AMITIAE - Sunday 8 January 2012

Motor Sport App Updated for Newsstand but Not Getting off the Starting Grid

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

Motor Sport

A couple of months ago, I was pleased to see that one of my favourite UK magazines, Motor Sport, was being made available as an app for the iPad. I reviewed the free September issue and looked forward to the arrival of the first paid issue, which was for February. Like a lot of UK publishers, Motor Sport has a strange cover date pattern with the February issue being available at the beginning of January, but actually coming on sale in the shops (where they have it) on the last day of the previous month. As a result I was actually waiting for the February 2012 issue on the last day of 2011.

I waited for a few days and wrote to the publisher wondering why there had been a delay. The Subscriptions Executive, Ash Luchmun told me that he could "confirm that the February 2012 issue was in the process of being approved by Apple and this should allow the issue to be available for download within a few days from now." I hoped they would get to grips with the technology and embrace the Newsstand so that, like New Yorker, when a new issue is out, the readers get it right away. When the update to the Motor Sport App update notification arrived on Saturday morning here, one of the features mentioned was Newsstand, so they were on the right track.

When I updated the iPad app, it asked permission to send new issues, which of course I agreed to. The Motor Sport app (now version 1.0.1) then opened with the Store page displayed showing the new February issue, with the bright red side panel (this could be hidden with the September issue once downloaded) and the familiar green cover.

I clicked on the issue icon and the price was shown as $6.99. This is shown as £4.99 on the iTunes store description. A subscribe button brought up a panel offering the single issue for $6.99, a 6 month subscription for $37.99 or a full 12 months for $74.99 (a saving of around $10 on the single issue). Those who already subscribe to the print issue may download the digital version free. I am trying to avoid print issues where there is an alternative of a digital version, so I tried to buy a 6-month digital subscription.

Nothing happened when I tapped on the button. There was also no effect when I tried the 12 month button. Back at the top level with the issue displayed on the shelves, trying to buy a single issue changed the button to green, but once again, the gearwheel spun and that was it.

I did try a reset of the iPad in case there were some outside factor preventing a proper connection, but this had no effect. I tried all the options again several hours later, but still this was not working. I deleted the app from the iPad and from iTunes, synced the iPad, then downloaded the app again and reinstalled.

I tried the single issue purchase first and was hopeful when the gearwheel stayed spinning for a while longer. Unfortunately nothing further happened; nor was I able to buy either of the subscription plans. I did try a further reset of the iPad but this improved nothing. Whether this inability to make any purchase from within the app is because of a local limitation or some fault in the app, I am unable to guess.

I have sent email to Motor Sport and hope that a fix (one way or another) may be available soon. I cannot wait to read and review the content.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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