Some Apps Are Slow by Design
Mark Wilson, writing for Fast Company, reveals that many apps — both those that run locally on your devices and Web apps — are intentionally slowed down, because users don’t trust apps that work too quickly. For instance, Facebook displays a fake loading bar when performing a security checkup, giving the impression of deep thought. Similarly, Wells Fargo had to slow down its mobile app’s retinal scanner because customers didn’t realize that it had worked so swiftly. Designers believe that they’ll gradually be able to remove the artificial speed bumps as users become accustomed to the technology.
An example given in the original article (per link) is of ordering a meal in a restaurant which is brought to the diner in a minute. A long-established example of slow delivery is ordering toast at breakfast. Which by the time it arrives is luke warm!
Back in the 1970s or 1980s, there were no personal computers. We had to use dumb terminals connected to timesharing systems or mainframes. Because there was only a single processor shared amongst all the active users of the system, response time could be very variable. Do a task and it might come back immediately. Do it again and it might be 3, 6, 10 or more seconds. Needless to say, this was quite frustrating for the users.
I read a paper in an academic journal at the time that suggested that software should have guaranteed response times. The idea was to disguise the fact that the system was busy. If the response time was always 10 seconds, say, then users would not get annoyed by variable response times.
This article looks at the response time from a different, almost opposite, perspective. Very interesting.
What about the OS itself?
I realize it makes sense to convey feedback to the user through the GUI. I guess that can be perceived as lag by the experienced user who knows what's happening and just wants to move on.
Apple has IIRC built in a setting into iOS to reduce such animations. I wonder if beyond that there's any way to speed up the iOS GUI. My iPhone 6 is no slouch and I remember just how fast it felt when I upgraded to it from an iPhone 4. But nowadays I often feel like my fingers would be faster if only the GUI would catch up. I realize an iPhone 6S would probably be snappier and I assume my iPhone 6 also was snappier when it ran the iOS 8 it was released with whereas now I'm running iOS 9 that probably taxes the iPhone 6 more. I wish there were a simple way to speed up the GUI. My fingers aren't that fast, the UI should be able to keep up.