Posts Tagged Apps

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

My favorite new writing app, Ulysses, just launched their universal app to the world, adding an iPhone version of the professional writing app, after three months of beta-testing. Also check out their new site, which looks great, and expect a review on Yellow Signal soon.

Meanwhile, as The Soulmen co-founder Marcus puts it so eloquently in the blog post, write your fingers bloody.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Matt Bircher rounded up some of his favorite apps with 3D Touch. I don’t own an iPhone 6s, so I wouldn’t know how well they work, but it’s fascinating to gain an insight into how 3D Touch is being used by different developers for different use cases.

It’s a great piece well worth a read, with some brilliant high quality images showing off the 3D Touch implementations. I especially love Overcast’s implementation.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Dan Edwards, writing on Medium:

So next time you feel the urge to complain about a paid upgrade, consider the people behind it and support them, and if you don’t want to, don’t. But there’s no need to call them greedy assholes, because they’re not.

I realize I’m late to this discussion by about a week, but I’d like to offer my thoughts anyway.

These people spend years working on an expansive update to a great app like Tweebot which I absolutely adore. That’s years spent developing an app they don’t know will do well, with no corporate hovering over them with a paycheck. And when they revamp the whole app and relaunch it as a paid upgrade — for $5 at launch — users complain, and hurl insults.

One of the things that caught my eye was this tweet embedded in Edwards’ piece:

This person is completely insensitive to the tweet he replied to:

I find this completely ludicrous, because:

  1. Buying an app any number of times doesn’t entitle you to a free upgrade, especially when;
  2. The developer(s) are independent and are only supported by the money they make from the app.
  3. The update is actually expansive, it includes an app rebuilt ground-up for another platform, and because $10 is not a lot of money for an app.

‘DHH’ also writes on Medium, in a piece entitled ‘Don’t base your business on a paid app’:

Apple and Google both benefit from having apps be as cheap as possible. For Apple, that means people will buy an iPhone more readily when the cost to fill it with software is near nil. For Google, it means app makers have to shove ads into products to make them pay. Win-win-lose.

Developers, do not be afraid to charge more money for your app. I happily purchased Tweetbot 4, and I’ll keep doing it for every app I like.


Friday, 25 September 2015

David Smith is a fantastic developer who creates some of the apps I use everyday. I use Pedometer++, the fantastic step tracker available on iPhone since iOS 8 and iPhone 5S. It leveraged iOS 8’s HealthKit, and the various motion tracking capabilities of the iPhone 5S, and Smith managed to make a great product over the course of one summer.

And that’s not all. In the same period of time, he also made a third-party keyboard for emojis, one that had a much better interface than Apple’s, and was faster and slicker to use. So it’s not a surprise that Apple sherlocked him with the release of iOS 8.3.

This time, it’s with watchOS 2’s native apps (with access to the various hardware features of Apple Watch) and third-party complications that Smith has mastered to create a great app. It’s called Sleep++, and it’s a great sleep-tracking app for Apple Watch.

This (understandably) might turn a few heads at first. Tim Cook said a while back that you’ll need to charge it every night. But David Smith has come up with a way to, yes, wear Apple Watch 24/7. Here’s how David does it:

The TL/DR is to charge your Apple Watch in the morning while you get ready for your day (take a shower, get dressed, etc) and then again in the evening while you get ready for bed (brush teeth, put on pajamas, etc). Then put your Apple Watch in Airplane Mode while you sleep.

You should read the whole piece, but that’s the gist of it. I’ve been trying out Sleep++ and this method since I got my Apple Watch on Tuesday, and I can say it’s quite solid. Smith says in his piece that he only uses only about 50% of the full charge in a day. Since I first got my Watch, I’ve been using the hell out of it, even installing apps while out and about. Because of this, I usually end the day with about 15-25%. Obviously, this means I have to charge it for longer before I go to sleep, but that’s not really an issue for me, yet.

The Sleep++ Apple Watch app.

The Sleep++ Apple Watch app.

I put my Watch in Airplane Mode, and in the usually six or so hours I sleep, I get pretty good (simple) feedback. Dark blue periods in Sleep++ are times when you’re sleeping well, and the light blue breaks in between are ‘restless’ periods in sleep.

The data is simple and easy to glance, but it can be expanded to give more information. The design is simple, and not what you’d call ‘beautiful’, but it’s like any Underscore v1 product: fast and functional, and I expect David Smith is already working on a new update with more to come.

Sleep++ is free on the App Store, but you should support its development by removing ads for just $2.

Good piece by Matt Birchler on how developers can stay relevant on the App Store.

This is the key bit, about _David Smith:

You likely notice a pattern here, as David Smith is also following Apple’s platform as it grows. Unlike Drafts, which is a single product growing, David’s library of apps is growing. Looking at the last couple years, his new apps have been created specifically for the new things possible in iOS updates:

  • Pedometer++ – iOS 7, the M7 chip in the iPhone 5S
  • Emoji++ – iOS 8, 3rd party keyboards
  • Sleep++ – iOS 9, native Apple Watch apps

When you download the new version of iOS or take home the new iPhone, odds are that David Smith will have an app available that you can download to take advantage of those new features.

David Smith is a great and active developer. He’s fast at developing software and leverages launch day well. He learns about a key feature or API, comes up with a great app idea using it, and churns it out on launch day — it may not look the best then, but he gets those downloads straight from the start, then makes it much better with coming updates. Case in point? Pedometer++.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

I reviewed Ulysses for OS X for Yellow Signal, my site for app reviews and interviews.

You should read the whole review, but I’m really happy with the mini-interview toward the end of the review with Marcus Fehn, the co-founder of The Soulmen. He’s a really smart guy, and I liked his response about developing for iPad:

The platform restrictions are immense. Screen real estate is very limited, tap targets are huge, there are only a couple of obvious ways to allow interaction etc. For example, we have just submitted a new version which allows iPad users to collapse groups in the sidebar. This is a very basic, well-learned action on Mac: Click the disclosure triangle, done. On iPad, there is no established method to do this, so you need to create your own. And once you do, in come the follow-up problems: How do you manage move operations? How do you manage nested groups? How do you teach users about the options?

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Beautiful Pixels is one of my favorite sites to read — they review apps with great design, but they also have some great projects on the side, such as the recently launched The Platter.

They recently relaunched one of my favorite series, The Dialogue, in which they interview app designers and developers. They’re really good because they’re in-depth and you can tell how much work goes into the interview.

The first interview for the relaunched Dialogue is with Michael Simmons of Flexibits, who develop one of my favorite apps — Fantastical.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here.

Here’s a gem of advice for developers like me just starting out:

“Set your expectations properly. It is not just a gold mine. Even with many successful apps, I’m still very aware of how much work and effort, and to an extent, how much luck and timing is involved. It isn’t a ‘Get Rich Quick’ scheme, it is a lot of hard work.”

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

David Chartier, writing for his great site Finer Things in Tech:

This doesn’t feel right, and I’m uncomfortable with it. I get that ads on the web generally suck. I get that far too many sites use far too many invasive and maybe-some-should-be-illegal trackers. I get that performance is suffering across the board, and I’m glad we’re finally starting the long conversation to fix it all.

But as it stands, Safari content blockers and Apple News supporting ads in iOS 9 makes a bold, though morally tenuous statement to readers and publishers:

“Hey readers, the current web advertising landscape is terrible. Here, have an easy way to strip ads from websites and steal their content.”

This strategy is clever, but it does seem rather pushy — they may be ‘revolutionizing’ the web by allowing content-blockers on the App Store, but it seems a lot like they just want to push publishers toward Apple News.

Publishers should either get creative with ads or go all-in on News.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

All great iOS games eventually find their way to Android. Alto’s Adventure, a hit this year, is now coming to Android and Kindle Fire, in collaboration with Noodlecake Studios.

Here’s Ryan Cash, co-founder of Snowman, on the news:

A lot of people have been asking, and today we can finally confirm: Alto’s Adventure is coming soon to Android and Kindle Fire.

We’re teaming up with the awesome guys at Noodlecake Studios to make this happen. They’ve made a bunch of really cool games themselves, and have helped small indies bring their iOS games over to Android. We’re really excited to be working with them!

Friday, 21 August 2015

This is an amazing tool by a former Apple engineer. Watch the below video for a look at how it works. Stunning!