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Thread: 4.2.19: Open Letter to the BeyondPod Team

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Dec 2017
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    4.2.19: Open Letter to the BeyondPod Team

    Dear BeyondPod team,

    I know that you have received quite a bit of feedback from beta users about the recent 4.2.19 release. While I may echo some of that feedback, my take is slightly different.

    I am a loyal, paid, and long-time BeyondPod user. I have been using BeyondPod for about a decade - I started using it on Windows Mobile, before Android was a consumer product. I consider BeyondPod to be the most mission-critical app on my phone; it is certainly the app that I use far more than any other. It is the first app that I ensure is installed on a new phone, the thing I start up after rebooting my phone. I use it to stay abreast of news, to keep up with changes in technology and to be entertained. I've used it to study half of the Babylonian Talmud (and counting - over 1,000 hours of a lecture series so far). I think it's more than fair to call myself an extremely long-time, very heavy user.

    For the other part of my background, I am a software developer. I have a small app publicly available on the Play Store, with a much smaller audience than BeyondPod. I know what volume of communication I get, so I can only imagine what the BeyondPod team gets. In addition to the app developed in my spare time, I also develop software professionally, and have worked on different size teams, so I have some guesses as to what might (or might not) be happening behind the scenes.

    Any software can have bugs, and no developer is perfect. I fully understand that, and I hope that anyone in the beta program does. It is certainly the case that the purpose of the beta program is to uncover issues before they hit the production release. At the same time, please do not confuse your beta program with paid QA staff. There is an expectation that beta releases are generally usable and don't contain major regressions. If they do, the expectation is that a downgrade to the previous beta or stable release will at least allow for continued usage of the app. While no one can reasonably expect that all possible options and workflows are tested, it seems that this release contained quite a few.

    I believe that the complicating factor in this case is twofold. Firstly, when people in the beta program ran into problems, there was no reasonable fallback. For some reason, Android did allow a downgrade to previous releases (beta or release) after 4.2.19. The only path to downgrade involved an uninstall followed by a reinstall, losing lots of data in the process.This was therefore an unappealing option at best.

    The second factor was the response of the team. People were left without any communication for days, and even then, the responses were less than helpful and condescending. Given the issues with rolling back, I think that it was reasonable for people to expect some quick release (i.e. 2.4.18 repackaged as 2.4.20). If there were technical reasons preventing this, at least some explanation of this fact would have helped. In addition, even a token apology such as "we regret the inconvenience this release has caused," would have been far superior to the line "thanks for the feedback, this is exactly why we have a beta program." That left people feeling used and taken for granted.

    But I really don't want to dwell in the past; I (and hopefully the vast majority of the beta community) would much prefer to move forward. If this treatment is a measure of things to come, you will not have a beta program remaining of any useful size. This scares me, since without a sizeable beta community, the likelihood is that release versions will be more buggy, causing even worse problems.

    Please consider the following to help everyone move forward and let this be a learning experience for the future: some quick release to let people revert to the previous workflow, and some acknowledgement that things could have been handled better, along with a promise to do so in the future.

    I hope that something can happen along these lines, because I want BeyondPod to succeed. After the last two weeks, I myself have begun to explore alternatives. And if paying, 10-year-old customers are beginning to seriously look at alternatives, the problem is perhaps larger than your team understands. I created this account solely to post this in the hopes that the you will be able to react and save your beta program and ultimately the product.

    KimW, I'm sure that you read all the posts and that you make the development team aware of issues. I hope that in the near future, you are able to respond (hopefully publicly for the benefit of everyone else) meaningfully in some way. I know how frustrating it can be only to hear when there are problems, but we're relying on you to keep the development team and larger community in sync. Please help save my favorite podcast player!

  2. #2
    Junior Member
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    Nov 2017
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    9
    I agree wholeheartedly. This letter eloquently expresses my sentiments.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Dec 2017
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    Agree 100%. I've been a paying customer for years, and love the app. I don't want to change to another podcast reader... I just want some clarity as to when there's going to be a fix to get things working again.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Well written, completely agree. It's sad the only response we've gotten is "duh people, it's a BETA". I paid $7 over six years ago and also install this app near first on every one if my devices.

    The excuse that a beta was required to be released for a holiday sale on the production version is weak too.

    You have lost so much trust from your most dedicated supporters through the last few weeks. A small amount of effort could have avoided that, yet here we are still without any official word for the future or apology from the team

  5. #5
    I have had BeyondPod for less than a year and it's been my go-to for all of my devices. I really like it. However, this recent beta update has caused me any number of problems. The very first thing I noticed is right away my dark theme was gone. There's no way you guys even tested this enough to get it to beta stage and missed that. If you had any devices on dark mode and updated to the 4.2.19 beta you would have noticed immediately that something was wrong.

    I realize that it's a beta and to some degree we should accept that there will be problems, but one of the problems I have is that I can't even subscribe to any new podcasts. The app just starts hanging and eventually I have to close it via android because the app is frozen. I would say that if your podcast app can't even subscribe to a podcast and instead crashes/hangs, it is fundamentally broken.

    I don't want to have to uninstall and reinstall an older version. I have dozens, maybe even 50 podcasts subscribed including some that are paid-for and require usernames/passwords to be re-entered, etc etc etc. It is a MASSIVE inconvenience if I have to do it all over again.

    Suffice to say, I agree with everything the top poster stated. I have removed myself from the beta program in hopes that you will get it together quickly. If you don't, I am going to go to another company and buy their product instead. I imagine you care very little since you already have my money (and given what I've already read on this forum), but if this is not fixed quickly I will make it my mission to ensure all of my friends and family that are avid podcast listeners don't buy your product.

  6. #6
    BeyondPod Team
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    Mar 2017
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    Thank you for sharing this with us. We appreciate your support with choosing BeyondPod and we apologize that this release has cause issues to the users. I assure you that I have expressed the feelings of the users and the want for a rollback when this release was pushed out, but that was not the decision made.

    I have made sure the developers are aware of the issues with this release and I assure you they are currently working on fixes. Unfortunately, that is all of the information I have for you all at this time. As I receive useful updates from the developers on the bug fixes, I will relay those back to the users. I do know that the fixes will be pushed out asap.

  7. #7

    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by KimW View Post
    Thank you for sharing this with us. We appreciate your support with choosing BeyondPod and we apologize that this release has cause issues to the users. I assure you that I have expressed the feelings of the users and the want for a rollback when this release was pushed out, but that was not the decision made.

    I have made sure the developers are aware of the issues with this release and I assure you they are currently working on fixes. Unfortunately, that is all of the information I have for you all at this time. As I receive useful updates from the developers on the bug fixes, I will relay those back to the users. I do know that the fixes will be pushed out asap.
    Serious question for those with more knowledge of the industry, why do developers do things like this? Why do they 'make the decision' that is obviously terrible and then refuse to explain it? Why do they ignore an obvious and easy solution of doing a rollback? What could possibly be going on there? It seems utterly bewildering to me that a business would choose to do this.

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