Archive for 'Programming'

HaveASec

Aaaaaaand for the second in our current series of “really, there’s a business model here?” services for the busy iOS programmer, let’s take a look today at HaveASec? — “The Mobile Survey Platform.” From the iPhone developer page:

Go beyond what analytics can provide.

With HaveASec, you can:

Find out who your users are (gender, age, etc.)

Find out how much they would be willing to pay for your application

Reach out to users for future products and releases

Get valuable feedback to prioritize development

I suppose that’s mildly interesting, and they do provide an iOS wrapper to make it easy … but their pricing page seems to us kinda on the steep side. Seriously, how long would it take you to knock together a simple quiz flow and some collating scripts? But hey, perhaps like yesterday again we are missing something here at first glance, as apparently some people have found value here:

Applications already using HaveASec

Rolando (ngmoco), Speed Brain (Lumosity), and iDiscover (Lilikoi) are three of the several application that have begun using HaveASec to power their feedback from their users.

… so hey, if you were thinking “gee, I really wish there was a drop in library to enable surveys in my app!” well there you go then!

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AppA

Here’s a new service called AppA that’s interesting … more for “they really think there’s a business here?” than its actual functionality we think, but judge for yourself:

AppA: Drop-In Tools For iOS Devs

Developed first and foremost to make life easier for iOS developers, AppA is a service that provides drop-in tools that offer useful features for iOS apps in mere minutes!

AppA allows you to:

  • Support your users with an in-app support form and knowledge base.
  • Cross-promote apps within other apps.
  • Display an attractive app ‘about screen’.

Simply drop the AppA library into your projects to gain the functionality above, so that you can focus on the core functionality of your apps…

Errrrm … ok, we suppose the knowledge base is mildly interesting, but really, wouldn’t most people have all of this on tap already? Particularly when you look at their intended business model,

… Aside from paid plan upgrades, AppA displays unobtrusive advertising banners and receives a small commission from Apple any time someone downloads a paid app linked to from within AppA. This helps to support continued development of the service…

Hey, I like my LinkedIn commissions. I’ll do my own cross-promotion and keep them for myself, thank you very much. And advertising banners to boot, unless you pay? Yeah, we’re having trouble seeing where the compelling value proposition here is, really, if you’ve like ever written an app before. But hey, perhaps we are missing some really good reason that this actually is completely awesome. If you can find it, let us know what that would be!

h/t: @cocoanetics!

UPDATE:

Note in the comments, Dear Reader, that the AppA developer showed up to explain the thinking here, pointing out in particular that being server driven means you can update the content without resubmitting to Apple. Yes, that makes it more of a job to duplicate yourself. Still think we’d prefer to do that and keep our own commissions mind you; but hey, if you’re not signed up with LinkedIn, then there is a value proposition here worth considering at least no doubt.

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IAP: Anystone 0.4 vs. MKStoreKit 3.5

So we’ve got another project to add IAP support to tonight, and in line with the programmer’s natural desire to avoid work we’re checking out what news there might be on the open source IAP front since the 2.0 version of MKStoreKit we used a while back. And yes, there is a new playa in town:

Introducing the Anystone Store Kit

… However, there are a number of features missing that I wanted, and with no official source code repository for MKStoreKit I decided to kick off my own implementation: AnystoneStoreKit

Having read all of the background from Noel and Apple’s StoreKit documentation the decision was made to build a toolkit that met the following high level requirements:

  • Should not require changing toolkit source code to use it
  • Support for Consumable and Nonconsumable products (and eventually Auto-Renewable subscriptions)
  • Support for multiple product identifiers with the ability to link product ids against the same family (ie:buy 1 berry or 10 berries, they are still berries)
  • Detailed delegate methods to enable a great in-app store experience for the user
  • Lazy loading of the StoreKit data from iTunes
  • Ability to wipe the local data clean for an in app purchase so it can be restored or re-downloaded

That’s a nice list of features yes, and there’s some more interesting stuff planned; check out the 0.4 release notes on github.

However, MKStoreKit has been coming along too: there’s a github repository now, and it’s up to 3.5 with these recent release notes:

What’s new in Version 3.5

Support for Auto renewable subscriptions – MKStoreKit can automatically verify your subscriptions without requiring user to enter password

Bug fix in consumable module

What’s new in Version 3

Support for Server Product Model – MKStoreKit can automatically post the receipt data to your server and “remember” the purchases only when your server returns. The server code for the same in PHP is also available within MKStoreKit.

Well, given as how auto-renewable support is a requirement for us tonight, and server side verification is a probable near term request too, looks like MKStoreKit comes out as the winner and still champion here; we’ll go drop that in and update if we encounter anything worth mentioning. But if you think that Anystone looks like a better fit for your requirements, check it out and let us know how it worked for you!

UPDATES:

A new open source option — mattt / CargoBay!

And ApptitudeNOLA / iTunesConnectHelper!

And dreamengineinteractive / DEStoreKitManager!

And robotmedia / RMStore!

(Don’t forget the Beeblex IAP validation service!)

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Snippet: Shake Effect

Ever wanted to do a shake effect, like Springboard’s edit mode? Turns out it’s actually pretty easy:

[iOS] Springboard shake effect

In this short post, I’ll show you how to create an animation similar to the springboard shake effect, the one you see when you want to move or delete an application.

This little shake effect is funny, and easy enough to reproduce using CoreAnimation. When we take a look at this animation, we can see that it’s nothing more than a tiny repeated rotation of the icons…

h/t: @romainbriche!

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String AR

This looks interesting if you’re interested in AR type stuff:

Augmented Reality Powered By String

Many developers ask me about natural feature tracking SDKs for mobile devices. One of the cool SDKs I like is the String SDK.

If you are already familiar with AR you’ll notice that String lives somewhere in middle of fiduciary markers and natural feature tracking. Tracking images combines the high contrast black border of a marker and a complex natural image in the centre. This mix actually works well. With a marker users can identify it as having special significance when presented to a camera (much the same way users identify QR Codes as having significance). With NTF images the challenge is telling the user that the image as has significance without providing a large amount of instructions. Combining the two therefore goes someway to solve the identification problem.

The String SDK which is currently available for iOS with an Android version in the works is powerful enough to build some pretty amazing solutions…

Doesn’t seem to be available for general download yet, but the contact form is here.

h/t: @AugmentedPlanet!

UPDATES:

Also news that Qualcomm’s AR kit is coming to the iPhone “in July”.

And here’s mixare, another AR engine, if GPLv3 works for you.

3DAR looks interesting too.

Qualcomm’s renamed Vuforia SDK is pretty impressive.

Obvious Engine is another option.

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Game Center Multiplayer

You know, it’s pretty much getting to the point that the first recourse for more information on any arbitrary iOS task should be “go look at Ray Wenderlich’s tutorials“. In particular, have you noticed any nice easy walkthroughs of setting up multiplayer matching using Game Center anywhere else? Nope, we’re pretty sure you haven’t. But why yes, yes His Rayness has a two-parter for you there:

How To Make A Simple Multiplayer Game with Game Center Tutorial: Part 1/2

How To Make A Simple Multiplayer Game with Game Center Tutorial: Part 2/2

Definitely worth a read if you’re implementing a game … or anything that would find direct device connections useful, really!

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Sphero

And in the “oddly compelling for no clear reason” category, today we present you with: Sphero! And what is Sphero?

Screen shot 2011-05-17 at 11.52.40 PM.png

It’s a … ball. A little rave ball that lights up. With an integration SDK for iOS and Android both.

We feel like we really should say something condescendingly sarcastic about geeks and their useless toys … but we have to go reserve one of these for ourselves now!

h/t: ManiacDev!

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Adding Image Metadata

This’ll be handy if you’re saving images to the camera roll:

Adding metadata to iOS images the easy way

Are you writing a camera app or image editing app for iOS but are clueless on how to add geolocation to your pictures? … When developing Snap I wanted to add this feature so that it could actually replace the built-in camera app. And since the built-in camera app adds geolocation, along with a lot of other metadata to the images, Snap had to do this too.

I present to you my NSMutableDictionary category that will solve all your problems. Ok, maybe not all, but the ones related to image metadata on iOS anyway…

Source is on github, check it out!

h/t: @rwenderlich!

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Tip: Category Instance Variables

Had you noticed that in recent runtimes every Cocoa object — no, seriously, every Cocoa object — can have arbitrary key/value data associated with it? No, we had not noticed that either. A particularly useful application of that, which no doubt you’ve wished for many times,

Faking instance variables in Objective-C categories with Associative References

In OS X 10.6 and iOS 3.1, Apple added Associative References to the Objective-C runtime. Essentially, this means that each and every object has an optional dictionary you can add arbitrary key/value pairs to.

This is a great feature, especially considering that Objective-C has forever had a feature to add methods to existing classes: categories. Categories, however, do not permit you to add instance variables. Using associative references, it’s easy to fake ivars.

Yep, it’s as simple as making your @dynamic implementation of the category’s declared @property wrap a couple C functions. Now that is something we will definitely be using in future!

h/t: @olebegemann!

UPDATE:

Another example here of using associated references to add a UIActivityIndicatorView to every UIView.

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Collect Them All Feature

This is a nifty idea for enhancing your brand identity/app discovery:

Adding a “Collect Them All” feature to your application

One of the pieces of polish that was called out recently in TweetBot was the way in which it displays which other TapBots apps that you have installed.

photo-1-300x248.png

This is actually something I’ve been doing for a while in the WeeWorld apps I’ve worked on and since I’ve seen a few questions asking how it’s done I’ll give a quick run through.

There’s no hackery or use of private APIs as I’ve seen some people suggest; the trick is simply to publish a URL scheme for each application even if it isn’t used for anything else…

Yep, a solid idea, definitely!

h/t: @mattgemmell!

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