Purchased apps crashing

I was bit by this one hard, and spent nearly 3 days trying to fix it.  In fact, the sour experience was a big part of what led me to create this blog.

All my purchased App Store applications (free and purchased) were crashing at launch.  I assumed that the problem was related to the mobile installation patch needed to use cracked IPAs.  While this might have made it worse, I found out that normal iPhone users have been having this problem as well since upgrading to Apple iPhone firmware 2.x.

Diagnosis

This is somehow related to Apple’s overly-strict DRM checking, I believe, and MacRumors agrees.  With cracked IPAs present, it is very obvious since the cracked ones all work fine but the purchased ones crap out.  It is not a permission problem, it seems. But many people with non-jailbroken iPhones are also experiencing this problem. See this thread on Apple Discussions and this thread there too.

Conclusion: It is not the pwned 2.0.1 firmware that causes the problem. It is some as-yet-identified bad application that corrupts something, causing iTunes to recheck everything. Or else it may be the result of an interrupted backup: another major problem not specific to jailbreakers.

Cure

I had to go to the most extreme of measures to fix this problem short of wiping everything and re-flashing:

Remove EVERY application purchased from the iTunes store completely

What worked for me, and what I suggest, is not to delete them from the iPhone, but instead to CMD-DELETE them all from the Applications library in iTunes and sync. This makes sure to not only get rid of them, but to break existing links to the applications on the phone.

If necessary after doing this, SFTP to your device and make sure there are no traces left.  (Look in /User/Applications/ – then inside each of the hex code unique ID folders.)  It is not necessary to delete any cracked IPA apps at this point.

One tricky bit that I completely did not expect was I also had to use SFTP to delete WeDict, because although I thought iTunes was unaware of it since I moved it to the root /Applications/ folder, apparently iTunes still considered it a purchased application.

If you have at least one cracked IPA still left, you know it “worked” when you get a message when you launch it that says “this application cannot be launched”.  Remember when patching the mobile installation framework we had to install one purchased application first? Well, now we know there are no purchased apps that iTunes is aware of so that’s good news!

Putting one back

Now reboot your iPhone.  Quit iTunes, maybe even restart your computer for magic luck.

Restart iTunes and re-download one purchased app from the store.  You won’t be charged again if you paid for it.  Try purchasing a free app first though. 

Sync the iPhone with iTunes.

You should be good to go!  If so re-download each of your free/purchased apps and sync again.

A possibly easier way, if it worked:

This guy has a video that claims to show he can fix this problem by deleting an app on the iPhone and then re-downloading the same one from the iPhone’s App Store – without even needing to reboot.  However it seemed inconclusive and it did not work for me.

Cautions (or, Leave Britney Alone!)

I’m quite convinced this is likely to happen again with a bad backup or one bad application.  So this is a lesson to me to settle on a fixed set of applications and not overly mess with your iPhone apps once everything is working.  If it ain’t broke (anymore)…

If you must install more cracked apps anyway, I would follow the recommendation of a frog.  He says to always install one free one along with any cracked ones.   Until I get the green light as well, I will avoid installing or upgrading apps from the iPhone’s app store at all. If necessary I will delete them in iTunes, re-download and resync.  Now that everything is working, I am going to try to hold off as long as possible from ever letting iTunes sync my iPhone.  This might be overly cautious but its better than the alternative.

For your information

iTunes syncs the crash logs of iPhone apps and puts them here:

~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/MobileDevice/<iPhone_name>/

You can view these with Console on your Mac.

Appendix

Since writing this entry, I believe there is a more permanent solution:  downgrade to iTunes 7.7.

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One Response to “Purchased apps crashing”

  1. Purchased Apps Crashing Fix « Box of Clams Says:

    […] few days ago I discussed the problem of purchased iTunes app store applications suddenly crashing en masse.  As I suspected, the problem turned out to be some kind of bug in Apple’s DRM. […]

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