Dodged a Bullet!

Had a bit of a scare when I saw the latest news for Apple Developers.

Apple have decided to freeze App screenshots once an App is approved in iTunes Connect – Updating Screenshots in iTunes Connect

On the face of it, this looks like a sensible move to try and stop “scam” applications as illustrated in this post by Panic. Sensible, but it does impact on legitimate Developers who might want to tweak their application screenshots for valid reasons. The screenshots are hugely valuable for marketing an application, and on the iPad and especially the iPhone, it’s crucial you get them right.

This new ruling presented a major potential problem for me with the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine.

As I’ve mentioned before, this is a special type of App – a Newsstand app. The App remains constant, but each month, a new issue is published with fresh content.

I’ve been using the App screenshot feature to display the contents of several key pages such as the cover, the index pages and some articles. I refresh them each month to reflect the refreshed content of the magazine. See the image below (click to see a larger version)

Screenshots used in ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine in iTunes Store

To freeze the screenshots and only allow updates when a new version of the app binary was released and approved would be extremely limiting.

With trepidation, I logged onto to iTunes Connect and sure enough, the Mac and the iOS SCOtutor App screenshots are now frozen and cannot be deleted or changed.


The ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Mag Newsstand app is not affected.

It looks like Newsstand Apps do not have this limitation and the screenshots can still be legitimately swapped out – phew!

Whilst it’s still a pain to have the iOS and Mac App screenshots frozen, I’m glad Apple have not applied this ruling across the board and have give the Newsstand Apps a let.

If you want to checkout the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly magazine, you can find our more here.

ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine App Updated

An upgrade to the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine App has just been released (2.7.3) and is now available in the iTunes App Store.

The whole Newsstand architecture does tend to confuse people, so some words of explanation might be in order. ScreenCastsOnline Monthly Magazine is in fact made up of three components – the app, the content and the server backend.

The App

The app is the framework that delivers the functionality to the magazine. It controls the subscription side of things, the Home Page and what “issues” of the magazines are displayed. It provides all the functionality of the reading side of the experience – how the pages display, providing the navigation of the pages, popping up the thumbnails when you tap and hold, opening links within it’s own browser, all the end user experience of the magazine is provided by the App. It’s actually an iOS application, just like all your other iOS appliactions available for free via the iTunes store. Hence, it’s possible to upgrade and enhance the app with extra features, just like we have done with the new 2.7.3 release. More about that later.

The Content

This is the actual content of the magazine itself. The bit you actually read or view. Each issue is produced monthly and available for purchase as an in-app purchase within the app or as a monthly or annual subscription, again as an in-app purchase within the app itself. ScreenCastsOnline members are able to get a complimentary subscription to the magazine as part of their membership. As part of the Newsstand functionality built into the iPad, everytime a new issue is published, it appears in the App, and what’s really cool is if you’re a subscriber, it gets pushed to your iPad automatically. So in theory, when a new issue appears, if you’re a subscriber, you shouldn’t need to download it, it should already be there!

I send a push notification to everyone who has the app installed, usually about 24 hours after the issue has been published.

The ScreenCastsOnline Monthly subscription works just like a normal magazine subscription. You start receiving current and futures issues of the magazine from when you start your subscription. Previous issues that were published before a magazine subscription starts are still available, but these cannot be downloaded as part of your subscription and need to be purchased individually.

The Server Backend

The server backend is the publishing platform where all the issues are assembled and published and it’s this platform that is integrated with the app. The app communicates with the backend for various features and functionality. The server backend and the app itself are part of a new publishing platform called Magcast.

New Features in 2.7.3

So now you understand all of the components, I can tell you about just some of the enhancements to the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly app at this new release. There will be more functionality coming soon, once the server backend is updated, but for now:

  • Better performance – The magazine feels a lot faster, with much smoother and easier page scrolling
  • Locked Vertical Movement – When scrolling, the pages are locked in vertical mode – no inadvertently moving up and down. That used to drive me bonkers!
  • New AirPrint option – You can now print any page via AirPrint, directly from your iPad. Just tap and hold on the page and 4 symbols appear on the left hand side of the page – Share via email, Twitter, Facebook and Print. If you haven’t got an AirPrint compatible printer, get yourself a copy of Printopia and install it on your Mac
  • Bug Fixes – Lots of bugfixes and optimisation to handle older iPads and utilise memory more efficiently.

If you’ve already got the ScreenCastsOnline Monthly app installed I’d recommend you grab this update from the iTunes store ASAP.

If you’ve not subscribed to the magazine, you can grab the app for free and download the sampler issue for free too. If you decide to subscribe, you can get a free one month trial when you sign up (and save yourself 40% off the displayed price in the process). Existing ScreenCastsOnline members need to visit this page for subscription details.

There will be more functionality coming soon!