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Upgrade or ad-bomb?

Once upon a time, upgrading software was a hassle; you had to go to the website, download the file, close the program, run the upgrade, re-open the program... so no-one bothered. Now, at least on mobile devices, it's super-easy; you just go to the App Store (or equivalent for non-Apples) and click 'update'. Boom, as Steve Jobs would say. Done.

But there's a downside to this ease: if a software maker puts out an update people don't like, thousands will have downloaded it before word gets out.

Which has just happened with Twitter for iPhone and iPad. An update was released late last week that, among some other revisions, added a 'quick bar' which shows 'trending topics' at the top of the timeline. Which sounded like a harmless little feature, right? So thought thousands of users - including us - who cheerfully downloaded.

But it turns out the quick bar is driving lots of users up the wall. It sits at the top of the screen all the time, actually obscuring tweets. Why on earth would Twitter push out such an annoying implementation? Well, we're afraid, it's all about the money. 'Trending topics' includes tags advertisers have sponsored - like, for example, Ford's current sponsorship of the hashtag '#winning', popularised by Charlie Sheen. So the 'quick bar' looks like Twitter have essentially added ads to their application. Users aren't happy, giving it its own offensive nickname (hint: it's like 'quick bar', but it replaces 'quick' with a word that rhymes and starts with 'd').

The good news is, it seems Twitter are listening - they say they've already submitted a further update to Apple that makes it so the quick bar doesn't lie over tweets. We wouldn't be surprised if a future update doesn't make it optional. Just goes to show, it's always worth waiting a day to update an app to see if people think the new version is actually an improvement...

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