Posts tagged with "developers"

Developing for the M7

Conrad Stoll has an interesting article on developing for the M7 chip in the latest iOS devices and adapting an app to the motion information returned by the API:

I was already well into developing Runtime when the iPhone 5s was announced and we learned about the new M7 “motion co-processor” from Apple. There have already been a few good articles talking about what the M7 does and how we believe it works, but essentially from a developer’s perspective the M7 provides a great way to track a user’s steps and type of activity while they are moving. Instead of writing about what the M7 is or how it works, I wanted to write about what its like to use as a developer.


Video Trailers Debut On The App Store With ‘Clumsy Ninja’

Apple is featuring Clumsy Ninja, an iOS game that was first announced at the iPhone 5 keynote in 2012, with a custom page on the App Store that, alongside a description, features a 1-minute trailer for the game. The custom “Featured” page is live on the UK App Store at the moment and it features Clumsy Ninja as Editor’s Choice for the week; it’s likely that the game will also be featured on the US App Store and other international stores later today.

The big news is, of course, the fact that Apple is embedding a video in the App Store, which has historically only allowed developers to include up to five static screenshots for their apps. Clumsy Ninja’s video opens the built-in iOS media player in portrait mode, and it features music playing in the background with no voiceover or custom App Store branding. It is, effectively, a game trailer on the App Store; right now, it’s only available in the special Featured page for the app, as the app’s regular App Store page doesn’t show the trailer.

The possibility of including videos alongside screenshots on the App Store has long been one of the most requested features by third-party developers who, over the years, have struggled to explain App Store customers the purpose of their app or game with just text and images. With iOS 7′s focus on motion and animations, the lack of videos on the App Store was particularly surprising, and it led many to wonder as to whether Apple would soon add support for videos besides screenshots. When iOS 7 was first announced in June, even Apple produced a series of short videos for the OS’ official website, where they showcased the new features and design through animations and quick demonstrations of Messages and other apps.

It’s unclear at this point if Clumsy Ninja will remain an isolated case or become the norm for the App Store going forward. It’s also not clear whether any developer will be able to add a video for their app on the App Store, or if trailers will be limited to Editor’s Choice and managed by Apple’s curation team on a weekly basis. Developers have traditionally resorted to creating videos and screencasts of their apps for their websites or YouTube channels, and an integrated solution available in the App Store alongside screenshots, description, and buy buttons would be a fantastic addition to better illustrate an app’s feature set, flow, and user experience.

First iOS 7 Game Controllers Now Available

As reported by The Verge, the first third-party iOS 7 game controllers are going on sale this week, although with mixed reviews by the press. Namely, PowerA has released the MOGA Ace Power ($100) and Logitech announced the PowerShell (Controller + Battery, shipping in December in the United States, priced at $99).

Both controllers take advantage of Apple's new game controller API that was added in iOS 7, which allows hardware makers to create physical controllers that follow a specification provided by Apple, and that lets game developers easily add support for the controller framework once and expect their games to work with controllers by any company. However, Apple decided to make controllers optional in iOS 7 games (multi-touch is still required as primary input) and they didn't launch or highlight a specific section of controller-ready games in the App Store, which led me to wonder about the potential of game controllers in the future.

Polygon's Russ Frushtick tried the MOGA Ace Power, and he was not impressed:

It has a cheap, plastic feel and a rattle that makes it seem like the controller could shake apart at any moment. There's also no wireless support, which means that you can only use devices that fit inside the controller's expanding design (basically just newer iPod Touch and iPhones that support Apple's lightning connector will work). There is a battery pack in the controller, so you can use it to charge your phone in a pinch, but it's far from ideal for anything beyond that.

The MOGA Ace Power uses the “extended” controller option of Apple's framework, which has support for dual analog sticks and shoulder buttons + triggers. Apparently, Apple asked PowerA to make sure iPhones and iPod touches could sit in the middle of the controller.

In his hands-on post, TouchArcade's Eli Hodapp noted the potential of the MOGA Ace Power, its poor build quality, but also described the experience of playing first-person shooters on iOS:

Additionally, I've found myself actually enjoying playing first person shooters on my iPhone for the first time I can ever remember. All the frustration of having your thumbs all over the screen desperately trying to look and move while avoiding and/or hitting a plethora of virtual buttons just totally fades away. If you're a huge fan of iOS first person shooters, consider one of these controllers an absolute must-have accessory.

Alas, it sounds like most game developers haven't tested their games with the first iOS 7 controllers, resulting in interfaces that don't disappear when a controller is connected (virtual buttons and sticks) or control schemes that don't use all the provided buttons.

The Logitech PowerShell, on the other hand, uses the simple, SNES-like controller configuration with no dual analog sticks. SlashGear's Chris Davies tried the PowerShell, although I'm not sure this justifies its premium price tag:

As you might hope for a hundred-dollar controller, the keys are sturdy and firm, with just the right sort of response under your fingertip. If you’ve tried a recent Logitech pad for PC, they’ll be very familiar.

On the official website, Logitech has posted a list of games that are compatible with the PowerShell (and presumably any other controller as well) and a product page with additional information and photos.

Based on initial reviews, it sounds like it's too early to invest in an iOS 7 game controller: as expected, the first controllers work but they're not great, and, more importantly, you won't find many games with proper support for game controllers today. iOS 7 game controllers keep having enormous potential to enhance gaming on iOS; at the same time, though, we'll have to wait and see if physical controllers are what iOS really needed to go beyond freemium games, ports, spin-offs, and the occasional gem.


App Stagnation

Michael Lopp decided to move away from Things:

How can I trust that I’m using the state of the art in productivity systems when I’m using an application that took over two years to land sync I could easily use? What other innovations are they struggling to land in the application? Why hasn’t the artwork changed in forever? What is that smell? That smell is stagnation.

Daniel Jalkut responds:

He applauds the app for allowing him to do his work “frictionlessly.” How does a software developer achieve this level of performance? By first building a quality product and then working deliberately over months and years to address the minor issues that remain. Woodworking makes a reasonable analogy: after a chair has been carved and assembled the job is functionally complete. It’s a chair, you can sit in it. It’s done. But customers will gripe with good cause about its crudeness unless the hard work of detailing, sanding, and lacquering are carried out. Only then will it be considered finely crafted.

I've gone through a similar process several times in the past few years. Why change something that works? But, on the other hand, why avoid trying something that could be better?


Anatomy of a Product Video

This is part ten, the final in a series detailing the process of making a product marketing video for my app, Fin. I hope to inspire others to try and make these kinds of videos for their own products, as I think they are pretty essential for selling apps to customers. We may not all have the budget to hire a pro team to make super-awesome videos for us, but we can make something worthwhile if we put in some time and effort, and a little bit of cash.

Joe Cieplinski has published a series on creating a professional-looking promo videos for apps. Today, he concluded the series with Part 10, which includes all links to previous entries.

Joe's articles contain a lot of useful tips to create a videos using Apple tools like Motion and Final Cut Pro X. You can watch the video he made for his new app, Fin, here.


App Developers Can Now Generate 100 Promo Codes Per Release

I saw some reports in my Twitter timeline this morning, and it does indeed look like Apple updated iTunes Connect to allow app developers to generate 100 promo codes for each release. Previously, the limit was set to 50 codes per app release; for years, developers have been asking (among other things) to see an increase in the amount of promo codes they can use to gift their apps to members of the press, friends, or other users.

The news hasn’t been confirmed on Apple’s Developer News website yet, but screenshots of the new promo code count have been posted by various developers. Based on my tests in iTunes Connect, the limit for book publishers is still set to 50.



Justin Williams:

A few weeks ago I was trading war stories with Jared Sinclair of Riposte fame as we were inching towards the finish line for our respective new apps. In Jared’s case, he is working on a new RSS client for iOS 7 called Unread and was mentioning how his biggest hurdle remaining was integrating a variety of sharing services for the posts in a user’s RSS feeds.

Luck would have it that I had been working on a similar feature already for my new app, so we decided to collaborate on something that would hopefully eliminate the need for anyone to write the same sharing code over and over again. The initial release is a pretty substantial rewrite of my initial code-base speerheaded by Jared to account for more than just image-based sharing. It’s a fantastic piece of code that I’m truly proud to be associated with.

It's 2013 and we still have apps with archaic list-based sharing menus that were created in 2009 and barely updated for iOS 6. Developers, go check out the OvershareKit documentation on GitHub.