October 13, 2014 Last Updated 9:48 am

Odd bug seems to be preventing some readers from downloading issues from updated apps

Testing apps on multiple devices, with multiple systems and screen sizes, remains a good way to make sure readers don’t encounter issues that will encourage them to cancel their digital subscriptions

Each time Apple updates its mobile operating system there seems to be a series of bugs that publisher/developers must deal with. A year ago, some publishers found that their apps were crashing after users updated to iOS 7. As developers were a little slower and more cautious about updating their apps immediately following the release of iOS 7 it took some many months to finally work out all the bugs.

PCT-iPadThis year, iOS device owners have been much slower to update their devices following warnings seen online about iPhones losing their cell service. But the biggest problem preventing many from updating to iOS 8 is device storage space: the update requires 5 GB of storage space be available – something many device owners simply don’t have. (With the release of iOS 8.0.2, I believe Apple has addressed this issue, or at least limited it to over-the-air updating.)

(This Thursday, Apple will hold an iPad event and if the storage issue is not addressed it may lead to many owners deciding that now is the wrong time to upgrade their devices.)

For those who have decided not to install iOS 8, some are reporting that they are encountering an issue with digital magazines: the updated apps no longer will download issues.

I have encountered variations of this problem on multiple occasions since the release of iOS 8. I own two iPads and an iPhone and two of the devices have been updated to iOS 8. On those devices, updated apps work as advertised. On the older iPad, one not updated, suddenly there have been issues.

A good example of this was this morning after updating the apps from GIE Media. On my older, larger iPad, the apps were updated but the apps stalled when I tried to download the latest issue. At first, I assumed there were server issues at the publisher or vendor. This is not uncommon and clears up eventually. But since this was not the first time I have encountered this problem I decided to try the app on my new iPad mini, one updated to iOS 8. The app was fine and the issue downloaded quickly and smoothly.

The reason I purchased the iPad mini was specifically to test eBooks and digital magazines on multiple devices – on multiple screen sizes. This is why I have also kept the two devices on separate versions of the operating system – it is important that one’s apps function properly across devices and systems.

Many publishers depend on their vendors to update their apps, and even those who maintain their own developer accounts and use native digital publishing platforms inherently trust their publishing partners when it comes to providing stable digital publishing solutions. There is good reason for this as most have been good at making sure their systems are ready for the new mobile OS’s.

But some publishers have paid a steep price for not making sure their apps are fully functional at all times. A couple major magazine titles have seen their digital subscription growth slow or even decline thanks to faulty apps. Many of the issues that have hurt the most, it must be admitted, actually involve the subscription process used rather than any issues tied to either the version if iOS or the digital publishing platform. But once a reader decides to cancel that subscription, it is very hard to get that reader back.

Note: To show how odd some of these bugs can be, consider this: the GIE Media app, built using the Adobe DPS, functions fine on my iPad mini with iOS 8.0.2 installed, but is dead on my older iPad running the same operating system. Are there two versions of iOS 8.0.2 from Apple based on the iPad model? Any ideas?

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