Massive Damage affected by Apple’s app-crashing blunder

A Toronto-based mobile game developer had to scramble its support team and work overtime to protect a hard-earned 4.5 star rating in the App Store after an Apple Inc.-caused glitch corrupted an update of its zombie-fighting game.

Massive Damage was getting hit with reputation-tarnishing one-star reviews after it issued an update to its iOS game, Please Stay Calm. When users downloaded the update and it didn’t work, it appeared the developer had issued a corrupted update. But the problem was caused by Apple, says Ken Seto, the founder of Massive Damage.

“I spent the entire day on Facebook and Twitter and our in-game support system trying to get everyone to understand it wasn’t our fault,” he told Employees at the firm worked well into the night to address customer concerns.

Apple says it has solved an issue that caused several apps to immediately crash when users updated them. The problem affected only a small number of users, Apple told Macworld, and it was caused by a server that generated DRM code for some of the apps users downloaded.

Marco Arment, developer of the Instapaper app, noticed the issue on Wednesday. He received numerous complaints from users saying his app was crashing immediately upon launch after they downloaded the latest update. Customers who downloaded the Instapaper update in iTunes saw error codes; attempts to run the app on an iPhone or iPad were met with immediate crashes back to the home screen.

Arment was powerless to fix the bug. The app worked in his testing, and of course it had successfully passed the App Store review process. Through corroborating reports from other developers, coupled with the fact that many users were able to fix the issue by deleting and reinstalling the app a short while later, Arment (and similarly affected developers) concluded that the issue with the affected apps rested entirely on Apple’s end. Arment identified more than 90 apps affected by the issue, including GoodReader, Yahoo! Search, and Angry Birds Space HD Free.

Massive Damage has seen its one-star reviews received as a result of Apple’s blunder moved to the “previous reviews” area, but they are still visible, Seto says. He’s read that the ratings would not impact the game’s overall score, but he hasn’t confirmed that. The ratings that range from one to five stars help the app look legitimate to prospective downloaders.

Apple “did a good job and the response was quick,” Seto says. “I’m happy they are trying to do something about the reviews.”

Apple acknowledged the problem to Macworld, describing it as “a temporary issue that began yesterday with a server that generated DRM code for some apps being downloaded.” Apple added: “The issue has been rectified and we don’t expect it to occur again.”

The issue has been rectified now and Apple says it doesn’t expect the problem to occur again. Apple is not offering any details of explanation. If you have downloaded any of the affected apps and experienced constant crashing upon opening, deleting the app and downloading a fresh copy from the App Store should fix the problem.

Seto says the latest version of Please Stay Calm is being pushed out again by the App Store, so users with a corrupt version should automatically receive the fix.

Two problems in one week
It hasn’t been a good week for Apple’s App Store. Besides the problem with the crashing apps, Kaspersky found a new malicious app made its way in the App Store, apparently overlooked by Apple’s army of reviewers apparently overlooked (a first). The app, called Find and Call, uploads your entire contact list to a remote server and then spams all your contacts with SMS messages.

“The Find & Call app has been removed from the App Store due to its unauthorized use of users’ Address Book data, a violation of App Store guidelines,” an Apple representative told Macworld. The Find and Call app also made it through Google Play, and it has now been removed from both stores.

With notes from Lex Friedman

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