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Native iOS and Android App Retirement

Hello Community!

In an ongoing effort to make sure that Instructables is able to focus its product development efforts where they count most for existing an new authors, we are officially retiring our native iOS and Android apps. Note that this does not affect mobile web. I expect continued investment in mobile technologies for years to come, but we will focus on the experience of people using Instructables through their mobile web browsers, rather than through downloaded apps.

For those keeping score, this isn't exactly news. We have not released new versions of either app in over two years, and they have become steadily buggier and buggier during that time due primarily to changes in their respective environments. Android 2 and iOS 5 were current when we released them originally, and Android 7 and iOS 10 are very different beasts. Simply keeping up -- even without adding anything new or fixing any bugs -- requires a constant investment of development time from Instructables, and prevents that time from going to projects with greater impact.

The original purposes for the apps were:
1) To lower the bar to Instructables authorship by providing direct access to upload photos taken on smart phones
2) To improve the browsing experience by making it faster

Since they were released, mobile technologies have progressed to the point that #1 is no longer a concern. Our mobile web editor already has full support for uploading images directly from your phone. #2 is also coming into striking distance soon, as browser manufacturers begin to standardize their implementation of offline content for mobile web sites, sometimes referred to collectively as "progressive web apps". We'll be watching these technologies closely, and we'll be among the first to speed up your browsing experience with offline components when cross-browser solutions become available. We have already developed (and will continue to expand on) Accelerated Mobile Pages, which mean we display nearly instantaneously when you tap an AMP result on mobile from Google. You can identify these pages via a lightning bolt in mobile search results:



In short, the reasons that we developed the native apps no longer apply, and we're dropping support for them in favor of putting those energies where they are able to have greater impact for the community: Mobile Web. The apps will soon be removed from sale from their respective download stores.

For existing users who have downloaded these apps and are using them currently: feel free to continue doing so, though we would urge you to upload your Instructable Drafts to the website as soon as possible. While we don't expect the editing process to break, no support is available should you experience issues in the future. You can also use the apps to browse Instructables, though I believe there are already some issues that have started adding friction to this experience.

Thanks, all, for your continued support of our vibrant community!

~Devs

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pseaton (author) 4 days ago

There have been a lot of comments on this thread to the effect of "I miss the app, please bring it back"... unfortunately, that's not something that's really in anyone's power anymore. Neither Android nor iOS would be accepted at this point (outdated code), and there aren't any resources to bring them back into the fray.

discostu9564 months ago

My app stopped working mid comment this morning (android) so I deleted and went to reinstall from play store. Was surprised it wasn't there, leading me to here.

I really liked the app, it was simple and uncluttered and I could browse it while grabbing a

coffee. I did use it for uploading photos, with most editing done on computer. I guess I'm turning into the phone user I never wanted to be-use it for everything and only use computer when I have to. I just don't find the time to sit down at computer unless I have to these days. Probably my most used app.

I'll give the mobile interface a go. Try and work out a desktop shortcut. As for seeing ads, I wish I didn't have to, but I know you guys have to get something for your efforts with the site, and a small price to pay for what is a great community

Agree. I want the app back.

Do a google search and you should be able to find the App to download from somewhere else. https://www.google.com/?safe=active&ssui=on#safe=strict&q=instructables.com+android+app

Thanks mate. I had a search and the only ones I could find seemed pretty insecure, or got flagged as virus or similar, so I gave up on that. I'm finding myself viewing instructables less and less without the app, on my mobile it just isn't showing up well at all, and is a pain to use

BOO. Those of us that can only use our devices during our lunch breaks or short breaks while at work, won't be able to use Instructables anymore for quick research. It's not great on browsers.

Too bad. One of my favorite apps.

J. Mitchell

dug100024 days ago

How can we as a community of mobile app users help to update the app? I'm nos programmer but, can it be open/crowdsourced? I seems that the app is much loved and folks really want to save it from digital obscurity.

christa6271 month ago

I have an old Android device (can't afford a new one), and the mobile version looks pretty bad for me.

One problem I have is that whenever I click an Instructable, I have to stop the loading before the images appear, otherwise the image in the intro covers up the text. Sometimes I have to try a few times before I can stop it in time. Then, after I read the intro, I refresh the page to load the images. The ones in the steps don't cover the text, that only happens with the intro. That's why I really prefer the app (though that may be partly due to the fact that my device is about the same age as the app, and thus more compatible). Is there any way you could make it so the images in the intro are handled the same way as the images in the steps, so they don't cover the text?

Another issue is that the contest page always loads really huge, and if I don't wait for it to load completely before I touch it, I'm not able to zoom out, and have to refresh the page. If I view one of the contests and then click the back button, the contests page automatically scrolls down to where it was, but the page is huge and I can't zoom out, and then I have to refresh the page again. Don't know whether it's possible to do anything about that.

I understand that glitches are par for the course when working from an outdated device, but I'm pretty stuck with it, so if you can do anything to make the site a little bit less horrible for older Android browsers, I would appreciate it! If you can't, I understand.

Robot_geek1 month ago

The mobile app experience was outstanding. The mobile app made it so much easier to browse projects rather than just browsing the mobile net. If you guys can upload a new version of the app to the play store it would be really helpful. So please reconsider the fact and bring the app back soon. We all loved the app.

I agree. I still use the app for browsing since the mobile site is hard to use on my phone.

would you guys reconsider bringing the app back? The mobile site is such a hassle to use and many users liked when the application was available to them rather than having to reload& scroll

kfarrell51 month ago

I'm with Macrr and discostu956 here, the "mobile" site keeps coming up as the full site and is extremely frustrating to navigate on my phone. And to answer the obvious question, no I do not have the box checked to "Request desktop site." This is the main reason I do that come to the website just to browse like I used to for ideas. I will only come if I have a specific link, then leave. I miss the app, though I understand why it's gone. I just wish the mobile site actually worked with chrome. I have a relatively new phone running Android 7.0, and I haven't had any recent updates. Please advise.

Macrr1 month ago

Can anyone tell me why when i go to your home page on my android device running chrome, it shows as full webpage? Its annoying scrolling left and right, zooming in and out. Even writing this, i have to scroll around everywhere.

If the pages showed as regular mobile pages (similar to the app that was pulled) user experience would be enhance, and people would stay.

Is this being looked into or even consisered?

discostu9563 months ago

Hi Phil. Thought I would post again as you haven't replied to my previous comments.

It seems that its the desktop version showing when I view on my phone. I'm using Android, and browser is Chrome. Is there any reason why its not showing up on my mobile like you said it should be for mobile interfaces? Should I try a change in browser, or is there something on the instructables end that doesn't like chrome, android or similar and nothing I can do myself?

I'm finding it a big struggle to use as it showing currently when viewing recent instructables. It seems the actual instructables I view are showing more reasonably, but still not like it was on the app, which was just simple. This may be because I'm still viewing desk top version of the site rather than mobile. I liked that all photos were there in the app at thumbnail size, no need to click on more images, and that the whole instructable loaded up without needing to click on view all steps.

For the record, my use of the app was purely for viewing, not for publishing instructables.

Can you maybe direct me to where the issue might be?

DiyWaterDog4 months ago

I recently discovered the Android App is no longer available on Google Play when I had to reinstall on my tablet after resetting to factory defaults.. This disappoints me. The App experience is much more user friendly for browsing the Instructables than your mobile web browser interface. I have to say over 90% of my browsing of the site happens on phone or tablet. When it is time to create an Instructable I sit down at my desktop and have at it. I could not imagine creating an instructable with a mobile device considering the detailed directions I usually give. I hope you reconsider offering an updated App for easy browsing. The mobile web just does not cut it on phones. I realize the difficulty offering all the same feathers between web and app versions, but let's be realistic. It would be interesting to know the stats of how many people are viewing the sites through phones compared to desktop boxes. It would be interesting to know how many use the App over mobile web. I think you are going backwards. Please reconsider. Even though the App has not been updated it kicks the alternative in the Butt! Don't kill the App. But if you do... IMPROVE THE MOBILE WEB INTERFACE. That is my 2 cents. Hope many others chime in to save the App. Have you considered surveying your membership before killing the App?

pseaton (author)  DiyWaterDog4 months ago

It would be very helpful if you could share what, specifically, you would like to see improved about mobile web, as that's where are development efforts go.

Android and iOS apps accounted for less than 0.1% of traffic at the time they were dropped, so we can't support them. That said, I may be able to find an APK and post it here, if you're trying (against advice) to install the native app. We always understood that people didn't want to type on their phones, but since many people use their phones as cameras, we wanted the apps to lower the bar to getting photos uploaded. This is now possible on mobile web, and indeed mobile web supports photo upload to Instructables.

Mobile web is hovering around 50% of traffic currently. If you log in, you should see a pretty fast page with no ads. I'm a little surprised by the strong preference for the native Android app's display... and without promising that we'll make changes to accomodate, I'm very curious what you find so preferable!

Well I just discovered that I have not been seeing the TRUE mobile web version on my tablet and phone. Instead I have been seeing the desktop version. Now that I see the TRUE mobile web I will eat some of my words. :-) With that said, you should have your developers check the coding of the site so that when a mobile device hits the site it defaults to the mobile web version. They may already have this in place but perhaps not supporting older versions of Android. So, if you take a look at the Desktop version of site on a mobile device, I think you will see why I said the App kicks the web version in the Butt! :-) Need more time to evaluate the mobile web version. I will cower now with my tail between my legs.

discostu9564 months ago

Using the site on mobile, I've noticed that the home page etc are showing just like the computer, making it hard to use. Is this something to do with my phone or with instructables? I did notice that browsing recent instructables it showed more appropriately that the other pages

Actually, change that-recent instructable looked like it was showing properly but it wasn't. The very left hand column was perfectly aligned.

I noticed that it wasn't www.m.instrxxxx address I was looking at. Should it be that? If so is it my browser/phone that could be the issue or something on instructables?

KVSBUNNY4 months ago

device: iPad

HELP! The epic 11 step instructable with oodles of photos that I've worked on for > 20 hours has disappeared! It wouldn't upload so I contacted the iOS folks, then I was trying to copy the text from ( i guess from the "unsupported" iOS site) when my original draft vanished. All that remains is the new draft ( almost blank draft)

Is there anybody there that can help? I was hopinig to get it published in time for the Remix contest which closes tomorrow.
I especially don't want to have to try to recreate the entire Instructable
Signed, heartsick, KVSBUNNY

pseaton (author)  KVSBUNNY4 months ago
Are you using the native app, the mobile editor, or the desktop editor? Ie, is there an Instructables icon on your home screen?

If any prior draft of your Instructable was successfully uploaded to Instructables we can likely retrieve it, but if you worked on your iPad all the way from start to finish in the native app without ever saving to the cloud, there may not be much we can do.

Fingers crossed you were either using one of the supported editors, or hit save before the end. I really hope we can help you! Feel free to pm me additional details. We'll do everything we can to help.
klindsey65 months ago

I hadn't noticed any issues with the app as was. I just updated my phone today only to realize an app I use regularly is no longer available. I find the mobile web version is ugly and has too many advertisements. I have a hard time navigating posts, I love when a web search finds a Instructables result. What I love more is when I scroll to the bottom of the page to show all steps and my app loads with a polished, ad free instructable. Now in order for me to scroll through new instructables, I am going to have to wait for pages to load? This is a step backwards in my opinion and it makes me pretty upset. I'll just download it 3rd party, but this is ridiculous. I would pay for this app. Its that simple.

If you have a premium membership and you are signed-in to the site you shouldn't see any adverts. I've just PM'd you a code to redeem a free 3-month membership, see how you get on with that.

Thanks, I appreciate it. I still like the flow of the app better than the website. My internet doesn't do so well where I'm at. Having information preload on the app is quicker and better looking. I just think its a shame to get rid of an app that was working. At least it worked for me.

No problem, I never got a chance to see the app. Unfortunately I have an iPhone so getting apps third party is not an option for me :-(

makendo7 months ago

Doubtless I'm an outlier in having far too many drafts on the go, but the mobile version of the website only lists a fraction of them (though recently, a different fraction that includes my latest ones). So it is only useful to me as a means of uploading photos from phone to photo library. Any chance of a quick way of achieving this singular function, other than just dumping the photos into an unrelated instructable?

1+ !
The mobile app as it is now might not be of much use anymore but a new one for the sole purpose of composing and editing photos for the library would be great.
I guess most people these days use their phones or tablets to take the pics for their Ibles...
And if they are anything like me it ends by tranfering them to the computer/laptop or by using the browser on phone and struggling to find and upload the pics.
Having a dedicated app to do basic editing and commenting on the images before uploading them into the library would really speed things up.

Downunder35m7 months ago

Back in the days of slow hardware, small screens literally everyone programmed an app for their needs.
Your favourite newspaper, the TV guide, soicail security services and even the local cinema - they all jumped on their own apps.
Some of them evolved and a few I still use as the service over their respective websites gives me too much unwanted info.
But for a site like Instructables I really have to agree that a mobile app is not really required anymore, so focussing on other things seems to be the right way.