Under the Bridge

Unsustainable Apps: Revolver

The good news is, there’s a pretty cool open sourced app for you to check out (h/t iOS Dev Weekly):

Ciechan/Revolved: a 3D modelling app for the iPad

  • OpenGL ES 2.0 based rendering integrated with UIKit
  • custom animation engine
  • a bit of private API hackery

The line drawing system has been explained in detail on my blog

The bad news?

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 12.18.55 PM.png

Ouch! Damn, that’s just painful. Although sadly usual, these days:

The Majority Of Today’s App Businesses Are Not Sustainable

Accounting for 47% of app developers, the “have nothings” include the 24% of app developers – who are interested in making money, it should be noted – who make nothing at all.

Meanwhile, 23% make something, but it’s under $100 per month … those who prioritize iOS app development are less likely to find themselves in this group, with 35% earning $0-$100 per month, versus the 49% of Android developers…

Meanwhile, 22% are “poverty stricken” developers whose apps make $100 to $1,000 per app per month…

I suppose this is a sign of maturity, the app market is starting to resemble other creative markets like books, art, and music as the returns to individual creators shake out. Depressing, isn’t it? But chin up and move on, just means we have to get better at marketing. And here is an excellent article on how to go about that:

How Hours became a top grossing app

… when I asked on Twitter what people want to know about, the overwhelming response was: how on earth did you market the app? Some seem to believe I have this magical ability to get featured by Apple, TechCrunch, etc. etc. etc. I don’t. It takes time and a lot of hard work and I started out just like anybody else so this stuff is completely do-able. I don’t have all the answers but I’ll tell you what I did…

TL; DR: Make a lot of friends. And it’s hard work. But read the whole thing!

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Xcode 6: Usable Testing

If you’d overlooked the improvements to testing in Xcode 6, understandably enough what with the new language and all, they’re definitely worth taking a look at:

XCTest​Case / XCTest​Expectation / measure​Block()

New in Xcode 6 is the ability to benchmark the performance of code

Perhaps the most exciting feature added in Xcode 6 is built-in support for asynchronous testing…

Xcode 6 seems to have fulfilled all of the needs of a modern test-driven developer. Well, perhaps save for one: mocking … However, this may not actually be necessary in Swift, due to its less-constrained syntax.

In Swift, classes can be declared within the definition of a function, allowing for mock objects to be extremely self-contained. Just declare a mock inner-class, override and necessary methods:

With Xcode 6, we’ve finally arrived: the built-in testing tools are now good enough to use on their own.

Which means we can hopefully look forward to Xcode 6 hosted CI services that can run a decent test suite easily. No more messing with Jenkins or whatever, w00t! Here’s a list of the various CI services we’ve noted here and there compatible with iOS/OS X projects so far:

Travis CI is free for open source, paid for private

Hosted CI is an iOS and OS X focused service, with free open source and cheap indie plans

Ship.io used to be called cisimple, and whilst being rebranded it’s totally free

Greenhouse CI is fresh out of beta: they support Android as well, and have a free 2-app plan

While we wait to see which of these support Xcode 6 first, Dear Readers, any experience positive or negative with them to share? Or any other iOS-supporting CI services you’d recommend everyone consider/avoid?

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Airline Booking: Aviasales SDK

You know, iOS Dev Weekly gets the best ads. We’d overlooked this one until now:

Flight search engine in your app

Help your users find the cheapest flight tickets right in your app and earn $7 per booking. Use a ready template or build your flight search from scratch with Aviasales iOS SDK framework.

Well, that sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Pretty simple:

1) Sign up as a travelpayouts.com affiliate. And it really is just sign up, no approval process.

2) Grab KosyanMedia/Aviasales-iOS-SDK off GitHub

3) Take a look at all the other affiliate tools they’ve got on offer

4) ???

5) PROFIT!

h/t: iOS Dev Weekly!

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Print On Demand: Kite SDK

Feel like adding print on demand to your app? Check this out:

OceanLabs / iOS-Print-SDK

The Kite Print SDK makes it easy to add print on demand functionality to your app.

Harness our worldwide print and distribution network. We’ll take care of all the tricky printing and postage stuff for you!

To get started, you will need to have a free Kite developer account. Go to kite.ly to sign up for free.

Products

Use print to unlock hidden revenue streams and add value for your users. In under an hour you could be using our SDK to print:

  • Magnets
  • Polaroid Style Prints
  • Square Prints
  • Postcards
  • A4 (invoices, letters, etc)
  • New products being added monthly

We mentioned another print on demand service the Sincerely Ship Library a long time ago, and they still seem to be around as well, but if you want more than postcards this one looks well worth looking into!

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Video Killed The Screenshot Star

So it’s not enough that designing the increasingly misnamed “screenshots” for your App Store listing is a full-fledged production process these days, now you need to ramp up your video production skills as well:

App Previews

App Previews are short videos showcasing what’s great about your app to help users decide if it’s right for them. Customers can watch App Previews directly from your app details page in the App Store. App Previews are composed primarily of device-captured footage of your app to help customers make more informed download decisions.

How Do I Create an App Preview?

With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you can capture real-time footage of your app directly off your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Just connect your device to your Mac using the Lightning connector and it will be automatically available as a video camera. You can capture anything you’re doing on-screen directly to your Mac using QuickTime Player. Edit your captured footage in your favorite video editing app and upload it on iTunes Connect—just like your screenshots—to submit it for review along with your next app update…

Availability

App Previews appear on your app details page in the App Store on iOS 8 or later. App developers can submit their App Previews this Fall.

So, time to get on that then, right after watching the “Creating Great App Previews” WWDC session. If there is such a thing as “your favourite video editing app,” that is. Those of us who would be hard pressed to even name any video editing app, never mind have a favourite one, well we do have a bit more of a challenge here, don’t we now.

No doubt in short order there will be a great deal of options to help us with that; but at the moment the only established option we’re aware of enough to have linked to before is Apptamin, who have here an excellent post here to get you up to speed,

App Previews (video on the iOS 8 App Store): Thoughts and Tips

Video on the App Store. It’s (almost) here. It’s awesome for App Developers. One can’t help but wonder why it’s only coming now when the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store have added it a long time ago. But it doesn’t really matter. After producing close to 300 promo videos and game trailers since we started Apptamin, we do have some thoughts about the App Previews that were introduced. And a few tips as well…

Read the whole thing, as they say. And then these:

How to Produce an App Promo Video

10 Examples of Great App Promo Videos

The Ultimate Guide To Using Video For App Marketing

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CloudKit On The Horizon

So we’ve previously observed with some amusement the insurmountable opportunities associated with Core Data iCloud synchronization, and noted some valiant efforts to redress the situation that unfortunately seem to have not set the world on fire; and, well, it seems that Apple’s pretty much given up on that. You may have noticed that the “What’s New in Core Data” WWDC 2014 was a little … thin, yes? Like the iCloud news segment was one slide,

  • Transitioning to new infrastructure
  • Reliability improvements
  • Performance enhancements
  • Transparent to developers

Hmmm. When the year’s news can be comprehensively enumerated as “sucks less”, that’s not the best investment signal, is it now.

But wait! We have a new hotness in the data sync world, or at least the Apple fiefdoms therein, as posted at iCloud For Developers:

CloudKit

Leverage the full power of iCloud and build apps with the new CloudKit framework. Now you can easily and securely store and efficiently retrieve your app data like structured data in a database or assets right from iCloud. CloudKit also enables your users to anonymously sign in to your apps with their iCloud Apple IDs without sharing their personal information.

With CloudKit, you can focus on your client-side app development and let iCloud eliminate the need to write server-side application logic. CloudKit provides you with Authentication, private and public database, structured and asset storage services — all for free with very high limits.

Introducing CloudKit

Advanced CloudKit

What’s New in Core Data

iCloud Design Guide (Pre-release)

CloudKit Framework Reference (Pre-release)

And although they list ‘What’s New in Core Data’ there, we’d like to bestow our 2014 WWDC Unintentional Deadpan Humour Award to Melissa Turner for her commentary on that session’s single CloudKit slide:

… I don’t know what either of those means. You should probably go watch the video of their session. Somebody gave me these slides. And asked me please to talk to you guys about it.

Why, she reminds us of our own style of following orders under protest! And just in case you missed that subtle hint, the only related session mentioned at the end was “Introducing CloudKit”. So, y’know, it’s not like the signposts here are anything other than completely obvious.

The general industry reaction is represented nicely here,

What does Apple’s CloudKit mean for mBaaS

Architecting an application around CloudKit locks your data into the Apple ecosystem. This means no access to this data for your Android application that half your users use. No access for your web application, no access for your web app, and no access to the data for your analytics engine to crunch the numbers.

Apple has yet to release any details of a REST API or export mechanism for this data. While the appeal when writing a simple application might be to use the out-of-the-box cloud APIs made available by Apple, in the longer term will prove very limiting. When extending this application to other platforms mobile or otherwise, there’s no way to utilise the same database elsewhere.

Apple of course has an agenda here – they’re trying to encourage developers, and thus in turn users, into their closed ecosystem – and a fantastic ecosystem it is. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality of the market. Users access applications across disparate platforms, made by disparate vendors. That should make CloudKit a non-runner for most applications.

Sounds about right. But for those with more modest initial goals, it’s pretty cool yes? Some commentaries worth reading:

Notes on CloudKit

But I still bet that lots of apps will benefit from this. Somewhere people are thinking about their existing apps and how they’d benefit — and people are planning new apps that they wouldn’t have otherwise been willing to try.

I think this is going to be a huge deal. I think it’s the first time Apple has really nailed a web service for developers. And I tip my hat to the team (or teams) behind all this. Good job, folks.

Did CloudKit Sherlock Ensembles?

First, let me say, I think CloudKit is awesome. It probably should have been iCloud 1.0 three years ago. Apple have done a great job, and I fully expect this to succeed. It’s particularly useful for apps that not only need cloud storage, but also have social aspects.

CloudKit is basically Apple’s take on schema-less cloud storage. Think Parse.com or Azure Mobile Services, and you’ve pretty well grasp CloudKit. You can store data records in the cloud — not just files — and don’t have to write any networking code. You can insert records, form relationships, and perform search queries, much like a cloud variant of Core Data (though not as powerful).

As good as it seems to be, there are limitations. CloudKit is not cross platform, so you can forget Android, and there is no web access to the data. But there should be plenty of smaller companies happy just to ‘win’ the Apple market, so I think it will get adopted.

Certainly makes sense to us to ship an economical iOS-only minimum viable product and rearchitect for cross-platform once it’s clear the investment is merited, so even in the current state CloudKit looks like a pretty big win. And we think it’s a fairly good bet that API and/or export mechanisms are on the roadmap too; it’s rather stretching credulity to think Apple believes they can wall their garden quite that high and still expect developers to enthusiastically embrace the technology. Check back after WWDC 2015, and we’ll see how well placed that confidence turned out to be!

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Dringend: Xcode On Your iPad

OK, this one wins top honours in the “Just Because We Can” category: How would you like to develop your Xcode project … on your iPad?

Dringend – The development environment for your iPad

Dringend is a fast and easy to use iOS and Mac app development environment for your iPad. Program and build your apps on the go from your iPad (Mac also required) using a beautiful and intuitive code editor and all your changes will be synced back to your Mac when your done. Wherever you may be in the world, whether on a beach or sitting at a cafe you can continue to develop your apps and even build and run them…

  • Build and run your iOS projects on your iPad (Mac app, Dropbox account & registration as official iOS developer required to run project)
  • Full syntax highlighting (including Logos support)
  • Find and replace
  • Auto-indentation
  • Code structure list to view methods and pragma marks in files
  • Additional keys to make accessing commonly used programming keys easier
  • Project syncing with Dropbox
  • Full keyboard dock and bluetooth keyboard support
  • Import Xcode projects from Dropbox
  • Export Xcode projects from iPad to Dropbox
  • Import files from Dropbox
  • Creating new Xcode projects from templates (same as in Xcode)
  • Create new files from Xcode templates
  • Delete, move and generally edit the Xcode project structure

Check out video and details on the website here; setup instructions are pretty easy,

Dringend allows you to build and run apps by connecting to your development Mac at home and using your Mac to build the app and send the output back to Dringend.

To enable this simply download The Constructor.app which acts as the build server for Dringend. All you need to select is the code signing identity you wish to use (this can be found in Keychain Access.app) and the provisioning profile. From there the app will handle everything.

The build server also automatically sets up port forwarding on your router so that no matter where you are in the world you will be able to build and run your apps from Dringend…

Not completely sure that this is the most practical idea compared to just carrying a laptop, but hey, if you want to travel really light and still get work done, check it out!

h/t: ManiacDev!

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PaintCode 2.1 with SWIFT!

So we’ve mentioned in passing the existence of PaintCode the premier code-producing vector drawing program out there, but we’d never got into it particularly deeply; but with the serious upgrades with version 2,

Our goals for PaintCode 2

  1. Super simple integration of the generated code into your projects. (with StyleKits)
  2. Ability to easily create parametric drawings. (with Variables & Expressions)
  3. Much better drawing tools.

we finally decided, ok this is seriously worth getting into to see just how much it’ll help with this Apportable-fuelled Android port we’re working on right now. And the wonderful PaintCode folk are fantastically supportive — we’ll have a complete report, um, just as soon as we actually get anything done worth reporting, gulp — but in the meantime we’d like to make sure none of you Dear Readers miss how fast out of the gate they were with version 2.1 feat. SWiFT!

After Apple introduced Swift at WWDC, it became clear that this is the future of Apple software development. We started to work on Swift code generation for PaintCode immediately.

Today, we’re very excited to finally make PaintCode 2.1 available. Here is a video of PaintCode 2.1 running the Swift code generator.

Our experience with Swift has been very positive so far – congratulations to Chris Lattner and his entire development team for this great work!

… To learn more about PaintCode 2, visit our website. We have prepared video tutorials that show PaintCode 2 in action. To catch all PaintCode-related news, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

So while you’re patiently waiting for whenever we might get around to actually using it and reporting on how it and Apportable play together, we very strongly indeed encourage you to check it out for yourself!

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SmoothReviews

Here’s a new service, “SmoothReviews”, you might consider signing up for if you’re trying to market an app and would like some more reviews — AND WHO DOESN’T? we ask you:

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 5.26.24 PM.png

That’s pretty much it, really; everybody scratches everybody else’s back and we all get more reviews, without the suspicious patterns that can be detected by Apple when puppet accounts are hired directly. We’ll let Jay the founder speak for himself:

My name is Jay and I am the founder of SmoothReviews.com, a brand new service for app developers that I think your Under the Bridge readers will love.

SmoothReviews is a service that allows any app developer to get unlimited, free, honest app reviews on the App Store or Google Play. Here’s how it works:

• You give a review, you get a review. For each review you give, you earn a point on your SmoothReviews account. Your app will then appear for another developer to review, and you’ll lose the point.

• We support free or paid, Android or iOS, Tablet or phone apps. Any app can receive reviews.

Here’s the big news for you and your readers: Anyone who registers during the BETA period (before June 10) will get unlimited app slots for LIFE! After that, new users will be given 2-3 app slots and charged a small fee to add more.

We ask that you please check it out and tell your readers about your experience so they can get free unlimited app reviews for life, and start moving up the app rankings.

Indeed. You loving it, Dear Readers? We love it so far — signed up last night and got a freebie 4-star review for that fine Poses app pretty much immediately, seems they’re handling the nobody’s earned any points yet case by picking lucky people to get reviewed anyways, and some righteous dude is into the idea enough to spend $3 on our app. If you’re reading this, thanks awesome guy.

Any-ways, we figure this seems like a morally acceptable way to pump up your review count. Vastly more morally acceptable than the usual begging, wheedling, and outright bribery, that’s for sure. So we’d encourage you all to go sign up! Especially before June 10th, when it’s FREE ! UNLIMITED! FOR LIFE! WOO-HOO!

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DZone’s Guide to Mobile Development

And just as a break from all the WWDC news, here’s a report worth reading to remind yourself that there are, in fact, other players in this industry:

DZone’s 2014 Guide to Mobile Development

This free guide includes:

  • In-depth articles written by industry experts
  • Key findings from our survey of over 1000 mobile developers
  • Profiles on 39 mobile development tools and frameworks
  • “Game of Phones” Infographic
  • Glossary of common mobile development terms
  • “Step-by-Step Mobile Application Development Checklist”
inforgraphic_0.png

Good read just to be vaguely aware of how people not completely Apple-focused are thinking. And we’d say that even if we weren’t leading off the ‘Special thanks to our topic experts’ acknowledgements. No, we would, seriously, DZone Research is doing a good job with these surveys, these were the first two in case you missed them:

  • The 2014 DZone Cloud Platform Research Report brings together worldwide cloud providers into one free, exclusive report that offers impartial insight into 39 specific cloud platform providers.
  • DZone’s next research guide covers the benefits of Continuous Delivery and DevOps and the strategies organizations use to adopt these practices. This guide also provides comparison data for choosing the right technology for your Continuous Delivery toolchain.

Good stuff to have handy when management needs some friendly guidance with their decisions!

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