Widespread outages are affecting dozens of iOS apps
A number of popular apps and services including Spotify, Pinterest, and Tinder are currently broken on iOS devices, with early analysis suggesting Facebook is to blame.
There are widespread reports on social media of apps crashing whenever they’re launched on iPhones and iPads, and corresponding outage spikes on DownDetector.com. The apps can be launched if the device is offline, which is useful in some cases (if you have lots of music saved on Spotify, for example) but will completely break their functionality in others.
Although the exact cause of the outages isn’t yet confirmed, early reports suggest the problem is caused by Facebook’s software development kit, or SDK, which many apps use to manage user logins. Users don’t have to be using Facebook to log into an app for this to affect their software, and there are no reports of the same apps crashing on Android.
Facebook acknowledged on its developer platform this morning that its software was causing problems. “We are aware and investigating an increase in errors on the iOS SDK which is causing some apps to crash,” said the firm. In a GitHub thread posted around 7AM ET, numerous developers reported problems with their apps and blamed Facebook, too.
The annoyance from developers and users is justified considering this isn’t the first time the social media giant’s SDK has knocked out a large number of apps like this. A near-identical problem occurred on May 6th and affected dozens of services for a good chunk of the day.
As app developer Guilherme Rambo told us at the time, the root of the issue is that Facebook encourages developers to integrate its log-in services into their apps by offering them valuable insights about app usage and advertising in return.
“Facebook really pushes developers into installing their SDK, likely because they want the very rich data they can collect on those app’s users,” said Rambo in May. “The SDK is offered as a convenience for both developers and marketing teams, since it can also be used to track the conversions of ads run through Facebook.”
This means when there’s an issue with Facebook’s services, it affect a huge number of other apps, as it has today. Every time a user opens an app using the SDK, it makes a call to Facebook’s servers in preparation to authenticate any logins. (That’s why opening an app offline prevents the problem, although you can install an app that blocks these calls.)
We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this story if we hear more.