Archive for the ‘product’ Category

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.

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.

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.


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.



Seven Themes for a Great iPhone App

October 30, 2009

Spent the day at Apple iPhone Tech Talk in Santa Clara.  The keynote is more like a motivational seminar.  Telling us why the iPhone App Store ecosystem is great. There are some useful nuggets such as what Apple considers to be the 7 themes for a great app:

  1. Delightful
  2. Innovative
  3. Designed
  4. Integrated
  5. Optimized
  6. Connected
  7. Localized

Then he proceeded to introduce some examples of “nice” apps in the App Store, or what I would call The World According to Apple:

KPCB iFund Status Update

August 1, 2009

Chi-Hua Chien from KPCB spoke about the status of their $100M iFund at iPhone Dev Camp 3 last night.  Key points, about $45M invested.  4000 proposals, 250 companies met, etc, etc, etc, and the bottomline 7 companies funded.  The list:

  1. Pelago – 2 guys in Seattle
  2. Gogii – ex-Jamdat
  3. iControl – more like a Series B (or C?)
  4. ngmoco:)
  5. Booyah – ex-Blizzard people
  6. hush-hush mobshop – 1 guy working for about a year at KP’s office
  7. can’t tell you or I’ll have to kill you

The “biggie” categories iFund is interested in are:

  • Mobile Commerce
  • Real-Time Everywhere and Anywhere
  • Local Search
  • Healthcare – funded a company that has a real time monitoring of health signs
  • Augmented Reality
  • Real-World Gaming

And he (as well as most VCs I know) are looking for the following in any proposals:

  1. Market
  2. Team – proven team. See list of funded companies above.
  3. Technology – defensible. Patents help in the long run, but having “hard to do” technology is what helps you in the near term.
  4. Product
  5. Business Model – last but not least.  Dotcom is so 90s.

At iPhone Dev Camp 3 this weekend

July 31, 2009

About to head towards Sunnyvale Y! campus for iPhone Dev Camp 3 for the weekend.  Follow the events with #ipdc3 tag on twitter.  High hopes to learn something and meet lots of new friends.

News Flash! News Flash! appFigures Makes Pricing More Flexible

July 30, 2009

I want to claim credit, but I won’t.  I’ve been whining about appFigures being such a great service that I will consider subscribing to, but insisted on charging me a monthly fee for all apps in my iTunes Connect report regardless of which one(s) I really care about.  I’m sure that they have heard about it from other potential customers as well.

Well, they announced a few days ago that their wonderful engineering team has figured out how to let subscribers control while apps should be included.  Woohoo!  But you know what they say about software development, “Everything is possible, the Impossible just takes a little bit longer.”

What I like about appFigures

  1. Graphs with events – The sales/download graphs shows the “marketing” events you defined.  This is very useful.
  2. Automatically translate reviews into English – This is a convenience.  With one click, I can read the German and French review text in English instead.  I can use Google Translate for this, but it just a bunch of cut and paste.
  3. iTunes App Store Rank tracking – This is cool, way cool.  I cannot easily get this myself.  There may be other services out there that does this, but it is useful to have this in one place.  What would be even better if appFigures can overlay this on my sales/download graph as well.
  4. Sync with iTunes Connect – I don’t use this feature myself since I don’t trust anyone with my iTunes Connect user name and password.  However, for those who are less paranoid than I am, this is a great time saver.

Exploring New Territories

July 23, 2009

Yesterday, we released a fun adult-theme application on App Store called Sex Professor. It’s rated 17+ because of “Mature and Suggestive” themes.  There’s no nudity…if you’ve seen our Sex Professor, you wouldn’t want to see him without clothes anyway 🙂

Check it out!

Are you a Real Estate Investor? I have an iPhone App for you.

July 21, 2009

I just wrapped up a new iPhone application for Real Estate Investors.  It’s already in the App Store review pipeline.  If history has its way, which it always does, it will be out in the store in about 10 days.

This genre of “finance” utility application is a complete departure from the previous apps we have released, but I did it for several reasons.

  1. Real Estate Investments is an area that I am personally familiar with and also know a lot of people who do this for a living.  So, I have a natural user base to market to.
  2. I checked out other applications in this space and cannot find one that I really like and feel useful. There are several out there, but none of them really fits my criteria.  Many of them are loaded with features that are marginal to real estate investors on the move.  iPhone applications should be focused, simple, and does one thing really well.
  3. As a utility to help organize one’s money-making activities, it can be released into App Store at a higher price point.
  4. I needed a challenge. Initially, I wanted to do finish this app in one 24-hour day, but life sort of got in the way.