Posts in Linked

The Effect of an App Store Feature

So, with almost 2500 downloads you are no. 128, and just 2k more gets you to no. 4. Wow. When you look at this, it’s not really that much top-heavy as I thought. It seems that with decent media exposure you can get pretty consistent number of downloads and chart ranking.

Aleksandar Vacić's new app, Run 5k, was featured by Apple, and he posted detailed numbers about the effect of Apple's feature. It's easy to guess that an Apple promotion on the front page of the App Store may help with downloads, but Aleksandar has actual numbers, and it's interesting to look at his graphs to observe the effect over time.


Virtual: Leaking Battery Acid

This week Federico and Myke discuss a scientific study of Mario Galaxy, the merits and disadvantages of crowd-funded games, a GameBoy HDMI extension, tales of recent local multiplayer experiences and they talk about the iOS games they've been playing this week.

And if you're looking for more podcasts for this holiday weekend, you can't go wrong with the latest Virtual. Plenty of games and gaming-related links while we're waiting for this month's releases on the 3DS and Wii U. Get the episode here.

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Connected: Poster Child for Power Apps

This week, the boys are back to discuss Federico’s use of a remote Mac mini for weird tasks and Stephen’s new Pebble before debating Twitter’s new App Graph.

On this week's Connected, we had an interesting discussion about the Twitter app for iOS (which I use) and the relationship that other iOS users have with third-party Twitter clients. Don't miss it, because I think it's a good one. Get the episode here.

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Pocket’s Data on iPhone and iPad Usage

Fascinating data analysis from Pocket:

To understand how the 6 Plus affects consumption, we first looked at users who owned both an iPhone 5/5S and iPad and looked at how they spent their time reading on both devices. For these users, 55% of content was consumed on an iPhone versus 45% on an iPad. A fairly even split.

All this changed once users had the new iPhones in hand.

I bet that the trends Pocket uncovered could be applied to dozens of other media consumption services with iPhone and iPad apps.

The truth is that bigger phones are big enough for many people who still don't understand why they need an iPad. Or maybe they did get an iPad, but now they're discovering that reading and watching videos can be done on an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus just as comfortably and with no compromises.

I think that, for the most part, this is an unavoidable consequence of putting a bigger screen on a device that you carry with you all the time. But, almost five years after the iPad was launched, Apple and third-party developers still tend to come out with iPad apps that are enlarged versions of their iPhone counterparts. I wonder if the lack of widespread unique iPad software is also the reason why people may be using the iPad less.


Spotify: Friend Or Foe?

Spotify knows what time of day users listen to certain songs, and in many cases their location, so programmers can infer what they are probably doing—studying, exercising, driving to work. Brian Whitman, an Echo Nest co-founder, told me that programmers also hope to learn more about listeners by factoring in data such as “what the weather is like, what your relationship status is now on Facebook.” (In 2011, Facebook entered into a partnership with Spotify.) He added, “We’ve cracked the nut as far as knowing as much about the music as we possibly can automatically, and we see the next frontier as knowing as much as we possibly can about the listener.”

John Seabrook's article on Spotify for The New Yorker is a good one. A lot of interesting details about the company's CEO, Daniel Ek, and the way they make deals with labels.

I remember trying Spotify many years ago with a fake UK account and telling my girlfriend that it was incredible and the future of music was going to be streaming. In the years I've spent jumping between music streaming services, I've kept an eye on Spotify and their marketing efforts, which the article doesn't mention (all my friends in Italy know what Spotify is; my mom uses it).

I've recently started using Spotify again as my main streaming service because of its solid iPad app and new Family accounts. I am, however, excited to see what Apple does with Beats Music. I don't know if the entire music industry will embrace streaming eventually, but the future is definitely interesting.


#Homescreen by betaworks

Interesting new app experiment by betaworks: #Homescreen gets the latest screenshot from your library and, assuming that's a Home screen image, it shares it at a public URL and even recognizes apps in it. You can then tap on app icons to view their description, or you can go to the website's homepage to view other people's Home screens and view the Top Apps found in #Homescreen screenshots.

Home Screens are the most popular section of our MacStories Weekly newsletter, and I'm constantly asked by readers to share my Home screen and show them which apps I'm using. People love to look at Home screens to discover apps, and it makes sense for betaworks – a company that's highly invested in analytics to improve their products – to come up with something like this.

Via TechCrunch, here's the blog post about Betaworks' Home screen research with some fascinating data about Twitter apps:

Twitter related apps are on 85.5 percent of homescreens. Given that the sample was based on Twitter users there’s sample bias to the Twitter number, but despite that there are some interesting conclusions to draw out of the data. Seventy-nine percent have one Twitter app on their homescreen, 6.5 percent have 2 or more and 14 percent have none — presumably these users use Twitter via the browser or an app not on the homescreen. Vine is on 12 percent of people’s homescreens, which is impressive. But Twitter’s client app is only on 37% of homescreens and third-party clients are on a whopping 55 percent of devices, with one client, Tweetbot, making up a full 49.5 percent of the sampled homescreens. It’s remarkable that a non-Twitter owned client has more market share than Twitter’s client. It’s a byproduct of the early adopter sample bias, but I think it points to the fact these users — myself included — prefer using a different, and more advanced, workflow for Twitter.


Winding Down Tweet Library and Watermark

Manton Reece on ending development for Tweet Library and Watermark:

Last week, Twitter announced that they’ve expanded their search index to include the full history of tweets going back to 2006. I was thrilled by this upgrade to the Twitter service. That the search was so limited for so long was the primary reason I built Tweet Library and Watermark to begin with. Unfortunately, this functionality is only for the official Twitter apps. It will not be made available to third-party developers.

It’s time for me to wind down development on my Twitter-related apps. I’ll continue to sell Tweet Library through the end of 2014, then remove it from the App Store. Watermark will also shut down at that time. Because all the tweets stored in Watermark are public tweets (by design it never supported DMs or protected accounts), I will attempt to make the entire Watermark database archive of millions of tweets available publicly. Existing customers can also sync tweets and collections to Dropbox for personal archiving.

Tweet Library was a great way to browse the Twitter archive on iOS, but the new Twitter search makes it less important. It's good to see that Manton is planning to preserve the archives, though.


Virtual: I Love the Noise That the Chicken Makes

This week Federico and Myke talk about the upcoming Majora's Mask remake, Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, Fantasy Life, Monument Valley, Sunset Overdrive, Shovel Knight, Crossy Road and Vain Glory.

We talked about a lot of games this week, but expect even more in the next few weeks between Super Smash Wii U, amiibo, and Pokémon ORAS. Get the episode here.

Side note: The original Nintendo DS came out 10 years ago today. To celebrate, you can read this beautiful post at TinyCartridge and go listen to the Nintendo DS keynote retrospective we did when the show was called Directional.

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More on WatchKit

Following the release of WatchKit earlier this week, I've been reading through the documentation and listened to what developers had to say about it. Here's my original roundup of links and tweets. Below, other interesting reads from around the web.

Serenity Caldwell has an excellent overview of Apple's announcements at iMore:

Tapping and swiping continue to be the primary way of interacting with all iOS apps, Apple Watch included. The watch has a few new swipe gestures, including a left edge swipe (to return to the previous screen) and a swipe up from the bottom (which activates Glances). Pinch-to-zoom and other multi-finger gestures don't exist on the Apple Watch; instead, you're presumably expected to use the device's Digital Crown to zoom in and out. There's also Force Touch, a long-press action that activates the menu or important contextual buttons within an app.

John Gruber compares WatchKit to the iPhone in 2007:

In a sense, this is like 2007 all over again. The native APIs almost certainly aren’t finished, and battery life is a huge concern. But with the Watch, Apple is ahead of where they were with the iPhone.

MG Siegler notes that the Apple Watch will be highly dependent on the iPhone:

To that end, the Apple Watch is more of a “widget watch” — that is, it displays content which are less like apps and more like the widgets found in the notifications drop-down on iOS devices. (And yes, they require iPhone apps as a base.) And that shows the importance of iOS 8, which first introduced these widgets to third-party developers. For the first couple months of iOS 8, these widgets were pretty clunky. It’s only now that developers are starting to smooth out the kinks and make these widgets more useful and performant. And this will clearly be key for the Apple Watch as well.

Craig Hockenberry posted a technical overview of the new developer technologies in WatchKit with plenty of good advice:

Once you have the PDF to give you an idea of the physical size, you can then start to see how your design works at that scale. Thibaut has already made the world’s ugliest watch and it’s doing important information design work. Here it is showing a simulated scroll view and exploring glance interactions.

These physical interactions with your designs are incredibly important at this point. Wondering why the scroll indicator only appears in the upper-right corner while you scroll your view? I was until I realized that’s where the digital crown is physically located.

In his thoughts on WatchKit, Nick Heer takes a look at the new Apple font, San Francisco:

San Francisco Text — that’s the one for smaller text sizess — has similar metrics to Helvetica Neue. Not the same, but if you squint a little, kind of close enough, and closer still to the metrics of Lucida Grande. Perhaps this is eventually the new UI font for all Apple interfaces. It certainly would be more of a distinct signature face than Helvetica, and it would be more legible, too.

And last, some early mockups of third-party Apple Watch apps.