This week's sponsor

Earnest take control of your student loans.

Posts tagged with "developers"

Watch WWDC Sessions and Tech Talks Videos on Apple TV

Following yesterday's release of the Apple TV Tech Talks videos, I came across this project by Aaron Stephenson that lets you watch WWDC sessions and Tech Talks on the Apple TV itself. You'll need Xcode to install it, but, if you're a developer, it's a good way to watch videos on the big screen and take notes/try code on a Mac – WWDC sessions go back to 2011 and you can mark videos as favorites, too.


Apple Posts Apple TV Tech Talks Videos


Over the past few months, developers around the world learned how to design and develop apps and games for Apple TV directly from Apple experts. Now you can share in the experience by watching all the session videos from the Apple TV Tech Talks.

Good starting point for developers who are considering tvOS apps, and useful for
those who have already launched TV apps, too. You can watch the videos here.


Make Money Outside the Mac App Store

Developer Christian Tietze has published an excellent book titled Make Money Outside the Mac App Store. It focuses on the FastSpring payment and storefront service. If you're a developer looking at using FastSpring to avoid the hassles and 30% cut of selling through the MAS (or are already using FastSpring and want to implement more advanced features), this is a great guide covering implementation, piracy protection, and more.


Piezo Exits the Mac App Store

Rogue Amoeba's Paul Kafasis, writing on the latest version of their audio recording app, Piezo, and their decision to exit the Mac App Store:

A major reason for the initial creation of Piezo was our desire to allow recording from other applications on the Mac within the limits of what Apple’s Mac App Store rules allowed. We were pleased to provide audio capture to customers of the Mac App Store, and for a time, things worked just fine. However, Apple eventually changed the rules, requiring that all applications distributed through the Mac App Store be sandboxed. This was a problem. Piezo’s need to capture audio from other applications precludes the possibility of it being sandboxed. This new requirement effectively stopped our ability to upgrade Piezo in any meaningful way.


We’d like to provide customers with the option of buying Piezo through the Mac App Store, but it’s more important to us that we provide a quality product with full functionality. In the case of Piezo, that now means exclusively distributing the application via our site. Users have always had the option of downloading and buying Piezo direct, so this didn’t involve much in the way of additional work. The biggest issue was simply choosing to remove Piezo from the Mac App Store. Ultimately, we feel the decision was made for us by both technical and bureaucratic factors outside of our control.

It says a lot about the Mac App Store that, whenever another app exits it, our reaction isn't "why" but "of course".


The Verge: ‘The Age of Indie Fitness Apps Is Over’

A sad but true post by Lauren Goode at The Verge:

What do Endomondo, MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, Runtastic, FitStar, and RunKeeper all have in common?

Aside from all being smartphone apps that track your health and activity, all of these apps have been acquired by bigger companies — bigger brands — over the past couple of years, the latest being RunKeeper, which was just bought by running shoe maker Asics. Endomondo, MyFitnessPal, and MapMyFitness went to Under Armour. Runtastic was acquired by Adidas. FitStar was bought by Fitbit, which at the time wasn’t yet a public company, but in its own right has swelled to become the market leader for activity trackers.

Large companies operating at scale with free services and lots of users who don't bother to pay for extras? It's photo management, all over again.

If history does repeat itself, we'll continue to see, as Goode argues, consolidation of independent services being acquired by bigger brands. The good news: smaller, more focused health and fitness utilities seem to have a profitable niche in which they can thrive, while still retaining the ability to save data into HealthKit. I appreciate how Apple's Health puts everyone on the same playing field – from brands to solo developers (the real indies in this case) like David Smith.

At which point, though, do we expect Apple and Google to make their own all-encompassing fitness and meal tracking apps for smartphones? Apple may be pushing the Watch as their premier fitness device, but they know how much people use their phones for these tasks, and a future Sherlocking wouldn't surprise me at all. Just like it happened with photos.


tvOS 9.2 to Bring Support for Dictation

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors on the the third beta of tvOS 9.2 seeded to developers earlier today:

There's now support for onscreen text entry via dictation in countries where Siri is available. When updating to tvOS 9.2 beta 3, users will be prompted to enable or disable dictation. With dictation, Apple TV users can dictate text and spell user names and passwords rather than typing them. With dictation enabled, the tvOS search bar alternates between a blank search field and an option to hold the Siri button to dictate text.

Feels like another feature that should have been there since tvOS debuted. Maybe the ability to actually link to tvOS apps will be next.


CloudKit Gets Server API

A notable addition to CloudKit announced by Apple today – an API for server-to-server requests:

In addition to providing a web interface for users to access the same data as your app, you can now easily read and write to the CloudKit public database from a server-side process or script with a server-to-server key.

Benjamin Mayo explains what this means in practice:

Until now, interaction with CloudKit has been limited to the APIs Apple provided in apps. Although this was useful, it lacked the options for more advanced use — most modern apps rely on servers to perform tasks whilst users are away. With the addition of the web API, developers can create many more types of applications using CloudKit as the backend. For instance, an RSS reader app can now add new feed items to the CloudKit stack from the server. Before, this action could only occur when a user opened a CloudKit-powered app, which was essentially impractical and meant developers had to use other tools.

Somewhat coincidentally, the announcement follows the news of Facebook shutting down Parse, the popular backend-as-a-service tool for developers. I've tried a few CloudKit apps over the past year that would have benefitted from a web counterpart checking for changes in the background – hopefully this change will enable more functionality for those types of apps. A feed reader built entirely off CloudKit with timely updates would be interesting.


Activist Engineering

Matthew Bischoff:

You’ve been there. You’re sitting in a meeting and your boss, a product manager, or an executive is talking about Q2 goals. They’re laying out a roadmap of the features that are going to be “coming down the pike”. All of a sudden you see it. An innocuous bullet that makes your blood boil: “Auto-invite friends”, “Re-engagement notifications”, or “Disable ATS”.

The particular feature isn’t important. What matters is that you’re the engineer that’s noticed this capital-B Bad Idea. You know why it’s a problem. This time it’s not just the technical debt or the time it’d take to implement. This idea is bad because it trades a worse product for a better “business”: revenue, eyeballs, impressions, you know the drill.

You have a choice in this moment.


Facebook to Shut Down Parse

Mike Isaac and Quentin Hardy, reporting for The New York Times:

Facebook acquired Parse, a toolkit and support system for mobile developers, in 2013. At the time, the social network’s ambitions were high: Parse would be Facebook’s way into one day harnessing developers to become a true cloud business, competing alongside the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Those ambitions, it seems, have fallen back to earth. On Thursday, Facebook said it plans to shut down Parse, the services platform for which it paid upwards of a reported $85 million.

And from the announcement on the Parse blog:

We understand that this won’t be an easy transition, and we’re working hard to make this process as easy as possible. We are committed to maintaining the backend service during the sunset period, and are providing several tools to help migrate applications to other services.

Parse provided a series of online backend tools for app developers, and this will certainly be a hassle for those who implemented Parse services in their iOS apps. Not to mention apps that were built on top of Parse and then abandoned – while those apps may still be working on modern versions of iOS thanks to backwards API compatibility, they will stop working once Parse – the online component – shuts down for good.

Below, I've compiled a list of some reactions from the developer community to the Parse announcement. See also: Connected #13 from November 2014 on App Store preservation.

Read more