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You had one job

March 17, 2019

I use an Apple Nike+ Watch to track my runs. I’ve continued my minimal running; these days that’s often all I carry, unless I need to bring keys with me. I haven’t run with music in months now, and generally I don’t miss it (although I am noticeably slower without upbeat music helping push my pace.

All I ask of the watch is that the Nike+ running app track my runs accurately. I don’t need training, I don’t care about accomplishments, and I don’t need challenges. In general it does a good job, aside from the general latency the watch exhibits (it’s a 2 1/2 year old Series 2, so some latency is forgivable). But roughly a month ago it started to crash every time I tried to finish a run. When I restarted the app it’d try to resume the run, and I could stop the run once it resumed, usually without the app crashing again. Usually. But with the app’s latency, it’d typically end up adding 20 seconds to my run times.

I’m not totally positive, but from the app’s behavior I’d guess it was leaking memory. When I paused tracking early in a run to wait for a light to turn it’d pause and resume pretty quickly, but if I had to stop at that same intersection on my return it’d take several seconds to pause and often nearly a minute before it would show me the stop / resume controls. And then at the end of my run as mentioned it would generally just crash. From the crash log it looks like it was taking too long to respond and the OS would kill it.

Nike finally did fix the app after a few weeks (or at least it hasn’t crashed on my recently, so I’m hoping it’s fixed), but this is a perfect illustration of an app losing sight of its core focus. How on earth could Nike let a bug like that, which focuses on the core app functionality, through? The app has one job it absolutely needs to do: track a run. Everything else (training, challenges, accomplishments) is just gravy; if your fitness app can’t track fitness, it’s useless. And it’s not like the bug was hard to find: go for a 10K run and it’ll show up.

Maybe their software development team needs a bit of exercise.

From → Software

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  1. …and you’re fired from it | jeff pierce

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