser wars, where in the end it's always the accessibility that suffers. Nevermind the longevity.

I feel so much better now (0)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542419)

For a moment there, I suspected Apple might have slowed down my old iPhone 3G to an unuseable crawl intentionally, but after reading the above, I finally understand that it wasn't intentionally done to annoy me. They simply pushed a wrongly optimised update to a phone that couldn't run it well, because they no longer gave a shit about me, since I was not upgrading to the latest device. So this was a totally "innocent" move! My trust in Apple is restored! Thank you, Slashdot, for informing me of "what the graphs don't show". I am so reassured. For a moment there I thought I was going to have to look askance at my most sacredest cow.

Re:I feel so much better now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542529)

Well you have two options. Either get the latest update or don't. Let me guess, you'd also be pissed at apple if they didn't give you access to an updated ios.
Or, I have an even better option: do your research before upgrading an old phone. If people say it's slow and you don't care for the new features, don't upgrade. Nevermind we have an old 3GS in the lab it runs ios 6 just fine. In some ways better than the iPhone 4 because it has so much fewer pixels to push.

Re:I feel so much better now (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542555)

"Do your research before upgrading an old phone" = "Don't trust Apple". Are you suggesting that I should NOT in fact trust my sacredest of sacred cows? Blasphemy!

Re:I feel so much better now (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 3 months ago | (#47542753)

My SE/30 chugs along about as nicely as it has for decades now. Apple made a fine product, at some point in the past.

Re:I feel so much better now (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542885)

And they still do! And you can put your complete trust in them, EXCEPT for allowing them to put anything new on your computer without at least a 4-hour session of Googling for advice from total strangers. This is how I defend Apple because everyone should know that Apple is not like other companies. They have your best interests at heart.

Breaking Basic Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542425)

What concerns me far more is the tendency to hamper or break basic functionality, such as wi-fi and cellular performance when new OS versions come out. Kitkat has largely been a disaster in this area, yet we don't hear from Google on what the plan is to address these issues and when. But we do hear about all the new OS features and neato keen stuff. It suggests a problem with quality control and an unwillingness to take the necessary steps to fix it properly.

You keep using that word.... (1)

waddgodd (34934) | about 3 months ago | (#47542429)

I'm going to go out on a limb and point out that neither Samsung, Apple, nor Google would give a rip if they DID get the rep for slowing down obsolete stuff intentionally. Each one has a long history of engaging in planned obsolescence activities and spiking performance metrics anyways, so doing a combination of the two isn't exactly something to be avoided by them. As for liabiliy? They've gotten away with Planned Obsolescence unscathed so far, what is this liabiliy you speak of?

Google wants you to click advertisments (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 3 months ago | (#47542641)

I'm going to go out on a limb and point out that neither Samsung, Apple, nor Google would give a rip if they DID get the rep for slowing down obsolete stuff intentionally.

Except it is not remotely true for Google, who want to make money from you doing more. They spend a lot of time making things faster to make more money.

Re: You keep using that word.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543259)

Reputation and Liability never stopped AT$T from deliberately effing with phone service to get customers to upgrade

This is not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542457)

I think its no secret that all business that makes products wants you to continue to feed their bank account by buying a new product. Its also no secret that both Apple and Google would focus new OS development on newer models and with that comes the ability to add more features that can take advantage of new hardware.
What I have seen lately in terms of backwards support is to not forget or drop support for past models, but to sometimes leave out features that are only available on new products. This has been my argument against tablets of late because Apple tends to advance its OS to a point of forcing a extinction of old hardware before it really becomes unusable. Case in point was the original iPad which does not even get security updates and many app developers were forced to abandon updating their apps for it as well. Microsoft is not stranger in dropping support for Windows phones on a whim either. Plus, you have how many versions of Android floating around on tablets and smartphones. Some never getting another update and some eligible for one. Very confusing for the consumer and then of course you have the hybrid mobile OS's in devices from Amazon and Barnes and Noble which borrow some cues from Android but do their own apps. I think with manufactures of smartphones, tablets and even other tech. The interest is getting the consumer to constantly upgrade to the latest model. I don't think a Google, Apple or Microsoft wants you to keep using any device beyond a point where advancements are hindered by backwards compatibility. They all will continue to nudge the consumer into new product.

The issue is that Apple treats you like a child (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542469)

Apple prevents you from downgrading your device to an earlier firmware that performs better.

So if you have performance issues with the latest version, you're stuck.

Since end-users have all sorts of firmware versions, developers want to test their apps on different ios versions. Developers are kind of screwed unless they keep dozens of devices with different firmware versions.

Apple does have a simulator, but it only does versions 6.1, 7.0 and 7.1 (and even then, simulators & reality aren't always the same): https://developer.apple.com/li... [apple.com]

I don't know if google does the same thing with android.

All Android devices up to 4.3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542493)

All Android devices up to version 4.3 get slower and slower over time because they don't have trim support. Device bussiness probably loved that feature, but I guess Google finally had to fix it when Nexus devices started getting affected.

Confusing even then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542507)

It still confuses me as to why these companies release feature updates for older phones fairly quickly after release of hardware.
Don't you WANT people to get the new phones? All those delicious new features would make me want to update if I cared for phones.
But if they got rolled out on to older phones, I would put up with the speed issues until it got unusable.

Ideally if you are going to do things right, release the update after 1.5-2 years from the hardware release. That should get you the most people out there on to new hardware, leading to less problems with the whole "oh this is so slow" searches and complaints.

Either that or they do do this and everything posted here is completely different from how they do things.
I have no idea since I don't waste my time with such stupid crap. Why would I use a phone when the internet exists?
Travelling? Why would I use a phone when internet dongles exist?
All the usefulness of a phone WITHOUT the phone.
I don't like talking to people is what I am trying to get at here. Fuck people and their nasally voices. Good ol' standard text. You'll never annoy me. Unless you are comic sans, in which case I will delete you.

Hardware ages too (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 3 months ago | (#47542557)

My samsung epic 2 gps antennae is much weaker than it used to be.

I suspect the other hardware is also designed to be "good enough to last a few years but not a decade" to save a few pennies.

Hardware ages too (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542617)

You're right. Electronic equipment ages so fast. I've never seen a hard drive last more than a couple of years, and we are lucky if a memory chip lasts more than six months! There is nothing less reliable in the long-term than solid state electronics gear with no moving parts.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

Adam Simons (2881717) | about 3 months ago | (#47542683)

"...hard drive last more than a couple of years..." What, are you buying Seagates, running them in an oven, all while shaking them constantly and beating the crap out of them? I've got hard drives that are pushing their second decade with little to no signs of wear (two are Western Digital and one is a Hitachi). At work, though, I've seen hard drives fail within a year, but they're usually in the el cheapo Wal-mart HP Pavilions that people refuse to stop buying even though they are UTTER AND COMPLETE CRAP. You get what you pay for, people. If you want a drive to last, put a little more money in a Western Digital Caviar Black or get yourself a server-class drive. Even if it fails, the WD Black has a 5-year warranty with little to no questions asked. And really, you should be backing up your data anyway.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542695)

Of course I back up my data! Because electronic equipment is the most unreliable substance in the universe. I can practically see it disintegrating before my eyes. I like this fact because it excuses Apple of any wrongdoing.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

Adam Simons (2881717) | about 3 months ago | (#47542801)

I just always have to stress the backup part. Many of my customers will buy the cheapest, crappiest laptop WalMart has to offer, throw their entire photo albums and history on there, no back ANYTHING up, EVER, throw the laptop around like a throw pillow (often while it's on), and then come in crying that their computer won't boot and they lost their entire family photo albums. If I didn't see this weekly, I might have more pity on the poor suckers. That $229 laptop isn't such a great deal when you have to have the hard drive and operating system reinstalled a year later. One thing I have learned from these people is to never rely on a Seagate or Toshiba hard drive. Even factoring in customer abuse, I've seen FAR more of these two brands fail than any other.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542839)

Why are we even talking about hard drives? That was a throwaway line. I shouldn't have even referenced it. Mobile devices have flash drives, not hard drives, and much like solid state GPS antennas, solid state flash drives, on average, begin to lose structural integrity and shake apart within several weeks of purchase, in a long degenerative process that you'd be LUCKY to see last 2 years. Therefore, Apple can stuff whatever non-functional shit on these already non-functional devices they damn well please. Electronics die in hours, you see. But Apple is forever!

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

Adam Simons (2881717) | about 3 months ago | (#47542949)

Um, welcome to Slashdot? I hardly ever comment here because the comments are usually so far off-topic that there's no chance of the train ever getting back on track. At least talking about hard drives has some relevance to the article, even though there hasn't been an actual, rotating-platter hard drive in most portable electronics since the early iPods. I'm not bashing /. per se, but look at the comments on a random article and you'll see what I mean. Any time I go to a comments section and the first posts are "FIRST!!!!1" or some crap like that, I really don't expect to find intelligent conversation. However, this article seems to have attracted a few people who actually know how to use the internet, and so I applaud the bulk of you.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47543001)

I do in fact have a most laudable bulk -- thank you for noticing. This page is the first time I have visited Slashdot in many years, and I am very encouraging by how everyone seems to instantly grok my posts. I heard the commenting community had degenerated here, but obviously I was misinformed...

Re:Hardware ages too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543037)

> I hardly ever comment here because the comments are usually so far off-topic that there's no chance of the train ever getting back on track.

So you decided that if you can't beat them you might as well join them?

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

Adam Simons (2881717) | about 3 months ago | (#47543061)

Yup. The will to fight the good fight has been beaten out of me.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 months ago | (#47542723)

I've never seen a hard drive last more than a couple of years

I've got a hard drive sitting here that's pretty old. I converted it to an external drive after replacing it with newer ones in my computer.

I'm not sure exactly how old it is, but I'm pretty sure that instead of storing the data as 0's and 1's it's using cuneiform symbols. I'm telling you, it's old.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

TechnicolourSquirrel (1092811) | about 3 months ago | (#47542767)

That's because hard drives have moving parts, which make them more durable. That's why they can last as long as two years or more. Solid state stuff, however, like memory chips and GPS antennas, will clearly disintegrate before lunch. Therefore, Apple is not at fault for pushing slow software onto old devices -- it's a miracle those devices still run at all! Be grateful for what you have. No one promised you could own something that works for more than a year.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

Adam Simons (2881717) | about 3 months ago | (#47542821)

Nah, the data is still stored as 0's and 1's, otherwise your computer wouldn't know what to do with it; the data is just represented internally as cuneiform symbols. Nit picky, I know.

Re:Hardware ages too (1)

dissy (172727) | about 3 months ago | (#47542831)

I still have a functioning MFM double-height 5.25" (Yes it requires two bays) 10MB hard drive here that, judging purely from scar I still have after stubbing my toe on it a decade ago, I'm pretty sure actually does contain rotating clay tablets inside its steal frame as well as a stocky overweight gnome with an actual iron chisel.
I wonder if our drives share the same encoding scheme...
 

TRIM does wonders (1)

Adam Simons (2881717) | about 3 months ago | (#47542591)

My old FroYo phone was glacier slow until I downloaded a fsTrim utility. It requires root, but it made my old dinosaur run MUCH faster. It even noticeably sped up my current 4.1.1 phone which doesn't yet have TRIM support built in. I think it was called LagFix Free in the Play Store, but I could be mistaken. If you have a rooted Android phone that DOESN'T already support TRIM, give it a go; it did wonders for both of my phones.

Re:TRIM does wonders (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542721)

Slashdotters NEVER get trim!

7500 & OS 9 (1)

mrfatmann (692224) | about 3 months ago | (#47542595)

I've managed to keep my machines in service well past the updates in OS. If Apple products really go on the fritz near the time of new releases, they've been doing it for a long time.

Planned obsolescence (3, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 3 months ago | (#47542761)

The concept is called planned obsolescence [investopedia.com] , and it has existed for as long as people have been buying things.

uh, benchmarks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542763)

Wouldn't it be trivial to detect speed changes after the newer OS is installed on the older phone model? Aren't all phones benchmarked by the trade press?

iAnything = Status symbol (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 3 months ago | (#47542855)

Apple markets and prices their products as status symbols. If you don't have the latest, shiniest gadget you aren't cool anymore, especially when your hipster friends are waving their latest toy in your face. So of course you need a reason to justify a new iAnything device.

Simple explanation (1)

jgotts (2785) | about 3 months ago | (#47542909)

The default setting for most apps is to phone home every 15 minutes or at some absurdly-high interval. Once you lose 4G coverage your phone slows to a crawl. When you turn off automatic updates and notifications (which can be arduous or impossible for some apps) even older smartphones run well.

Every time my Samsung Galaxy S3 is running slowly, some app developer forgot my preferences and turned back on auto updates. The ABC News app was the latest violator.

There is no reason why an app can't load content on demand while running. When apps are not open, they should do doing nothing! Apps not being open can be a strong indication that you are not in a coverage area, or coverage is poor. So automatic updates when no apps are running is the opposite of what you want to do.

The only thing I want to be happening in the background is backing up my files, and even then only on wifi and while charging. If I'm doing nothing, apps should be doing nothing.

Option to "never" upgrade please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47542917)

If they weren't trying to encourage or force people to upgrade then why do they continue to offer upgrades rather than give us the option to forever stay at a particular release?

Oh yes, there are security issues that need to be patched.

Here Apple and Google should take a leaf out of Microsoft's book and maintain security patching for more than just their latest current release.

But do they do that?

No, for their premium products, they demand everyone to use only the latest and greatest.

Re: Option to "never" upgrade please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47543075)

Let's go with a good old car analogy on this. GM tells every owner of a vehicle with a bad ignition switch to throw their car in the trash and buy a new one. You'd be okay with that?

It is HARD to support non-shipping devices (2)

iamacat (583406) | about 3 months ago | (#47543249)

If you plan to support new code base on old devices at all, development of a large project will result in hundreds of decision points where you can either have more features and faster or easier to maintain code on shipping hardware or better performance on discontinued devices. Just how much effort would YOU spend in the later, especially with a hard deadline coming up?

A new OS is also likely to create new demands on device drivers. How much support are you going to get from the manufacturers after they have discontinued the hardware, got out of an entire area of business or simply went belly up? Anyone who has a working knowledge of the chipset could already have left the company or be engaged on other pressing projects.

I think the most realistic solution is to release all available and legally unconstrained knowledge about the platform to community so that they can provide solutions like CyanogenMod as long as there is sufficient interest. In the meantime, try to treat free updates to discontinued hardware as a glass half full. The vendor has spent millions of dollars developing, testing and certifying it, with no commercial gains for itself besides reputation.

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