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Developers suspect App Store mix-up led to corrupt binaries

After some new app updates in the App Store and Mac App Store began mysteriously crashing on launch for a portion of users, a few developers have come to the conclusion that Apple accidentally seeded corrupt binaries of their apps.

"Instapaper" creator Marco Arment noted on his blog on Wednesday that he was "deluged by support email and Twitter messages" from users who were unable to open the app after his most-recent update, version 4.2.3, went live in the App Store.

"This didn’t make sense — obviously, Apple had reviewed it, and it worked for them," Arment wrote. "My submitted archive from Xcode worked perfectly. But every time I downloaded the update from the App Store, clean or not, it crashed instantly."

According to the developer, "lots of anxiety and research" helped him discover that the problem was "a seemingly corrupt update being distributed by the App Store in some regions." The U.S. and U.K. were hit with the unusable file, while Australia appeared to remain unscathed.

Affected applications were said to crash immediately on launch without even showing the "Default.png" file. Some App Store users reported seeing error numbers of 8324 and 8326 in iTunes, while Mac users received notifications that the application was "damaged and can't be opened."

In the case of "Instapaper," the corrupt version was available for two hours before the App Store began distributing the correct version of the app. The only known fix for sers who downloaded the app during the two hour window is to simply delete then reinstall the app.

In his post, Arment called the issue a "serious problem" and implored Apple to fix it.

The incident was not, however, isolated to just "Instapaper." Arment compiled a list of apps that had been updated on July 3 or July 4 that he'd heard reports of crashing. More than a dozen applications have reportedly suffered from the problem, including "GoodReader," "Pair" and "Angry Birds Space HD Free."

Meanwhile, the developer behind "GoodReader" speculated on its website that notifications of a new update might have gone out for its app before Apple's internal encryption had finished. As such, customers may have received "incorrectly (or partially?) encrypted binaries" that would not be recognized as valid by iOS. The publisher directed users experiencing the problem to either delete and reinstall the application or to follow a lengthy process that would redownload the app without deleting files and settings.

After expanding into 32 new countries last month, Apple's iOS application store is now available in 155 countries. As of early June, there were more than 650,000 applications in the store.

Apple is believed to have made some minor under-the-hood changes to the search algorithm in the App Store search algorithm. Late last month, some developers reported (1, 2) that their search rankings had changed drastically because of apparent changes to the algorithm.