Archive for Apps

Time to Go Mobile

If you read my 2014 Predictions, then you know that I don’t believe that we are going to see a lot of huge leaps in mobile hardware or OS technology in the next year. Software from third party developers however will be a different story. Indeed, it is my belief that 2014 is the year that large numbers of normal users are going to begin using their mobile devices as the power personal computers they really are – in many ways, a mobile device is a far more personal computer than an actual PC at this point.

I’m going to be one of these brave few and will therefore start featuring and reviewing applications that I use on a variety of devices. However, I am not going to artificially promise to review an app per week. Nor am I going to worry about making sure all platforms get the same amount of coverage. My goal is to honestly review and recommend apps that I use regularly on whatever platform.

Since these are apps that I actually use, there will be no negative reviews – in fact, there’ll be no scoring at all, as I find the star or X out ten scoring systems to be arbitrary at best. Think of these apps as my picks and treat them that way. If you like what I like and you find something that you start to use often from these posts, then please let me know on Twitter or Google+.

Good Night CJ for iOS

Everything has its time and then it moves on. That's the story with Code Journal for iOS. It was a fun project but never really hit its stride when compared to the Mac version.

To be fair, I had fun developing the app and, since it shared a lot of code from the Mac app, didn't have to invest a whole lot of additional time in its development; still, one could easily argue that the lack of a specific investment is one of the reasons that the app failed to gain a large user base.

Was Code Journal for iOS a failure? Well, that depends on how you think about it: yes, I didn't make a significant profit on it but I did get some use out of it personally.

Some of you have written me asking why I am pulling the app now. In truth, it is two-fold. First, the update to iOS 7 would require working with a designer and paying that designer for assets etc. Second, I stopped using the app, especially compared to the Mac app which I use everyday.

Bundle Up!

developer-bundle-largeI am excited to announce that Code Journal has joined the awesome Paddle Developer Bundle! For those of you who have never bought a Paddle bundle, they are pay what you want software bundles in the spirit of the Humble Bundle.

Even if you already have Code Journal, pick up the bundle anyway to get other great applications such as Marked and VirtualHostX.

As always, Code Journal is a Apple developer signed app and customers of who opt to purchase via the Paddle bundle will receive updates via email.

Happy Shopping!

Code Journal 1.3.5 Update

050413_1245_CodeJournal1.pngCode Journal 1.3.5 is now available on the Mac App Store. This update fixes some issues with pull requests being reported incorrectly and adds some OS X Mavericks power sipping goodness.

We have plenty more coming in the way of Code Journal updates, so please do keep checking in!


Fingertip Tech, INC Goes Linux with Spindl

spindl_256x256x32Yesterday my company, Fingertip Tech, INC, acquired Zane Swafford’s Linux application Spindle. Spindl is a great tool for managing and tracking your time. I couldn’t be happier with the application and look forward to an awesome 2.0.

I hope that this acquisition communicates my and my companies commitment to Linux as a platform for desktop software development. I’ll be making more announcements before the end of this year and do follow Fingertip Tech, INC on Twitter to stay in the loop.

Stepping Off the Edge

imagesUbuntu is my preferred flavor of desktop Linux by far. In fact, I consistently used it as my daily driver for over two years and only left because I was having trouble with Pulse Audio (who wasn’t back then) and I started to doing Apple development which required a Mac. Despite moving to OS X, I’ve kept a close eye on the development of Ubuntu and have run it on several machines and plenty of desktop VMs. Recently, however, it has been taken in a somewhat perplexing direction culminating in the absurd $32,000,000 Indie GoGo campaign for the Ubuntu Edge.

Before you get your knickers in a knot, no, I don’t have an issue with Unity or Mir; in fact, I think Canonical is doing the right thing by moving away from the aging and bloated X and it is haar to deny that the recent releases of the Ubuntu desktop have been the best looking ones they’ve had.

Usually, I’d be happy about a Linux-based operating system taking user experience seriously; after all, that’s pretty much the basis for Apple’s rise. Canonical, however, doesn’t seem to be acting in the interest of desktop Ubuntu and the gains in user experience feel like little more than side effects of the change in focus to mobile.

Not that I am against making a great mobile operating system! I’d love to see someone branch off the code and create Ubuntu Phone or something like that. My feelings regarding iOS conventions bleeding over into OS X apply here as well — basically, I believe that a desktop OS and a mobile OS should be two totally different products and, given the failure of the Surface, it seems the market agrees with me.

There may be an opportunity for Canonical in the mobile space and I could of course be wrong. In fact, given Canonical’s willingness to get in bed with the mobile operators and willingness to allow them to pervert and mar the system’s user experience, the carriers are somewhat likely to embrace Ubuntu on mobile.

Users, however, are likely to disagree. Sure a lot of people who don’t want to pay for a smartphone will take the carrier’s freebie and that’s great for Canonical if that freebie runs Ubuntu, assuming Canonical is getting some sort of financial remuneration per handset, but this group of people is pretty much worthless to developers, since, as the statistics on the low end Android phones show, these users are unlikely to even download many apps let alone pay for apps. These low value users are unlikely to warrant even passing attention from quality developers. If Canonical wants Ubuntu to be an app platform powerhouse, it ought to focus on the platform where it already has high value users — the desktop. The current state of the Software Center on Ubuntu is a disgrace and should never have been released to the public. Beyond being buggy, it is an insult to any developer that would publish any app on it.


Code Journal 1.3.4 Update

050413_1245_CodeJournal1.pngCode Journal 1.3.4 is now available on the Mac App Store for free. This update includes a number of small bug fixes. There are a lot of big changes coming to Code Journal over the next few months and I think it is really going to take the app in a great direction.

I’ve taken your feedback on the app and in particular feature requests and, though no new features are included in this update, new features and the restoration of the Gist functionality is on its way.

Stay tuned for more updates!


Play Means War

google-play-logo11Google IO fever is in full swing and, though there are a lot of interesting things coming out of this year’s IO, but there is only one real threat to Apple’s leading position in mobile Monetization. This is Play Games. Play Games functions a lot like Game Center with a bit more and (naturally) a focus on Google+. Play Games allows many of the features that Game Center does but has one killer feature: it is cross platform, supporting Android and iOS. You might wonder why this matters, but the truth is (according to the Apple App Store top grossing and top paid charts) the developers that are making the most money are the game developers. It has been argued that one of the big advantages that iOS has is that it is the prefered platform for mobile game developers — meaning that they release on iOS only or iOS first.

Play Games looks really impressive, but the most attractive aspect of it is that it is a backed Game Center like service that is not run by Apple. Let’s be honest, Apple makes great devices and some pretty good client-side software, but their backend services leave a lot to be desired. Game Center in particular was crippled when Letterpress — one of the first games to actually take advantage some of Game Center’s more advanced functionality — was released and became an overnight success. The reality is that Apple left this door open by not focussing on backend-technologies and now Google is going to be able walk through it.

If Android is able to generate roughly the same revenue as iOS for developers, Apple will have to act quickly to preempt an exodus of developers. This might sound a little overboard, but there is a frustration in the iOS community in all but the most hardcore Apple fans that Apple’s policies are increasingly hostile toward independant developers, but as long as the business case is strongly in Apple’s favor, Apple can do whatever it wants. If Google was able to change the business story, they’d be changing the entire landscape.


Why Not Platform X?

Recently, I launched my latest app Tomato Soup —  simple iOS pomodoro timer and have been fielding a lot of questions from Coder Radio listeners regarding my platform choice; for those who don’t know Code Journal (iOS and OS X) and Tomato Soup (iOS) are both only available on Apple platforms. Many of these listeners seem to think that my selection of a particular platform over another is some sort of indictment of lack of confidence in the alternative platforms, however, that’s not always always true and there perfectly legitimate reasons to go single platform for any particular project.

One of the most obvious ones is familiarity with the platform, development environment, and language. In my particular case, Cocoa and Objective-C are by far my favorite platform / language combination. That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong or I think badly of C# / .Net or Java — in fact, I often find myself defending Java against folks who spend far too much time reading alarmist Reddit posts. All it means is that I am most efficient in Objective-C. As they say: “Time is money” and sometimes shipping fast is important and the time it would take.

Increasingly, platform vendors are adding features to their platforms that can (generally speaking) only be accessed via the native API — an example of this on OS X is Notification Center. Sure, it is possible to write a wrapper around the Cocoa API for Notification Center, but that’s usually harder than you would hope and adds maintenance to your project that (in most cases) would not be put on the individual developer.

Some projects just market better on specific platforms. A lot has been discussed about the marketability of apps on Linux in particular, but I really don’t think that the conversation needs to center around Linux but should rather be about the tastes and norms of users of each respective platform. For instance, it is usually tough to sell an OS X app to a Mac user that doesn’t “feel native” but that problem doesn’t generally exist for Windows or Linux users.

Developing software for multiple platforms presents its own issues and often takes more financial resources than honing in on a specific platform. The sad fact is that if ISVs (independent software vendors) regularly poured more resources into cross platform development, we would eventually have fewer unique applications released.

I hope this provides a bit of clarification and rest assured that I, like most developers, do not hate your chosen platform and sincerely wish I could easily have my software on as many platforms as possible.

Code Journal 1.3.3 Released

I’m happy to share that Code Journal for Mac version 1.3.3 is now available on the Mac App Store. This build includes a few small tweaks including splitting off from the iOS Github tokens and now has a friendly message for users who have no incoming activity in the Github feed.

Hope you like it!