Today, Facebook spent $2 billion and open-sourced a library for iOS developers.

Tweaks, available on GitHub, provides an interface for developers to make minor adjustments and tweak parameters of an app directly inside the app, in a few seconds. Those changes can be the color of a button or the speed of an animation, and Facebook says that Tweaks helped them build Paper, the highly praised alternative Facebook app.

Here's TechCrunch's Greg Kumparak on Tweaks:

For developers, it means being able to fine-tune applications faster and with less code. As an added bonus, it lets any of their designers who might not love to code help figure out the best settings without having to pop into the source or pester the dev team for a million new builds.

And Facebook, on the project's page:

Occasionally, it's perfect the first try. Sometimes, the idea doesn't work at all. But often, it just needs a few minor adjustments. That last case is where Tweaks fits in. Tweaks makes those small adjustments easy: with no code changes and no computer, you can try out different options and decide which works best.

Some of the most useful parameters to adjust are animation timings, velocity thresholds, colors, and physics constants. At Facebook, we also use tweaks to temporarily disable new features during development. That way, the designers and engineers involved can enable it on just their devices, without getting in the way of others testing the app.

Tweaks looks like a handy solution for developers, designers, and, to an extent, even testers of apps. It's available here.

Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch highlights a new beta distribution tool from Crashlytics, which was acquired by Twitter last year.

The new distribution tool is cross-platform — meaning that it works on both Android and iOS. That puts it on rough parity with Hockey, the other major player in the beta distribution space, though Hockey also supports Windows Phone.

The new tool comes out of Crashlytics Labs, the experimental arm of the crash-reporting and analytics firm. It’s been in private beta for a bit but is now expanding into public beta …

Crashlytics has their own blog post about the new venture here, where you can sign up to try their new tool.

Swedish indie development studio Image & Form has released games for iOS, Nintendo devices, and Steam; next month, they will release Steamworld Dig for PS Vita and PlayStation 4. CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson spoke to Edge about the differences between digital storefronts, suggesting that Apple could do a better job at selecting and working with indies:

The developer’s experience with Apple – or rather, the lack of it – suggests that the App Store’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. “So many games are coming out every day and the largely DIY submission procedures are so effective that it’s impossible for Apple to keep up personal relations,” says Sigurgeirsson. “A year and a half after having released a Game of the Week I met my first Apple representative in person, and many developers probably couldn’t tell you who ‘their’ person is. The ‘right’ Apple e-mail addresses used to be hard currency, real bargaining chips.”

In throwing its doors open and welcoming all comers, Apple has made it easy for developers to release a game, certainly, but perhaps it’s too easy right now. Sigurgeirsson would like to see Apple raise the entry level to the App Store – “make it a tiny bit harder to become a licensed developer, so that the average quality of the games goes up,” he says.

Fleksy is an alternative keyboard for iOS that I first tested when Launch Center Pro, an initial partner, implemented it a few months ago. Within the limitations of iOS, Fleksy provides a different typing experience that can be faster than Apple's default keyboard.

Today, Fleksy has opened up their SDK for any iOS developer to implement in their apps. The public SDK allows apps to feature colorful keyboards (there are themes) and a button in the Copy & Paste menu to quickly switch to the Fleksy keyboard. These system replacements are much more useful on Android because they can be activated anywhere in the OS, and it'll be interesting to see how many iOS apps will add support for Fleksy as a user option.

Check out the Fleksy SDK here.

Choosing the right pricing strategy for any new app is hard, but if you choose the wrong pricing model, it can cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue. In this article I'm going to cover the three main revenue models on the App Store and explain how to make sure you pick the one that's right for your app.

Good post by Realmac's Dan Counsell about the three modern realities of the app business. This is the first time I see the term “paymium”, and it's true that a few apps in the Productivity and Business categories of the App Store have been trying that model.

See also: Contrast's David Barnard on shaping the App Store economy.

Marco Arment:

I’m starting the Overcast beta soon, and I wanted an easy way for my testers to report (non-crash) bugs and provide UI feedback. I also wanted a way to remind myself of UI or feature ideas easily, and I’ve occasionally needed to view the error console on the device when tracking down difficult bugs.

BugshotKit addresses all of these: it’s an embeddable Bugshot annotation interface and console logger, invoked anywhere in your app by an otherwise unused gesture (e.g. a two-finger swipe up, a three-finger double-tap, pulling out from the right screen edge, etc.), that lets you or your testers quickly email you with helpful details, screenshots, and diagnostic information.

I've tried BugshotKit in an app I'm testing, and it's a fantastic idea: screenshot annotations and logging are available in a single screen that doesn't require you to switch between apps, save screenshots, copy logs, and put everything together in Mail. If you're a developer and you're building an app, consider implementing BugshotKit to have happier, more efficient beta testers.


header-imageIf you are active in the Apple developer community, you are probably already familiar with PaintCode. It is a unique Mac app capable of turning your vector graphic design into pure Objective-C code. PaintCode is a professional quality app and the price tag is a reflection of that fact. The normal selling price of $99.99 (currently $19.99 via MacHeist) is a big pill to swallow for the average user but for a professional iOS/OS X developer it is merely a business investment. However, it is up to you to get your money’s worth out of the app.

PaintCode is full of tools that blend together the look and feel of traditional vector drawing apps while including customizable fields you would more commonly see in Apple’s Interface Builder. It supports numerous object shapes and custom bezier paths, as well as detailed color options including linear and radial gradients. The app is versatile and the uses are limited only by your imagination.

I thought the best way to give you an overview of PaintCode would be to come up with a sample project that I could walk you through. So I decided to make a menubar icon for a non-existent app. This app lets you drag files to the menubar icon to delete them, thus the icon needs to be a little trash can. (more…)

Justin Williams on the new version of Elements for iOS 7 and the “Customization Pack” he introduced as an In-App Purchase:

I’m approaching this how you typically buy a car.

When you walk into a dealership, you may know that you want to buy a Ford Focus, but there’s not just a single Ford Focus. There’s the base model the lowest possible price, but you can enhance the car with additional add-ons and upgrades to make it the car you want. That’s how I am approaching traditional software for the forseeable future.

That's an interesting way to put it, and I think that we'll see several developers adopting (or switching to) this strategy in 2014.

Marco Arment:

I recently wrote that I wouldn’t use auto-renewable subscriptions again after extensive experience with both non-renewing in Instapaper and auto-renewing in The Magazine. A lot of developers have asked me to elaborate, especially as Apple has gradually allowed some apps to use them outside of Newsstand.

As a user, I can only agree with Marco’s take. I’ve only signed up to 3 or 4 reneweable subscriptions on iOS over the years, and every time I wanted to access the management screen (which is tucked away in the Settings) I found it incredibly slow and hard to use. The entire Apple ID panel (Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID) has poor navigation and is slow and unchanged from iOS 6. I’ve always ended up canceling iOS subscriptions and subscribing through the web (whenever possible).

The solution that Marco proposes at the end is a good compromise, but Apple should really improve many aspects of this – both for developers and users.