Apple's App Store is apparently damaging the contents of applications as they're downloading, leaving developers flooded with complaints about errors they can't fix.
The file corruption problem seems to have started yesterday. Instapaper's Marco Arment was one of the first devs hit: he uploaded a new version of Instapaper to the iTunes shop for users to fetch and install, and almost instantly received complaints that his program was crashing on launch despite being perfect when released.
Since then he has compiled a list of more than 20 affected apps. Apple remains typically taciturn.
Not that Cupertino hasn't been busy – some of the listed applications, including Instapaper, are apparently now working properly – but despite the fix there's been no word to developers or response from the Apple team about what's going on or how to fix it.
The list of applications includes such hits as Angry Birds in Space HD Free and Pinball Maniacs, and The Verge confirms that many of them are failing the instant they're launched, generally displaying no error message at all but occasionally reporting that the app is damaged, or reporting an error in Apple's Fairplay DRM system.
GoodReader, another of the applications which isn't working, has posted comprehensive instructions for users who want to roll back a version or two as well as some detailed analysis of the problem, which suggests that it's only users who download updates immediately on receiving the notification who are affected.
The developer stated: "While in theory Apple's servers must be ready to distribute the new app binary by the time they start sending update notifications to users' devices, something goes wrong inside Apple's distribution servers, and customers receive a damaged binary instead of the good one that we've sent to Apple."
What exactly is going wrong only Apple knows, and it has not responded to our questions on the matter, but Arment is recommending that developers hold off uploading updates for a day or two while users might want to be similarly cautious, at least until Apple gets it sorted out. ®