Given feedback we have received since our initial launch of an iPad app for Safari Books Online, we obviously didn’t completely hit the mark with our initial version of Safari To Go. Instead of working on additional features in our next release, we recognize that we need to correct a number of issues that customers have brought to our attention in the first week of the app’s release, and you have our commitment to do so. We are determined to make this a better app for Safari Books Online subscribers.
As I posted about earlier, we made a decision to program the app using the PhoneGap framework for a strategic reason. While the iPad is arguably the first successful large-screen mobile device/tablet, we also recognize there will be many more to come and we need to use a technical approach that allows us to support as many of these as possible. This is, indeed, a complex issue for many software vendors at the moment, given the wide variety of mobile devices and platforms gaining market share. Devoting development resources to create and update/maintain native versions of our Safari To Go app specific for each device is probably not realistic. The alternative would be to limit our list of targeted devices to a small set of devices/platforms and write and maintain native apps only for those.
A couple of suggestions we have to resolve some of the problem reports we reviewed after the first week:
- For those customers who downloaded a previous version of Safari To Go, we recommend that you completely delete the previous version of the app before downloading the 1.0.3 version from the Apple app store. Most users who simply updated from a previous version of the app had problems with icons not appearing, etc.
- For customers with Bookshelf subscriptions, if you wish to move books into your Bookbag for offline reading, do not use the drag-and-drop method for moving books. Go to the catalog page for the title that you wish to move and select the “Add to My Favorites” button. Then select the Bookbag folder as the destination folder. Be sure to delete the book from your Bookbag before you try it again (so it will restart the download process).
- Many customers have reported that books that seem to have downloaded into the Bookbag folder do not appear once they go offline. There are 3 steps to the download process (prepare book for download, download and then processing the book on the local iPad). We need to add an additional notification step for the last process, as it does not currently message the user that there is a post-processing that takes place after the download. If you exit the app or turn off your internet connectivity prior to the post-processing taking place, the title will appear to be in your Bookbag folder (or might appear as a question mark) but will not be accessible. If this happens, delete the book from your Bookbag folder and add it again, this time giving it ample time to both download the book and finish the post-processing. Your book should then be available for offline reading.
- For customers who are running iOS 4.2 (beta) on their iPads, we suggest that you delete and reinstall the app if you previously attempted to add books to your Bookbag folder and then exited the app before the download was complete. In iOS4, this causes an issue where the app does not recover gracefully from the interrupted download and post-processing (auto-resume of the download process remains stuck). Then, simply follow the instructions in the paragraph above and you should be able to use the books in your Bookbag folder in the offline mode.
We are working with Nitobi to correct many of the reported issues as quickly as we can and will keep you updated on our progress.
As always, we appreciate you letting us know how we can make Safari Books Online a better experience.
CJ Rayhill, SVP
Product Management & Technology
Safari Books Online