Apple App Store has more than 300,000 apps

December 17, 2010

On one of my first few posts, I mentioned that App Store just surpassed 100,000 apps. As reported in GigaOm today, App of the Day recently reported that the number is more than 300,000 (as of 12/7/2010). It has breakdown of free vs. paid and distribution by number of apps and pricing.

AT&T Double/Triple Dipping on Data on 3G Microcell

June 19, 2010

Femtocells are such a good idea. How come the adoption isn’t higher? I think the greedy phone companies are killing the product with their pricing plan.

Most of us already have broadband at home which we are paying $30-$80/month for that connection. We can layer other services  on top of the services we have already paid for. Femtocells bridges cellular voice traffic from your cellphone to your broadband network. This frees up the cellular carrier’s bandwidth or provide coverage where the normal cell towers cannot reach.

AT&T’s femtocell product (a.k.a. 3G Microcell) costs you $150 (and in some strange cases they won’t even sell one to you). You hook it up to your broadband network connection. When you use your cell phone near your 3G Microcell, the data network usage is counted against your allotment of limited data plan.

Am I Sexy or What?

April 21, 2010

What a messy little situation between Phones 4U, their PR Agency, and TechCrunch.  It’s pretty funny.  This hoopla is about a press release curiously titled “Men With iPhones Are More Atractive to Women” as reported by TechCrunch.

It’s a pretty interesting story and even Apple is involved somewhere along the lines.  I don’t see why Apple would be unhappy that more men now want to have an iPhone because it makes them sexier. The PR people and Phones 4U disavow of any knowledge or approval of conducting the research or issuing the press release. Is this just marketing? In the world of PR, there’s no such thing as bad PR.

I’ve been carrying my Android phone instead of my iPhone recently. Did I just unknowingly downgraded my sex appeal? 😉

MobileOrchard Voting With Its Feet

April 16, 2010

Following the bomb that Apple dropped with the latest changes in Developer Agreement, Mobile Orchard bades goodbye to its readers.

I share some of Dan’s point of views, such as “fine with Apple curating the App Store. If they want to treat the App Store as an extension of their brand” although I won’t go as far as abandoning development of iPhone/iPad products.  That being said, I’d think twice about how and what type of applications I will develop for iPhones.

Analytics. NAnalytics. Where Are the Alternatives?

April 12, 2010

I just picked up this article about the updated iPhone Developer Agreement indirectly through a friend’s posting on Facebook. Reading through the details and I all but fainted.  The reason why iPhone apps have been improving is that creative and diligent application developers have the tools to fine tune their iPhone applications through anonymous usage analysis, just like a webmaster can use web analytics such as Google Analytics to measure sure and figure out where users are lost or what parts of the application is not used often enough to warrant further development (or need a UI overhaul to expose that certain infrequently used functionality). I used Flurry in many of my apps and have examined the other platforms such as Mobclix, AdMob, and Motally, and found their service indispensable.

With this Developer Agreement update, at the very least, future updates to my applications will no longer be allowed to link to these analytics package. I don’t know if Apple will go so far as pulling the apps that are currently in the store. So, what’s a developer to do? Is Apple telling us developers to not worry about user experience? By making it “illegal” to use an analytics package, Apple is effectively saying that.

If Apple wants to protect the consumers’ right to privacy, I wouldn’t mind if Apple has an “approval” process for these third-party analytics vendors to “certify” their libraries because I, the developer, can link with the Apple-approved third-party analytics libraries and submit my apps. This is a burden on these analytics companies, at least it presents a path to preserve this functionality. May be Apple wants the analytics business on the iPhone for itself and wants to put these startup out of business by legislating their ability to exist.

There are other changes in the Developer Agreement about how GPS data can be used. If your application uses GPS data, please read the Developer Agreement.

The Dynamics of Transitions

April 4, 2010

User interface is not just what the screen (or windows on your desktop display) looks statically, it’s about the transition effects. Transitions are more than just eye-candy, but a way to communicate to users the deeper meaning of a user interface gesture as simple as tapping a button or an icon.

Here’s a nice short article by Suzanne Ginsburg on different transition effects available on the iPhone.

Talking about transitions 🙂 You might have noticed that I have not blogged for a while. I started on a new job about 2 months ago and is in the transition phase. I will continue to blog about iPhone development, coding tips, tools, and mobile applications in general. Check my About Me for more details.

Dealing with a Rattling HD in my MacBook

December 31, 2009

Ever since I upgraded the hard drive in my MacBook from the 80GB that came with it to a more reasonably sized 320GB drive, I have this occasional rattling sound that resembles an airplane taking off.  It happens more often during intensive disk activities, e.g. backups, compilations, etc.  It’s  annoying and sounds scary even if it really isn’t a problem.  Initially, I thought the new (Hitachi) hard drive is about to fail and so I bought a different brand (Seagate) and replaced it.  The problem persists.

Finally, in this last day of 2009, I decided to address the problem once and for all.  I opened it up and found that the rubber hard drive “shock absorber” is dislocated. More on the analysis later. It appears that the only solution is to disassemble the keyboard/trackpad cover to gain full access to the hard drive bay and glue the shock absorber back into its proper place.  I followed the disassemble instructions at ifixit.com and proceeded with caution. This is a picture of the location of the rubber shock absorber.

hard drive shock absorbers

After some visual inspection before putting the hard drive back, my conclusion is that the rubber shock absorber was dislocated because I did not completely tighten up the four screws that hold the new hard drive to the metal carriage.  The extra millimeter from the protruding screws was enough to push the shock absorber inward causing the dislocation. I hope that the crazy airplane take-off noise won’t return to greet me in 2010 or else I will spring for a SSD drive that does not have moving parts.

However, the lesson learned and makes a good resolution for 2010 is to do everything right the first time. Cutting corner now just means that you have to fix it later. Happy New Year!

Ad Hoc Test Devices limited to 100. And I mean it!

November 6, 2009

Had a rude awakening a couple of days ago that the 100 devices available in the iPhone Developer Program for Development and Ad Hoc testing is a high-water-mark limit. Once a slot is allocated to a UDID, cannot be reassigned to another device.  You can remove it, but it does not release the slot for a different device.  The remove operation is more like a disable operation meant for preventing access to your test application, e.g. if a beta user started abusing your system in some way.

What does this mean to you, the developer?

You will definitely used up one UDID for your development iPhone.  If you are running a beta test of your application on, say, 50 beta test users.  You collected the 50 UDIDs fromt them.  Uploaded them to your Developer Portal and generated the necessary mobile provisioning files.  You are done with your beta test.  At this point, you have 51 UDIDs in use.

You want to do a second beta test (may be for a different app, or another version of the same app) with a different set of 50 beta test uesrs.  Whoops…too many.  So I deleted the 50 UDIDs from the first beta test and want to add the 50 new beta test users.  Whoops 2!  I cannot do that.  I can only add 49 of them.

Here’s Apple Math:

  • Start: 100 slots
  • Subtract 1 for my Development iPhone. You have 99 left.
  • Subtract 50 for the first set of beta testers. You have 49 left.
  • Add ZERO for deleting 50 users of the first beta test. You still have 49 left.
  • Subtract 49 for the second set of beta testers. You have 0 left.  The 50th beta tester cannot be added.

At this point, you are “done”.  You can no longer add any more devices to this account.  Suppose you bought a second iPhone for testing.  Well, you can’t add it and use it for development testing cause you are out of slots.

The “remove” command makes you think that you can free up a slot.  No it doesn’t.  And once a device is deleted, it cannot be undeleted either.  So you are truly and royally hosed at this point.

There’s one solution though.  Time.  You can wait till your one-year iPhone Developer Program is up for renewal.  Once you renew, you can delete all your devices and then you have 100 available slots again.  You can also apply for a second iPhone Developer Program account, wait 2 weeks or so, pay $99, then you have a second set of 100 slots.  But this will be a different account from the first one and you will still need to maintain the first account for publishing your app.  This second account is purely for development only.

I certainly hope Apple will change this policy in the future.

Will Three20 be flagged as “private framework”?

November 3, 2009

Three20I used the open sourced Three20 iPhone UI library for a recent project. It’s a bit heavy duty if you just need one of the nice UI thingies that is in Three20.  In my case, I want to reuse the photo viewer in a client’s project.  I spent almost a whole day trying to understand how Three20 works and how to adapt some part of it, but it is worth it. For example, the photo viewer is designed to take over the entire phone screen.  But our UI design requires that we keep the Navigation Bar on top visible for context.  With the client’s approval, I incorporated a modified Three20 library in the project and delivered the iPhone app prototype within a week.  I came through like a superhero even though I’m just standing on the shoulder of giants.

What’s nagging me in the back of my mind is the possibility that Apple App Review will reject the application because it uses a “private framework.”  I’ve advised my client of that and they are fully aware of the risk.  However, given the way Apple works, the only way to find out is to finish the app and submit it.

Right after submission, I came across some chatter about Apple rejected an app because it uses Three20.  Specifically, it is about a private API called simulateTapAtPoint:. Joe Hewitt was contacted by Apple and Apple explained why.  There is a suggested fix of commenting out some of the offending code with #ifdef DEBUG to make Three20 kosher for Apple App Review.

Some stories have happy endings after all.

A New App That Pushes the Envelope

October 30, 2009

In my previous life as a Mobile Podcast software/service provider, I get to know many podcasters very well.  One of them is Emily Morse.  She has been doing her podcast, Sex With Emily, since 2005.  The show covers the stuff that we think about but don’t talk about all the time: sex, relationships, dating, cheating, marriage, mistakes, lovers, and even love.  She is very passionate about her work.  Off and on, she took her show onto the public airwaves on radio stations in San Francisco including Free FM and Radio Alice.

About 3 months ago, during the summer, I took the idea of taking her research for her podcasts into a mobile format for the iPhone.  She was thrilled!  The rest is history.

Her iPhone application, 101 Sex Tips from Sex With Emily, is now available on iPhone App Store.  She wrote all the tips and hand picked the tasteful backgrounds on the screen.  It’s all her.  Take this iPhone application with you so you can review the tips wherever you are, at the restaurant, bus stop, on public transit, use your imagination.

swe-about

You can mark tips as “favorites” or email some to your loved ones using the Share Tip feature.  It’s a great way to send a nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

The app was completed almost a month ago, but it took App Store Review team a lot longer than normal to approve this because this app really pushes the envelope on what’s possible in this new mobile format.  Given Emily’s background in broadcast radio, we have been very careful to keep the content racy enough for the audience, but tame enough to work within FCC (and Apple / mobile carrier) guidelines. As of this morning, the app has been approved by Apple.  I have to say that the process is not as transparent as one would hope, but the folks who work at Apple are professional and reasonable.

Here are two (slightly more PG rated) tips for you, free!  You’ll have to purchase the app to see the naughty ones.

swe-tip1

swe-tip2