We need to compete in niches, where there isn’t enough opportunity to justify the attention of large corporate developers. Don’t try to create a new bookkeeping app – Intuit will eat you alive. Instead build a bookkeeping app that’s tailored specifically for veterinarians or, even more narrowly, for large animal veterinarians. Don’t build a general purpose word processor – Microsoft has that space all locked up. Instead, build a word processor that’s specialized for a particular field like academics or screenwriting. Each of these niches offer plenty of revenue opportunities for a single developer. The big players won’t be interested, though. After all, a niche with potential annual revenue of $250,000 might be an amazing opportunity for an indie, but for the big players, $250,000 won’t even cover their engineering costs.
As I often argue, small niches can actually be pretty big on the Internet. Or, at least, big enough to turn a profit.
This week Federico and Myke start off talking about coffee habits, before discussing the newly announced Final Fantasy mobile game, customisable 3DS Home screens, Nintendo's YouTube press tour and how games like Minecraft and No Man's Sky could be shaping the future of gaming.
This happened after we recorded Virtual today (look for some thoughts soon). You can get the episode here.
Dawn Chmielewski, writing at Re/Code, reports that Apple's Apps for RED campaign raised over $20 million to fight AIDS:
The technology giant partnered with software developers who sold apps or exclusive items and donated the proceeds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. The company also donated a portion of sales at its retail and online stores during two of the biggest shopping days of the year — Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Apple's campaign was a first for app downloads going to charity, and I'm glad that the company and developers involved managed to raise this amount for a good cause.
Last week, Apple released a holiday commercial called The Song that tells a beautiful and simple story where Apple software and devices aren't the main characters.
Today, Apple has posted a “behind the scenes” video that shows how the song was recorded with a voice-o-graph and ported to GarageBand.
There's a few things I like about these two videos. The ad is powerful, and it focuses on what you can do with technology rather than what technology is. That's a strong message, and it's carried out subtly and elegantly through the video.
And I like that the Making Of shows Dana Williams' real dock (with Spotify in it) and the BioShock Infinite vibe of the voice-o-graph. This is a good follow-up to last year's video.
New: Today widget. Now back with the addition of recent drafts summary. Thanks to the help of some fine folks inside Apple for sorting this out.
The original Drafts widget was removed from the app after an Apple rejection two weeks ago. As with PCalc and Transmit before, Apple reversed their decision and the widget is back – and it's even better than before.
The widget shows the total number of drafts in the app and it has buttons to create a new empty draft, a draft from the clipboard, and to open recent drafts, which is new. I wish Agile Tortoise didn't have to go through this process, but I'm glad the widget is back in Drafts before the holidays.
The following list was generated by a manual App Store (iPhone) search on Nov 15th, 2014 for the term “Twitter”. To make the list easier to parse, I’ve called out all apps that allow a user to directly read AND post to Twitter in bold. Everything else is either a game, a utility, or some other social network enhancement. The official app from Twitter is naturally the first result, but the next actual Twitter client (Hootsuite) doesn’t appear on the list until #20 and the next one after that comes in at #62. Even the mega-popular Tweetbot isn’t returned in the results until position #81 and even then, the older v2 of Tweetbot (for iOS 6) comes first. Where’s Twitterrific? Although it contains the word “Twitter” in the app’s name, Twitterrific isn’t seen in the list until you scroll all the way down to #100.
App Store search has historically been a black box. The problem isn't necessarily that it's getting worse – rather, it's that it doesn't appear to be getting better. Every day I search for something on the App Store and, inevitably, I come across unrelated social games, apps to boost your Twitter followers or Instagram likes, and clones of other apps instead of more accurate results.
Apple has plenty of room for improvement in App Store search; in the meantime, the upcoming app analytics should hopefully help developers understand how customers are finding (or not finding) their apps through search.
More recently, there’s been a trend with a similar goal (to increase the 140-character limit), but immensely better execution and flow: appending screenshots of text to tweets.
In the age of Tweetstorms, I thought I would grow to hate this as well. But I actually quite like it. One big reason: it maintains the flow of the tweet stream. That is, it’s one tweet with a payload, so it both flows in and out of the stream just as quickly as a regular tweet. And, more importantly, it can be retweeted (another one of those early Twitter “hacks” that has since become part of the official canon) and replied to without breaking context.
I've seen this as well, and it's becoming more frequent each week. Since the beginning of mobile Twitter clients, there's always been a desire from some users to be able to share longer tweets. Twitter never caved in to the pressure and maintained the historic character limitation of tweets, but, as MG notes, screenshots and tweetstorms are clever in that they “hack” the Twitter stream natively through replies and inline previews. An interesting consequence of changing the timeline from a simple list of tweets to something different.
But in-app browsers have some pretty massive downsides as well. They can’t access cookies stored by other in-app browsers, nor Safari, requiring the user to repeatedly log in to websites that they should already be authenticated with. iCloud Keychain is great for syncing credentials across devices, but while Safari has access to its data, in-app browsers don’t. This isn’t merely Apple being punitive – it’d be horribly negligent to give third-party applications access to this kind of information.
Essentially, developers would be able to implement a web view based on Safari that offers Safari features to other apps while also isolating code from third-party access. This would be good for security, for example, but also for consistency with extensions and iCloud features.
As I noted earlier this week, implementations of web views can be massively different from app to app. A native Safari view could offer more options than standard web views and secure user data from third-party apps (case in point). It could also provide a solution to this:
It’d be awesome if Apple decided to make iCloud Tabs accessible to other apps with an API in iOS 8.