New iOS mobile app beta available for testing

Following on Delegated authentication for Discourse Mobile app, we have been working on a new version of the DiscourseHub app for iOS. This new version includes several under-the-hood changes that fix some longstanding issues with the iOS app. You can try out this new version right now, by opening the link below in your iOS device and installing the app via TestFlight:

New version notes

There are two major changes in the new version of the app:

  1. the app uses Safari for authentication
  2. SafariViewController has now been replaced by a webview

The first change means that authentication in the app is now easier and better integrated with iOS. Users will now be able to leverage saved passwords, existing SSO sessions or login via email when authenticating a site in the app. But this change also means that users will need to login again to all the sites they’ve already configured in their app. This is a one-time requirement. (If the user is already logged in in Safari, then he/she will only need to authorize the app’s API access.)

The second change, the new webview browser, allows for a better, faster UI experience in the app and fixes several issues we’ve had with SafariViewController.

A few other improvements included in this beta version:

  • push notification handling has been strengthened: users will now see notification badges when receiving a push notification while the app is in the foreground
  • sessions from the app are now correctly identified as such in Discourse under the “Recently Used Devices” section of the user’s profile
  • in the webview, we have introduced a new navigation bar. On iPhones, this bar is at the bottom and auto-hides (like Safari’s nav bar), on iPads it is static and placed at the top of the viewport. The bar’s styling will automatically use the color scheme of the active theme.
  • the app will now check for changes to a site’s API version and logo regularly, thus making sure changes in branding and Discourse API updates are reflected in the app (and it also fixes an issue with disappearing logos)

To test these new features, your Discourse sites must be on the latest tests-passed branch or on the latest beta (v2.3.0.beta9). Any sites that haven’t been updated recently will fall back to the legacy authentication and SafariViewController in the app.

25 Likes

Awesome work on this @pmusaraj and @sam, major improvements! :tada:

11 Likes

One immediate thing I’ve noticed is that while the new app got straight into Meta after re-authorizing, a bunch of sites on b9+7 needed me to reauthenticate.

1 Like

Odd display issue on xsmax.

The app “back” rendering is cutoff on left side of notch.

2 Likes

Can you paste a screenshot?

1 Like

It’s minor, and no issue when displaying normal layout, only when previous app link is displayed

1 Like

I think I see what you mean (but I’m not sure), the button to go back to TestFlight is halfway between the two background colors. In the app, we have added some logic to change the background color behind the status bar in the iOS app. It will follow the background of your Discourse header. For example, here is how the header would look on the Fakebook theme:

On your site you have a custom header above the Discourse header, with a different background color (blue). I will look to find a way to cover these cases as well, but it might be a tiny bit tricky, there are multiple ways to add a custom header above the Discourse header.

12 Likes

Is there another caveat for preserving credentials beyond beta 9?

Credentials from SafariViewController can’t be preserved. SVC runs in an isolated context, the app has no access to any of the sessions/cookies in it. So, this one-time re-authentication is necessary for all users that have no sessions in Safari. I think in your case, you had a Safari session for meta, but not for the other sites in the app.

Not sure if this might be fixable or not, but I just tried this and mostly works great but the login / authentication was slightly roundabout for sites w/ SSO using WP Discourse. After logging in through the WordPress site I’m taken back to the forum, but not the authentication page for the app. So I click “cancel”, go back to the app home screen, then click back to the forum and (since I’m now logged in) hit the screen where I can authorize access. Not a big issue but perhaps there’s a way to save a step here.

I’ll look into why this is, it should redirect back to the authorization screen. Thanks for the report.

1 Like

Totally unrelated to my previous comment but I also just thought of an idea for a small UX enhancement:

I like the new bottom nav bar (much easier than reaching to the top on a large phone; thanks!) but notice it only appears on scroll up. This makes total sense for the main topic list view where it’s infinite scroll, but for individual topics (where there is an “end of page”) I would suggest also showing the nav bar upon scrolling to page bottom.

See the Pocket iOS app for a great example of this — also a bottom action/nav bar, hidden on scroll down; shows on scroll up or upon reaching the bottom of an article.

I think this makes a lot of sense for my typical Discourse mobile use flow as well; I’m on three forums regularly and (if multiple have updates) typically right after I finish catching up on the last new topic is when I want to close out of that forum view and switch to another.

2 Likes

We have implemented something like this, you need to scroll twice to the bottom of the page for the nav bar to show up again. It’s very similar to what Safari does upon hitting the bottom of a page.

3 Likes

Ah cool I see that now! Did not occur to me to try that, good to know :slight_smile:

3 Likes

If possible, could the icon circled in the screenshot match the icon conventionally used to launch the share sheet on iOS? It being a link is a little ambiguous until you click on it.

Current icon:

Conventional iOS share sheet icon:
image

4 Likes

I’ve just realised we’ve lost the old refresh button which was previously top-right.

Appreciate that it shouldn’t be necessary, but it’s definitely useful on occasion. Is there any plan to implement pull-to-refresh?

3 Likes

@justindirose I also find the link icon sub-optimal when it comes to sharing. I chose it because it’s the same icon we use when sharing a post in Discourse. FontAwesome doesn’t have a direct equivalent to the conventional iOS share icon, the closest icons to the conventional iOS icon are share-square and external-link-alt, both of which I’m not particularly fond of. That said, we don’t have to stick to FontAwesome, we could use iOS-style icons for all four of the bottom bar actions…

@Stephen we don’t currently have plans to add a refresh button or to support pull-to-refresh. In fact, pulling from the title bar downwards currently dismisses the webview, which is useful, sometimes.

6 Likes

The app works fine with Meta, but not with my own Discourse instance.
This is what I see in the error log:

Message

Failed to handle exception in exception app middleware : PG::UniqueViolation: ERROR:  duplicate key value violates unique constraint "index_user_api_keys_on_client_id"
DETAIL:  Key (client_id)=(42c39dc...) already exists.
: INSERT INTO "user_api_keys" ("user_id", "client_id", "key", "application_name", "push_url", "created_at", "updated_at", "scopes") VALUES (4, '42c39dc...', '19eaf98...', 'Discourse - iPhone', 'https://api.discourse.org/api/publish_ios', '2019-04-30 15:05:35.056396', '2019-04-30 15:05:35.056396', '{notifications,session_info,one_time_password}') RETURNING "id"

I have seen this error on my dev instance (in your case, it’s likely related to an old auth token that hasn’t been removed properly). Have you tried removing the site from the app (swipe right-to-left and then delete) and trying again? Alternately, in your Discourse instance, you can go to your user preferences and “Revoke Access” for the apps you have listed.

2 Likes

I’ve tried both ways unsuccessfully. Although,

I couldn’t find this exact preference. What I did find is Recently Used Devices on my account preferences, where I could log out on my iPhone.

1 Like