cell imageView in UITableView doesn't appear until selected
I think in this case you're using a iOS defined UITableViewCell (and not a custom one), that is one of those cells that you get from "initWithStyle:reuseIdentifier:". Now these cells are internally built in such way that if you don't assign some content immediately the corresponding subview will not be added in the cell's contentView hierarchy. This kind of behavior is typical of complex custom views, where the final cell layout can be determined only when all its subviews have their content fully specified. (E.g. you have two labels, let's say label A and label B, label A is multirow and you want to add label-B immediately below label-A, then you can place label-B correctly only once you have the label-A content and you calculate its height.). So I suppose the built-in iOS table cells are done in the same way and the subviews hierarchy is built at the "layoutSubviews" stage.
In your case you create the cell but defer the time the image is provided. But at this point the layoutSubviews has been called yet and without any image the corresponding imageView is not even allocated and added in the contentView hierarchy!
So, according to me, the solution for you is just to assign immediately a "placeholder" for your asset (the placeholder can be a transparent image of course) which will guarantee you of the internal UIImageView creation. Be careful with the image size, it should be close to the expected image size, for the same reason explained above. As soon as your finish block is called the image view should be already there and the image will appear.
The reason why when you tap on the cell the image appears, is due to the fact that this operation calls the layoutSubviews again. In this case the whole code is probably re-executed and as you already called "setImage:" before then the internal "image" property is set and the contentView hierarchy will be rebuilt with the new image.
Another possible solution to your problem is of course to use a "custom" UITableViewCell (e.g. loaded from a Nib). In such case all your subviews will be loaded and you will simply access to the UIImageView using his tag (read apple docs to know more about this useful technique to create table view cells from a Nib file).
I scratched my head for so long and finally figured it out.
My mistake was that I was setting image in
cell.imageView when I should be setting my actual outlet
cell.eventImageView. It was messing with the generic imageview provided in
UITableViewCell. Hope it helps somebody.