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Sudden drop in number of daily installs on Google Play Store

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AxPetre, Jun 23, 2018.

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  1. Sparkline

    Sparkline

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    Maybe you published your game at another store? Or maybe somebody did it instead of you. I ve noticed that almost all my games was published on aptoid.com by different users.
     
  2. marcinkowsky

    marcinkowsky

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    Yes, that's right, G play statistics are different from others. Do not know which of them is true.
     
  3. KendyVy

    KendyVy

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    My app is constantly down, I do not know how long this will last, my keyword is still top 1
     
  4. PZ2100

    PZ2100

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    Has anyone received a suspension like this on Samsung Galaxy App store?
    Capture.PNG
    After some quick search I found that Play Protect is some new feature of the recent Android versions which seems to be blocking anything installed from outside Google Play. E.g. it even blocks installation of Samsung's Galaxy Apps app which is needed to browse their store!
    https://www.androidsage.com/2018/06/18/google-play-protect-blocking-galaxy-app-store-how-to-fix/

    So, for distributing outside Google Play, we have to build the app with a different package name? I'm not sure if I understand this correctly, but if Play Protect blocks:

    1) any app with the same package name as one published on Google Play from getting installed from anywhere else and

    2) and apparently just any app installed from outside Google Play (like Galaxy App app which isn't on Google Play)

    Then nothing can be distributed outside Google Play?... So, it's like on iOS and App Store now, at least on devices outside China? I'm confused.

    Will wait for the reply from Samsung and post an update.

    EDIT: it's likely to be a global issue since it apparently affects all my apps on Samsung Galaxy Apps store. More details here:
    https://forum.unity.com/threads/blocked-by-play-protect.542860/

    EDIT 2: Samsung may also reject your app because app icon doesn't show correctly on Galaxy Note 8 SM-N950F. I've reported this as a bug to Unity, and they replied that this is fixed in Unity 2018.3.0a7 - so may need to wait until that version of Unit comes out to be able to submit stuff to Galaxy Apps.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
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  5. ferrari_due

    ferrari_due

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    Guys i want to bring this thread back to its main topic - which is
    "Sudden drop in number of daily installs on Google Play Store"

    I am an app developer based out of India with nearly 350 games in the market out of different accounts (I run a start up company and have developers working for me).

    I have also lost 90% of my traffic in one go for the same reasons as all the above posts have been mentioning, so i wont get into that.

    However, 5 of my old games (early 2017) received a significant boost during this downfall, on the same 21st June date when the algorithm was released! When I say significant I mean my games jumped 250+ positions in the US play store.

    Here are the commonalities in these games:
    1. These games were reskins, were of average quality and didn't have any major retention.
    2. They were having ratings of 4.2 Stars minimum.
    3. Had 700K-800K total downloads.
    4. They had made me a lot of money once upon a time.
    5. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY when i went into Android Vitals - I saw that they all had one thing in common - they were highly rated in the "stability" benchmarks data that google provides. Please see the attached screenshot to understand what i mean.

      Stability.png I want someone else to verify my claims - did you have an app that suddenly ranked? Can you check the same and get back with your results?
     
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  6. PZ2100

    PZ2100

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    I don't have a single app that improved (all my apps dropped by between 50% and 95%). However, here is a screenshot for an app with great vitals (simply because it's built with Unity). But it went down by 95%.

    Capture.PNG

    I have 2 theories:

    1. The apps in Similar Apps list were hand-picked by people at Google as stubs for specific "buckets" of apps, and they distributed apps across buckets with some neural network (they mention it in this article: https://ai.googleblog.com/2016/12/app-discovery-with-google-play-part-2.html). This would explain why Talking Tom, Talking Angela and Subway Surfers come up for anything remotely kids-related, no matter the genre. Your 2 apps which went up may be among the selected few. It would greatly help if you'd post links to these 2 apps. Do these 2 apps come up in "Similar Apps" for many other apps?

    2. Or maybe instead their machine learning system was trained on a very limited and poorly chosen dataset which taught it to sort apps by parameters which are so utterly meaningless and irrelevant that for any rational human it's impossible to deduce any pattern at all. In this case your 2 apps just got lucky and were propelled upwards due to something random and insignificant about them or about their listing. However, all your other apps (and many of them better than these 2) went down like the rest of the store.

    If theory 2 is true, it's a spectacular screw-up on Google's side, and is racking up tens or maybe even hundreds of millions in losses to both Google and all its partners (for example, us) right now.

    This TED talk covers the problem with AI systems and is likely exactly what's happening at Google now:

    (dog miscategorized as a wolf simply because it has snow in the background).

    There are plenty of examples from the stock market (where AIs trade stock), and many more.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
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  7. einEntwickler

    einEntwickler

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    @iseeall6 : on June 19th Google Play started adding "security metadata" to all apks.
    https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2018/06/google-play-security-metadata-and.html
    Apparently, that metadata is not present in apks that were not uploaded to Google Play.

    @ferrari_due:
    I have an app with ANR 0.02% and crashRate 0.02%, which lost 90% of installs.

    Btw, some people in Discord said that on August 2, the Play Store algorithm was changed again and user engagement/ retention became even more important.
    "newest statistics revealed that the top 300 games charts have day 1 retention rates between 60 and 80%".

    But some developer said: "Our game has had 17 minutes daily engagement, good 7 and 30 day numbers and it didn't help. We lost 99% of installs".
     
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  8. ferrari_due

    ferrari_due

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    @iseeall6 : Thank you for the detailed information and also for sharing of your thoughts, I have sent a personal message to you with a link to my game. Perhaps you can make something of it?

    @einEntwickler : Thank you for the new information about the algorithm having changed again - i will try to find any published information on this and also do my own research via Sensor Tower on Top Charting developers.
    This line means a lot to me, and I will verify this information with other friendly companies who have recently had hits after the algorithm change. I will also checkout my games retention percentages and reply back if they are any good.

    I would also like to share this screengrab of a game that ranked very highly in the US from the 21st onwards,what do you guys think happened? I have censored the developers name and game title for privacy concerns as this is a public forum.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. LilGames

    LilGames

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    Agreed, this isn't a Samsung app store thread...

    Can you please tell me how you get to that panel that shows "Stability"? This is in the Google Play dev console, right? I have looked everywhere and cannot find such a tab in my account.
     
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  10. ferrari_due

    ferrari_due

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    @LilGames : Yes, this is from the Google Play Dev Console. Below is what you need to do:

    Google Play Developers Console -> Android Vitals -> Overview -> Scroll Down to "Stability"

    Just ensure that you're checking this for a game which has a good number of installs/ isn't new in the Play Store - Google has a minimum threshold that your game needs to meet, for it to show you this information; else you will just have a youtube video displayed to you when you follow the above steps.
     
  11. LilGames

    LilGames

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    Yeah that's all I see. I used to have enough installs for there to be enough data, but no longer...
     
  12. DavidBVal

    DavidBVal

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    I guess this means "end of the line" on Play Store for those of us that want to make games like they used to be: a fun activity that you engage at your own pace and leisure. The only games wanted by Google are pavlovian traps that work similarly to slot machines, conditioning their users into playing daily for illusory gain, and never frustrating any player with real difficulty, least it not reduce your retention ratio...

    I can count myself among the lucky, with 3 years of success in Play Store before this drop of 50% in downloads, while others have dropped far worse. But this likely has been my last android game; it takes me 4-5 years to fully develop and write a game and I don't plan them to be addictive using cheap tricks like daily quests or the like. From now on PC will be my target platform.

    For the record: 1.2m installs, around 50K ratings with average 4.6 stars (4.7 last 4 months), 55% day 1 retention, top 35% stability.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
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  13. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    PC ain't nothing to write home about either...
     
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  14. shiggsy_dev

    shiggsy_dev

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    Just had a reply from Google Support investigating the completely dis-similar nature of the Similar apps listed along side my app and the other 3 apps which actually are similar to mine. They acknowledge that developers are expressing concerns....but 'focusing on the user'.....'higher quality apps'....blah, blah,blah……, everything is fine.

    I replied with some disbelief that they seem to be missing the key point that it doesn't matter how high the quality of the other apps they are displaying is, if they are not similar to the app being looked at they are unlikely to be of any interest and in-fact it makes it look like there are no similar apps.

    Have a feeling this is not going to get anywhere.
     
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  15. einEntwickler

    einEntwickler

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    Sometimes there are duplicate entries in the Similar list. (Here: Similar for "Chess free").

    duplicateApps.png
     
  16. ceceomer

    ceceomer

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    Today admob has sent me an email and it said that “AdMob Report: -56.3% change in earnings in July”. Yeah it’s true because of your f.king gp update.. :)
     
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  17. evuslu

    evuslu

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    -59.8 my morning message
     
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  18. BrandLibel

    BrandLibel

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    Google's doing a huge disservice to its users by pushing these addictive, drug-like, immorally designed skinner box games. Now developers are incentivized to make more of them to succeed. I don't want to play or make games like these so I'll also be focusing on other platforms.

    I got -82.7% AdMob earnings in July, and my daily installs are still 80-90% lower than before.
     
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  19. creakosta

    creakosta

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    I got -70% AdMob earnings in July :(
     
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  20. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    My understanding is the new algorithm favours games with good retention, not psychologically abusive skinner box games.
     
  21. BrandLibel

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    Of course, I don't think the algorithm would (or can) favor games that are skinner boxes. But by favoring retention, the algorithm encourages developers to make their games artificially longer and more addictive. While this retention can be done morally, it's very hard. It's only logical that developers would tend towards using the easiest and most effective way to boost retention: addictive skinner box mechanics.

    On YouTube, once the algorithm prioritized longer videos and frequent uploads, daily vloggers became massively more successful and animators less so. The algorithm didn't set out to promote daily vlogs, or demote animated videos. But that ended up happening naturally since animated videos are more expensive, shorter, and come out less often. What the algorithm focused on indirectly rewarded and punished certain types of content. It's a good parallel to what's happening to us on the Google Play Store.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
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  22. ceceomer

    ceceomer

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    So will we lose forever?
     
  23. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    You lost forever the days Apple and Google implemented IAP.
     
  24. neoshaman

    neoshaman

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    The battle was lost when app's price were racing toward 0, even nintendo couldn't pull mario out of it
     
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  25. kuglerk

    kuglerk

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    My game is a pavlovian slot machine trap and I still lost all my users! There's no winning even if you're evil.
     
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  26. DavidBVal

    DavidBVal

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    Starting Friday Aug.17th my downloads got a bit better (up 20%, my original decrease in June was around 50%). Maybe they're tweaking things. Anyone else observed the same?

    Edit: added details.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  27. pnyxtr

    pnyxtr

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    No change for me. I still find it hard to believe that Google actually prefers it this way. It's almost impossible to find any good games now. Consequently, I've stopped installing games. It's just not worth the effort to try and find something.
     
  28. Tzan

    Tzan

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    Now I want to see someone release a game entitled:
    "Pavlovian Slot Machine Trap"
     
  29. BrandLibel

    BrandLibel

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    Can you share what genre your game is in? And also what methods you use to monetize the app? If you use in-app purchases, do you have multiple consumable purchases (like buying currency) or non-consumables (upgrade to pro version)? Also, which gives you more revenue?

    I'm wondering if Google's algorithm focuses more on in-app purchase revenue.
     
  30. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    It doesn't sound like it was that huge if your livelihood is suddenly gone.
     
  31. ceceomer

    ceceomer

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    During this month, Google sent me 5-6 emails about admob and Adwords ad campaigns that included adwords marketing solution contact information. Before there was no email like that. I think google just want us money. No money, no revenue.
     
  32. Bala87

    Bala87

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    I have 4 apps. Now, for 2 apps, daily download counts have improved and reached 50% of daily download counts which they were getting before 21st June. 2 apps are getting almost 90% of past downloads. I haven't done a change. All are free apps with admob ads. No in-app purchases.

    Anyway, a lesson learnt is we're not independent anymore. We should diversify.

    I'm looking for a job. I would do apps in my free time. We can't predict Google's policies, what will replace Android or what will happen to mobile ads as they collect data. Just move on.
     
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  33. gobitgames

    gobitgames

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    Good news. We were able to get our download numbers back up by rewriting our store descriptions. Has anyone else tried this?
     
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  34. ceceomer

    ceceomer

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    Congratulations.
     
  35. tiburon

    tiburon

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    In the equation you can add that you had +10.000.000 downloads and 315.201 reviews.
     
  36. gobitgames

    gobitgames

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    Yes, but we've been trying to figure out in this thread how the algorithm changed. We had an 85% drop with our current most popular game (the sequel to the 10 million download one) along with significant drops in all of our games.

    So the question was, how did the Google Play recommendation algorithm change? Why weren't games showing up in searches or in similar apps? Was there more of a focus on long term value and retention rate? Or on crashes and ANRs? Etc...

    I just wanted to add a data point here that all we did is change our store descriptions. Two days later we saw our games recommended in Similar Apps again, and the download numbers came back up. So in our case, the drop seemed to have nothing to do with new weightings of LTV/Retention Rate/Crashes/etc... It just had to do with the recommendation algorithm not knowing that our games were similar to other similar games.

    I'm not saying this will work for everyone, but it's worth a shot!
     
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  37. meowstudios

    meowstudios

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    What kind of changes did you make? Keyword changes, like adding more keywords?

    is "Burger Shop 2 Deluxe" the game you are talking about?
     
  38. gobitgames

    gobitgames

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    I wish it were Burger Shop 2 Deluxe since that's the premium/pay version! Its numbers weren't affected too much by the algorithm change.

    Burger Shop 2 (the free version with ads) had the 85% drop in installs - you can look at an earlier post in this thread for the numbers.

    So yeah, what we did is we looked at the descriptions of other cooking games and tried to incorporate more of the words they used. For instance, and this is pretty stupid, we didn't even mention the word "cooking" in our old description. I mean it's obvious for a human that it's a cooking game, but the algorithm didn't know unless we actually put the word in the description.
     
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  39. mentolatux

    mentolatux

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    i pay 3 campaign, i get 3 cupon for google of 75 euro if i spend at each cupon 25 euro, i target all world on 3 games, i get 3k install for each games trough adwords, when spend all 100 euro for each games i wait to get ranked LOL, it past 3 weeks and NO RANK - NO DOWNLOADS, if someone get ranked please let me know, THANKS. ill buy IMAC and IPAD, and begin publish on IOS soon, google destroy our life but im stil lcontinue with makeing games , here is all remain games on playstore https://play.google.com/store/apps/dev?id=8502833750022047750.
     

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  40. Ludusmagnus101

    Ludusmagnus101

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    Hey Man
    Did you make any changes in the game. We tried almost everything (Removed third party plugins, Notifications and much more) resulting in improved stability but wake locks are still in Bottom.
     
  41. christovstoi9

    christovstoi9

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    do you also keep dropping the number of applications downloaded?
     
  42. Ludusmagnus101

    Ludusmagnus101

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    Yes alarmingly Active Installs are dropping.
     
  43. roundham

    roundham

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    All my app downloads have tanked in june then had a short burst of increase in July then its been way down in August and September. I don't know why. They all have good stability ratings and good reviews. I feel helpless but I guess we just have to suffer through the growing pains of algorithm change until it stabilizes.
     
  44. Ludusmagnus101

    Ludusmagnus101

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    Hey
    Sorry to hear that
    What about the Battery Wake Locks Stats?
     
  45. Tanek

    Tanek

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    @iseeall6 , I completely agree with you and I am firmly convinced that we are experiencing case #2 of your list. The rate of change and the randomness of the currently shown similar apps suggest me that the machine learning on this algorithm was poorly trained.
    First of all, before mid June, I don't recall having ever seen a mix between apps and games, we usually had almost all games, to be honest it's surely easier to notice this difference right now, as a Swahili Bible reader app kind of stands out in the "Similar Apps" section of a tycoon game...
    As an example, right now our tycoon games have Bible and Quran reading apps and translation apps listed as similar, 2/3 weeks ago we had banking/trading and shopping apps. Which means that our games are being listed as similar in "Similar Apps" sections of completely unrelated apps, hence the loss of downloads and sales experienced exactly since mid June.

    I waited for a couple of months because I thought that this would have been fixed quickly (it's almost a joke to think that this is on the store since mid June) but since the end of August I am pressing VERY hard Google Play customer support, I received a couple of very condescending answers which led me to give terrible feedback to the support and press harder, escalating this issue, I am trying to have a phone call with a product manager.
     
  46. Random424242

    Random424242

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    I tried to push a lot and I found no way to reach anything above condescending level 1 answers :)

    Please report if you manage to reach a product manager and how.
     
  47. PanicEnsues

    PanicEnsues

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    With Google dev support, I got as far as "I’ve documented your issue and escalated it to our technical team for further investigation. Our team is working to resolve this issue for you as soon as possible."

    That was three weeks ago, not a peep since.
     
  48. PZ2100

    PZ2100

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    It seems that for the web version the "Similar Apps" has been fixed. I'm now seeing much more relevant and varied suggestions for my apps. And more importantly, my apps now show some of the other apps of mine as similar, not just Talking Tom, Angela and Pou. And finally a few of my apps are showing in at least some of apps of other devs (like it used to be).

    On mobile however, it's still the same (only top apps in Similar).

    EDIT: it's only when you're logged in from an account where you have installed these apps previously!
    When not logged in, Similar Apps showed the old irrelevant boilerplate lists...
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  49. Random424242

    Random424242

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    Beware that similar apps is now account bound and tied to what you install.

    Try to see similar apps without being logged, being logged and after having installing the app.

    3 different results, with some totally absurd, (The last one, they assume if you have an application that does X you don't want an application that does exactly X)
     
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  50. shiggsy_dev

    shiggsy_dev

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    Similar apps looks just as broken to me, it doesn't matter if I am logged in, or not, which browser I use or if I am on desktop or mobile.
    I raised a ticket on it, initially got a canned response, I persisted, the support person agreed it wasn't correct and escalated it. Several weeks went by then it went back to canned responses, basically the response is a shrug of the shoulders, that's just the way it is.
     
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