For how long do apps have to be supported?

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by Fantasy Guy, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Fantasy Guy macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2010
    #1
    I bought an app a couple of years ago called Trains which I rely on daily to get up-to-date train times.

    But in the last couple of weeks it's stopped updating - the app no longer shows any train times, just a blank screen.

    But there's no-one to contact, no support evident but surely they can't just stop supporting it? I paid good money for the app!
     
  2. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #2
    There is not time specified in the contract developers sign with Apple. Developers are perfectly entitled to never update their apps and can even remove them from sale after a week never to return.
     
  3. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Sorry, I think you misunderstand my post. The Trains app lets you select a station and it then shows a list of live train times and the platforms the trains are due to arrive on.

    But it no longer displays any train times. It says 'updating' and then 'Updated [the time]' but there are no train times shown!

    The app no longer works - can I get my money back? Surely developers can't just ignore their apps once they stop working?!
     

    Attached Files:

  4. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #4
    No, I understand your point perfectly. And yes, developers can ignore their apps. Unless you have some extra agreement with then that the app will work forever they are not required to do that. Just look at Adobe and the numerous versions of Photoshop that get broken when Apple release a new version of Mac OSX that Adobe do not fix.

    If the app is still for sale then you may get some traction via the app store people. Otherwise you are basically out of luck.
     
  5. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

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    #5
    This surely goes against all my rights as a consumer?

    Do you have any links to the actual information you're talking about?
     
  6. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #6
    Do you? What consumer rights in particular do you think imply that a piece of software has to continue working forever?
     
  7. dejo Moderator

    dejo

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    #7
    Actually, if the app is still for sale, there should be a link to Support from the developer in the App Store listing. In iTunes this will look like "appName Support >" and appears below the Description.
     
  8. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    My rights that I can't be ripped off! For example, I believe that any electrical equipment sold in the UK must be supported (with spares etc.) for at least six years. There must be some sort of similar T&Cs to the sale of software/apps (which I was hoping you may be able to point me to).

    If someone can charge £2.59 for an app and then arbitrarily withdraw all support rendering the app uselss, I think the authorities and consumers should be made aware of this.

    Incidentally, the app doesn't appear to be for sale anymore.
     
  9. vettori macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    As a developer I agree that software should work for a reasonable amount of time IF no external changes are made. For example if Apple changes how the iOS works and some apps breaks, developers should *not* be forced to upgrade their apps.

    Similarly when the app relies heavily on an external service (this may be the case for the Trains app), the developer should put a note on the description and possibly a note on the usage agreement that says that the app may break if the external service ceases to exists or changes significantly.

    As another example, consider apps that use push (push relies on external servers). When an app sells "lifetime" push for 3$ it's obvious that it will probably not work in 2110 (not even in 2020).

    All that said, honest developers should do whatever they can to let apps run forever.

    My guess: probably the service behind the Trains app has closed or changed and the developer can't use it anymore so he removed the app from sales.
     
  10. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #10
    I can find nothing suggesting this is the case. Six years is the statutory cut off for starting a court case for damages (repair/replace costs) for goods that break (under the Sale of Goods act). But this does not imply all good should be expected to last 6 years: wear and tear items would be expected to last less than 6 years so anyone starting a court case has to prove the item lasted less than the time an average, reasonable person expects.

    In the past the court have taken cost into account. An item costing £1000 would, in general, be expected to last longer than one costing £10. As this software cost only £2.59 I would not expect that a court would offer you much in return: they might well say that a year is a reasonable time period of this to last for and that you have had benefit from the goods equal to the cost.
     
  11. dejo Moderator

    dejo

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    #11
    Unless the developer supplied their own EULA, here's the standard one you agreed to when purchasing the app:
    LICENSED APPLICATION END USER LICENSE AGREEMENT
     
  12. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #12
    These two lines would appear to be key:

     
  13. vettori macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    I think this is the key :

    But again, a developer usually never hopes a user have to read this because his app is not working.
     
  14. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2010
    #14
    I agree. But equally, if I update the iOS and an app breaks, Apple should give me the option of downgrading the iOS (which they don't).

    I think that the whole area of apps is quite free of state/consumer rights intervention but I suspect this will change. I'm certainly going to research further into my rights. I don't want to invest in apps only to have them stop working a matter of days/weeks/months after purchase.

    I think I'm also right in saying that my contract ultimately lies with Apple, not the developer, as it is them who sells me the app.

    Robbieduncan - I think you're just spoiling for an argument, so I'm going to politely ignore your posts.
     
  15. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    #15
    I am disappointed you think that. I am trying to offer you the best advice I can based on the knowledge I have or information I can find. I would be genuinely interested in seeing evidence that manufacturers have to supply spares for electronics for 6 years from the time of sale. But, as I said, I was unable to find any.
     
  16. dejo Moderator

    dejo

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    #16
    vettori, I think it helps if you highlight the beginning part of that sentence:
    In other words:
     
  17. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
    I wonder if there is a different agreement for UK app store users?

    I'm not really happy with this idea that I buy an app and there are no refunds, returns and the supplier has no obligation to ensure it works for a set period.

    I'm certainly going to be taking this further and, as a proud member of Which?, that's where I'll be starting!!
     
  18. panoz7 macrumors 6502a

    panoz7

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    #18
    Off topic, but do they put this in all caps to intentionally make it hard to read?

    One of my favorite apps was Now Playing. It also relied on an external source for data and when that source went down so did the app. I liked the app a lot, but since it was a free app I wasn't too annoyed. If I payed for it would have been a different story, so I can feel where you're coming from.
     
  19. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2010
    #19
    Perhaps this bit applies to UK users?


    Thanks. If 'Trains' had said "Will only work for about a year", I wouldn't have bought it. It'd be like O2 suddenly not supporting the iPhone - I'm sure people would pipe-up if that were to happen!
     
  20. lionheartednyhc macrumors 65816

    lionheartednyhc

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    #20
    The difference is that you signed a contract with 02 to provide you service for X amount of years...
     
  21. JulianL macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Exactly the opposite in fact, it's supposed to make it easier to read, or at least to notice. It's actually a requirement, at least under US law, for it to be a valid agreement. The exact law is that certain sections such as warranty (and I think also limited liability) clauses must be "typographically distinct" from the other clauses in the agreement. I learned this on a 1 week course on negotiating software agreements about 20 years so I've no idea if this requirement is also for other agreements but, even for software, people were writing these agreements 30 years ago using typewriters and basic printers so the convention was established that the easiest way to make the clauses typographically distinct was to make them all capitals and that persists to this day.

    - Julian
     
  22. bstpierre macrumors 6502

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    #22
    What if they eliminated the trains? Would you still expect the developer to support the app? I know you will accuse me of looking for a fight (if you accused robbie of doing so with his helpful posts) but I really think you are expecting too much from this app and its lifetime. If the service he was using to get the information isn't avaialble to him anymore he can't forward it on to you through his app. He can try to find a new source but if it doesn't exist what do you want him to do? A couple of years is a pretty good run for such a cheap app if you ask me. And Apple is the one who doesn't have a mechanism for refunds.
     
  23. dejo Moderator

    dejo

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    #23
    Actually you can get a refund for an app, if you jump through the correct hoops. But at this point in time, I doubt Apple would think the app didn't work as advertised.
     
  24. 0815 macrumors 68000

    0815

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    #24
    I certainly understand that you are upset that the app stopped working .... but spending £2.59 is hardly 'investing' into an app.

    Anyway: I don't have any pointers, but I read somewhere that there is a way through Apple to get the money back if the app does not work as advertised (probably through iTunes). So if you really just bought it (not 'too long' ago ... but from what you write it sounds you are already using it since quite a while) it is not working anymore, you can get your 'investment' back.

    I guess the right steps for you are:
    (1) check if the app is still in the appStore. If it is still there:
    (a) contact the developer (you find the email in AppStore
    (b) leave a review stating the problem to warn others
    (c) if there is an update that fixes it, update the review

    (2) if the app is no longer for sale or the seller does not reply: you should report this problem to Apple and ask your money back.

    You have not mentioned if you have done anything of the above - if not, you really should try it. You your options before complaining to everyone out there.
     
  25. JulianL macrumors 65816

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    #25
    If one has a good reason then getting a refund is trivially simple. I got one on an Apple purchase recently without even asking for it. OK, it was an iBook, but I suspect the principle is the same. All I did was email Apple support with my order number and complain that my book had a broken table of contents in it and I thought this was poor for an expensive book. I got an email back within 12 hours to say that Apple understood how disappointing it can be to purchase a product that doesn't function as expected and that I should see a refund on my credit card within 3 - 5 working days (it came through in 2 days).

    Unfortunately for the OP, I think that the sections in the warranty clause that previous posters have helpfully highlighted make it pretty clear that he has no case against the developer. Many people are amazed at how weak the promises are in software EULAs regarding functionality, frankly the EULAs are there to protect the developer and not the customer so they're almost totally one-sided.

    - Julian
     

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