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Some Unfortunate News

Jan 25th, 2017

Posted by William

We are very sorry to announce that we will be halting development of the iOS Tonic Tutor app for the foreseeable future. We have had an update with Lasers ready to go since early December. However, Apple refused to accept the update until we added subscriptions into the app. I was happy to do so, and spent the last month working diligently on adding them in. Unfortunately, due to the limitations in how they've implemented subscriptions, it's impossible to add them into the app in a way that would make sense to users. I've been trying to work with them over the past few weeks, but there's no workaround.

I plan to leave the app up in the app store for the time being, though that may change at a later date. You and your students will still be able to download it from the app store, but it will not be updated with new games. I was aware of this risk before I started working on the app, I'd heard the horror stories -- that's why I submitted it early without all of the games, to make sure it would actually be accepted by Apple before I spent hundreds of hours that would be wasted.

I'm sincerely sorry that the app will be left unfinished. I'm trying to focus on the positives, but in this situation, there isn't a whole bunch of positive to focus on. The app is still good for doing tasks on the teacher side of things, but it's pretty much useless for students without all of the games.

If Apple ever updates their subscription platform to allow the control we need to implement subscriptions, I will resume working on the app. Until then, we're left with a half finished product. A very sorry state of affairs.

If you feel frustrated, I encourage you to email Apple. It's possible hearing from end users will help motivate them to change their subscriptions to give developers the control they need.

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How frustrating this must be for you! Thanks for your work on the app up to this point. I'm not sure that I understand the role of the subscriptions ... but would be happy to send an email to Apple!

Jan 25th, 20:41

Will (Admin)

Yes, it is frustrating. The issue is kind of technical. They want us to add subscriptions into the app so they have the option of receiving revenue. They don't like apps to have a method to pay outside of the app, without having the same method inside the app. This wasn't an issue before because their subscriptions were oriented towards magazines, not apps. They introduced a bunch of changes, a lot of them good, and they require apps to offer subscriptions if they offer them outside of the app like we do. The problem is, they offer ways to downgrade/upgrade outside of the app that I have no control over. So users can downgrade when they have more students than the plan they downgrade to allows. There's no way to catch that and prevent it from happening. They proposed a solution that would allow us to catch it when a subscription ends, which is when the downgrade actually happens (you can't switch in the middle and have it prorated, the way it's set up in our existing system) and stop the downgrade from happening then. So weeks after a user thought they downgraded successfully, they'd get an email from us saying, "No, sorry, you're not eligible". And then they would have no active subscription at all, since the downgrade wasn't successful. I'm quite surprised that Apple thought this would be an acceptable workaround. It hurts my brain to think of it, I think it would be very frustrating for our customers to try and figure out what was going on. If that happened in a product I was using, I'd be angry.

A bit technical. I hope that all makes sense. There is a possibility that they add in the control that's required to manage downgrades outside of the app, but who knows when that might happen.

I feel quite terrible leaving the app incomplete. I was ready to add games as quickly as I could after recovering from a computer crash in the Spring which was a major setback. I added Jungle Journey, went to add Lasers... and hit this brick wall.

Jan 25th, 21:24


Ah - I think I understand it better now. I will give this some more thought, and see if I can get some other teachers on board to approach Apple about this. I imagine it could eventually cause similar problems with a number of other music apps.

Jan 25th, 21:47

wilson piano

So Sorry your work has to end due to what seems to be a desire financial gain and control on Apple's side. (which I don't think they need.) I will explain to my students and perhaps they can send comments as well. Apple didn't seem to want to make any of it easy compared to PC users. Thanks for your efforts and all of your work! L. Wilson

Jan 30th, 09:46

Will (Admin)

I don't really blame Apple for wanting to create a revenue stream in the app if it exists outside. But the way they've implemented subscriptions, with a lack of control over the downgrade/upgrade process, then demanding it be added it regardless of whether it conflicts with existing models... it's very frustrating after we finally got on track, adding the games.

Feb 4th, 11:06


As an Android user, I have to ask if we'll ever see apps on the Android side of things?

Jan 30th, 15:04

Will (Admin)

It's possible. I'm just one single developer, so these gargantuan apps take years to complete. I don't think I'll start on a huge Android app immediately. After sinking hundreds of hours into this app and having it hit a dead end, it makes more sense to focus on smaller things, like updating the website games from Flash to HTML5. Android is much more appealing though, they're not as restrictive as Apple. Apple is notorious for arbitrarily deciding that they want something a certain way. That's why I built the app without all of the games -- I wanted to make sure it was going to be accepted because I had no way of knowing until I sunk hundreds of hours into it. I always knew it would be a gamble. I'm going to focus on making the individual games for iOS for casual users, then look towards Android, but that's a ways down the road.

Feb 4th, 11:11


Will there be plans to make an app for android users in the future? I was excited about the idea of a tablet app, but ours are all android operated. I'm also curious if there are any plans to add more games for our younger students who are pre-reading. I'd love to see a game that will help with key recognition and the black key groups. The finger number game is great for my littles, but they are learning about high and low, loud and soft, fast and slow, and I think it would be great to have a couple of other games geared towards them. I wish you had more presets for Bastien Piano Basics, and would love to see presets for Music For Little Mozarts added! Bastien and Alfred are my normal go-to's. I hope you can get something worked out with your current app though! I absolutely love this website, it is the best resource I have ever stumbled upon thus far!!!

Feb 14th, 22:21