Friday, July 6, 2012

Apple says it has fixed server issue that led to updated apps crashing on launch; developer gets a lesson in the ways of modern tech journalism

Quite a number of apps that had previously been updated over the past few days have appeared again as new updates in the Apple App Store, possibly to encourage new downloads from users that found that many of these apps crashed upon installation and opening.

Apple acknowledged the problem yesterday and said it would be working on a fix. Later in the afternoon the company told the WSJ that “We had a temporary issue that began yesterday with a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded."

The WSJ story that appeared late yesterday afternoon also correctly pointed out that the issue was first publicized by Marco Arment, the developer behind the popular Instapaper app. On July 4, Arment posted a story on his own site explaining the app crashing issue and created an extensive list of apps that were experiencing the crash problem.

That story was immediately picked up by many tech sites which, to the consternation of Arment, often did not identify or link back to the original source – him. Arment quickly tweeted about those sites that aggregated his story and whether they had attributed the story to him, or linked back to his site.

The large number of re-released apps may be related to the DRM code issue, but it would be inaccurate to assume that all the updated apps users are seeing this morning are because of the issue. Users would be advised to test out recently updated apps themselves to see if a new download is necessary.