Message to Strip Customers Re: In-App Purchases

2011-04-06 20:00:00 -0400

Updated, below: Apr 18 10:00 AM

On March 1st, we released Strip 1.5.0, largely a pretty successful release with a low number of bugs, crashes, and some big improvements that were long over-due. However, in that same release, we started using Apple’s In-App Purchasing system, and it’s caused a lot of confusion and frustration for our current customers. That’s really the last thing we wanted to do, as our customers are particularly great, so this post is about what happened, what we’ve done so far to fix it, and what comes next.

The Issue At Hand

Thousands of people have already paid the full price for Strip, $9.99 USD. We wanted to make sure that when they upgraded, they weren’t charged again by the new In-App Purchasing system in Strip 1.5.0. To ensure this, the program looked for a previous install on first launch, and made sure not to ask the customer to pay for an upgrade, which worked—on the upgraded device.

It didn’t prevent users from being charged for the new version on new or replacement devices where the old version of Strip wasn’t already available on the device for detection by the new version. Thus, anyone upgrading to a new device, doing a restore, replacing a device, or buying a new device was faced with being charged a second time, because they no longer had the old version on the device in question and could only download the new version. To make it worse, there appears to be no way for us to remedy this with the App Store and the In-App Purchase system as provided by Apple.

To add to the confusion, purchases made once in the iTunes store don’t have to be made again on the same account, they are free, but the iTunes store still presents it as a purchase until you agree to pony up the cash. Only then does it inform you that you get the new download for free, so you’re always trying your luck. But the In-App Purchase for Strip is considered a different “Product” in the iTunes App Store, and buying the old version didn’t make the new version free on a new device. Many users in this situation confirmed the purchase when prompted, expecting it to be free thanks to their previous purchase experiences, and were charged anyway. To these folks, it looked like we’d performed a bait-and-switch (or just screwed up).

What We’ve Done So Far

Answering everyone’s email and getting to the bottom of the various problems wasn’t going to be enough, so we got to coding.

We published Strip 1.5.1 to the iTunes App Store on Monday, April 4th. It fixes a couple of bugs in 1.5.0 (thus the delay in getting it out), so we recommend you install it now. This version has a facility allowing us to remotely grant a user unlimited access to Strip on their device. When a customer gets in touch and it turns out she has or will be double-charged, we can put their UDID in a remote database and give her a couple of steps to perform in Strip to cause a remote HTTP request to check with a little web service we set up for authorizing instances of Strip.

Back to Paid Downloads

We will be publishing Strip 1.5.2 as soon as it’s approved by Apple (we’ve already submitted it for review to the App Store). It contains a one-line adjustment to disable the in-app upgrade completely, and we’re going back to what works: $9.99 to download, no more screwing around. Anybody who upgrades won’t be charged for the download.

We’re really grateful to our customers for being so patient with us while we worked through all the email and got back to everybody. If you are currently in a pickle yourself, get in touch, and we’ll pull you out of the brine. We’ll post a note here and to the mailing list once Strip 1.5.2 is available for download.

Update: Strip 1.5.2 is now available in the iTunes App Store, all customers are advised to install this update.

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