When I saw the app aTrackDog in Android Market and read about how it updates users on which of their applications are up to date I thought it was perfect. It fits a hole in the whole Android Market + Android relationship and should do a great, behind the scenes, type job at notifying users when their applications are out of date.

Not so much. According to the good guys over at Big in Japan (developers of ShopSavvy) though the premise of aTrackDog is sound, its method is severely flawed. To quote:


aTrackDog has a MAJOR design flaw: if a beta user who is also an aTrackDog user has a beta version of your application on their phone - ALL aTrackDog users get an alert indicating they are running an out of date version of the software despite the fact that they have the most recent public release.  Starting on Friday we began getting emails from aTrackDog users who complained that they could not download the latest release of our software.  Our current version is 3.0.0, but aTrackDog showed that our most recent version was 3.0.5 (an internal alpha version).  We DO have a public beta running at 3.0.4, but the most recent public/stable release (i.e. the one in the Market) is 3.0.0.  aTrackDog is listing 3.0.5 as our latest release so each aTrackDog user receives an alert that they need to update their version of ShopSavvy.  Our users are becoming more and more frustrated as their emails reveal.


To sum it up, basically if any user is using a beta version AND aTrackDog, aTrackDog will send out notifications for an update to users who aren't beta users and even though the update isn't officially ready. Big in Japan thinks aTrackDog is an application created purely for data collection (which would be immensely valuable), we just hope aTrackDog could fix a bit of this design flaw as soon as possible.

What do you think?

[Big in Japan via Android Community]


Reader comments

aTrackDog, a Not So Good Idea?


Oh yeah, that'll definitely need fixing. It'd be great to have a way of keeping up to date with the apps we have but that whole beta bug seems like a pretty glaring flaw.

aTrackDog - intelligent and useful

In our opinion, software users have the rights to know if there are newer versions available. Naturally, it includes alpha and beta versions. It's the user's free will to decide if they want to install the newer version or not. The object of aTrackDog is, therefore, to assist Android users to be aware of the availability of latest versions of the application they are using.

As for the developers, if they do not want their general users to know about the versions under developing or testing, they should protect that piece of information from spreading. Thus, aTrackDog has provided a way for developers to keep the information of their developing/testing versions from being delivered to general users. (http://atrackdog.a0soft.com/faq.php#PW)

We'd like to reiterate that aTrackDog will not collect any user's private data, nor will we apply the application version information on any purpose maliciously. The only objective of aTrackDog is to cut down users' time wasting on mundane tasks, thereby increasing their productivity.

We apologize if it may have caused any nuisances to some developers. Meanwhile, we will continue to seek better solutions.

As time goes on, we will announce new functionality for aTrackDog progressively. Please stay tuned!

Sam Lu - aTrackDog Developer

Well I for one dont want to be notified about non public or non stable releases.

Cant this just be added to aTrackDog as a preference, for users that dont want to download alpha or beta versions

Can aTrakDog automatically download all the updates and install them with 1 click PLEASE!

I don't have time to sit there clicking, waiting, clicking again, over and over and over for all my really cool apps.


PS, if I missed it and this already does this, shesh, tell me how ok?

Well I for one dont want to be notified about non public or non stable releases .

Cant this just be added to aTrackDog as a preference, for users that dont want to download alpha or beta versions