If you’ve been publishing
apps for a while, you probably have done an upgrade that you wish you could
take back. This recently happened to me after doing a major update to my
popular White Noise Lite app.
My app has tons of active users who usually leave extremely positive reviews
when given new features. This all changed when my upgrade contained a critical
bug that resulted in what only can be described as hell on earth.

iOS 7 has the nice feature
of auto-updating apps, and it clearly works, as I’ve never seen the app
upgraded so quickly. One of the new features I added was a Report Problem
button that would directly email support with vitals such as device and an app
log file — it turned out it was great timing to add this feature. My failed
upgrade was rolling out to users at an alarming rate, and the emails started
pouring in.

What could I do? Updating
the app would have taken at least a week to get reviewed, approved, and released.
I couldn’t afford wait it out as the negative reviews piled up. Here’s
everything I did in response to the failed upgrade, and what I recommend you do
as well if you’re in a similar situation:

  1. Notified users of the problem
    and assured them that it was getting fixed ASAP;
  2. Took the app off the
    store temporarily to stop users from upgrading; and
  3. Posted a fixed version and requested an expedited review of my application.

1: Notify your users

I had a number of ways to
notify users: a web view in the application that displays information and news,
an in-app notification that I can tweak based on the current running version,
emails from customers, user support forums, and social media. All of this helps
a little, but honestly, so many users just go straight to leaving a one-star
review without checking with you. It’s painful.

2: Pull the app from the

If things are really bad,
you might consider pulling the app from the App Store. You can do this by
logging in to iTunes Connect and setting a future publish date for your app
listing. This will completely remove the app for sale, and the upgrade will no
longer be available. This is a decision you should make as quickly as possible.
I wish I had done this as soon as the problem was reported.

3: Request an expedited

An expedited review can get
your app update approved much faster than the regular review process. It takes a couple of days for your request to be
reviewed and, if approved, your app goes into review almost immediately. You
should use this option sparingly, but in my case, it was required because
it affected all of my users. I was able to get the update reviewed and approved
in three days using an expedited review.


App Store ranking

The scariest part of this
entire process was wondering how the App Store ranking would be affected from
delisting my app. After a few nail biting days, White Noise Lite eventually
returned to the ranking it was prior to delisting it.

Two iTunes wish list features

App bugs will always exist
despite our best efforts to test on multiple devices and iOS versions. I hope
iTunes will eventually add a Panic or an Undo button that would roll back users
to the previous app version. (I’ve requested this feature to the iTunes Connect
staff, so my fingers are crossed that one day the hell upgrade will become
easier to resolve.) Another great feature would be to allow an update to slowly
roll out instead of upgrading everyone at the same time. These two features
would be highly welcomed, especially when releasing major app updates.

Until these features become
available, the expedited review is your best solution.