Monday, December 17, 2012

A mystery tale: Digital magazine apps that say they were updated in April finally hit the App Store in December

Every once in a while one finds something so strange inside the App Store that I don't know whether I should write about or simply scratch my head and move on.

As I've written about lately, Apple has made changes to its App Store that make it all but impossible for readers to find the latest released tablet editions. It is a change so counterintuitive that developers are at a loss to understand why Apple would do something so stupid.

But it is not yet completely impossible to go into the App Store and find the latest apps, you simply have to go outside the U.S. App Store. It was there that I found a new app from 1100 Media for their Chicago tablet magazine. That's when things got really strange.

The app description for Chicago | states that the app was updated to version 2.5 on April 10, 2012. OK, then why is this showing up in the App Store as a brand new release?

A look at the online version of the app in iTune shows a release date of December 17 – today – so that kind of explains it. But there is one more odd thing about this app: downloading it, installing it and opening it up shows that the latest issues are from March and April.
The Chicago tab edition is not the only 1100 Media app showing the same oddities. The los angeles | (sic) also shows a discrepancy between its release date online and what it shows in the App Store. It, too, has April as its last issue in the app.

A call to the company does no good since the phone numbers appear faked. They are, in fact, the same phone number for each magazine but with only the area code changed – each number is disconnected.

This is all a big mystery, or at least a mystery to me.

About three weeks ago I posted a look at the same company's tablet magazine for Scottsdale. At the time I said that the designers were taking a minimal approach to creating their tablet magazine, but that it worked. These two apps that are both new and old – new to the App Store, yet containing old issues – are identical in look to that Scottsdale digital magazine. So identical, in fact, that one has to really wonder about what is going on here.