Star Walk Christmas Fail

Dec 23, 2021
Star Walk Frost Effect
Image Credit: Vito Technology, Inc.

Every year before Christmas, in some of our apps you can see Santa Claus. He randomly appears on the screen and can be found via the search. In 2021, to bring the Christmas mood to our users, we added some visuals on our Star Walk website as well.

The letter S in the Star Walk caption on the main page now has a tiny Christmas hat, snowflakes are falling across all the website pages, and pictures in articles appear to be covered with frost. The thing is, the frosting effect already showed up before in our products. Sadly, it didn’t bring our users much joy back then.

In 2011, right before the App Store annual shutdown, we released the Star Walk Christmas update and, together with Santa Claus, added this frosting effect into the app. We were happy with this special Christmas version and ready to go on holiday.

However, the other day, Star Walk was flooded with one-star reviews. Not only did people not enjoy the frosting effect, — they simply hated it. It turned out that the beautiful effect interfered with observations — when you pointed a phone up, the screen began to cover with frost, hiding celestial objects. To “defrost” the screen, you had to tap on it, which immediately turned off the Star Spotter, and the app stopped following your movements. In other words, real-time stargazing was almost impossible. Apparently, we ruined our app with a single update. We rushed to release another update that would remove the frosting because the App Store shutdown was around the corner. Eventually, we managed on time. The frost effect’s lifespan was five days — on the sixth day, we removed it from the app.

See for yourself how people actually hated our Christmas Star Walk update! Here are some of our favorite reviews from 2011:

  • “Take ur xmas back. Santa — I can deal with it. But now you cover a visual app with ice. And no way to even turn it off? Is this a joke? Was I a bad boy Santa? Fix this, please. Winters in Beijing are the only chance to see the stars! Using this app is one of the few enjoyments I have had in life and now the grinch has stolen it. Please fix it.”

  • “Loved this app — right up until some moron added a nifty frost and Santa feature that covers the screen and renders the whole thing useless. I'm hoping this was put in place by a disgruntled ex-employee who hacked the system and not by someone who actually gets paid money to improve the application. One star is one too many for a frost-covered screen.”

  • “The support people for this app tell me that the frost and the Santa sleigh will be gone after Christmas, but meanwhile this app is useless! And that makes me wonder what bug they will insert next. An Easter bunny and a growing border of colored Easter eggs for Easter? Developers, what are you smoking?”

  • “Just bought it. It was fantastic until this frosting and Santa crap was added that limits this app's usefulness to about six seconds. Why do this? I thought I @amp;@#%ng had a virus! It appears that the grown-up programmers need to get off the bottle long enough to reign in whatever sociopath intern that perpetrated this.”

As you can see, opinions regarding our Santa also vary. Most people love him and can’t wait for his appearance, and some say that adults are more interested in astronomy than fairy tales. Sounds a bit Grinch-ish to us.

What do you think about our Christmas decorations on the Star Walk website and apps? Share your opinions on social media, and don’t forget to rate us on app stores. We wish you a very happy Christmas and holiday season!

Sincerely yours, Vito Technology Team.