Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Morning Brief: The Economist issues another update as it struggles to work out authentication issues; Priceline updates iOS app, but early reviews are a bit suspect

The Economist iPad edition was one of the early tablet editions released into the App Store, first appearing in November of 2010. But subsequent app updates have caused problems, then tried to fix those problems.

The worst update was released in October of last year. The update was bad news from the beginning forcing the publisher to include a note to the app description outlining the problems readers were encountering.

In July of this year The Economist issued what it called a "critical update" which the publisher hoped would end the problems with the app.

Last night came the latest update which the app description says includes a "wide range of improvements to authentication, downloading of new issues, UI updates and improved error messaging and a large number of bug fixes."

The first review of the updated app states that this update includes support for retina displays, despite the fact that this isn't mentioned in the app description. The reviewer gave the app four stars and while stating that the "magazine content is great obviously" that the app still has a ways to go to match those coming out of Condé Nast. I don't know whether the reviewer is talking about the app itself, or the digital magazine design, though.
Priceline issued an update to its universal iOS app today. The update brings in three new features: extended booking hours for "Name Your own Price" reservations, the ability to scan in your credit card for use when booking hotels, and optional trip protection insurance (which isn't really a feature so much as a sales pitch).

Normally I'd simply ignore an update such as this one unless it added some interesting new feature that had previously been discussed here – such as Passbook support – but what caught my attention were the instant reviews. Let's just call them highly suspicious.

Anytime I see a bunch of five-star reviews hit the App Store almost simultaneously with the actual app release one has to wonder. Then, when many, though not all, of the reviews are from users who only have that one review inside the store... well, I just find that fishy.