UX DESIGN

11 Popular Deleted Product & Features That Users Loved

Sanjoli Jain | 8 min read

“If it is not broken, don’t fix it.”

I heard this phrase originally from my supervisor at one of my first jobs. It is widely attributed to Thomas Bertram Lance, the director of the Office of Management and Budget during Jimmy Carter’s Presidency.

Bert Lance believed that he can save billions if he gets the government to adopt the motto, “If it is not broken, don’t fix it!” Lance gets the credit for popularizing the saying. But the phrase has been used across the world for many years before that.

There are indeed times when things don’t necessitate replacement, but we often put off replacing or fixing things for our own complacency, being penny wise and pound foolish.

Let’s explore some iconic features from popular applications that were removed or replaced for one or the other reason.

1. Snapchat Camera Icon

snapchat camera icon

Before an update in 2018, Snapchat used to have two different camera icons — two arrows around a circle for the rear camera and two arrows around a smiley face on the front camera. However, after the update, Snapchat changed it to the same camera icon for both front and rear. It left the users confused as they couldn’t figure out what side of the camera they were using.

Some reactions from the netizens were usability-oriented, while some were purely emotional.

2. Twitter Fleets

On August 3rd, 2021, after only eight months of being available to all the users, Twitter defunct Fleets, the platform’s equivalent to Snapchat and Instagram’s stories feature.

fleets removal

According to Twitter, the reason for this removal was that the feature didn’t prove to be popular among users.

While Fleets was designed to address the anxieties that hold people back from Tweeting, most users who posted Fleets were already active, and the new feature didn’t make way for new people joining the conversation … as we hoped.

– Ilya Brown, Twitter product head in their official announcement “goodbye Fleets”

Brown further added that new users on Twitter found Fleets to be an easier way to share what was on their minds as it would disappear after 24 hours. While the format might not have proved to be a complete success for Twitter, the expiring messages and the aftermath has been a complete hit.

Twitter replaced the Fleets icon that appeared on the top of users’ timelines and replaced it by links to active Spaces, Twitter’s audio chat rooms.

3. Windows 7 by Microsoft

Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 after January 14th, 2020 and now no longer offers patches and security updates for the version. Microsoft already ended the mainstream support for Windows 7 back in January 2015 and had stopped adding new features. Here’s how users reacted:

Most reactions were based on usability — the new Windows OS was not as easy-to-use as Windows 7. We can all agree on the fact that Windows 7 was more usable for older generations and people who aren’t tech-savvy.

4. Skeuomorphism

Before the iOS 7 release in 2013, Apple’s skeuomorphism-laced iOS user interface was perhaps the most iconic thing about iPhones. Apple’s old interface was characterized by patterns that mimicked real-life materials such as wood and leather.

With the release of iOS 7 (right-hand side picture) Apple fans collectively lost their minds. Apple replaced the older textures with more minimalistic interfaces with flat icons and colors that pop.

Users, however, warmed up to the look and feel of the iOS 7 update. However, reactions from users at the time of the update are worth noticing.

5. Google Photos Unlimited Storage

Google Photos ended its unlimited free storage policy for photos and videos in June 2021. So any photo or video uploaded after that would count toward the 15GB of free storage that comes with every Google account. With this, Google launched its subscription service that started at $2 a month in the US for 100GB of storage.

Netizens took this upon their hearts and poured their disappointment all over social media.

6. Apple iPhone’s TouchID

Not being able to unlock your iPhone through your face id while wearing a mask is a 2020 problem, and iPhone 12 failed to address it.

Before the Apple 12 event, there were rumors that Apple had configured its Face ID verification tool to function even when the users had their masks on. Unfortunately, that did not happen. In fact, during the live streaming, Apple CEO Tim Cook was not even seen mentioning it anywhere.

It was an actual usability issue, and Apple faced a massive backlash because of it. Look at some reactions from users.

The situation was so hilarious that Baskin, an artist from San Francisco, created a prototype of a mask printed with a face and posted her idea on Twitter:

In its iOS 15.4 updates, Apple released the feature where users could unlock their iPhones with their face masks on. Sadly though, the feature only works on iPhone 12 and later versions of iPhones. Old iPhones like iPhone X, iPhone XR, and iPhone 11 that support Face ID, will not be able to use this feature.

7. Excel 4.0 Macros by Microsoft

Towards the end of 2021, Microsoft announced that it would disable its legacy feature Excel 4.0 Macros, also known as XLM Macros, for all Microsoft 365 users.

XLM macros, introduced in 1992, allow users to enter complex formulas inside Excel cells and add commands into spreadsheet cells to execute a task.

The feature has been constantly abused over the past decade by both financially motivated groups. The abuse became rampant in early 2020 when security researchers noted that XLM Macros started getting increased attention from numerous top-tier threat actors. Reports from VMWare, Lastline, MadLabs, Expel, and many others referenced a spike in malware strains that can be used in cyber espionage, banking trojans, cryptocurrency theft, and more. Look how users reacted to this on Twitter.

XML macros were further replaced by the newly released Excel 5.0 — which introduced VBA-based macros. It, however, did not resolve the security issues entirely and was further disabled in February 2022.

8. Adobe Flash Player

In 2017, in an announcement, Apple, Adobe, Facebook, Google, and Mozilla first announced the demise of Adobe’s Flash Player.

Fewer technologies have yielded such widespread passion as Adobe Flash Player. Many praise it for its versatility, ease of use, and role in the rise of web video. Many users despise it for its Flash-based advertising and web design.

No matter what side of the love-hate divide you land on, there is no denying that Flash changed how people create and consume content on the Web — it has a massive role in shaping today’s internet.

On the other hand, reactions from Netizens were emotional and hilarious altogether.

9. Google’s Astrophotography Feature

Who wouldn’t like to explore the cosmos momentarily and escape their terrestrial confines? Google Pixel’s astrophotography feature enabled users to capture the night sky. It was a crucial selling point for Pixel 4. The Pixel 5 and 4a 5G phones had an even better version of this feature with a new wide-angle lens. Soon it became one of the most popular features of all time.

But that didn’t stop Google from removing the lens astrophotography capabilities through the Google Camera 8.1 update.

The feature is still available on the phones’ other cameras, but now, when you switch to the ultrawide camera in the Night Slight mode, you’ll get a warning saying, “Zoom to 1x for astrophotography.”

Before the update, it said, “Astrophotography on.”

10. Slack’s Remote Control Screen Sharing

Slack’s interactive screen sharing feature was popular among remote-first companies, pair programmers, and the freelance workforce. This feature allowed up to 15 people on a call and enabled remote control of each other’s screens.

Each participant had their own cursor and could type, edit, scroll, click, code, etc., and enable real-time collaboration. But this didn’t stop them from removing the feature. On top of this, they bought out Screenhero, a real-time collaboration tool with similar functionality, and dissolved it completely. Users were not super psyched about this move. Some reactions from netizens:

twitter conversation

11. Windows Start Button

The Microsoft Windows 8 update took users by surprise. It looked very different compared to Windows 7, but the Start button and Start menu was the most shocking part of the update.

Windows completely removed the Start button or the Start menu from the user interface! Instead, they introduced a Start screen to launch the applications.

The Start screen covers the whole screen. The Start screen was definitely more versatile and feature-rich than the Start menu and could also be used to show headlines, status updates, weather forecasts, tweets, email text, etc. But still, it has not been much popular among Windows users.

Many users complain that the traditional desktop mode in Windows 8 is harder to use without an actual Start menu. They need to go through more clicks to launch the desktop applications.

Deprecating Features And User Sentiments

This tweet sums everything up quite accurately. You never know how users will react to any particular feature deprecation.

When it comes to feature removal, users do not have a choice. Sometimes they do not have a choice, and embracing change becomes mandatory. What are some iconic features from the old days that you miss? Let us know in the comments.


About Author:

Sanjoli, a content writer at Koru, loves to talk about design and the ability of design tech to shape everyday experiences. You’ll often find her indulging in UX-related content on social media. Other than that, you’ll often find her traveling, exploring indie music, and watching experimental films on the internet.


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