New iOS5 Library: Support for Newsstand, Auto-Renewables

Version 1.0.6 of our iOS client library is now available.

This includes our first round of iOS5 support; like everyone else, we’ve been testing the iOS 5 betas and have found a few things that need fixing along the way. We will release another library update with additional features and fixes once iOS 5 is released.

The release out today contains full support for Newsstand and Auto-Renewables.  Check out the new library now.

Newsstand

Newsstand applications are new to iOS 5. They are normal apps that live inside the Newsstand folder and have a dedicated iTunes Store. Additionally, Newsstand apps can download new content in the background even when the app is not running. This ensures that users have their latest news and periodicals waiting for them each morning in an easy-to-find location – the Newsstand!

Urban Airship has support for Newsstand built directly into our Subscriptions product. When you create new content, you can choose to send a Newsstand Push Notification that corresponds with the content’s publish date. This special Push Notification will trigger the background download of that content within your app. All you need to do is follow Apple’s instructions for turning your app into a Newsstand app, and integrate our library with Subscriptions. Then the next time you publish content, check the Newsstand box and it will be waiting for your users when they wake up.

FAQ:

Q: How can I get access to Newsstand?
A: You need a Premium account.

Q: Do I have to use Subscriptions in order to use this feature?
A: Yes, if you want our system to send the once-a-day Newsstand Push automatically with your content. You can generate this Newsstand push yourself using our regular Push API as well.

Q: When will this be available?
A: It is available today, however it only works in the Apple Sandbox currently, until iOS 5′s official release. It requires a premium account to access.

Q: Do I need to upgrade the Urban Airship Library to use this feature?
A: Yes, you will need to upgrade to 1.0.6 in order to take full advantage of this feature with Subscriptions

Q: What exactly does the new library provide?
A: We give you helper classes and example code for receiving the Newsstand Push Notification and processing the content_id contained with it into a background download. You still have to implement all the library, issue, and bundle specific changes as well as delegate callbacks that are required by the NewsstandKit Framework.

For further information please reference Apple’s developer documentation on NewsstandKit and what’s new in iOS 5.


Auto-Renewables

Our Subscriptions product now has full support for iOS Auto-Renewables. This includes every standard period and feature from the iTunes Setup for Auto-Renewables, as well as continued support for non-renewing subscriptions. Auto-Renewables gives your users the power of seamless iTunes Account support for subscriptions, including restore and account management through standard iOS integrations. You will no longer need an email based restore workflow (but it’s still there if you do).

If your app is currently using non-renewing subscriptions you can use our latest iOS library to transition to Auto-Renewables – we support both systems in use at the same time. All you need to do is add your iTunes Shared Secret to the Urban Airship setup for Subscriptions, and then create the Auto-Renewable products in iTunes and your Urban Airship app setup. Content publishing works just as it did before. Auto-Renewables is available today to all current and future Subscription users!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Does Auto-Renewables require a library update?
A: Yes. You will need to upgrade your application to our 1.0.6 iOS library.

Q: Is Auto-Renewables tied to iOS5?
A: No. Auto-Renewables is available now and does not require iOS5 to function.

Q: How does Apple’s “opt-in marketing incentive” work with your solution?
A: If you configure an opt-in incentive amount of subscription time for users who volunteer their address info, that time will automatically be added to the subscription they purchase. You don’t need to setup anything on Urban Airship’s side for this to work. Simply configure it in iTunes Connect and the opt-in information will appear in the iTunes Sales reports over time.

Q: Can I use both non-renewing subscriptions and auto-renewable subscriptions at the same time?
A: Yes, but we recommend you use one or the other. Apple is moving towards auto-renewables over the long term. Additionally if you offer both, you will need to support both the email restore feature, as well as the regular In-App Purchase restore process that works for Auto-Renewables.
Details on this release

This release has been tested with Xcode 4.1 and 4.2, though it is easiest to pair 4.0.2/4.1 with iOS 4 and earlier releases, and keep iOS 5 betas separate for now. There are a few key changes to be aware of if you’re using our default user interfaces for StoreFront, Subscription, or Rich Push inbox.

    StoreFront, Subscriptions and Inbox affected by changes to the modal display API.
    Rich Push inbox UI is affected by changes to the Tab Bar Item view hierarchy.

In each of the above cases you can upgrade your application to use the UI files in the “Airship/UI/” folder that corresponds to the Urban Airship product you’re using.

iOS 5 Notification Center will work automatically with Urban Airship Push and you don’t need to do anything to take advantage of that new feature. We do recommend upgrading to 1.0.6 in order to be prepared for the next step on iOS.  Get it now.

Please send any feedback or bugs to support@urbanairship.com.