February 24, 2014 Last Updated 8:00 am

Still got the bugs: some media apps continue to struggle with iOS 7 crash issues

Latest updates come from Hearst Newspapers, DownBeat Magazine, Time Inc. and Dennis Publishing, some to address bugs, others to add features

In my conversations with digital platform companies none want to talk on the record about the issues they have faced since the introduction of iOS 7 by Apple in September of last year. One company exec simply said “it’s been a challenge,” then “don’t quote me on that.”

It is normal for developers to have to make tweaks to their apps following the release of a new version of Apple’s mobile operating system, but that is only because this is the way it has always been. But it make no sense, though, that we have all had to get used to the fact that we make apps for Apple’s ecosystem, then have to make sure Apple hasn’t broken our apps with their new OS. At best, updates should be about adding new features, not about trying to prevent the apps from crashing.

seo_cw_productFive months after the release of iOS 7 we are still seeing lots of media app updates. This morning, for instance, we are getting another update for The Week UK from Dennis Publishing. The first update that mentioned iOS 7 came in September as the publisher updated the app in anticipation for the release of iOS 7. But the first update that was directly a result of the new OS was just last week. Three days later, and following complaints from readers because of crashes, another update to deal with the new bugs was released.

This is fairly typical of what we see: first comes the update that supposedly deals with the new OS, then comes the immediately update as new bugs are discovered once the app is released.

TestFlight-featureOne move Apple made, that may be related to this issue, was the acquisition this last week of Burstly. The quiet move by Apple means that they will now own the company behind TestFlight, the beta testing solution many developers use to let third parties both test and preview their apps. I have occasionally gotten invitations to preview apps through TestFlight prior to release (feel free to contact me if you would like me to see your app prior to release using testFlight).

TestFlight had just announced that they will no longer support Android apps, then the word leaked about Apple’s acquisition.

Another media app that has been updated due to bugs is DownBeat Magazine. The replica edition uses the Better Press solution, and the update is designed fix “various bugs” though I do not know if they are related to iOS 7.

(Better Press is one of 44 companies to be found inside the Guide to Digital Publishing Platforms inside the Winter edition of Tablet Publishing.)

Other media app updates include updates for the Hearst Newspaper apps – San Francisco Chronicle for iPad, Houston Chronicle for iPad and others. The update is designed for those few iPad owners who have not updated their systems for a while as it addresses crashes for devices still on iOS 5.

TIME-iPhone5-lgAnother update that has nothing to do with iOS 7 is TIME Magazine. Time Inc. has been slowly adding iPhone support to their apps. This is a trend that I have to question. Most of these apps are native tablet editions, but now they have added iPhone support that brings in a replica of the tablet edition. The screenshots clearly show how silly this solution is – why build a native tablet edition to make reading pleasurable for tablet owners, then build an almost impossible to read smartphone edition?

Of course, there are other magazines that have built iPhone editions that have taken the same design approach they took for their iPad editions – building brand new digital editions that are designed specifically for mobile phone reading – The British Journal of Photography+ being on the earliest and best examples of this.

Other media app updates: The UK edition of Glamour to add sharing options; NBC Sports Live Extra, to make adjustments following the end of the Winter Olympics; and an update to the Ken Burns app, to add support for audio in videos on muted devices and to fix a unique crash that occurs on devices using the 12 hour time format, but in non-US timezones.

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