in depth

Groups Discontinued

| in depth, news

In 2015 we introduced Groups, a subscription-based service that allowed forScore users to automatically share their scores, bookmarks, and setlists with other forScore users. It was new territory for us, and although we are very proud of the hard work we did to make it a reality, today we’re announcing that it is being discontinued. Functionality remains for anyone who has already signed up, and will remain until their subscription expires, but new subscriptions and extensions can no longer be purchased.

Groups was built using Apple’s CloudKit (despite the fact that it was very new at the time) because it was Apple’s first cloud service that allowed users to share information with each other. Until that point, Apple’s services were limited to backups and private synchronization between a single user’s devices. With CloudKit, we could allow users to share their information with anyone who had an iCloud account—there was no need for us to manage accounts or maintain our own servers.

Unfortunately, the ability to share information this way came at a cost: just like each user has a limited amount of iCloud storage space, apps that take advantage of this public space face usage restrictions and complicated quotas. These quotas dictate how much storage space an app has to work with, but also how much data they can move to and from CloudKit. These limits aren’t fixed, either, and they grow based on the number of active users an app has. For almost a year after Apple introduced CloudKit, even they didn’t seem to know how much they would charge for apps that exceeded these limits. We found ourselves in a frustrating limbo, but we believed enough in the end result to keep pushing forward.

In the end, the potential risks and constant maintenance of such a complex system couldn’t be reconciled with the costs and limits our users could accept. We’re tremendously proud of the concept and the implementation, but it wasn’t enough and we’re ready to move forward with the new features and enhancements that will have a big impact on all of our customers. We strive always to make forScore the best it can be, and sometimes that means closing the door on something that never quite clicked. For all of our users who tried the Groups service, we sincerely appreciate it. Thank you for giving it a shot, we learned a lot and will carry that experience forward into the hard work we continue to do every day.