Opinion: Enough with the iPhone app updates already!

Too many too soon

Opinion: Enough with the iPhone app updates already!

My broadband connection is straining at the seams. Why? It's just finished downloading over 400MB of updated iPhone applications.

That's no exaggeration either. Admittedly, I do have a load of apps on my iPhone due to spending the last couple of weeks buying and reviewing them for this site, as well as my own use.

But still, most of the big iPhone games have gone through one, two or more updates since launching in just a couple of weeks.

It's just too much, particularly as once you download these updates to your PC, you have to then sync them in full with your iPhone, which takes a long, long time. And don't get me started on trying to do that directly on the iPhone itself...

So what gives? Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of update happening with iPhone games.

The first is bug fixes - a sign that lots of these games launched with technical gremlins. We can debate whether that's Apple or the developers' fault till the cows come home, but as a gamer, I'd rather have bugs fixed than left.

Then there's the feature tweaks, like Gameloft changing its games to let you play your own music in the background. And thirdly, there's games getting big new features - actual new gameplay and modes for example.

The problem in all this as a gamer is that the more games I buy, the more updates I'm going to be constantly downloading. And given the sluggishness of installing these updated games on my iPhone, it's a proper pain.

Maybe this will die down, if the problem is partly a lot of developers launching unfinished games to capitalise on the App Store launch.

But maybe it won't, not least because updating a game sends it to the top of the list of 'new' iPhone apps on the App Store, which by default is sorted by release date. In fact, most of these supposedly new apps are actually updated versions of ones that came out a week or two ago.

With that in mind, what incentive is there for developers to NOT patch their games, whether necessary or not?

Don't get me wrong: new features in games can be great as a gamer - see the add-ons you can get for PS3 games as an example, with new tracks for racing games and so on.

But the big FAIL for the App Store currently is the fact that a) everyone's releasing patches for their games every few days, b) you have to redownload and reinstall the entire app when they do so, and c) doing that takes far too long.

Here's hoping Apple is looking hard at these issues. Hey, maybe the App Store itself needs a major update... D'oh!