May 18, 2015 Last Updated 11:02 am

Tribune Publishing updates its news apps, but some users say update has broken the apps

Apple’s App Store is of little help to developers who start reading that their app now crashes, as there is very little useful information revealed in the reviews of angry users

The newspaper apps from Tribune Publishing still appear under the Tribune Interactive developer account inside Apple’s App Store, despite the separation between the broadcast side and print side of The Tribune Company. How app development is being handled is still a bit of a mystery to me, though I was told straight out that Tribune Publishing has its own digital team.

LAT-iPhone6-updateIf so, that team released a series of app updates late last week that appear to have broken their news apps. At least that is what reviewers inside iTunes are saying after the apps LA Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, and others were updated in order to fix bugs.

“Is it not possible to give an app zero stars?” one user writes. “I keep expecting the next update to fix the app, and it never does. I’m the definition of insane, I keep expecting a different result. Thanks LA Times for driving me crazy.”

We’ll, if the update is driving the reader crazy, the reports of crashes are probably driving the development team crazy. I updated and tested the app on my own iPhone and encountered no problems at all. Is this a problem isolated to devices that don’t have the latest iOS update? Is it a device specific issue? Who know? Users can write reviews but don’t offer the development team much help when they write their reviews, often when a little angry about the performance of an app.

But why is this? After all these years that the App Store has been around, Apple has done a piss poor job of devloping the store itself. We all know how bad the Newsstand is, but iTunes and the whole mechanism involving search and commenting is antiquated. There should be, built right into iTunes, the ability to communicate with the devloper – a little “send message to developer” button is all that is required, follwed by a dialogue box that forces the user to give important information to the development team before the comment can be submitted (this will limit the number of messages from those who just want to vent).

A developer wants to know not just about how the user sees the app behaving, but what device they have on the, what version iOS they are using, etc

Apple, though its acquisition of TestFlight has improved the beta testing regiment, but the App Store is a mess, and of little help to a developer trying to figure out why users are complaining, or why no one is finding and downloading their app.

Microsoft has issued a new update for its iOS Office apps. Here is an example of where the developers are not helping users. The app updates, labeled version 1.9.3, show the same description as the previous update:

What’s New in Version 1.9.3

  • New storage options: open, edit, and save your work to iCloud and other online storage services. (requires iOS 8)
  • Change Slide layout: make your content pop by changing the layout of your slide.
  • Insert from camera: insert pictures and videos from the camera right into your presentation.

That’s exactly what version 1.9.2 says.

I looked at the reviews from the previous update and there are none written inside the U.S. App Store that reveals any major problems (the most negative reviews complain about the lack of Arabic support).

It likely that Microsoft’s team found something themselves, maybe something minor, and so quickly released the update. Again, who knows. But I do think it is important to say something in the app desciption as not all users have their devices automatically update apps. Experienced users know that the best way to introduce a bug is to load an untested app update, something that happens far too often.

Other updates that are a little more user friendly include:

Amazon Music with Prime Music: bug fix update

AP Mobile: update that fixes issues with headlines and adds back in photo captions

FiLMiC Pro: I know a number of people downloaded this app after reading that it was used to create professional video projects. This $7.99 app is a complex app that offers those that take shooting video seriously a lot of options. But it also has so many features that some are bound to have issues. Because of this, the reviews for the app are pretty mixed. One recdent review, for instance, complains of poor auto-focus performance on the iPhone 6 Plus.

If you have checked out the app, the description for the update will give you an idea of all the features found inside this app.

FiLMiC-iPhone6-350What’s New in Version 4.1.1
New Features

  • adds multiple Image Stabilization modes for 6/6+
  • adds option for Interface Rotation Lock
  • adds Moondog Anamorphic adapter support for iPhone 6/6+
  • adds 3K support for iPhone 6/6+
  • add audio support for 2K and 3K options
  • adds Save to Camera Roll option to save footage directly to
  • adds Batch Copy to Camera Roll and Batch Delete option from FiLMiC Library
  • adds 720×720 (Square) resolution

Bug Fixes

  • fixes headphone monitoring bug
  • fixes inconsistent audio meter bug
  • fixes crash when exporting to Dropbox bug
  • fixes downsample crash bug
  • fixes many other minor bugs

Improvements / Enhancements

  • now better utilizing VBR compression for improved image quality at the same file sizes
  • re-engineered focus / exposure reticle system for improved accuracy and better reliability
  • improved support for Cinematic Video Stabilization
  • changed Super 35 resolution to Industry Standard 2.39:1 aspect ratio
  • Newly improved focus/exposure reticle accuracy / response
  • Brand new iconography throughout the app
  • Improved exposure state retention
  • Improvements to Fast Capture / Slow Mo
  • Improvements to Zoom controls (defaults & speed ranges)
  • Re-designed clip player / editor.
  • Darshan Thakker 3 years ago

    Sometimes, more updates ruin your app completely, same thing is happened with Tribune.