Review of an interesting year

It’s that time of the year, when we look back and reflect on what happened during the last year. No politics or other related topics, but what we’ve learned, what has changed.

If we look at the apps we sell on the App Store (macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS), we’ve put a lot of effort in updating and rewriting the existing apps. Some apps were even completely rewritten from scratch. We always updated to the latest OS version, and none of the deprecated items where used.
I have to say that the guidelines from Apple have become stricter, and that some apps didn’t make it, not because they didn’t work, but because it interferes with the interpretation of an Apple policy. We may not agreed with it, and we may interpret it differently, but it’s a discussion we can’t win.
This year we also experimented a lot with new technologies. With new I mean new for us. This was for example using the new Touchbar in an app, or adding complex Core Data (database) and concurrency to an app, or testing new XML-parsers, or using more Core Animation in iOS apps…
We also extended our programming knowledge and we’re more productive than ever.

Our goal has always been, to have fun first, to create apps we love. After working with Apple’s tools for years now, we can quickly prototype and develop an app for iOS or watchOS. Our macOS apps tend to be more complex, and in general provide more functionality, which makes the investment in time a lot bigger.
It may sound strange with the “mobile first” mantra of most startups, but we will invest more in macOS next year than in iOS. With invest I mean the time we will spend on developing an app. Why? Aren’t there more iOS devices than Macs?
Sure, but most people make the wrong assumption. They state that you only need 1% of the iOS market to get rich. First, if you get 1% of the market, you can also get 5 or 10%, but you’ll probably will only get 0,000…001% of the market. Secondly, the prices for iOS app are low, so you’ll earn “some” money with iOS app if you don’t get a reasonable market share. Less than 5% of iOS developers can earn a living by selling iOS apps.
On the macOS side, there are less apps, less competition, and the prices of the apps are a lot higher. A nice complex app could cost between 10 and 25-30 USD. Nobody will complain if the app works as promised. Relatively seen, it’s easier to earn some money making a macOS app. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get rich quickly.

So focus on an app you like and love, and make the best app you can make.

Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Does it need explaining?

Last week we released a new version of (the) Concept Clock for iOS. In this version we added the ability to add custom backgrounds and custom colours for hours, minutes and seconds. We also added 2 new clocks (Rothko and Snake).
Concept Clock visualises time with changing colours, shapes… We realise that it’s sometimes not so obvious how the time is visualised, but we think that’s what it makes a (little) challenge to find out. But on request we’ll explain (most) of the clocks below.

Changing blocks: the height of the blocks become bigger as the hours, minutes, seconds increase.
Numbers and circles: the current number for hours, minutes, seconds are selected with the corresponding colours.
Rotating blocks: the blocks for hours, minutes, seconds rotate over an angle of 90 degrees. Straight up is 0 or 12 hours, 0 minutes… and 90 degrees is 11 hours, 59 minutes…
Gradient and rotating numbers: these don’t need an explanation.
One line clock: this shows the hours and minutes. Hours is shown as it would be in a normal clock. The minutes is like a progress bar inside the hours bar. 30 minutes is 50% progress…
Circle segments: a bit like a normal clock, but the center around which h,m,s rotate is different. Basically to have a nice visual effect.
Circles: instead of a line, circle paths are used to indicate the time.
Rothko: like a Rothko* painting. The hours and minutes texts move from left to right. 0 or 12 hours to the left of the color blocks; by the time it’s 11 or 23 hours the text has moved to the right of the color block. Same for minutes…
Snake: hours is shown as it would be in a normal clock. The rotation point of the minutes arm is always at the endpoint of the hours arm. The rotation point of the seconds arm is always at the endpoint of the minutes arm. This makes it like a strange snake…

Question: should we make this into a macOS screensaver?

*Mark Rothko

Guidelines

Bummer. Last week we told you we decided to make a cyou viewer for macOS, and we did, and it works great. And yes we submitted it to the Mac Store. There is only one small problem. Apple will not approve the App because they feel the implementation is not according to the iCloud Guidelines. The guidelines – which you don’t read until you have to – state that iCloud may not be used as a file transfer system. Of course saving documents on an iOS device, and switching to the mac and back while you are working on a document is not considered as file transfer, but more as synchronising… I understand what they mean, but the line is thin. The cyou viewer just gets the images stored in iCloud, and they see this as an App that mainly does file transfer.
Anyway, we’ll put this project on hold for now, and have a look at it some time in the future to figure out how to get around this. On the plus side, we implemented the touchBar and now know how to do that 😉
This weekend I’ll work on a Concept Clock update, hoping to have finished it in the beginning of next week. For the next week, there are some prove of concept tests planned, which have to provide some insight in how to implement some heavy multi-processing tasks in a Mac App we are working on.
Much to learn, many challenges… but that’s what we love.

Have a nice weekend.

 

Touch and see you

Over the last weeks we’ve been testing and fine-tuning the cyou (see you) app for iOS. Some technical decisions been made to simplify the iCloud setup and integration, but I’m not going to bore you with the details. Part of the decision was to add MacOS support by adding a MacOS cyou viewer app, so you can also see and record the images sent by all your iOS devices. The cyou iOS app will submitted this weekend; the MacOS cyou viewer will be free and available soon.

I suppose you’ve seen the Apple MacBook Pro announcements about a week ago. From a developer point of view, the TouchBar is a new toy to play with 😊 As we are developing the MacOS cyou viewer, we’ll gladly add the TouchBar functionality for rotation the displayed image for example… How useful this functionality is, or what features are best brought to the TouchBar, isn’t clear. As with all things, you’ll have to use it to get a good feel for it.
touchbar

I don’t know if this is enough reason to buy a new MacBook Pro, but I’m hoping and frankly was expecting Apple to introduce a new keyboard with a TouchBar. I suppose the existing USB connections on the iMac can’t support it…? Xcode developers can use the Touch Bar Window (as shown above) to see how the content of the Touch Bar changes when you switch to another application.

In the coming weeks we’ll complete the cyou viewer and update the concept clock with additional clocks, custom colors and custom backgrounds…
Have a nice weekend!

The new concept clock

icon_cc2Since last week the new concept clock is available in the App Store. The concept clock is one of the first apps we created for iPhone. At that time we were experimenting with cross-platform applications and new upcoming development environments. The original concept clock was made with  Appcelerator with it’s Titanium Javascript based development environment. The idea behind this, is to empower the Javascript (web) developers to make apps for iPhone, Android and more.
In itself this is a good idea, but with all these solutions there is always a compromise. In this case there is an Appcelerator layer between the native code and the Javascript code that makes the apps size bigger, but mostly slower than a 100% native app. To be honest, this isn’t a problem for a lot of apps, but if you are drawing something, this can become a problem.
The new concept clock is completely rewritten in Apple’s Xcode, and every element you see on screen – except for the background images – is drawn and therefore always in the highest possible resolution. This makes for extremely sharp images…
We added a few clocks in this version, and more clocks are coming soon. We will also allow you to add extra custom colors and extra custom backgrounds.

cyou-logo_2In the previous blog I said we are updating the cyou app. This is still ongoing, and almost completed. We are testing the iCloud upload and downloading of data, to make sure it keeps working all the time. As a sneak peak, you can see the new sober cyou icon here on the left. Hope you like it.

Unfortunately we had to spent some time to fix an issue with the calendar converter app. For some reason the tabbar in the app didn’t display correctly anymore in iOS 10. No errors, no items flagged by the debugging tools… This took more time to fix than expected. The fix is waiting for approval by Apple. This should be available during the upcoming week.

On Thursday Oct 27th, we’ll be watching the Apple announcements regarding new Macs… Maybe Christmas is coming soon 😉

Fixing bugs – Calendar Converter

CalConverter_Logo 2Hi everybody. There is a bug fix version for Calendar Converter on the way. Some people have problems with how the app is displaying under iOS 10, making it not useable. In the initial iOS tests we didn’t encounter this problem. Anyway, version 7.3.0 is submitted to the App Store.
It’s always hard to say how long it will take before Apple will review a submitted App.
In our experience, it’s between 2 and 7 days.
Sorry for any inconvenience this gives you…

Getting serious

Hi everybody. It’s been too long, I know. I’ll be blogging regularly from now on.
I’ll be talking about projects we are working on, about technology in general, and some personal thoughts and ideas. So get ready.

Today I’d like to talk about the Apple Store cleanup that Apple is pushing for. You may not know this, but Apple started re-review older apps in the App Store. The idea is that if apps haven’t been updated for some time, they don’t take advantage of the newer features, and they should be removed from the store. As a developer you get 1 month to update the app, otherwise it’s (visually) removed from the store.

In general, I don’t have any problem with this, but I hope it stops there. Before you know it Apple will require that we implement certain features, and that can’t be a good thing.
We know for example that 3D Touch is not really implemented by most developers. It’s definitely a nice feature, and can bring great functionality if done correctly, but it would be a mistake to force developers to implement it.
The good thing about the cleanup is that there will be less “bad” apps in the store, because a lot of apps are just try-outs for some developers.
But I have to admit, that we’ll also be updating apps, that we didn’t update for some time. We always found a good enough reason not to update these apps. Developers always want to work on new apps, which are a bigger challenge than rewriting an old app. In our case, we’ll rewrite the apps for iOS 10.
Our oldest app – concept clock – is being rewritten as we speak. I hope to finish it next week, and we’ll add additional clocks. Another app that’s on our list is – cyou – which will follow after concept clock.

I’ll give an update about concept clock in our next post. It’s my intention to blog every 2 weeks, so I hope this will give you some insight in what we are working on.
Do you have questions for us? Sent me a mail at geert@verticalhorizon-software.com

Have a nice weekend!
Geert