Why NOT to sync iOS apps to iCloud: Ability to revert updates

on (ttk.me b/4TQ1) using BBEdit

When I recently updated to Checkie for Foursquare v2.5 on my iPod 5 Touch, it started crashing on launch. Tried restarting my iPod to no avail. So I reverted it to the previous version by doing the following:

  1. delete Checkie App on my iPod (touch-hold Checkie icon, wiggly icons, touch (x) on the Checkie icon, confirm delete dialog box)
  2. connect iPod to MacBook Air
  3. open iTunes
  4. select iPod in left column
  5. choose the "Apps" tab
  6. scroll to "Checkie for Foursquare" - note it is [ ] unchecked
  7. check [x] Checkie for Foursquare
  8. click "Apply" in the lower right corner of the iTunes window

Presto, the previous version of the app from the last time I sync'd/backed up to iTunes is back on my iPod Touch.

If I had been auto-syncing my apps with iCloud, then all my devices would have updated to the latest version of Checkie and the previous version would either be lost - or a huge hassle to retrieve from a previous backup (if iTunes even kept more than one backup of it).

If you're syncing directly with iTunes on your laptop, you can revert to the previous version there. You may even be able to revert to even older versions, see this blog post with lots of screenshots for details.

iOS native app developers seem to screw up apps in plenty of ways frequently enough that it's perfectly reasonable to take matters into your own hands as the user and revert such apps when developers screw up.

How do native app developers screw up? Let me count the ways:

  1. update crashes on launch
  2. removal of a feature essential to usability or you really liked
  3. making an existing feature take more steps
  4. addition of visual noise (design cheese, 1+1=3, chartjunk etc.)
  5. less efficient use of screen space

None of these are theoretical. All of these have happened. The first with Checkie, and unfortunately all of 2-5 have happened with the Foursquare app.

Everybody makes mistakes of course. We're not trying to build the perfect system.

When software screws up, we should empower users with the agency to work around it. #fightfortheusers