81

Update #2

One last final update before we close the loop on this indefinitely.

When we announced this, we were intentionally vague about why the remaining mobile infrastructure was being decommissioned. As I had previously mentioned, the shrinking user base was a factor.

However, the major driver behind this decision was a vulnerability being exploited that allowed DDOS attacks on the network. Its removal was necessary to ensure stability to protect the network against further attacks of that nature.


Update #1

Mobile has been shut down in its entirety as of December 12th, 2022.


Beginning immediately, you should know that we have begun decommissioning the remaining infrastructure connected to our mobile apps.

As you may know, our mobile apps have been unavailable on the Google Play and iOS App Store for quite some time. Those of you that still had the apps installed on your devices were still able to access and use them. After evaluating our logs, we noted that the apps had been used less and less over time, with current usage around no more than a few hundred overall users on the apps regularly.

Why now?

While a dwindling user base certainly factors into our decision, it is not the deciding factor. In the past, we didn’t mind keeping it up and running as it required minimal effort and investment. Recently it has become clear that keeping the mobile infrastructure up was beginning to interfere with the rest of our public network in a few ways, none of which are easily resolvable. In the interest of maintaining site stability and running things smoothly, we have decided to remove the remaining bits of the mobile infrastructure and consequently shut it down.

What does this mean for you?

Unless you were one of those still using the apps, nothing. If you were one of those last stalwarts, know that the apps will soon stop functioning as we sunset all remaining code supporting it. Not all code will be removed at once, so you may find that the app continues to work, but over time it will become more dysfunctional until there is no longer any supporting code on our end keeping it running. If you want to access Stack Overflow from your phone, you can use your mobile browser.

We appreciate all of you who utilized the apps in the past and found them useful for contributing to the network. If you have any questions, please let us know.

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  • 61
    That is a royal funeral for the apps. :) Oct 19, 2022 at 14:57
  • 24
    I'm not sure I understand the purpose of the slow death. In the meantime, it seems like it continues to cause confusion and noisy bug reports. Oct 19, 2022 at 15:07
  • 65
    "there's no-longer an app for that" ?
    – Criggie
    Oct 19, 2022 at 18:18
  • 29
    The slow death is a natural consequence of the "we literally don't care about this app being a thing, we just don't want it to break the real site". There is no purpose, it just is. As for noise and bug reports, there's maybe a question per week about the app which is quickly closed as duplicate (if even that often). The remaining app users have pretty much got the message by now that it's not actively supported any more.
    – Nij
    Oct 19, 2022 at 18:41
  • 6
    The Android app can be downloaded on archive.org/details/stack-exchange-apk_202008 Oct 19, 2022 at 19:01
  • 109
    Maybe this will reduce, by a tiny percentage, the number of poor quality questions that are clearly written by people trying to use their cell phones while riding on suspensionless buses traveling on pitted gravel roads during sharknado earthquakes while the driver is being attacked by a horde of murder hornets. Oct 20, 2022 at 5:35
  • 9
    @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket I have totally done something akin to that once or twice >_>
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 20, 2022 at 5:55
  • 42
    I already think a phone is just the worst place to try do anything other than read the web. I can type maybe 80wpm on a keyboard, 4 on a phone, by the time I've fixed the typos. At least the app put all SE in one place. I mainly use it to pass the time reading questions I can interact with later, rather than try to type in it. Now I'm to load 14 bookmarks one at a time with all the distractions round the edge of the pages each time to see if there's anything I can attempt to interact with. That's just not going to happen. When the app goes, my not-at-home participation will go with it.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 20, 2022 at 11:01
  • 7
    @BryanKrause all developers who were part of the app development no longer working for SE. Oct 20, 2022 at 13:49
  • 15
    BTW, this means "Visited 3003 days, 1208 consecutive" will be down to 3 or 4 at best.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 20, 2022 at 16:21
  • 29
    Less and less? I use the app everyday, I hate your guys making this decision and feel like you should of invested in the talent to mobile technologies.
    – JonH
    Oct 20, 2022 at 17:13
  • 28
    That's a bummer. I use the Stack Exchange app frequently and browse the Hot Network Questions a lot. I often fund really interesting questions there. Well, time to switch to the constantly-asking-for-cookies-permissions mobile site...
    – ForceBru
    Oct 20, 2022 at 17:28
  • 59
    The statistics you mention is flawed: since the app is not available on the stores, no new user will be able to use it. I regularly use the app on my iPhone and find it has a better user experience than browsers, so I much regret that it hasn't worked on the iPad for some time. I've never used the push notifications, to be precise, finding them too invasive, but for reading when on the bus or during a stop in my motorbike tours it's really much better than with browsers. And the fact that there's still a user base confirms my ideas.
    – egreg
    Oct 21, 2022 at 12:01
  • 12
    The statement, > "After evaluating our logs, we noted that the apps had been used less and less over time, with current usage around no more than a few hundred overall users on the apps regularly." Is at best disingenuous. Intentionally skewing the numbers/results over time to reach a conclusion that support originally skewing the numbers/results is wild. Oct 31, 2022 at 15:34
  • 12
    I stopped using the app because you guys let it rot, now you're telling us that nobody uses it, so you're going to remove it entirely.
    – Richard
    Oct 31, 2022 at 19:52

11 Answers 11

131

For me, the most important information is: when will the push notifications be shut off? I still find the native iOS app UI easier to write content in than the mobile UI, but I can live without that. For push notifications, there's no replacement yet.

After evaluating our logs, we noted that the apps had been used less and less over time, with current usage around no more than a few hundred overall users on the apps regularly.

Well, that is to be expected when you delist the apps from the store - right now it's not even possible to transfer them from an old iPhone to a new one. It's a bit counterintuitive to use that as an argument to switch things off. (I do understand the decision though, it was inevitable.)

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    That's not the argument given for why we're switching things off though? Under the "Why now" section it's outlined that the extra code is interfering with other things. The stats are mentioned for impact.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 15:25
  • 2
    I recently bought a new iPhone, and the Stack Exchange app could be installed from iCloud. However, the notifications don't work. Anyway, Glorfindel, do you know of / have any plans to implement a workaround? I really miss the notifications. Oct 19, 2022 at 17:43
  • @IanCampbell I can relate but on Android. I've seen people saying that they're still using the Android app because of the notifications but they stopped working for me a long time ago. Oct 19, 2022 at 17:59
  • Maybe the new inbox solution they're working on will have the necessary api endpoints for an app to exist to provide mobile notifications
    – Kevin B
    Oct 19, 2022 at 18:48
  • 3
    Restoring a back up to a new iPhone should preserve the app. I've had the app on three phone since the apps were delisted. Oct 19, 2022 at 19:26
  • 5
    Unfortunately, there are no plans to implement a new push notification system. Though it is something we are interested in revisiting.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 19:52
  • 19
    @animuson it does say "While a dwindling user base certainly factors into our decision". It's a very limited sample, but I am using the app just as much as I did five years ago, and this is not just limited to me (see e.g. Undo's answer). Who knows what the figures would be if the apps were still listed? The iOS app at least is 99% functional as I write this. Again, I know the decision is inevitable, and I know what a PITA legacy systems can be to support.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:15
  • 4
    I'm just saying that I wouldn't have included that sentence; if you check the usage numbers for the website on Internet Explorer you would see a drop as well, but it probably still works (for passive browsing, that is).
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:16
  • 4
    @IanCampbell I had a half-baked plan to subscribe my server to the inbox websocket and send notifications to a custom app - of course, everybody who's interested would need to host their own server for that (and have their own Apple / Google developer account to install a custom app).
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:20
  • @ThomasMarkov I must admit I haven't tried it with the SE app, but I had problems restoring other delisted App Store apps in the past, even from a backup. I'm not willing to risk trying it on my current iPhone, of course :)
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:23
  • I transferred everything over to a new iPhone right before my old phone bricked completely. Most apps worked on the new phone but for some reason, the SE app had the download icon and wouldn't open. Several weeks later, it somehow got back on my phone after I did nothing in particular. I have no explanation.
    – Laurel
    Oct 20, 2022 at 0:01
  • 6
    Push notifications vanished for me about a month or two ago – I don’t know when exactly, because it’s hard to notice the sudden absence of something. But new comments and answers definitely don’t get push notifications for me anymore. Oct 20, 2022 at 16:09
  • 4
    I don't have any inside knowledge about the decision or any of the factors that led to it, especially any decisions made long before I started. But I think the sentiment is not, "it's ok to shut this down because so few people are using it!" More like, if some past decisions had been different, which would have led to more people still using it, there would be higher motivation / ROI to address the problems that are being caused by other changes to the site, feature expansion, etc. Like Spencer said, we really didn't mind keeping the lights on and leaving it alone, but now it's getting hard.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Oct 31, 2022 at 0:04
  • 1
    tbh - that its been basically abandoned so long is a good reason to especially if its affecting other things. And the apps are probably replaceable assuming that the API support is there and there's sufficient willingness for people to work on it. Rather than the app itself as it was - it would be good to see what it did better and consider those functionalities in enhancements to the sites. Almost feels like a potentially informative question for future product discovery ;)
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Nov 6, 2022 at 12:27
120

If you want to access Stack Overflow from your phone, you can use your mobile browser.

I live in China, and I haven't figured out how to get a VPN working on my phone. I still use the Stack Exchange app without problems. But in a browser, it takes 2+ minutes to incompletely load a page (everything involving Google is broken). I made a video to show you what it's like: https://player.vimeo.com/video/762164456?h=f7b75adef4

  • I first use the app, no problems.
  • I then open my browser and read CNN, no problems.
  • I then open stackexchange.com... and wait... then click a random question... and wait...

Logging in is impossible, and clicking "Accept all cookies" does nothing so I can't get rid of the popup blocking the screen.

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  • 47
    I think that this is a major showstopper blocker issue that SE should try really hard to address ASAP. Oct 21, 2022 at 20:40
  • 10
    That was really painful to watch. Does CNN have servers in China and SE does not? Has CNN gotten some kind of firewall approval from the Chinese government that SE does not have? I can't imagine. Very curious about this... and mostly clueless...
    – moodboom
    Oct 23, 2022 at 18:13
  • 7
    I think it's mostly due to Google APIs being blocked; Imgur is also blocked, so there's no images. I have a VPN on my laptop, but it's harder to get one on my Chinese-bought iPhone (since the relevant software is not in the Apple Store). Huh, it seems CNN is now blocked in China too, as of a day or two ago (it's not working on my phone anymore). Oct 23, 2022 at 22:11
  • 6
    While the SE network isn't (and AFAIK has never been) blocked in China, due to the limited international network bandwidth, everything from a global CDN loads slowly. For this reason Fastly is sometimes referred to as Slowly by Chinese users. Oct 24, 2022 at 9:47
  • 17
    The mobile apps are doing great in that they only load the data in a well-compressed format, and not any "peripherals" like HTML and CSS. This is a day-saver for those with low bandwidth availbility (= all who are in China without a decent VPN service). Oct 24, 2022 at 9:48
  • 3
    I don't have it nearly as hard as you, but I always browse with private browsing in iOS Safari (switching between private/non-private closes all tabs, so I stick with one mode)... anyway, my login credentials had to be re-entered frequently, and my password is inconvenient to enter. (The app remembered my password, of course.) The mobile browser experience was nowhere near as good as it was through the app. TL;DR I stopped using SE on mobile.
    – Mentalist
    Oct 25, 2022 at 6:24
  • 12
    Wow, I would just keep the mobile servers running just for you.
    – Rainb
    Oct 25, 2022 at 9:30
  • 1
    maybe you can see where it spends most of its time while loading the page using the webtools in your browser (usually: F12 ? but ymmv). There is a good chance that the slow part is for the unimportant metrics collected, and maybe an ad-blocker could tremendously reduce/take out those and allow you to get a faster connection to the important content? Oct 25, 2022 at 16:38
  • 6
    @Mentalist that doesn't sound like any argument to keep the app running. That sounds like an argument for you to use a password manager.
    – Luuklag
    Oct 26, 2022 at 7:59
  • 1
    @Luuklag It might be worth consideration. I guess I just didn't quite care enough to start weighing the pros and cons of password managers. SE was going to kill their app, and the mobile site didn't provide as streamlined of an experience. Meh. There's always desktop...
    – Mentalist
    Oct 26, 2022 at 8:49
  • 2
    @OlivierDulac not only metrics, but the core JavaScript on Google CDN. Oct 26, 2022 at 10:15
  • Personally, I find the decommissioning of the SE iOS app to be a great shame. I use (well, used) it frequently — more to read than to contribute, true, but it was great for dipping in during a lunch break or on the train. The mobile web experience is not comparable IMO — it’s clunkier, less streamlined, and harder to switch between SE sites/channels. I tried downloading the CREW app as a replacement for the iOS app, but I can’t say that I find it compelling. My usage of SE is inevitably going to reduce hugely as a direct result of the decision to shut down the SE mobile app infrastructure. Jan 2 at 13:35
73

Push notifications == engagement

I can directly trace my own drop in engagement here to the day push notifications stopped working on the iOS app, for whatever reason, and I couldn't get them to work again. Yes, there were other reasons, but this was a big systemic one.

Ya'll really need to consider a push notification story better than 'we send you emails after something's sat in your inbox for a half hour'.

Supposedly iOS now supports (or will support in the near future) the Web Push standard. Consider implementing that.

Or consider giving us a way through the API to ask for callbacks, then folks can build their own system.

But seriously, consider the implications of running a social network* in 2022 that has no push notification capability.


* yes, yes, I know. But on this topic it's probably the right model to have in your head.

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  • 25
    I'm constantly refusing push notification services from websites. My life's too noisy as it is and a feature that once seemed to have promise has, like the old <blink> HTML tag, become overused. I frankly doubt there's a statistically significant number of people who don't use Stack Exchange because it doesn't use push notification.
    – JBH
    Oct 19, 2022 at 21:03
  • 29
    I wouldn't opt in to push notifications elsewhere. It wouldn be an absolutely amazing quality of life improvement for me to have it back here
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 22:44
  • 8
    @JourneymanGeek exactly - I opt out of notifications of most of my phone apps, but I would absolutely opt-in on SE notifications. These, for me, were the best part of the IOS app, and I still wish I could get them back
    – Midavalo
    Oct 21, 2022 at 0:56
  • It's not a stable, public API, but the websockets allow for getting new inbox/achievement items live, so it would definitely be possible to build a push notification thingy with that (source: I have done that, to a very limited degree, for testing purposes). Oct 21, 2022 at 3:25
  • 3
    "...consider the implications of running a social network in 2022 that has no push notification capability." Maybe that's why I still use this site. That's certainly an implication to consider.
    – Cody Gray
    Oct 22, 2022 at 5:14
  • 2
    When I was a moderator I'd constantly have the SE app running, solely for the push notifications. Most users probably don't care for these, but as a moderator it was invaluable. Probably as an asker, too. Oct 26, 2022 at 19:17
  • SE is a Q&A site, not a social network. why do you care if you get a notification about an answer/comment half an hour later? if it was chat i'd understand.
    – alexia
    Nov 9, 2022 at 13:05
  • 1
    Because half an hour and seconds are very different timespans, @alexia. And it's not just half an hour - when you're going back and forth on a problem, say four times, it's the difference between (10s * 4 * 2)=80s spent waiting, and (30min * 4 * 2) = 4 hours.
    – Undo
    Nov 9, 2022 at 13:57
  • 7
    @alexia I care BECAUSE it is a Q&A site, not a social network. When I'm asking a question about a work-related problem I don't want to have to visit back to know about it. I couldn't care less to find out fast who liked my post on Facebook or TikTok. Nov 9, 2022 at 15:57
  • 2
    I have been relying on and enjoying push notifications from the app for years. Nov 10, 2022 at 21:48
66

I can't say I didn't see this coming... But please, if you do this, make the site at least remotely as usable as the app (and the app hasn't even been updated in ages!):

enter image description here

This is how this exact question looks in a browser (left) and the app (right) on an iPhone 12 Mini. Notice the insane difference in how much content there is, despite the fact that the app has never been updated to fill the screen of the newer phones, and the fact that I had to scroll down a bit in the browser to minimize its UI. Even without the bounty banner, it still wouldn't be close.

6
  • 7
    I don't think usability is high on the list in general (like testing for it). Oct 26, 2022 at 9:43
  • 15
    I like the design of the mobile app. Why can't the mobile site look like this?
    – Trilarion
    Oct 27, 2022 at 20:17
  • 9
    THIS! The site is unusable on an iPhone SE, while the app worked perfectly. This is a slap in the face to anyone using SO on a small screen.
    – Ex Umbris
    Oct 29, 2022 at 5:31
  • 3
    Wow. These side-by-side screenshots are a real eye-opener. I'm a reasonably heavy user of the iOS mobile app (for reading/voting only, not writing); having just seen this announcement, I figured I could switch to the mobile site, but -- and I intend no hyperbole here -- that mobile view of the website looks so unpleasant to use, particularly when compared to the excellent UI of the app... Oct 29, 2022 at 14:47
  • 7
    The real sin of the mobile app isn't the fact the content is so far down, it is that it is in a narrower column for no real good reason. The bounty info being huge and in the way also sucks (it should fold away small on a small screen). The fact that "Asked 6 days" "modified" and "viewed" is at the top is also bad -- why are they more important than content? [Ask Question] being at the top is ok -- a pro engagement tax -- as is the larger font size. The duplicate "meta" with nothing to the right and the bar above is also wasteful of space on a small form factor.
    – Yakk
    Oct 31, 2022 at 14:37
  • 3
    In the Safari address bar, click the "AA" icon, then in the pop-up menu click on the left "A" to reduce the font size. It'll remember your choice for the website. Reducing the font by one notch (to 85%) already makes a huge difference for how much information fits on the screen. And since you like the smaller font size of the app, this won't make the font too small for you. Nov 4, 2022 at 21:20
53

Y'all are making a mistake.

After evaluating our logs, we noted that the apps had been used less and less over time, with current usage around no more than a few hundred overall users on the apps regularly.

Well - there's a story about how they were doing statistical analysis on bomber aircraft

enter image description here

Y'all are seeing the red dots. The users who are so dedicated they keep a dead, delisted app running, sometimes moving APKs between phones and side-loading them. Heck, I was delighted my spare phone—which runs Android 6—ran the app perfectly, when it started crashing on Android 11 and 12.

And notifications are the one thing the app does. Not well, not perfectly, but it works when the app does.

I tried switching over to Tyler Wong's Stack for Stack Overflow; it's excellent and getting better, but I miss two things. Most of my 'mobile' time involves lookups (which this is good for), moderator work and notifications. I can effectively moderate on a phone or tablet. I miss notifications mainly and there isn't any way to get near real-time notifications for SE. I even made a feature request to have notifications added there. (There's an iOS app called crew that claims to do notifications, but I don't have any iOS-capable systems.)

But we are here not to mourn the mobile app, but to finally bury the skeletonised remains of the rare app that died of extreme old age and neglect, finally. It's a testament to the good work of the old mobile team that it ran so far, and finally got did in by - in Android's case the bug report library.

Y'all are not making a mistake by killing the app. However, work on the inbox is the perfect time to start thinking about and building a notification system. It's part of the inbox infrastructure. It's an essential part of the experience for all those little red dots and a good many other people. Y'all are making a mistake by not seizing the opportunity to finally build this back in.

7
  • 2
  • 14
    Yeah I am aware. But in my experience 'later' can sometimes means things are forgotten or never. It's been on the edges for years - I did have a feature request from this since 2018, and it was deferred in 2021
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 23:39
  • 1
    Thanks for the Crew mention. I’ve just downloaded and tried it, and while it’s not as pretty and informative as the SE app, it’s definitely better than using the clunky mobile view on the websites. Oct 20, 2022 at 16:29
  • 1
    Does it do notifications?
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 20, 2022 at 20:32
  • 1
    The pitfalls of a non-randomized sample base. The bomber aircraft that were analyzed were the ones that survived the mission, not those that didn't return. If you are looking for survivability, do the statistical analysis on the planes that didn't survive. Oct 28, 2022 at 13:21
  • And yes - and these users are the ones who stuck around, not the ones who stopped using the app out of frustration. In this case though I think its fairly apparent why people stopped using the app
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 28, 2022 at 13:29
  • 11
    It's always easy to claim "no-one uses it any more" if first you remove it from the App Store, then gradually reduce its usefulness to those who already have it. You rapidly arrive at a situation where the older users drop away & no new users can even try it.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 30, 2022 at 18:16
40

Please notify app users directly

I see this question is , which means it will show up on every page — for everyone who isn't using the app. Anyone who only uses the app would have to visit this very site (Meta) and scroll through to this very question in the short time frame before the app stops working to see this announcement. (To be fair, I know of one app-exclusive user who apparently did just that.)

When the feed was shut down, one last message was sent using it. Can that be done here too? See Turning off the mobile feed for the Stack Exchange app

3
  • 3
    Well, the app users are, or should be, well aware the app is essentially dead. So while it might be nice to push one last message, I can also understand the reasoning not to, as they should check the status themselves. Oct 22, 2022 at 8:11
  • 21
    I'm an app user, and today is the first I've heard about the app being discontinued. I had no idea. I very rarely look at Meta, or at any other parts of the network apart from the actual real question and answer areas that are of interest to me. How was I supposed to know that the app was discontinued? I agree with this answer, the users should be notified directly within the app. Eg, just change the feed to a message saying that the app is discontinued. Oct 27, 2022 at 4:06
  • With as many questions we see everyday about it, there is no way every app user is aware of this. Remember, only a small amount of users visit Meta. Dec 12, 2022 at 13:16
35
+50

Will the end-point https://stackexchange.com/hot-questions-for-mobile also be shutdown?

I ask because I run a service on Glitch to feed hot questions into several Chat rooms around the network. See How can I add Hot Network Questions (HNQ) to a chat room feed? for its features. Currently its data is sourced from the hot-questions-for-mobile JSON payload. If that data is no longer provided I have some challenges to keep my "customers" happy and served.

If there is an easy / low-impact network-wide alternative I'm happy to look into that off course.

5
  • 6
    I'm using it too though I have an alternative; it started out by scraping stackexchange.com/?pagesize=50 and the second page.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Oct 25, 2022 at 19:34
  • 7
    Looks like we will be keeping this route. The plan is rename it to hot-questions-json with a redirect from hot-questions-for-mobile.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Nov 12, 2022 at 16:17
  • @animuson according to my logs, the redirect stopped working about an hour ago.
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 16, 2022 at 20:31
  • 2
    @Glorfindel Mmm, there was no redirect before. Those changes just went live and it looks like the redirect got entered as "hot-questions-mobile" instead of "hot-questions-for-mobile" which understandably isn't helpful. Will ping.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Nov 16, 2022 at 20:34
  • @animuson right, thank you. I've already adapted my script :)
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Nov 16, 2022 at 20:36
17

Recently it has become clear that keeping the mobile infrastructure up was beginning to interfere with the rest of our public network in a few ways, none of which are easily resolvable. In the interest of maintaining site stability and running things smoothly, we have decided to remove the remaining bits of the mobile infrastructure and consequently shut it down.

Can we have some more details about it? As far as I know, the mobile apps:

  • Generated personalized feed that was too heavy on performance (already deprecated)
  • Use undocumented v2.3 API that I'm not sure if it impacts the performance due to the already reduced accessibility to the apps, comparing to some community projects that also use the API and possibly more intensive.
  • Have their own Hot Meta Posts endpoint that I'm also not sure if it also impacts the performance, while the per-site and homepage also shows them due million visitors.
  • Push notification, maybe this one is hitting the performance?

Otherwise, what are they?


If you were one of those last stalwarts, know that the apps will soon stop functioning as we sunset all remaining code supporting it. Not all code will be removed at once, so you may find that the app continues to work, but over time it will become more dysfunctional until there is no longer any supporting code on our end keeping it running.

Can we have the timeline/order for the features that will get disabled first?

7
  • 9
    It's a fun game: use the app until you can't use it anymore. :=) Oct 19, 2022 at 17:06
  • 4
    There is no exact timeline. Roughly: mobile.stackexchange.com will be turned off first, sometime in the next week or two. Following that all of the routes on the public-site and API that are used only by mobile services will be removed, over a period of a few weeks.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Oct 20, 2022 at 7:54
  • 5
    "Can we have some more details about it" - Sorry, but can't get into more details than what was included in the post.
    – Yaakov Ellis StaffMod
    Oct 20, 2022 at 7:55
  • 1
    @YaakovEllis understood, thanks for the response! :) Oct 20, 2022 at 8:45
  • 2
  • Upvoting content (questions and answers) on the iOS app started failing for me earlier this week. Oct 29, 2022 at 14:48
  • It’s probably too embarrassing to explain publicly. Though I’m surprised that it’s so embarrassing given that StackExchange is otherwise one of the fastest sites on the Internet and clearly has many good engineers. Dec 13, 2022 at 14:37
14

What about my drafts?

While I usually don't actively use the app anymore, it's still doing something important, storing my old, unfinished drafts. I have many. Do I need to do anything to keep these safe? If I do need to get them off the app, how can I bulk export?

(To answer my own question: The drafts are accessible without a network connection, which means that it will still be possible to access them through the app, no matter what changes on SE's side. Probably a good idea to at least start offloading them — wouldn't want to be logged out of the app suddenly with no way back in.)

And are there any plans to have a draft feature that won't randomly fail to save the last 30 minutes of work I've done when composing a post? This is very important for mobile, when switching apps or even tabs in the browser can force the page to suddenly reload.

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    Drafts for the apps were stored locally on the device, not on our servers. It might be possible to retrieve them via a file manager if they're just stored as files (I have no idea how exactly they stored them locally), but there's no possible way we could build any form of export feature for them.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Oct 19, 2022 at 20:19
  • 13
    The drafts are stored in a Realm database somewhere in the app’s sandbox directory. You would need to use a tool that extracts app data from the phone then a Realm tool to extract them. No experience with that, but that’s what it would look like. Oct 22, 2022 at 0:30
8

The Hot Network Questions page is not mobile-friendly, making the app the only way to comfortably browse hot questions on the phone.

The app has a nice, pretty interface for browsing Hot Network Questions on a mobile device. The current web interface, however, doesn't. This is what the HNQ page looks like (scaled down from the insane resolution of my phone to simulate the phone's physical size on a typical PC screen):

HNQ mobile screenshot

Needless to say, this is a strain on the eyes and cumbersome to use.

My point being: A few well-placed, mobile-friendly CSS instructions would probably go a long way towards people not needing the app any more.

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    This answer got nothing to do with the question. Nov 9, 2022 at 8:23
  • @ShadowTheKidWizard: Thanks for your feedback. I rephrased my answer to make it more clear that I am talking about a feature that's present in the app but missing in the "classic" mobile interface (i.e., in its intended replacement).
    – Heinzi
    Nov 9, 2022 at 8:35
  • No part of Stack Exchange is mobile-friendly. Or at least not user-friendly on mobile. The HNQ page stands out by not having a mobile-oriented version at all, but the actual ‘mobile version’ of the rest of the site is a strain on the eyes and cumbersome to use, as illustrated in Lukas Lang’s answer. Nov 11, 2022 at 23:52
  • @Janus the company made a decision to abandon mobile version in favor of a responsive design. Many sites do it, some better and some less so, but personally I find it fair and better than the mobile theme. No amount of web design will ever be able to reach the quality of a dedicated app, so that's a dead end. Nov 13, 2022 at 8:22
3

Is it possible the reason of no use was a lack of publicity for the app?

This could have been the greatest app in the world but if (1) no one knows about it and (2) those that do are not getting updates (performance, usability, etc.) then the app probably is dying for reasonable cause.

I should also point out that being a lowly non-reputable person (i.e. not as active as some), I have limited abilities to contribute to some of this discussion, so if there was actual valuable input to be gained, reputation restrictions may limit the ability to provide that input in some context (i.e. I couldn't provide a comment but apparently can provide an "answer" - which from my experience will probably get downvoted before too long). I know this is a meritocracy but still, even newbies occasionally will have valuable input to provide.

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    You may want to read up on the history of the apps and what happened to them. We did publicize them a lot back when they were actively developed in like 2015. There were links to them at the bottom of every email and advertisements pushing for their use. But they've been delisted for years now and haven't been updated in even longer. This isn't really about recently dwindling numbers more than ripping out all the parts of the apps that have been lingering long after the apps died already.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Oct 23, 2022 at 17:18
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    As someone who was there 'in the old days' - there was a lot of publicity for the app, and excitement. In a sense the app was 'unlucky' between the main android dev essentially burning out, the company lacking focus (doing things like trying to introduce an app just for SO, which went poorly), moving the mobile team to webdev and at some point, apparently losing their mobile dev accounts. Its a bit of a saga that goes beyond 'lack of advertising'
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Oct 23, 2022 at 22:05
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    @JourneymanGeek the iOS app was always great and had its bugs fixed. Android app was the opposite: full with bugs that were never fixed. Years later the reason was exposed and it's very sad, but most likely many people who gave it a try just stopped using it, like me, due to the numerous bugs and overall lack of any attention, even in the early days. Oct 24, 2022 at 12:37
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    The iOS app still works just fine on iOS 15. Couple of minor bugs, but not enough to stop me using it… until it's eventually killed.
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 26, 2022 at 8:39

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