Pebble App Crash: How was it Missed?

So Pebble put out an app update yesterday, and I downloaded it, and as soon as I tried to open it the app crashed. Try again, crash. Restart phone, crash. Here we go. To Twitter!

And sure enough pretty much every @mention to the Pebble account was a complaint about the crashing bug. Pebble later in the day pulled the update and acknowledged the problem. But too late for many.

Now let’s be clear, there was no damage done to any of the watches, despite headlines using words like “bricking”. They still work, somewhat. They tell time, can receive notifications, and control music. But interactive watch faces and apps don’t as they require a connection to the app to function.

I am sure it will be fixed quickly, and kudos to Pebble for responding right away and yanking the update (are you seeing this Realmac?). But I do have a question directed at both Pebble and Apple. How did this update make it through quality control?

It’s not like it is a bug that only affects certain people in certain situations. It crashes for everyone across the board. It doesn’t seem to depend on the device, OS settings, or interaction with other apps. Wouldn’t this have crashed in development? Did anyone test it on a real device or did it jump straight from Xcode to the App Store?

And speaking of the App Store, how did this get past Apple’s reviewers? We like to complain about them when they ban apps for dubious reasons, but aren’t they tasked first with making sure the app functions at all? It’s not like this is a hidden bug, it literally crashes the moment it opens. This is a great time to use your power, Apple App review person, to go back to Pebble and say “no until this is fixed”.

I would like to remind all the developers out there that these kind of flaws no longer only affect the early adopter crowd. One of the big features of iOS 7 is app auto-updating. By the time you become aware of your app’s issue, it may be too late for many of your customers.

But Apple, you need to commit more resources to the app review team if these kind of things are more common than we thought. If this obvious crashing bug got through, what kind of hidden malicious code is sneaking past? I know everyone is busy keeping adult apps and Flappy Bird clones out of the store, but clearly there is a quality control issue that could potentially jump from annoyance to major issue. I know nothing is perfect in life, but the Faustian deal we all made to live in the App Store’s walked garden requires the garden be kept free of weeds.

Pebble App Crash: How was it Missed? was last updated April 1st, 2014 by Michael Truskowski