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iOS 10.3 Beta

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Last week Apple released iOS 10.3 public beta 2, causing forScore and forScore mini to immediately crash on launch. Most people don’t run beta versions and didn’t encounter this issue, but for those who did we wanted to take a moment to discuss what happened and how to avoid it in the future.

First and foremost, iOS 10.3 is an unfinished, pre-release beta version. It’s not the latest version of iOS (that’s iOS 10.2.1), and it’s by definition a buggy mess. If you have it on your device and you’re not a developer or an Apple employee, it’s because you joined Apple’s public beta program at some point (you can unenroll here). This process is full of explicit, repetitive warnings, so there’s no way you can sign up accidentally.

These betas exist to give developers time to get their software ready, and the beta period is typically many weeks or months long. It’s meant to expose issues so that they can be corrected by the time Apple releases the update worldwide. Sometimes these issues are just plain bugs, and other times they’re purposeful changes that we need time to adapt to.

We cannot provide a bug- or crash-free experience if you’re using these betas. Even when we are able to create an immediate fix, Apple’s review process means it can take days or even weeks for that release to get to our customers (sometimes by then the iOS bug has already been fixed with a new beta version). More importantly, it pulls resources away from the work that benefits all of our customers and creates opportunities for instability and errors.

There are plenty of reasons why people choose to run iOS betas. As long as you know what that entails, then we sincerely appreciate and applaud your willingness to help make iOS (and forScore) better for everyone. If, on the other hand, you didn’t expect and can’t accommodate these kinds of bugs, please reconsider being a part of this program.

We are absolutely committed to providing the best possible experience for our users on all supported versions of iOS—that will include iOS 10.3 just as soon as it’s finished. Until then, know that we hear you and we’re still working incredibly hard to make forScore the best app it can be.

PageFlip Pedals

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This week’s NAMM 2017 trade show is in full swing, and many of the companies that make accessories of interest to forScore users are announcing some changes and new products. Today, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the new product lineup from PageFlip, makers of the popular Cicada and Firefly page turners that so many of our customers love. (A quick note: we do not have any sort of sales or affiliate arrangement with PageFlip. We recommend these products because we use and enjoy them, not for any other reason.)

PageFlip has been in business for many years, but most of our customers are probably familiar with them because of their original forScore-compatible page turner, the PageFlip Cicada. This page turner was released in 2011 and featured a compact, all-in-one design with comfortably arranged pedals. The Cicada was joined by the more refined and powerful Firefly in 2014 (you can read our original review of it here), and late last year the venerable Cicada was replaced entirely by the all-new Butterfly. Finally, this week PageFlip announced a new 4-pedal page turner, the Dragonfly.

This new lineup—the Butterfly, Firefly, and Dragonfly—offers an impressive array of options that’s sure to meet the needs and budget of the vast majority of our customers.

Butterfly

PageFlip’s entry-level option is an interesting shift from the Cicada it replaces. It loses some things you won’t miss (like the code entry required for pairing), and a few you might (the two auxiliary pedal jacks on the back and the USB port for AC power or wired connectivity). But these options aren’t useful for everyone, and if you don’t need them you’ll get a lot for a fairly low price tag.

The design of the device is clearly an evolution of the refinements that first debuted with the Firefly. In fact, at first blush the Butterfly looks a lot more like a toned down Firefly than an amped-up Cicada. Like the Firefly, the Butterfly’s pedals are longer and feature a lower profile—they lack the distinctive click and snap of the old Cicada, and while some may miss the assurance of mechanical feedback the silent operation is a definite improvement. The Butterfly is also larger and heftier than the Cicada, making it more stable and easier to use.

One final change from the Cicada, though not generally important to forScore users, is a reduction in the number of available modes. While the Cicada and Firefly both included five modes, the Butterfly loses the mouse click and space/return options. The remaining three options (page up/down, left/right, and up/down) continue to work perfectly with forScore and the vast majority of other compatible apps right out of the box.

Firefly

The Firefly is expertly designed and continues to offer a fantastic balance of power, portability, and flexibility at a reasonable price. Its low-profile pedals are durable and comfortable, and the added lights embedded into each make them easy to find even in dark environments. It features a USB port and can be used wirelessly or tethered to a compatible device (iPads require a separate USB adapter), and the ability to power the device via replaceable AA batteries or an AC power adapter means you’re covered in almost any situation.

It also features two auxiliary ports on the back that can be used to control additional features in forScore with extra pedals. For instance, you can use the two main pedals to turn pages and use the additional pedals to navigate between pieces in a setlist. This can be great if you only need these extras some of the time, otherwise consider the Dragonfly below.

Finally, the Firefly includes all five of the modes discussed above (page up/down, left/right, up/down, left and right mouse click, and space/return), and also features programmable modes. While these features won’t be helpful to forScore users, consider these differences if you plan to use your page turner with other apps.

Dragonfly

The newest PageFlip was just announced and we haven’t had a chance to use one in person yet, but it already seems like a natural fit at the top of the lineup. Feature for feature, it’s essentially the same as the Firefly, but it includes two additional, smaller pedals near the top that can be used to control more features in apps like forScore. Importantly, these extra pedals are neatly nested allowing the device to retain the same general size and profile as its siblings, rather than forcing the much wider layout of most other solutions.

From playing or pausing background audio to activating links without reaching up to touch the screen, over thirty customizable actions would make any 4-pedal page turner a compelling option. But from what we can see so far—from price tag to design—the Dragonfly nails it on all counts and is worthy of very serious consideration.

The only tradeoff here, in addition to the modestly higher price tag, is the lack of auxiliary ports. This makes sense, since having four built-in pedals virtually eliminates the need for anything else.

Conclusion

PageFlip continues to impress us with this updated line of page turners. These devices offer thoughtful combinations of features at reasonable prices, and we’re happy to strongly recommend them. All three of these devices offer the same easy and reliable Bluetooth pairing, and PageFlip’s clear designs and simple switches are a breath of fresh air for anyone who’s fiddled with color-coded lights and tiny multi-purpose buttons. The differences in features between each of these products are specific and reasonable, and deciding whether or not you need them should be relatively straightforward.

All of PageFlip’s pedals are available at PageFlip.com.

iOS 10 Issues

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One of the most important aspects of any app, even more so for one used on stage, is its reliability and stability. We work very hard to ensure that forScore performs as close to flawlessly as possible, but stability is actually a moving target. Every change we make, and—more importantly—every update Apple releases, creates an opportunity for things to go wrong. The past few months have made that clear once again, and today we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge some of the issues we’ve seen; not to complain or shift blame, but to let you know that we see them and we take them very seriously.

Since the release of iOS 8 the most consistent source of forScore’s crashes was related to how the system handles popovers. For two years it caused problems (not often, and not for most people, but enough to frustrate us and those customers it affected). Thankfully, this past year’s release of iOS 10 finally fixed it. As with any major iOS update, though, iOS 10 came with its own set of challenges.

First, we discovered that it would crash when attempting to display PDF files that had previously worked fine with older releases. Apple worked quickly to stop the crash, but in its place we got only a half fix: in iOS 10.1 the system displayed those files as blank pages instead. That was fixed with the most recent release of iOS 10.2, along with a separate bug that had been causing semi-transparent drawings to temporarily appear darker than normal while annotating on devices that support wide color profiles (the new iPad Pro 9.7″ and the iPhone 7).

Now we’re beginning to see a troubling increase in crashes in several different versions of forScore but all for users running iOS 10.2. The total number of affected devices is small, to be sure, but big enough that we must now take the uncomfortable step of recommending against installing iOS 10.2 if you haven’t already.

It’s hard to know when to point these issues out publicly and when to address them with customers individually instead. On the one hand, we want people to update to the latest version of iOS and take advantage of its new features and bug fixes. Each time we warn people not to install one, more and more people decide to never update at all. On the other hand, we know that many of our customers rely on forScore more than they rely on any other app, so we want to communicate issues while people still have a chance to avoid them.

This bug has a very specific effect but it’s also intermittent and we haven’t yet been able to reproduce it in testing. As such, we can’t offer any sort of timeline for a workaround (if one is even possible). So for now our best advice is this: stick with your current setup if the version of iOS you’re using is working for you. When we know more, we’ll pass that information along right here.

Update: We’ve now released forScore 10.1.7 and forScore mini 3.1.7 which attempt to mitigate issues in several specific problem areas we’ve identified. Although these improvements have made a difference, we continue to recommend against installing iOS 10.2 until a more complete, permanent fix is available.

AirTurn Deals

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If you’re looking into buying a page turner for yourself or as a gift this holiday season, AirTurn’s annual Thanksgiving sale is a great time to act. From now until Monday, November 28th, get 20% off storewide by using coupon code AIRTURKEY.

forScore 10.1

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Today we’re extremely proud to announce the release of forScore 10.1 and forScore mini 3.1 on the App Store. These updates add some key new features like Filters, which let you browse more effectively by cross-referencing your metadata categories with advanced rules. They improve support for iOS 10 by doing things like reworking the style and layout of the pitch pipe widget. They add a new option to hide the status bar, giving you the clearest view yet of your music.

And, on iPad, forScore adds a setting to automatically exit annotation mode after a short delay, putting an important capstone on our Apple Pencil support and realizing the possibilities of a completely mode-free annotation experience.

These updates are completely free for existing users, as always, and we think they’re really going to take things even further. For newcomers, forScore is still just $9.99 (USD) and forScore mini is the same $6.99, so now is a great time to check them out if you haven’t had a chance to already.


forScore 10.1

Available now for iPad


forScore mini 3.1

Available now for iPhone and iPod Touch

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