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What happened this past few months (also a new version)

posted Aug 18, 2009, 6:15 PM by Or Sharir   [ updated Aug 29, 2009, 2:25 PM ]
[Update - 29/08/2009] - It seems that these days it takes longer for Apple to approve apps, and so I update my estimation that the update should be available in 1-2 weeks from now.

First of all, I'm sorry how things went the way they did. I've never thought that that would be the way I'll treat my customers, as I think support is one of the most important things in any product, and I definitely have failed you on that respect. I also want to say that though I've chosen to stop responding to most messages, I have read every single one of them, and it hurt me that I didn't know how to respond to them anymore. I know it might sound strange to some, but this being my first big project, I care very much what people think of it, and just as it felt so wonderful to read the great reviews I got at the start, so did it felt so bad reading all the bad reviews this past few months, and so I'm sincerely and utterly sorry.

So that was my apology to you - my users -  one I hope you will be able to accept. Now, before I start to explain exactly what happened, I want to announce that a new update (version 1.2.1), that fixes the two major bugs in my app (the 3.0 issues, and the database corruption), is already waiting for Apple's approval and should be ready to download around next week.

(This is going to be a pretty lengthy explanation, so a tip for those wanting me to just get to the point... scroll down to see the summery and conclusions)

So what happened you ask? well, a few things. As some of you might know, I was on vacation this past months. It was planned long ago, way before I even thought about developing for the iPhone, and probably even before the iPhone was first announced. I knew I wanted to go travel somewhere in the world for a few months, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I've ever made. A few months before I went on my vacation, I decided to start developing an app that would help carry around the chords to my favorite songs, and what started as a very simple app, turned to a very nice looking and useful app that it is today (minus the bugs that crept in in the 3.0 firmware). This app made me decide to delay my vacation, so I could spend the first 2 months fixing any bug that I might have missed during the development process (and indeed there were a few), and I also used the time to add some much requested features (larger chord library, alternative tuning, transposition, etc).

I was feeling very good about everything, thinking that my app is in a pretty good state, and there shouldn't be any problem with me taking a break for a while, and if any thing would happen I would probably be able to solve it remotely (How wrong was I). It was a bit of a surprise, that on the day before my flight, the new 3.0 firmware was announced, but I wasn't too worry as I knew that my app only uses the Apple provided function, and so it shouldn't make such a difference, but then again, I didn't really test it at the time, and went the day after on my flight on schedule. It wasn't long before I started receiving emails from fellow developers that my app had troubles, and that's when I started looking for ways to develop remotely.

I've looked on many ways on how to do it, and none of them where really easy, especially with varying level of computers and internet connections that I had to deal with (as I could only use internet cafes). In the end, I've found that the combination of remotely controlling my mac at home through NTRConnect for building and testing the app, and using a remote code repository that I could use to actually edit my source code, was the best way to do it (though obviously the best way is to actually carry around a MacBook, but that wasn't an option back than). Once I had a good system in place, I was actually able to finally solve those bugs. It took me a few months to get to that state, which was more or less right around the time when the new iPhone OS 3.0 was released. But wait, if I've really fixed those bugs over a month ago, then how come I didn't released a new update back than? as with any good story, once the protagonist have overcame all the hurdles, and just as it seems like everything is heading in the right direction, things must turn horribly horribly wrong (slightly exaggerating).

I was checking my email one of those days, and read a very alarming message from Apple, that they have received a legal letter from a company stating that my app contains copyright infringements. That was quite shocking at first, and I didn't knew what to do. After seeking some legal advice, I decided to contact them to see what can be done in order to save my app from vanishing from the app store. It actually turned out to be a pretty friendly call, and they were kind enough to explain what I can do to keep my app going, and ever since, I have been working to make that happen, but while doing so I was also reluctant to release new updates for obvious reasons. I actually think that in the long run this thing could actually be a good opportunity that you, the users, would benefit from the most. As you can see this last passage is a bit vague (again, for obvious reasons), though I hope I'll be able to publish a clearer announcement about it in the near future.


To summarize for those who chose to skip my lengthy and detailed explanation - I wasn't able to release an update for the past few month because:
1) I didn't plan correctly to the possibility of new bugs in my app before I left to my vacation.
2) It took me a long time to figure out a good way to develop remotely.
3) By the time I was able to solve the problem, I received a legal letter that my app contains copyright infringements, and ever since I am working to legitimize my app, and so I couldn't release new updates till now.

I also want to explain why I've stopped responding to people. I just couldn't keep telling people that I'm working on the update, when it takes so long with no end in sight, and afterward I couldn't tell them anything because of the letter that I got. It was hard to deal with it all, and the hardest was seeing how slowly bit by bit, my users are changing from very supportive fans to angry customers.

I've learned a lot of lessons from this whole experience, and now I just hope I can regain your trust.

PS - I hope it didn't sound too much like I was grovelling... it felt a bit too much in some parts, though that is how I genuinely feel about all of this.