Under the Bridge

Watch Out!

Just in case you were off in rural Bangladesh like us last week, the Apple WatchKit SDK is out:

Developers, Start Designing Apps for Apple Watch

WatchKit Developer Page

Video Overview of WatchKit

Apple Watch Human Interface Guidelines

WatchKit Programming Guide

Lister (for Apple Watch, iOS, and OS X)

Apple Watch Design Resources

And here’s a survey of some immediate reactions:

What you need to know about WatchKit

Pretty cool stuff, right?

Initial Impressions for WatchKit

… I am very pleasantly surprised by how capable it is … Rather than just saying we only get Glances and Notifications, we get to build actual, useful watch apps …

WatchKit: Initial Impressions

Overall, WatchKit offers far more than I expected in this initial release … From the new Apple Watch-specific controls, to glances, actionable notifications, deep linking with Handoff, image caching and more — as a developer, this is the kind of stuff that gets me excited!

A day with WATCH

David Smith put it best: there’s a lot more here than most of us expected…

How To Create A “Hello World” WatchKit App and WatchKit: Let’s Create a Table and WatchKit: Page-Based Navigation and WatchKit: Hierarchical Navigation and WatchKit: Accessing Data From Your iOS App and WatchKit: The First Glance at Glances and WatchKit: Let’s Add a Menu [and WatchKit: Customizing the Global Tint and …]

I can’t get enough of WatchKit. Sooooo much to learn!

WatchKit Tutorial with Swift: Getting Started

iOS developers rejoice – WatchKit is finally here!

Apple’s new WatchKit SDK hints at the future of Apple Watch’s apps

WatchKit is here. What does it mean?

Well-nigh euphoric, you people!

UPDATES:

Watch Hackathon Live

Hello WatchKit! Learn how to build an Apple Watch app

jblocksom / WristComms: “WatchKit extension / host app communications example.”

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AppStop The Madness

Just need to throw something, anything, up for a landing page? AppStop has your back:

Create a landing page for your iPhone app, using the info you’ve already submitted to the App Store

Just enter an App Store URL below, and I’ll generate a customizable landing page for your app, that you can fork on GitHub and deploy on github.io or your own domain…

You can also scrape info from iTunes Connect for unreleased apps. So if you want to do some A/B testing on possible descriptions, screenshots, etc. this would be a pretty darn convenient way to go about setting that up, looks like!

h/t: iOS Dev Tools Weekly!

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Stand Back and Deliver

Now here’s some awesomeness topped with awesome sauce and a side of awesome for reducing your blood pressure:

KrauseFx / deliver: Deploy screenshots, app metadata and app updates to the App Store using just one command.

What, seriously? Apparently so:

Features

  • Upload hundreds of screenshots with different languages from different devices
  • Upload a new ipa file to iTunes Connect without Xcode from any computer
  • Update app metadata
  • Easily implement a real Continuous Deployment process
  • Store the configuration in git to easily deploy from any computer, including your Continuous Integration server (e.g. Jenkins)
  • Get a PDF preview of the fetched metadata before uploading the app metadata and screenshots to Apple: Example Preview (Yes, those are screenshots taken for all screen sizes)

Yeah, we’ve been in deployment-challenged places where we really, seriously, needed that tool…

h/t: iOS Dev Weekly!

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Hakawai And Away

This is well worth taking a look at if you’re outgrowing UITextView’s functionality, LinkedIn is the latest company to kick out some awesome source to the community:

Introducing Hakawai – a powerful, mentions-enabled text view for iOS

Text Transformers

Hakawai provides block-based APIs for working with the contents of a text view. Text transformers are methods which take in special blocks. These blocks always take as an argument an attributed string (representing the initial state of the text), and return another attributed string (representing the final state of the text). Hakawai also supports attribute transformers, which work similarly…

Abstraction Layer

The experimental Abstraction Layer feature is a way to provide text view users with a higher-level change notification API than currently offered by the built-in UITextViewDelegate. There are five main types of notifications, each with associated data…

Extras

Hakawai comes with a host of extras, including (but not limited to):

  • An API for easily adding and removing accessory views from the text view
  • An API for temporarily locking the focus of the text view to the top or bottom of the text view
  • An API for rejecting autocorrect suggestions, and for working with the text view’s autocorrection, auto-capitalization, and spell checking state
  • A convenience API for working with characters and words at a given location
  • A custom text container and layout manager
  • Support for custom text formatting through custom attributes, including a pre-built attribute showcased in the mentions plug-in

Plug-ins

Hakawai supports plug-ins, which are code modules that can be selectively activated and deactivated at run-time to provide the text view with additional functionality…

Mentions

Mentions is a plug-in for creating ‘mentions’, annotations in a text view which might correspond to names of individuals or entities…

OK, that’s some serious UITextView enhancement. Check it out on github!

(And while you’re in the LinkedIn neighbourhood over there, background fetch scheduling library Selene is worth a gander as well.)

h/t: ManiacDev!

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Stylish Setup: KZBootstrap And Fabric

We’ve scattered here and there various references to goodies that make managing your Xcode project easier and/or more reliable, but here’s a particularly sweet-looking collection of most all the best bits we’ve noted plus some new clevernesses:

krzysztofzablocki / KZBootstrap: “iOS project bootstrap aimed at high quality coding.”

Each configuration can be put side by side on same device, and you can clearly distingiush each build. Easier to find issues across different version and branches…

Automatically generate macro for current developer, that way a team can have different code paths while they are working on features, or different logging levels. Without git changes.…

Often when working with big clients, you need to have multiple environments for Staging / Production / QA etc. They usually differ in some kind of configuration … Environments can be changed without reinstalling application, even while it’s running…

assertions when UIKit is layouted/displayed on background thread, so you can fix your code…

Let’s put it this way, even if you’re not particularly interested in adopting all the goodies here wholesale, it’s a useful exercise to go through all the various capabilities and understand them for when they or something along their lines might prove useful. As well as the various source references:

And while we’re on the subject of setting up new projects, if you haven’t looked at Twitter Fabric yet we’d recommend that’s a good thing to do; as Crashlytics is the only third party service we regard as an absolute necessity for any project at the moment, and if the other services Fabric provides are as competently executed and easy to manage as Crashlytics is, well we for one welcome our new Twitter overlords!

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Core Motion Slickness

The always-invaluable NSHipster has some particularly nifty trickiness in an article on Core Motion:

CMDevice​Motion

Let’s say we want to give the splash page of our app a fun effect, with the background image staying level no matter how the phone is tilted … Using the gyroscope, Core Motion separates user movement from gravitational acceleration and presents each as its own property of the CMDeviceMotionData instance that we receive in our handler…

We can also use the other, non-gravity portion of this composited gyro/acceleration data to add new methods of interaction. In this case, let’s use the userAcceleration property of CMDeviceMotionData to navigate backward whenever a user taps the left side of her device against her hand…

Lastly, let’s try using the device’s attitude to enable a new interaction for a flash-card app, designed to be used by two study buddies. Instead of manually switching between the prompt and the answer, we’ll automatically switch the view as the device turns around, so the quizzer sees the answer while the person being quizzed only sees the prompt…

Read it all!

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SceneKit and Swift

Hmmm, looks like we’ve managed to completely overlook the existence of SceneKit in the annals herein thus far, even though it’s been around for a couple years on OS X now. So hey, why not skip learning about SceneKit in Objective-C completely and go straight to SceneKit in Swift? Everybody seems to have that idea lately:

Create Stonehenge with iOS SceneKit and Swift

SceneKit has been described as the casual game developer’s framework. Since I started playing around with it a few weeks ago, I’m having a little trouble putting it down…

Straightforward exposition of how to set up ground, sky, and build Stonehenge.

Introduction To SceneKit – Part 1 and Part 2

Let’s look at creating a new project that uses SceneKit. Apple provides a template for SceneKit projects(Application -> Games) but for this tutorial we’ll be adding SceneKit to an existing project to get a better understanding on how it works…

Exhaustively detailed introduction to 3D basics in SceneKit with the latest Xcode.

Beginning Scene Kit Tutorial

In iOS 7, Apple made a huge push in the casual, mobile gaming space by introducing Sprite Kit, an incredible 2D-graphics framework. Developers had plenty to chew on for a whole year, and Sprite Kit gave everyone the capability to make simple iOS games with relative ease.

However, the 3D space continued to be largely inaccessible, requiring expert knowledge of computer graphics (OpenGL ES), or a sizeable wallet (Unity Pro).

Well, not anymore. :]

A teaser for the SceneKit chapters in the Wenderlich publishing empire’s iOS 8 By Tutorials, which we’d recommend purchasing as part of the Swift By Tutorials bundle, as we did!

UPDATES:

Objc.io #18, Games: Scene Kit

kconner / KMCGeigerCounter: Make your app click like a geiger counter every time it drops a frame.

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AsyncDisplayKit

Gotta hand it to those Facebook engineers, they just keep coming up with cool stuff these days, and they’ve downright outdone themselves with AsyncDisplayKit:

logo.png

AsyncDisplayKit is an iOS framework that keeps even the most complex user interfaces smooth and responsive. It was originally built to make Facebook’s Paper possible, and goes hand-in-hand with pop’s physics-based animations — but it’s just as powerful with UIKit Dynamics and conventional app designs.

AsyncDisplayKit Nodes are a thread-safe abstraction layer over UIViews and CALayers…

“Thread-safe” and “UIViews”? Cool beans!

Yup. All those things. Go do them!

UPDATES:

AsyncDisplayKit Tutorial: Achieving 60 FPS scrolling

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Resource Management: xcres

Well, this is the handy-dandiest resource helper we’ve seen in a while:

mrackwitz/xcres: xcres searches your Xcode project for resources

xcres searches your Xcode project for resources and generates an index as struct constants. So you will never have to reference a resource, without knowing already at compile time if it exists or not.

It includes loose images, .bundles, asset catalogs (.xcasset) and even .strings in the index.

It gives you code autocompletion for resources and localized string keys, without the need of an Xcode plugin.

Especially if your app is a bit more complex, this will greatly improve your workflow. It ensures a better quality and gives you more safety. You will see directly when a resource is missing, when you renamed it, or you moved it around.

Furthermore it won’t even bother you for trivial name changes like change capitalization or converting name scheme from train-case or snake_case to camelCase and vice versa.

It will warn you in Xcode on build, if certain resources or string keys can’t be references, because their name contain invalid chars, duplicates in the camelCase variant with another key, or would be equal to a protected compiler keyword…

We tend to keep our resource references pretty much in order by reflex when writing them actually, but looks like this might make that more streamlined. And looks like it would be downright invaluable the next time we’re handed some mess to make sense of written by someone who regarded the concept of ‘maintainability’ with fear and loathing apparently…

h/t: CocoaControls!

UPDATES:

Working with Localization in iOS 8 and Xcode 6 describes new string functionality

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Over 200 Success Tips!

OK, it’s actually just one tip from us — this is a nice little collection of current best practices and links to useful resources:

Creating Successful Apps – Over 200 Development, PR and Marketing Tips

  1. Before Your App Is Launched

    • It goes without saying that you’re going to need to make a good product – but there’s so much more. We outline the steps you need to take before you even write that first line of code or start your first wireframe.
  2. App Store Optimisation

    • App Store Optimisation is a mix of marketing and research. We outline how to optimise your app to get the maximum amount of downloads, the factors in determining how visible your app is in app store searches… and tell you how to improve everything.
  3. Improving Your App

    • App development never stops. We outline what you need to understand about how people use your app and the steps you will need to take to improve your app’s retention rate.
  4. Getting Reviews & Coverage For Your App

    • Getting publicity for your app in the right places can be a real challenge. We outline how to find those right places and more importantly – people – to get the exposure your app needs.
  5. Paid App Advertising and Exposure

    • From paid social media to adverts in other ads. We talk you through the options and give some general advice on ensuring your budget goes as far as possible.
  6. Conclusion and future guides

    • In the coming months, we plan to create a guide on how best to monetise your apps and an experts roundtable with advice from some of the most successful app entrepreneurs and marketers…

Chances are you won’t be terribly surprised by much of this if you’ve been following our various roundups and/or have been working on selling apps yourself for a while, but it’s short enough to be a good checklist and comprehensive enough you’ll probably find at least something of interest; so we completely recommend adding this to your marketing reference collection!

UPDATES:

10,000 Mobile Apps Later and What We Learned

10 Tips for Getting Featured on the App Store

The Details behind a Six Figure App Launch

10 Effective Growth Hacks to increase your SaaS Revenue (any business, really, especially any software business)

Sweat the Details: Animation and Microinteractions in Mobile Apps

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