Since the release of iOS 7, customers have been seeing lower issue download counts and have been concerned. Our support staff has fielded a number of questions from customers regarding this phenomenon and asked if it is a Mag+ bug or for an explanation as to why it is happening. We hope this article will explain the situation better and provide insight into the cause for this — not just for Mag+ apps, but for all digital publishing systems that create apps for iOS.
First, it's important to know how background downloads of issues work. When you publish an issue from the Mag+ Publish portal, a notification is sent from our system to Apple and then to your apps. This notification says there is an issue available and your apps are instructed to download it. The notification is called a Newsstand Push Notification and while it uses the same mechanism as the push notifications you manually send out via the Notifications tab, end users never see it. The Newsstand Push Notification just goes directly to the device and tells it to download new content. For more information on how Mag+ delivers content to iOS devices, please read the article "iOS - Automatic Downloading of App Content".
With the release of iOS 7, Apple changed the way Newsstand Push Notifications work, and it is a significant departure from how Newsstand Push Notifications were delivered with iOS 5 and iOS 6. With iOS 7, Apple attempted to change the way these notifications worked, primarily optimizing the mechanism for apps that receive e-mail and Twitter updates and notifications multiple times within a 24-hour period. Part of the problem with iOS 7 is that it is not clearly differentiating Newsstand Push Notifications (which initiate a background download of content) from standard Push Notifications (which just deliver text).
A key change in iOS 7 is that if an app is killed manually by the end user, then the app simply does not receive Newsstand Push Notifications to automatically download new content in the background. Users manually kill an app by bringing up a screen of currently running apps and swiping one up to force it to quit. Apple views this scenario as one where the end user has made a conscious decision that they do not want the app running/performing background operations which consume battery life.
Mag+ has no control over initiating background downloads to apps that have been force quit in this manner. In order for a Mag+ iOS app to receive a Newsstand Push Notification to auto-download content, it must be running in the background on the iOS device.
The changes in the iOS 7 release affect all digital publishing systems — not just Mag+ — and are beyond our control to modify.
Changes Implemented by Mag+
Since the release of Mag+ v5.0 (which supports iOS 7), we have implemented various changes to try and improve the reliability of Newsstand Push Notifications that trigger automatic downloading of content. At this time, we have made all the changes possible on our end to provide reliable background downloading of content.
What Mag+ Is Doing About the Issue
Mag+ has filed reports with Apple and we continue to engage in discussions on how to better address this behavior. Product roadmaps for the future of iOS hint that there will continue to be modifications to Newsstand Push Notifications to differentiate them from standard Push Notifications. We are actively following these changes and investigating them to see if they can improve the situation for our customers. Rest assured that Mag+ will implement any changes that will improve the situation as soon as they are available.
The Mag+ Staff