New Apple App Store Rules

Daring Fireball has a piece today announcing changes to Apple’s App Store.    Apparently there is so much to be announced at WWDC that they didn’t have time to discuss this in the keynote.

Apple has been quietly changing the App Store under the hood for a while — approval times are now dramatically lower, and the tools for submission and management of apps have been actively changing for months.   I personally have noticed changes to the iTunes Connect user interface and features, sometimes in the middle of a day.

Their major change is long overdue, and will help make independent development more viable.  The main feature is the expansion of subscription pricing to a wider range of apps, and support for different tiers of subscriptions.  The system will make it possible to offer trail versions, for one thing, and the revenue split on subscription apps will be 85/15 for subscriptions over a year old.

In addition, there will be the ability to pay for ad placement in search results.  This, of course, will benefit large publishers a lot, but it also helps even the playing field for indie apps.

It’s always been challenging to make a living from an independent app on the App Store.  The ‘pay once’ model has made it tough for developers to set a price and build a sustainable business — raising the potential revenue per customer makes it possible to build a high quality app and keep improving it over time.

 

 

Digesting the new Apple Announcements

Was on my way back from Burning Man when the latest Apple announcements came out. The iPad Pro plus Apple Pencil combination looks like it will give Wacom some heartburn. The larger form factor of the iPad Pro combined with the 3D touch should enable some new forms of interaction; it will be interesting to see what developers do with this, but it’s going to take a while before the ecosystem gets comfortable.

Same goes with WatchOS 2.0 and the new tvOS. That’s a lot of stuff for devs to embrace, especially when they are scrambling to prepare for the iOS 9 release. I know I have a lot of woodshedding to do, including an update to iBuddha for iOS 8 compatibility, and perhaps an iBuddha for Apple Watch.

I don’t think the expansion of the ecosystem is a bad thing at all, and it’s likely to weed out a lot of casual hobbyist developers. The companies most able to take advantage of this explosion of alternatives will be bigger companies, but that also creates an opportunity for someone to provide smaller developers with tools for building apps that can run appropriately across all the platforms. Games are going to go crazy on the new Apple TV, especially if you can handoff from your iPhone or iPod. These announcements are the fruit of the Handoff work that was done in Yosemite; Apple is playing a long game, and it’s not obvious how any one move is supposed to stack up.

More when I’ve had a chance to digest the announcements further and look at docs on the new OS offerings.

Mobile Links for week ending April 5, 2014

An analysis of apps in the Apple App store by price, ratings, etc. Some interesting insights, including that 60% of the apps in the app store have no ratings.

WWDC 2014 tickets will be offered via a lottery You have until 10am PDT April 7 to register for a chance to attend, and people will be notified that evening. Given the limited size of the conference, which has maxed out at 5000 attendees to maintain a 5 attendees-per-Apple-engineer ratio, this is my first chance to go in years.

This analysis of Apple’s Arm processor micro architecture suggests that there is a lot of untapped power that iOS apps aren’t using yet.

This new tool provides a quick way to generate code to animate iOS transitions.

With Amazon’s new Fire TV and a rumored new offering from Google soon, this may very well be the year that iOS apps move to the Apple TV. The LA Times compares the current crop of TV boxes here.

Clearly the streaming media race is heating up: Amazon is rumored to be going after Spotify with a new streaming subscription service soon.

Speaking of Spotify, their newest version on iOS is beautifully designed, and very in-line with the iOS 7 aesthetic, with a content-forward look-and-feel. I haven’t had time to completely explore it, but really like what I see so far.

Microsoft has announced Cortana, their answer to Siri and Google Now. While the reference to the character from Halo probably resonates with the Xbox crowd, it seems like an obscure choice to pick for an already underdog mobile platform. I had no idea who Cortana was myself, having never played Halo. The interesting thing about the feature is that it’s powered by Bing — this may be the time for Bing to actually shine, the Bing team has some great technology that has been largely ignored, but maybe mobile is the right venue.
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How to turn off iOS autolayout for iOS5 compatibility.

Got caught by one of the gotchas in keeping things compatible between iOS6 and iOS5 devices.

While both iOS5 and iOS6 support UI Storyboarding (you have to forego this feature if you want your app to run on iOS 4.0 as well),  iOS 5 does not support the new auto layout feature in iOS 6.   Autolayout (which I hope to talk more about soon) has some very powerful features for making sure your screen layout works in different orientations, on the taller iPhone 6 screen, etc.

If you try running a program with autolayout enabled, iOS 5 will crash your app, as the OS doesn’t recognize the UIConstraint selectors needed to draw the screen.  This is also a backward compatibility issue on Mac OS X — Lion uses autolayout, but Snow Leopard doesn’t.

Turns out, however, that when you create a new project in Xcode 4.3 and up,  autolayout is enabled by default.  However, there is a setting that lets you turn that off.

This site has a good tutorial of what to do, complete with screenshots.

This is one of the issues iOS (and Android, for that matter) developers constantly have to think about — which new features do I use, and which do I have to forgo in order to support older devices?   In my case, I will be running this program eventually on an iPad, and my 1st gen iPad is stuck at 5.1, so no autolayout on this project.

Thoughts about the iOS lockscreen.

Brent Caswell has an interesting proposal for enhancing iOS’ lock screen making the rounds (via Gruber and Dalrymple) today.

It looks very consistent, but seems a bit fiddly. The minute you have more than one of these lockscreen cards, you have too much swiping and too many decisions to make, and this before you unlock your phone. It’s certainly not the ‘glance and go’ promised by Windows Phone.

It’s going to be hard to change the iOS lockscreen after 5 years, it’s become iconic to the brand, so Apple is going to be very cautious. I could see them doing something like this precisely because it doesn’t change the screen. I feel if you have to do anything more than wake the phone up, you’ve failed.

I can get the time at a glance. Anything more than that, and I’m wrapping my car around a tree. That’s my use case for information on the lockscreen. Windows Phone moves more in the right direction, but their asthetic choice of the Metro look makes it harder to pick out information. It’s like having 5 red and white parking signs on the same pole. Each have similar visual weight, and you end up paying too much attention to the phone. Android Live Wallpapers seem too heavy in both information and processing.

A passively scrolling version of the above proposal might work, as long as bites of information transition quickly enough that you aren’t looking at your phone for a long time and the content requires minimal reading. And you probably shouldn’t have more than 2 of these screens alternating, or you will be looking at the phone for too long. The key is that you are getting the information passively — if you need to interact, you should probably unlock the phone.

It’s all about meeting the ‘don’t die in traffic’ test.

Mobile Links for week of November 25-30 2012

Android shopping traffic lags behind iOS, despite the larger number of devices. GigaOm asks why:
Why are Android users less engaged than iOS users?

Nice detailed graphs and links to several good stories on the topic. I do take issue slightly with the idea that “willingness to buy stuff == engagement”; everyone buys devices for different reasons. But if you are writing shopping apps or marketing your business on mobile devices, it’s important to understand the different types of users and the strategies that work best on each platform.

IDC: Developer Disinterest Could Kill RIM & Windows Phone Ya think? Out of all of the companies I’ve interviewed lately, only a couple are planning to put their apps on Windows Phone, and nobody is planning to support BlackBerry.

11 Apple iPads per hour vs. zero Microsoft Surface tablets Schadenfreude aside*, this is a significant indicator about what a misstep it has been for Microsoft to sidestep its OEMs.  They don’t have nearly the distribution network they need to go it alone.   Also, Surface exemplifies how badly MS has misread the tablet trend; it’s not about the hardware, its about reducing the computing experience to something that is quick and pleasurable.  Shoehorning desktop Windows onto a tablet barely capable of running it fails both tests.

*Actually, I’m not enjoying this at all,  I’m a Microsoft shareholder, and my investment has seen no growth, while my Apple stock has gone through the roof.  Steve Ballmer has got to go.

In BII MOBILE INSIGHTS: Mobile Technology May Define The Future Of Healthcare, PriceWaterhouse Coopers presents a video talking about how mobile is influencing healthcare.      The other links/reports on this page are pretty good, too.