Friday, June 27, 2014

Apple's podcast app ruined my morning!


Today is Friday. That means, I should be able to listen to the new episode of PC Perspective podcast. Hoping to do exactly that, I opened the Podcasts app in my iPhone 5S as I woke up. I usually get ready for work listening to a podcast.

Sure, the episode was there. But as soon as I started playback, the app crashed. I reopened the app several times and with each iteration, it seemed to crash even faster.

Naturally, what you would do in this situation is try rebooting the device. But it didn't fix the issue.

Next option was to sync with iTunes and see. I connected the phone to iTunes and removed all of the podcasts that were there in the phone and synced the ones from the PC to the phone. I thought that a mismatch between the podcasts on the phone and the ones on the PC might have caused these crashes. I also cleaned the podcasts in iTunes before syncing them with the iPhone. No, that didn't fix the problem.

Then I disconnected the phone from the PC and deleted the Podcasts app from the phone. Momentarily, I added it back. The old podcasts that were in there before I deleted the app (the ones I synced from the PC) still showed up in the list of podcasts. And it still crashed! I could press the edit button and remove the podcasts before it crashed again. I had to be quick to do that. After I removed all the podcasts, it didn't seem to crash.

Then I tried adding just the PC Perspective podcast from the store but it then crashed at the search page. Dammit! I had to leave for work in this state. No podcasts to listen to on the way?! At least I had a music track in the Music app and I could listen to that while writing this blog post.

On the way, I tried the Podcast app one last time. It didn't crash. There weren't any subscriptions as I had deleted all of them. But I got this error message saying that the app cannot connect to the internet as I had disabled its access to the internet while I was on 4G. Could this be the cause? The app is trying to do something on the internet - maybe update something or sending invitation to send me malicious data - and getting crashed.  I don't understand why it has to access the internet when I haven't added any subscriptions in the first place.

Anyways, it seems  at least now we had a possible culprit at our hands. Then I closed the app and gave it access to the internet and it crashed as soon as I opened the app. Ahem!

Then what did I do? I cut access to internet and launched the app and waited a bit.  Then I enabled internet and went into search podcasts tab. (The app hasn't crashed yet by the way.) I could search the PC Perspective podcast and even add it to the subscribed podcasts list. Unfortunately - for whatever reason – I couldn't download the latest podcast. I could add the new download job to the download queue just fine but no progress could be seen. It just said "Preparing to download" and that's it. After a little while I got this error message.


So I removed the subscription from the app tried again one last time. (Ok, this is the last last time) I didn't want to give up because I felt that I had made some progress as the app wasn't crashing anymore. Sadly, my efforts were in vain as it didn't improve beyond the previous situation. Sadness.

No idea what is causing this. Even though it seems as if this is a common problem a lot of people are having, this is the first time I've come across a problem as intrusive as this. It's worrying to see this kind of development from Apple themselves. If this was a 3rd party app, then we could just ignore this especially as the app is free. But this is Apple's own software - using Apple's own podcast subscription services.

Finally I came home from work and could connect my iPhone to Wi-Fi. Then I removed the PC Perspective podcast from the list and started fresh. I added the same podcast to the list of subscriptions, and this time, I could simply download it. Being ecstatic about the situation, I kept on adding other podcasts as well. I managed to add them and the app still didn’t crash. Now it is working just like before. Just to be safe, I disabled syncing podcasts with iTunes.

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