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Posts tagged with "developers"

Apple Prevents App Store Reviews From Users on iOS 9 Betas

Within the last 12 hours Apple has modified the App Store to prevent users running "prerelease" software from leaving app reviews on the App Store. Now when a user running a beta version of iOS 9 tries to leave an app review, they will get the following error message:

This feature isn't available.
You can't write reviews while using a pre-release version of iOS.

However it appears that the change only applies to iOS 9, because users running OS X El Capitan can still post reviews on the Mac App Store.

The change should help end the annual frustration experienced by app developers when users running beta versions of iOS discovered a third party app wasn't compatible with the beta software and then left a 1-star rating on the App Store. Poor reviews on the App Store can hurt sales, and developers often can't do anything to fix the problem because they can't submit software built for the new versions of iOS whilst it remains in beta, and the bug could be one for Apple to fix, not the developer.

As Federico wrote earlier this month:

In this day and age of high competition and over 1.5 million apps available, having negative reviews displayed on the app's product page is a problem for developers. But it gets worse when those negative reviews cite problems that developers can't fix yet. At that point, developers feel that it's not fair to receive a negative review for something that's completely out of their control. And when the livelihood of independent app markers is at stake, it's hard to argue aganst their sentiment of frustration and disappointment. There's nothing they can do to fix their app issues on betas of iOS and OS X and they can't respond directly to reviews on the App Store – and yet they're taking all the blame. This, every year, repeatedly for every beta of iOS and OS X, and it's possibly becoming more of a problem now that Apple has two public betas.

The problem of permitting app reviews from users on beta software was always a problem, but it risked being a much bigger issue this year because it is the first year that Apple has begun offering public betas of a major iOS release.

Dash 3: A Coder’s Best Friend

Dash 3

Dash 3

As a Mac and iOS developer, web designer, Unix lover and all around coder, Kapeli's Dash has become an indispensable part of my workflow. Version 3 of the reference tool was released recently, and it continues to be a tool I'd be lost without.

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On Negative App Store Reviews During Betas of iOS and OS X

Earlier this week, Apple released the first public betas of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, and, knowing that would be the case, I cautioned MacStories readers against leaving negative reviews on the App Store for third-party apps that developers can't update with new features and fixes yet.

It's worth pointing out that, at this stage, third-party apps from the App Store can't be updated to take advantage of the new features in iOS 9 and OS X 10.11, which could limit the potential benefit of trying a public beta for some users. On iPad, for instance, only Apple's pre-installed apps can use the new multitasking features in iOS 9. For this reason, users interested in installing the public betas should also keep in mind that developers can't submit apps and updates with iOS 9 and El Capitan features to the App Store – therefore, it'd be best not to leave negative reviews for features missing in apps that can't be updated to take advantage of them yet.

Unfortunately, since yesterday I've already seen tweets from the developers of two excellent iOS apps – Screens and Day One – post screenshots of negative reviews they've received by users who are unsurprisingly running into problems when using their apps on the iOS 9 beta.

What's even more unfortunate is that this happens annually for every single iOS and OS X developer seed, but I fear the problem will be exacerbated this year by the availability of public betas anyone can try. Therefore, this bears repeating.

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Apple’s Swift Course on GitHub

Cool finding by John Weatherford from a few days ago:

Apple has apparently, via some sort of collaboration with a university professor, published last week — during WWDC — a really solid-looking learn-to-code curriculum for Swift that is kind of on iTunes U but that is really on GitHub.

The GitHub page is available here. Between this and dropping the requirement for a paid developer membership to test apps on a device, it looks like Apple really wants as many people as possible to start using Swift.


Metal for OS X

I worried that “Metal” had become Apple's version of “Blast Processing,” a catch phrase in the 90s for the Sega Genesis. In commercials, Sega would gloat that only the Genesis had “Blast processing.” The only problem was, Blast Processing didn't really do anything that mattered.

But it turns out, I was wrong.

Metal for OS X is huge — and it's going to be a much bigger deal on the Mac than it is on your iPhone or iPad. If you use a Mac to produce professional content, chances are, Metal is about to drastically speed up the professional apps you use like Adobe Illustrator and Autodesk Maya.

Writing for iMore, Brianna Wu explains why Metal for OS X – announced at WWDC 2015 – will be a big deal for games and professional apps on the Mac. It was great to see Campo Santo in Apple's slides, too.


TestFlight, One Year Later

Nick Arnott has taken a look at TestFlight a year after its relaunch and I agree with his overall take. I write about apps for a living (I currently have 74 betas in my TestFlight), and the simplicity of Apple's system is unparalleled. I just need to give developers my email and that's it.

I also agree with Nick's comments on frustrations with using TestFlight. I hope that Apple will continue tweaking these aspects going forward.

I've experienced a few minor frustrations with as a user though. For example, I can't accept an invitation from my computer — I have to accept an invitation from the device I want to test on. Also, TestFlight emails don't contain any release notes. With other services like HockeyApp, developer release notes are included in the email, so you can decide from the email if you care about the update or not. Lack of these release notes from TestFlight means you'll have to tap through to the app and view on your testing device to see if you want the update or not.


Inclusive Toolkit: Tools for iOS & OS X App Accessibility

Sally Shepard has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Inclusive Toolkit, a set of tools to help developers make iOS & OS X apps inclusive and accessible.

From the project's page:

The common difficulties around implementing inclusive concepts in apps are a lack of resources, knowledge and empathy. All of Apple’s products have features that enable inclusivity, and they make a huge difference to people’s lives. Anyone developing for their platforms has access to the APIs to make their app equally accessible.

So how can we fix this?

From a user point of view, I want the Inclusive Toolkit to help solve two problems: unusable elements and poor experiences. And from a developer/designer/QA point of view, I want it to speed up development and testing time, as well as build empathy. It’s great if you work in a company that already has specific resources and knowledge about accessibility—but for many developers, that isn’t the case. I want to provide ways of making it part of the development process instead of something tacked on at the end.

Make sure to check out Sally's ideas for the Inclusive Toolkit, such as 'Visual Voiceover' and ways to simulate impairments in the app testing process. Too many developers still ignore inclusive design and features in their apps, and anything that could help them simplify implementing these frameworks is, I believe, welcome and necessary.


Apple Rolls Out App Analytics

Almost a year after the original announcement at WWDC 2014, Apple has opened access to App Analytics in iTunes Connect today.

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:

Ahead of its annual WWDC developer conference in June, Apple has opened up beta access to a new mobile app analytics service aimed at iOS developers. Simply called “Apple’s App Analytics,” an announcement inviting developers to request early access to the service appeared today on the iTunes Connect developer portal. Those with an iTunes Connect account can also reach the sign-up page using the direct link

App Analytics are available for devices running iOS 8 and above, and the usage data part is completely opt-in. Every time you set up a new iOS device (or upgrade to iOS 8), you're asked if you want to share information with app developers to improve their apps through analytics. Other App Store metrics (views, installs, etc.) are returned for all users.

Based on the tweets I saw in my timeline today, first impressions seem positive. Apple can now give developers a level of insight that's unprecedented for any other app analytic platform. Apple's App Analytics can plug directly into the App Store and tell developers how customers find their apps, where traffic is coming from, and how many views an app gets on the Store.

After years of no data about customer behavior on the App Store, it seems like this will be a massive change for how apps are marketed, optimized for international App Stores, and presented to users.