The Ups & Downs of App Maintenance

The latest versions of LetterSlider Free and Pro had been polished off, ready to be sent to Apple for approval. But during the validation phase, we received an error: “Your App contains non-public API usage. Please review the errors, correct them, and resubmit your application.”

My first thought was, “Where do I begin?” I went from the refreshed feeling of knowing LetterSlider was operating optimally and ready to be sent to 50k players’ screens to all the calmness being sucked from my body. It’s like anything when you feel a task is complete, only to be told not just yet. Then, what “non-public API usage” was I using came to mind.

After some Google searches, I learned that the issue was a result of Apple’s abandonment of developer UDID access. UDID stands for unique device identifier and was a way for advertisers and other third-party companies to identify individual devices — Apple has since set a new method for this. The change took effect on May 1, but since our last update was just before that, we never saw this validation message.

LetterSlider uses a few different SDKs, including Facebook, Twitter, Millennial Media, Chartboost, Kiip and AdMob. Version 3.6 actually featured the replacement of AdWhirl with AdMob after Google announced it was ending support for the service later this year. So outside of Chartboost, Kiip and AdMob, the others hadn’t been updated since our launch last August. My main concern was the Millennial Media SDK, since that is an ad network — it’s the ad you see after a new game in LetterSlider Free.

I decided to update all of the SDKs, just to be on the safe side and make sure the app was operating smoothly. My development team went in over the course of two days and replaced everything within both apps. It also gave me time to make some minor graphical tweaks, including some rounded corners to all the launch images — it’s the little things, right? I then spent another day testing to ensure the new services interacted properly within both versions of LetterSlider. One positive in all of this was the development team did a great job and there were no issues, enabling us to send LetterSlider for approval on June 25.

This post wasn’t meant to come across as a venting session, but to serve as an example of what app developers and marketers deal with. You fix, you move on. I’m in this to create a great product for the customer, and to get that product out quickly. Being told to halt hurts when those are things I pride myself on. But I also understand the rules (nothing was illegal, it was simply a change in Apple’s policy) and probably should have updated the SDKs earlier. I actually feel better now knowing everything in the two LetterSlider versions are up-to-date, operating with code bases that comply with all the changes Apple has made to their iOS over the last 12 months.

Now to prepare for iOS 7

Note: Today is the launch of BakBurner Digital’s second iOS app offering. Winery Passport is a mobile travel companion when it comes to wineries. Visit WineryPassportApp.com for full details.

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