Under the Bridge

iPad 3.2 SDK Roundup

So since it looks like we’ll be talking about all the new stuff in the 4.0 SDK very shortly, let’s take a minute here to round up some of the more worthwhile posts on what’s new and exciting in the newly not NDA’d 3.2 SDK for the iPad:

Jumping from iPhone to iPad Development, A Beginners Guide

The Good and the Bad: iPad from a Developer’s Point of View

What’s new in iPhone SDK 3.2

Noticed any others worth a gander, Dear Readers?

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Tutorial: HTML5 iPhone App

Here’s another one in our dribble of  occasional mentions of the offline HTML5 alternative to building iPhone applications, just in case we ever have a problem with App Store restrictions or the need for a cross-mobile-platform deliverable enough to actually get into it:

How to Make an HTML5 iPhone App

… I’ll show you how to create an offline HTML5 iPhone application. More specifically, I’ll walk you through the process of building a Tetris game.

What am I talking about when I say “offline”? Well, it means that we have a custom icon, a custom startup screen, a native look-and-feel, and you can use the app even when the phone isn’t connected to the Internet.

The app should be as functional as it can when it is offline, just like normal native mobile apps.

This is a tutorial specifically for iPhones but most of these techniques apply to all phones that have HTML5-capable browsers…

Thorough walkthrough, easy to follow, covers offline data storage even. Good stuff, good stuff!

h/t: MobileOrchard!

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Tip: Build and Archive

Just in case you missed this in the release notes for the iPhone SDK 3.2 which is final now so go download it, Xcode 3.2.2 has a handy-dandy new ‘Build and Archive’ command which will place your app and .dSYM into ~/Library/Mobile Device/Archived Applications, and list it in a new ‘Archived Applications’ entry under ‘iPhone Development’ in the Organizer window; from where you can run Apple’s initial validation checks if its metadata is on iTunes Connect, submit it directly, or hit the shiny new ‘Share Application…’ button, which will let you either save somewhere or email directly an .ipa file signed with your certificate of choice.

So, with any luck, it’s goodbye forever to those pesky ad hoc build distribution problems, and without needing to resort to workarounds like dsym-archiver. W00t!

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CrashReportSender

OK, today we’ve got something for you that every single iPhone application developer should implement immediately. It certainly would have saved us being reduced to gibberingly apoplectic frustration last year. At least, you should implement it immediately if you’re not absolutely 100% certain that your app will never crash either because of your own code or because of any change in system libraries’ behaviour. Feel free to stop reading now if that’s the case.

Ah, you’re still here. Yes indeed, even if you yourself do happen to be absolutely perfect, those people who left because they trust Apple are pretty silly, aren’t they now? So let us continue.

The immediate problem we’d been faced with was bug reports like this one:

I observed the app crash during [REDACTED]. This occurred when a button was pressed…  [REDACTED] I believe. But I have tried this additional times and have not observed a crash, so it is not easily repeatable.

Those are great, aren’t they? And of course, the idea of a user being able to follow instructions like “please send me the crash report, which you can find after you next sync at this path…”, well that’s just crazy talk. So we decided that for the sake of our blood pressure, we needed to put in some way to get those crash reports directly. And it seems that state of the art in free code to help you out with that is still the long-ago–mentioned PLCrashReporter … but there’s a new twist to it. An awesome twist. On awesome toast. With a side dish of awesome. And that twist would be the CrashReporterDemo project.

Really, it’s quite sadly misnamed indeed, because it’s not just a reporter demo, it’s a complete crash management and automatic feedback system. “And automatic feedback?” you say? Why, yes, indeed, “and automatic feedback”, we said. Like this. Your app crashes, next time it starts the user gets a screen like this (pardon the greenly redacted bits, but this project is still SOOPER SEEKRIT):

CrashReporterCrashed.png

No particularly big deal so far, if still waaaaaaay better than most apps manage. But this, ah this is the awesome part, the user taps ‘Yes’ and nigh on immediately this shows up:

YeahIKnow.png

Woah. Have you ever seen any application do that before? We have never seen any application do that before. That’s just so insanely awesome that “awesome” blushes and hides itself as not being up to the task of adequately conveying its awesomeness. We do so wish we’d had this last summer as the angry emails poured in and the angry one-star reviews piled up and we begged the grinning gargoyles athwart the Apple approval process to p-p-p-please let us publish a four line fix as they sat back on their evil haunches and cackled hysterically at our discombobulation. Alright, perchance we exaggerate somewhat; it may be that their cackling was not actually hysterical. But it felt that way at the time. Not that we’re bitter or anything, mind you. It was an educational experience that poking around the undocumented corners of the SDK is actually not as clever an idea as it may appear at the time. But we digress.

How this project brings the magic is that it includes online PHP scripts to handle the submission — and local support to symbolicate the crash reports on your own machine and send them back up to the server, how awesome is that indeed — sort it by version, and identify them as being a particular “pattern”. And you can set a fix and a fixed version online to that pattern. Like, for the above, this:

CrashReporterPattern.png

and then on the versions screen — which will fill in the future version you note for a fix automatically — set the type of resolution (fixed, submitted to Apple, now available for upgrade, …) and tell it to notify future submitters;

CrashReporterVersions.png

… and then they will get an appropriate alert as shown above.

So yeah, I trust that now you follow where we were coming from when we said this is something that “every single iPhone application developer should implement immediately“. If not sooner. That repository again, you can find it here.

But wait! There’s even more! If setting this up on your own server is too much of a strain — although it’s not that hard, really — it’s available as a free service online at macdevcrashreports.com! Or it will be, anyways; at present it’s in limited signup beta testing. Probably worth signing up with once they go commercial, I’m sure. In the meantime, the open source version works just fine. We’d call out “awesome” again, but “awesome” is running and crying from overuse in the post already, so we’ll just reiterate that this is something we’re going to consider mandatory for any future projects we’re actually going to be tasked with supporting after initial release!

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App Website Template

Oooh, this is just the thing for those with the artistic ability of trolls: an attribution-licensed complete website for an iPhone application!

appwebsitetemplate.png

Not only that, full documentation here. Good stuff, good stuff.

And if you want WordPress support or the source .psd files, here is the commercial version!

h/t: iPhoneSDK!

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Marketing: App Gifting

Here’s a good read on one developer’s experience using app gifting as a promotional tool, to the tune of giving away 1000 copies of their game to promote their new iPad version:

About a week ago, Apple enabled gifting for apps. This got a lot of developers thinking about how gifting can be used for marketing purposes. We weren’t the first ones to try it, but we decided to try it on a mass scale.

Our plan was to give away 1,000 copies of our game Harbor Master for iPhone to the first 1,000 subscribers to our newsletter. We coordinated this with promoting the upcoming Harbor Master HD for iPad.

We were lucky that TouchArcade picked up the story. We had our 1,000 subscribers within the first 10 hours, most within the first few hours…

Woah. Even at only paying 30% of full price, that’s still a pretty serious investment. Worth it? Well, they think so:

Overall, this was a great promotion strategy for us. We got over 1,000 interested mailing list subscribers, great media attention for Harbor Master HD, and a lot of good will from the community. People value a gift much more than a free app. While people tend to rate free apps much lower than paid apps because a free app has lower perceived value, the recipients of our gifts have been nothing but grateful….

Hmmmm. Seems like you could have managed it more cheaply to us … but hey, more options are always great.

And for a little comedy relief, note the tempest in a teapot about whether this was a cheap(ish) way to buy a higher App Store ranking. Short answer: nope. But my, people do just love jumping to conclusions, don’t they?

h/t: MobileOrchard!

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Monetization: Burstly

So a couple weeks ago, we mentioned a very interesting looking ad management platform called .app/ads? Yeah, they’ve gone and rebranded themselves,

burstly-logo.jpg

so for the sake of easy archive searching after the however long it is until we actually get around to thinking about putting a new ad platform into a project, here’s an update to point you at the all-new, all-wow, www.burstly.com. Very pretty indeed. And Apple developers will have a bit of a chuckle at their documentation library design, no doubt.

Also, check out this good introductory app monetization blog post. From which we also learn that they do see themselves as having a direct competitor, the new to us AdMarvel. Although since AdMarvel is now owned by Opera, one does wonder just how much focus they’re going to be sparing for iPhone development needs.

And see what the press is saying at MobileBeat and at TechCrunch, and this missive from a VC investor. Certainly does look very interesting, and something that looks worth jumping into right away …

… if not for the elephant in the room here, which is what’s reportedly coming from Apple in short order.

It certainly is interesting times on the advertising front!

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iPad GUI PSD

So no doubt you’re all looking forward to developing for the iPad, and here from the same people who did the iPhone GUI PSD that we mentioned ages ago — and is now up to version 3.0, by the way — comes, wait for it, the iPad GUI PSD!

ipad_GUI_PSD1.jpg

The PSD was constructed using vectors, so it’s fully editable and scalable. You’ll notice there are a few new UI elements as compared to the iPhone interface. The workable screen design is formatted to 768×1024 so anything you design in the Photoshop file can easily be brought over to the SDK.

It’s 1.0 so I’m sure we’ll notice missing elements as we begin to use it. We’ll perodically update it to include new elements as we notice them or as they become available through any SDK updates.

Any other iPad design helpers you’ve noted out there so far, Dear Readers?

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Poses Professional

So yep, here we are again with another shipment from the laboring minions of the Trollwerks empire to all of you out there: and no doubt to your complete lack of surprise, after a one-product break we’re back to displays of conspicuously concupiscent femininity. Introducing Poses Professional,

0ProMain.png

and its companion free version Poses Sampler!

0SamplerSplash.png

Yep, that IAP-enabled upgrade of the Poses series that we’ve been mumbling about getting around to any day now for around six months, yes we finally got everything sorted out and guided through approval, which was a bit of a trick with three current app updates, two new apps, and six IAP items between them.

The reason all this needed to be synchronized is that the original three volumes of 368 poses each we’re now making available as IAP items — but you can’t share purchases between apps directly, plus we wanted purchasers of the originals to transfer over their content without paying again. So how we ended up handling that is sharing a keychain between all five apps, and purchasing a volume in either new app or running the original volume apps marks a flag in the keychain for the new apps to download the appropriate content from our servers. And no angry emails or crash reports showing up in the first three days, so apparently it’s all working out well, to our mild surprise. Er, we mean, as we confidently expected.

Any-ways, this is a moderately interesting controlled experiment in pricing, going from high (by App Store standards) priced content to a lower priced paid entry plus a freemium model, and we’re going to be fascinated indeed to see how that works out. So all you photographers out there, you know what to do!

Poses Professional

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Source: SCSegmentedControl

You ever had that problem where you just had too darn many choices to fit into a UISegmentedControl? Well, here’s a solution: make it multi-line!

SCSegmentedControl.jpg

Cute. Maybe stretching the HIG a trifle — but cutely stretching them! It’s part of the TouchCustoms repository on github, which is apparently a collection of kibbles and bits used by ScreenCustoms a duo out of Belarus. Looks like some other goodies in there too if you rummage a bit…

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