Chinese Picture Book Reader 1.2 Released

Chinese Picture Book Reader

You may have been wondering when new content will be added to the AllSet Learning Chinese Picture Book Reader iPad app. Actually, recently, we have been too! It was always our plan to add more and more content to the app, but in this case, a technical curveball was thrown our way. This is a short story about how technical issues related to apps can have pretty unfun consequences for small companies like us, who would just like to produce more good content for our apps, if we had the choice.

You see, originally, the Picture Book Reader app offered in-app purchases (iAP) through Urban Airship. So when you buy an additional picture book through our app, the iTunes App Store first verified the payment, and then the app authorized the download to your iPad of the iAP picture book content. Originally, this iAP content was stored on Urban Airship’s servers, and all the authorization/verification/whatever technical communications took place through Urban Airship’s API. It was all a relatively complicated process, but it was made complicated by Apple, and Urban Airship actually did a pretty decent job of making it a smidge easier for developers.

But then Apple decided to get into the iAP-hosting game. And once Apple gets into the game, Urban Airship knows it is going to lose a huge chunk of its market share. So Urban Airship did the sensible thing and decided to bow out of the iAP hosting service and focus on its other business. The only problem was that Apple “got into the game” without providing full documentation or support for the poor developers that had to figure out Apple’s complicated iAP hosting process. This means instead of following a detailed spec, developers are doing lots and lots of internet searches and programming by trial and error. Really not fun.

For us, this was a pretty big deal. It meant that our developer had to completely rewrite the most complicated parts of the app’s code, and make it work with Apple’s barely-documented iAP service. We had to make sure that all users that had ever purchased iAP content through the Chinese Picture Book Reader app would still have easy access to it (ideally in a totally seamless transition), and that meant lots and lots of testing.

Fortunately, we did it, and with a whole 10 days to spare before Urban Airship totally sunset its iAP hosting service on July 1st. All that testing seems to have paid off, and the app is working just fine, in-app purchases and all, but if you experience any problems, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at apps@allsetlearning.com.

In this latest update we also made the in-app help screens less annoying, and updated the app’s icon.

Coming in the next few releases:

  • Bug fixes related to tricky text switches and matching audio
  • Total retina support for the whole app (it’s about time!)
  • New content (both free and paid)

Thank you to all our supporters out there! More is coming soon, and we really appreciate your patience so far. And if you don’t have it yet, go download the app.