THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Kolide

A fleet visibility solution for Mac, Windows, and Linux to help you securely scale your business


Apple Removes Negative Reviews From Apps Affected By DRM Bug [Updated]

Earlier this week, an error in Apple’s DRM code generation for App Store apps caused a number of app updates to crash on launch. The issue, initially reported by Instapaper developer Marco Arment, began spreading to more than 100 iOS and Mac app updates including GoodReader, Angry Birds HD Free, and The Early Edition. As the bug was causing updated apps to crash immediately after launch without even displaying an error message, several users became upset with the developers of the apps – as they didn’t know the issue was on Apple’s servers – and began leaving negative reviews on the App Store. Developers, on the other hand, had to deal with a issue that they couldn’t fix, while explaining to customers how they should back up their data and wait for a solution.

Last night, Apple officially acknowledged the issue and explained it was associated with DRM code generation on the App Store. Apple said they had fixed the issue, and Macworld reported that, according to their sources, Apple would also remove all negative reviews that had been left during the hours the bug was spreading on various international App Stores.

As of this morning, it appears Apple has indeed removed negative reviews from apps affected by the bug. Apps like Instapaper, GoodReader, and The Early Edition are showing no reviews for the latest versions available, which are the ones that were crashing earlier in the week. We haven’t checked on every single app that was affected, but it is safe to assume at this point Apple will remove all reviews (not just negative ones) from any app that received a corrupted update.

Apple hasn’t issued a public apology to developers, but the removal of reviews will definitely help in leaving this issue behind without having to deal with the aftereffects on the App Store as well.

Update: As noted by several readers on Twitter, it appears Apple didn’t completely wipe the old reviews left during the DRM outage – it re-issued app updates for the same version of the app, and moved the “Current Version” reviews to “All Versions”.

In spite of the version being the same – for Instapaper, the affected version was 4.2.3 – the old reviews are not showing up in the Current Version section of the App Store. This helps hiding possible negative reviews from the section that it loaded by default in iTunes.

By re-issuing the old version as an update again, Apple is making sure customers can re-install the fixed version of an app without having to delete it first, as noted by Marco Arment. It is unclear whether the old reviews will still affect overall ranking of an app.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.