McLean, VA (written by Rob Pegoraro/Special for USA Today) --
Question: Why can't I get the NFL Mobile app -- a Verizon Wireless special -- to work on my new Verizon Wireless iPad?
Answer: The app that Verizon built as part of a marketing partnership with the National Football League has been getting pounded in App Store user reviews for this defect -- it's down to two of five stars. Verizon subscribers haven't been much kinder in the wireless carrier's own forums.
NFL Mobile has other issues: its $5/month video service, which includes some live games, doesn't work on iPads. But not supporting the new iPad is a special sort of breakdown. Apple's current tablet, having shipped a good six months ago, isn't even that new, and few other apps have had compatibility problems worse than looking slightly crummier on this model's lovely Retina Display.
Verizon,however, has yet to offer a clear explanation for this shortfall, which lives on in an app update posted Aug. 29 that bears the same note as ever: "the new iPad is not supported."
Company representatives have confirmed the issue in its forums without explaining it or offering a timetable for fixing it. Spokesman David Samberg did not get much more specific over a series of e-mails, citing only a need to have the app "optimized specifically" for each device and adding that the carrier was "working to bring it to more devices" -- including the new iPad.
(As a general rule, failing to optimize an app for a new device's hardware should not prevent it from working at all. But in software development, anything's possible.)
The problem goes beyond this one app to a developer's broader inability to converse with its users. Apple can get away with a silent strategy because it (usually) ships good products first, but many other developers know they have to keep their users in the loop. So they talk to customers on Twitter, answer queries on their support forums and blog about it afterwards.
The more apt parallel to Verizon might be two other big-name media apps with weird compatibility issues of their own.
ESPN's Watch ESPN app, which lets customers of select Internet providers watch the sports network's online-only ESPN3 service, still doesn't let us tune in on our iPad, even though the site works fine on desktop and laptop computers in our Fios-connected home.
And HBO's HBO Go iPad app, meanwhile, restricts users from watching a show on a TV using Apple's AirPlay video mirroring option-- even though they can do the same thing with a laptop and a cheap HDMI cable.
I don't know why these corporations, with far more resources at their disposal than the average iOS developer, seem to have so much trouble maintaining a basic level of compatibility.
Tip: Usher an app past OS X's Gatekeeper
Speaking of compatibility, you may find that older apps -- and some newer ones from developers not quite up to speed -- won't run in Apple's new Mountain Lion release of OS X.
That's because of its Gatekeeper security system, which will only let you run apps that either come from the Apple-run Mac App Store or were distributed by developers who have obtained a developer certificate from Apple and signed their downloads with that.
Waiving this requirement for an individual app (to name one example, the open-source LibreOffice, a free but somewhat clunky alternative to Microsoft Office) is easy but not obvious. Right-click the app, select "Open" from that menu, and then click the "Open"button in the resulting dialog. It should run normally from then on.
You can set OS X to run any old app off the Internet, but I don't recommend opening your Mac up like that. As this spring's Flashback trojan showed, Mac malware is no longer a myth.