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RANT! App World Update Notifications Slower Than Snail Mail

mr_slow Since App World was launched I have had an issue with the caching system that RIM uses. There are a couple of features in App World that are simply slow or delayed making them a stumbling block for RIM. The thing is most of these issues are actually self inflicted by RIM in trying to “optimize” their infrastructure and could probably easily be remedied. App World is making some great progress in becoming the de facto app location but it needs to resolve these issues if it wants to truly succeed. Here is to hoping some of the RIM App World team is reading the following constructive criticism…

Notifications of application updates takes days if not weeks to reach everybody. Every day we get tips from readers letting us know that they just received an App World update notification for an app that was update days or weeks before. It just simply does not make sense for RIM to not use their own Push API to push out these updates within SECONDS of the app being updated. That is the main purpose of a push API. This leads me to my next frustration.

App World updates are staggered so that one user may see an update that is not available to another user. I have heard a few reasons from friends at RIM as to why this is the case but they just don’t make sense. First of all RIM never had this concept of staggered updates before. When they released a BlackBerry Messenger or Google Talk update before App World everybody downloaded it ASAP. Same thing with OS updates. Now that App World is growing strong shouldn’t we be able to do the same thing? RIM is already using Akamai as a CDN to serve this content so it is not like RIM’s servers will get hammered with millions of requests. Akamai can handle the traffic just like they do for more demanding clients than RIM.

So some of you may say that the reason they stagger the updates is in case there are any issues they can resolve them before it hits critical mass. Well it has been almost 2 years and that has never happened as far as I can know except for the update to BlackBerry Messenger 5.0. Still RIM never fixed that issue and just told users to update their OS and backup before upgrading. So why bother?

This delayed update also causes issues with developers who have to wait hours or sometimes over a day for their app or update to appear for all users. I am not sure what takes RIM’s servers so long to propagate an update. I can understand that the content might be cached on edge servers but they could always make it revalidate or simply invalidate the cache of that one app page when an app is updated.

This same concept of caching updates is also a problem on the BlackBerry App World client. We mentioned before that RIM has finally officially detailed the shortcut for refreshing the App World catalog cache on your device. Still wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to do that. This App World cache is probably already cached on RIM’s Akamai cache so would it really kill RIM to just make a quick cache-control or expires header check on that cache?

All of these frustrations can all be seen clearly if I describe to you how I wish/dream App World worked. When a new version of Google Talk for BlackBerry comes out I (along with EVERY other BlackBerry user) should receive a popup notification from App World within 5 minutes (hour max). I would then be able to click on that notification and download it immediately…

So what do you think are the chances of my dream coming true?

18 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I totally agree with this rant! BlackBerry users should not have to obsessively check the internet for word of updated software… if the iPhone can properly notify people, BlackBerry can do it as well!

  2. Great post! Agreed!

  3. Like Whitney and Mariah said, “There can be miracles when you believe.”

    But, seriously, I get faster notifications from the app makers themselves when they send e-mails about updates. Haha maybe the reason why BB OS topped Android and nearly iOS for 2010 is because we BB users are always scouring internet sources for our app updates. 😉

  4. Possibly these delays are intentional by design. Given the issues over the past year where RIM released an update to an app only to need to push out an emergency patch due to issues (remember the BBM fiascos?), this could be RIM’s method of finding default beta testers! I, personally, have not been impressed at all by Beta Zone as it does not follow “normal protocol” for beta programs — unlike RIM’s Beta Zone, typical betas provide iterative releases to a limited number of users to quickly introduce new features and to resolve bugs.

    • May be they are intentional, but honestly, in 2010 and considering the competition they are in with iOS and Android, there’s no good reason. I honestly don’t care what their reasons are, they know the PIN of EvERY person that has donwloaded anything from App World. There’s just plain no good reason in this day and age that they can’t push a notification to every user with that “app” world wide in less than an hour total.

  5. Here are my issues with App World:

    1.They are slow on notifications (Crackberry store is much quicker).
    2. Downloads aren’t always smooth (App World loses my downloads sometimes). It would be nice if they added the ability to download more than 1 app at a time, but I digress.
    3. There is no support for many apps (Emails many times go unreturned).
    4. You have to type in password every time you download/purchase and app.

    Hopefully, App World can resolve these issues.

    • 1. no comment, don’t know enough about it
      2. this is false, I’ve downloaded more than one app at the same time on multiple occassions
      3. why would RIM support apps made by 3rd party vendors?
      4. you don’t like security?

      • 1. I have had faster notifications from Mobihand/BerryReview compared to App World, but I think it’s YMMV for some apps. App World does notify me relatively quickly sometimes, but it’s just not consistent.
        2. Agreed.
        3. Agreed.
        4. Agreed!

    • 1. Agreed.
      2. I download multiple upgrades simultaneously all the time. I always kick of the largest one first, and while there’s definitely lag I’m still able to kick off other downloads while that one is still going. On EVDO.
      3. RIM does a REALLY BAD JOB in my opinion on the support front. They should be ensuring that the support contact on EVERY item in App World is actually read and gets responses from a human being. I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve come across that get robo-answered, and RIM shouldn’t be allowing this.
      4. typing in the password repeatedly IS annoying but considering how few people password their BlackBerry like they should it’s a necessary evil I think.

  6. Hear this (sorry in advice for my bad english):

    I have had some problem in the last day tryng to buy Shazam Encore.

    Appworld on device told me that S.E. was not avaiable for my device ( 9520 ) so I can’t buy a license.
    I begin a research in forums and it seems that this problem occours only for storm devices.
    So I contacted the shazam support that rejected me sayng ” you need to contact appworld support because shazam 2.6.1 is fully compatibile with all BB devices “.

    After that I tryed to bypass (with success) that “availability” control tryng to buy the app from the appworld website, and now I finally have a fully licensed Shazam.

    Strange things happens…

  7. Well, we have berryreview here to tell us about it (update) don’t we? :)

  8. This is in response to shlammed:
    1. Yes is does take longer for app world to respond, that’s what this article was about.
    2. Yes its true that downloads are sometime lost, look it up.
    3.Yes, I do expect thr vendors to respond promptly
    to emails, its called customer service.
    4.Why is it that Crackberry is able to maintain security without having to always enter your password all the time. App World is the only one that does

  9. Very good article. This is something I have wondered about since the beginning of BlackBerry App World. What I do find strange is: Some applications (think that Hangman game you featured recently) have application update notifications almost daily. I had to delete that game because I just couldn’t take it anymore, but that’s another story.

    Anyway, this is VERY frustrating for me, personally, because I have been designated the “BlackBerry guy” among my circle of friends who own a BlackBerry device. I have a group setup in BBM “BlackBerry News” where I send out application update notifications (especially non App World stuff like Google Maps), OS update news, etc. It’s a pain in the butt when I mention App World related information because I inevitably receive 4-5 replies along the lines of “what update? Not for MY device…” and I just sigh.

    Up until now, I didn’t really have a good answer as to why this was the case. Thank you for shedding light upon the “why”. Now, I am off to compose a group message to explain all this nonsense to my less-tech savy BlackBerry friends. 😉

    • Hmm…I’ve got Hangman on both of my BlackBerry, and I’m not getting daily App World update notifications for it. I’m wondering what’s wrong with your download? I think I would delete it, do the App World cache clear, and try it again.

  10. Very good analysis. Furthermore…

    There have been a number of times that Appworld app tells me there is an update available of a given up and when I choose “Upgrade” it tells me do you want to replace 1.2.3 with 1.2.3 – does this happen to anyone else??

    Also, I would be nice to remove an app from “MyWorld”. There are several I have tried and uninstalled, though I can’t see any way to have it removed from my list… it just appears as Uninstalled. If anyone knows better please reply.

  11. The ones I love the most are the App World update notifications that show up in my Inbox (like I got today for Cardstar) that tell me there’s an upgrade available for the version I have to the version I have. Come ON RIM….you can do better.

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