Here’s an idea, let’s program a secret feature in a widely used Mac application and make the icon change to something completely different. That’s exactly what Allan Odgaard (through the prodding of two contributors) did with his application, TextMate. On October 31st the icon for TextMate changed to a special Halloween version.
My first reaction when I opened the program was both “cute” and “annoying.” If it was only for a day, then I wouldn’t care — it will just change back to the old icon tomorrow. The problem is that is didn’t. November 1st rolled in and low-and-behold, I still had a jack-o-lantern for an icon. By this time, “cute” was no where to be found, and “annoying” was taking over.
After several support tickets from various users, Allan was quick to make an update to his application. Each update comes with Release Notes and the first revision in the notes stated:
[REMOVED] TextMate no longer pays tribute to human sacrifices, rape, nor does it show a picture of the God of the deaths in your dock — ticket 945BEB5D
After reading his release note, I can only imagine the complaints he got from people he offended with his Halloween “cuteness.” Personally, the only thing I found offensive was that he changed an expected attribute of the program — albeit for fun — but didn’t test it throughly enough to make sure it would turn itself off after the joke!
Ultimately, I did the like the idea. It was fun and unexpected, and it didn’t affect my work flow one bit. However, if you’re going to do something like that, make sure it works completely before you secretly push it onto your users.