Have you noticed that a lot of the things you love keep getting worse for no reason?
If so, you’re not alone. The first half of 2023 has gifted us with a plethora of big-time updates to our favorite apps, like Twitter, HBO Max, and Netflix. Change isn’t inherently a bad thing, but in these cases, we’d rather go back to the way things were.
Here are the app updates from the first half of 2023 that had us yearning for yesteryear.
Almost every Twitter update
Look, Twitter is a disaster zone right now and everyone (save for the most loyal and dogmatic Elon Musk stans) knows it. Most of the entries on this list will focus on one major change, but Twitter has seen so many bad, borderline site-ruining updates in the first six months of this year that it was hard to choose just one.
Seriously, here’s just a sample menu:
- Only Twitter Blue subscribers have blue checkmarks now
- Dormant accounts are being purged
- Encrypted DMs are here, but you have to pay for them and opt-in
- There’s a stupid exclamation point at the end of “What’s happening?!” now
- People can now upload videos of up to two hours in length
The crazy part is those don’t even scratch the surface of the myriad ways in which Twitter has gotten worse recently! Bots and spam DMs are on the rise, the worst opinions of all time get priority in replies to viral tweets now thanks to Twitter Blue, and the site is kinda sorta supporting Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign.
I can’t get off that sinking ship fast enough.
Netflix’s password sharing crackdown
Netflix rose to the top of the streaming game mostly by virtue of getting there first. One could easily argue it doesn’t have the best app or the best original movies and shows. Heck, you might even wonder if it’s still worth your money at times. Unfortunately, Netflix is pioneering a potentially troubling trend in streaming in 2023: cracking down on password sharing.
As of May, Netflix users need to physically be inside the home of the account owner to stream. Account owners can essentially gift access to a friend or family member who lives somewhere else, but it costs an extra $7.99/mo to do so on top of the $15 to $20/mo they’re already paying to stream in the first place.
Let’s not sugarcoat things: This sucks. As the user of someone else’s Netflix account, I’m much more likely to just never use Netflix again than going through the hassle of setting up another paid profile for myself. It’s straight up hostile to customers to take away a beloved feature they’ve been using for a decade
Speaking of streaming services being hostile to customers, this next one hurts, man. HBO Max has been the best streaming app around for the last few years thanks to a wide-ranging and diverse collection of high quality scripted entertainment. And now it’s dead, sort of.
Warner Bros. Discovery officially rebranded the app to just Max in late May. Beyond the name change, you’ll find that the app is now home to a whole lot of reality television (which used to live on a separate Discovery-branded app) alongside prestigious HBO stuff. To be clear, I’m not railing against the concept of reality TV; I just don’t think The Sopranos and 90 Day Fiancé mix like chocolate and peanut butter. They used to live on separate apps and it should’ve stayed that way.
Oh, and you have to download a whole new app and dig up your login information again, a step that is sure to be too much effort for some people. Bleh. RIP HBO Max.
Snapchat’s My AI
Back in April, Snapchat gave every user a little computer buddy to talk to called My AI. You can have conversations with it and it’ll even generate AI images for you. And a lot of people hate it.
That’s because Snapchat made the curious decision to pin My AI to the very top of every user’s chat feed. Have an ongoing chat with your significant other? Sorry, it’s second fiddle to My AI now. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also an element of data collection going on behind the scenes so My AI can have better conversations with you.
Forcing something so inessential on every user and violating data privacy is the kind of double whammy that gets you on this list.
Apple updates Dark Sky…to death
For years, Dark Sky was one of the best weather apps you could put on your smartphone. Its interface was clean, its information was accurate, and for many people it was an essential tool in planning out each day.
And then Apple bought it and killed it. Dark Sky went dark at the dawn of the new year, leaving longtime users to find a new weather app. Ideally, they would just use the default Weather app on iPhone. Realistically, that’s not an option because it doesn’t really work half the time.
You killed the wrong weather app, Apple.
The TikTok-ification of Spotify
Last but most certainly not least is what happened to Spotify starting in March. One of the biggest names in music streaming made the curious decision to go all-in on a TikTok-esque vertical video feed on its main screen.
Of course, the internet hates it. That reaction is pretty much guaranteed whenever a popular app changes anything, but it was warranted this time. Spotify is made for listening. Its purpose is to be used passively while you do other things. This update misses the point, instead asking users to stare at the app to presumably juice up some engagement metrics or something.
Thankfully, it hasn’t hit my phone yet. I fear the day when it does.