Release Date now only for New Releases in iTunes App Store

Well, Apple has gone and made things worse for developers I think.  In a recent post titled Apple-is-smarter-than-this-itunes-app-store-release-date-madness, I tried to summerize a few problems for developers trying to get their apps in the Released Date front page. 

Up until now, both new apps and newly released updates appeared in the center screen “Release Date” section.  This almost guarantees a nice boost in sales for obvious reasons.  Unfortunately, it looks like Apple is only showing truely new releases there now. 

As a consumer, you may think this is a good thing so as to not clutter up that area.  But it isn’t.  It creates an incentive for developers to spend all their time making throw away apps (because only new apps appear in the spotlight) instead of polishing and making old apps better. 

Maybe Apple is just tweaking the Release Date area and will allow updates to appear too, but if not, expect to see many more new apps with fewer updates and of less quality.

If there is no boost-in-sales incentive to update, why would developers bother?

(This being said, we have several updates almost ready to be uploaded 🙂 )

UPDATE: Iliya Yordanov from Cramzy.com has this to say: http://cramzy.com/news.php

Interestingly, the post (or rant) suggests the number of iPhone apps will actually dramatically decrease within a year due to the fact developers will be less likely to renew their $99 contract.

I really hope Apple isn’t going in this direction.  I can’t see how this would benefit Apple, developers, or certainly the consumers.

Redeeming iPhone App Promo Codes in iTunes

This may seem overtly obvious to 99.9999% of you out there, but a friend of mine who received a promotional code to try out our iPhone / iTouch app asked me how to use the coupon.  I had no idea.

After looking EVERYWHERE on the app page for a coupon code textbox, I went a-googlin’.

“use coupon iphone app”  Nothing…

“use promotional code itunes”  Nothing…

“redeem itunes code”  Bingo!

Apparently, the magic word is ‘redeem.’   You can redeem a code at the iTunes Store by following these instructions:

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Click iTunes Store in the pane on the left-hand side of the window.
  3. Click the Redeem link in the QUICK LINKS box on the right-hand side of page.
  4. Enter your code.
  5. Click the Redeem button.

I really hope this saves someone the thirty minutes of Googlin’ it took me to figure it out.

Speaking of which, if you have a blog and would like to review our app, please email me (clay AT the Japan Shop dot c.o.m.). I don’t have many free codes left, but I’d love to get more exposure. 🙂

I Found out the iPhone has a Password Lock

When we were in Japan a few months last year, I let Makoto (then two years old) play with my iPhone quite a bit. I had my SIM card out of the phone so short of dropping it in the toilet, I didn’t think he could mess it up too bad. He loved playing with Youtube and the calculator.

Yesterday I let him play with it again after putting it in airplane mode to disable the phone and the wifi.

Turns out the iPhone has a password lock function. Who’d a-thunked it?  Makoto showed me this discovery after kindly setting the master password with a series of random taps. The next time I turned on the phone it asked me for a password before entering.

I spent the next two hours doing a reinstall and restore from an 11 day old backup. I don’t think I lost anything important, but this seems to be the ONLY way to fix the iPhone if you ‘forgot’ your password.

1) Hold down the top button and turn it off
2) Start iTunes and plug in the phone
3) Hold down the top and home button for about 25 seconds
4) Follow the instructions to reset your phone
5) Restore a backup

Why, oh why did Apple make the password set function without requiring the password to be entered twice?!  I really hope they ‘fix’ that in an update.  I know I’m not the only one with a toddler with a password-protection-passion;  while Googling I found several other poor fathers in a similar situation.

My Fifth iPhone

Previously, I mentioned some minor troubles with the iPhone I bought last December.  Last week I finally sent in the last loaner and received my second ‘real’ replacement iPhone.  I had two loaners and two ‘new’ phones in the last month or so.  Including my original phone from December, that means the current phone I have now is #5.

I am very pleased with the iPhone and don’t regret buying it.  But I would love to not have to use iTunes and would LOVE to see Skype running on it.  I’m going to Japan next month.  Since I can’t use the phone part of the iPhone, Skype would be a life saver.  I can use my laptop of course, but that just isn’t as sexy.

This website talks about using a third party software to run Skype.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I certainly don’t want to do anything to the phone that would require yet another call to Apple support.  🙂

My iPhone Odyssey–As it Stands Today

Last December as a company perk and to improve communication within the TheJapanShop.com team, I decided to buy all employees (that is, myself and Pam, my sister) an iPhone. Having succumbed to all the hype, we came up with good rationalizations why such a purchase would be necessary. All the way to the AT&T store, we used our imagination with utmost diligence.

I don’t regret getting the phones; the phones have been extremely useful (frankly, beyond my expectations), but I thought you, dear reader, would be amused by my troubles.

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen… Nobody but a half-dozen Apple technical support employees.

光陰矢の如し
(こういんやのごとし)
Time flies like an arrow

Ok, if I were to be in that slightly annoying Apple commercial, my first line would be, “Hello, I’m a PC.” I see no rational reason for paying twice as much for a computer that won’t run any of the software I own. But the iPhone is nice and it talks with my PC—albeit ONLY through the bulky and oft buggy iTunes software (not a big fan).

On the other hand, I should also say, Apple support is exceptional. A+++ (except the ogre, see below)

Here is my story. Sit back with a cup of Joe and be thankful you are not me right now.

About Three weeks ago: When syncing my iPhone, the phone would show the Apple logo when booting up, but make no more progress. I tried reseting it and restoring it, but nothing would help. Finally, I took it to the AT&T store. Using his iTunes, the clerk was able to get it working, but I had to sync it at home to get the phone part to work.

Arriving at home, I attempted a sync. Again the same problem occurred. I called Apple. Two hours or so was spent trying just about everything imaginable. The guy was very nice and patient and so was I. Finally he said I should send the phone to Apple for repair. He asked if I wanted a loaner. I said sure! He said it would cost $39. I said I could wait a week or so without a phone. The box came, I sent it off, and waited.

About Two Weeks Ago: I waited almost a week without the phone. Not being able to check the news and email from anywhere was the most painful part. I really don’t use the actual phone as much as everything else.

Finally, a box from Apple arrived. Opening it, I read the technicians couldn’t fix the problem so they replaced the phone with a brand new phone. “Great!” I thought. That is, until I tried syncing. Same thing.

I got on the horn with Apple again for another hour. Turns out, the problem was not with the phone (my original phone was just fine), but with a corrupted iTunes (not a big fan) backup file. I simply reset the iPhone and set it up as a new phone. I lost a lot of data, but nothing too important. You see, iTunes only makes a SINGLE backup of the phone. According to the tech (and from what I can see) I couldn’t just go back to a backup from a few days before the problem started. iTunes just adds new data to a single backup file. When that file gets corrupted, that’s all she wrote. I was not miffed about the support I got—they sent me a new phone for goodness sakes!—but of the iTunes software that caused the problem.

Anyway, after I installed it as a new phone, (again with Apple support on the line), I thought all was peachy.

About a Week and a Half Ago: I was happily using my new iPhone to check email and make quick calls for days before someone called me. It was a customer and after about two minutes I heard them say, “Hello. Hello?” Then a click. I heard them just fine. I called them right back and again after a few minutes, “Hello. Hello?” Click. I had to use a different phone to finish that conversation.

I called my sister and asked her to test it. Same thing. After a few minutes I could hear just fine, but the other party couldn’t hear me. The symptoms: The person talking to me couldn’t hear me after about two minutes, but I could hear him or her just fine. It didn’t matter if I called or someone called me.

Again, I went to the AT&T store first not wanting to be on the phone for an hour with Apple. There the clerk gave me a new Sim chip and sent me on my way. I got home, reset the phone (Again) and made a test call. Same problem…

I was on the phone with Apple for at least another hour that night. The end result: It was decided I should receive a free loaner phone and a box to send the bad phone away.

Last Monday: The new phone came, I synced it, added passwords and all was well.

Last Tuesday: FedEx came and I sent the bad phone back. I thought this was the end of the matter. After all, I now had a perfectly working phone. Why would Apple spend the money to send the bad phone back to me even if they got it to work?

Last Friday circa 4PM: I was flabbergasted to hear a new box from Apple had arrived. I thought, “Why?!” This phone works just fine; I’ve set it up with all my contacts, email addresses, passwords… In short, this was my baby—and they want to take it from me?

Last Friday circa 4:15PM: I’m at home and I open the box to read, “The problem was unable to be duplicated. Sending phone back as is.” They didn’t fix it AND this is the same phone. I decided to simply call Apple and say, “I’ll keep the phone I have thank you. It works just fine.”

Last Friday circa 4:16PM: I’m on the phone with Apple and got a semi-rude person. After telling this entire story from start to present, he basically told me, “If you keep the loaner phone, your card will be charged $499 AND you will be out of warranty.” I imagine an evil ogre from a Tolkien fantasy was talking from the other side of the phone. I told the ogre, I would hang up now and test the returned phone and, “if the problem persists, I shall be miffed and call back none too happy.”

Last Friday circa 4:22PM: Calling Apple back none too happy, I once again had to explain the story all the way through. This tech was much nicer (must be of the elven race) and almost immediately sent me to a ‘manager.’ The manager was super nice and even gave me her extension in case I needed help again. She said she believed me, but I made her call me so she could hear the phone did have a problem still. Once hearing the problem, she assured me she would tell the repair people to simply replace the phone and NOT repair this one. Basically, the ogre was correct. If I keep the working phone, I will have a $499 charge and be out of warranty. So I packed up that phone and waited for FedEx to take it away.

Today (Monday): Yumi just called me to tell me FedEx came and dropped off my next new phone. This phone is the loaner and will be returned once my ‘real’ new phone arrives (Phone #5)

To be continued…