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When Small Oversights Turn Into Bricked iPhones

Edge cases are hard to test, because there are so many and it's hard to know which one will matter.

· Mobile Zone
To err is human, especially in mobile app development. But when a brand makes a mistake, consumers aren't quick to forgive or forget. This is particularly true when those people paid good money for apps, devices or any technology and they don't work. This is also the case when app developers experience those same issues. Just look at Apple, since February hasn't been a great month when it comes to its products and bugs.

A Bad Version of Time Travel

For starters, take a recently discovered iOS device glitch that turns smartphones and tablets into bricks with Apple logos on them. According to ArsTechnica, if users change the date to Jan. 1, 1970 on any iPhone, iPod touch iPad Mini, iPad Air running 64-bit iOS and power it off, it will become unusable, stuck on the screen that's displayed at startup - "the Apple logo forever." Even worse, there is no software fix. ArsTechnica reported that reflashing doesn't reset the date, but if batteries die completely, then the affected system will update itself and boot correctly.

Apple device users were shocked to find their phones were bricked after changing the date the Jan. 1, 1970.Apple device users were shocked to find their phones were bricked after changing the date to Jan. 1, 1970.

You might say, "Well, simply don't set the internal date to 1970 on your iOS devices, and the problem will be solved." This is partially correct. But it's the age of the Internet - remember when 4chan users convinced Apple device users to microwave their new iPhones to charge them? Someone could easily play this prank on unsuspecting individuals. Or the vulnerability could be exploited by hackers.

"There is concern that Wi-Fi devices could be vulnerable to malicious data from NTP (network time protocol) servers," ArsTechnica reported. "NTP is used by many operating systems to set the time and date of a device and its data is both unencrypted and unauthenticated, making spoofing relatively straightforward."

There have been no reports of such an attack, but as is usually the case with these types of vulnerabilities, someone will try.

Paid App, Won't Open

Apple also found itself facing some complaints after a small oversight caused the Mac app to fail to open. Business Insider reported that expired digital certificates were responsible for the problems - when an app is opened, it must communicate with Apple servers for verification purposes. On February 14, the old certificates were no longer acceptable, and paid apps using them wouldn't load. Some app developers blamed Apple for misleading them, others suggested developers were at fault for not paying attention and performing app testing to ensure their customers could open a product that they purchased. Either way, Twitter lit up with comments such as this one from Russell Ivanovic, a mobile app developer at Shift Jelly.

In reality, the finger should be pointed at the tech industry as a whole. Brands need to guarantee that end users always have great experiences and never encounter bugs and glitches. A good way to do that is with a commitment to continuous quality: providing an end product - an app, device or whatever - that works and is supported throughout its lifecycle.
Topics:
testing ,user experience

Published at DZone with permission of Shane O'Neill. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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