Posts Tagged 'Programming'

Affilate API: Uber

Got an app with a map? This might be of interest to you:

Introducing The Uber API

As of today, we officially open—to all developers—access to many of the primitives that power Uber’s magical experience. Apps can pass a destination address to the Uber app, display pickup times, provide fare estimates, access trip history and more.

Note that ‘more’ does not currently include ‘actually call for a ride or anything’ though,

What about requesting a ride? Yes, we’ve implemented that endpoint as well, but because calling it immediately dispatches a real driver in the real world, we’re releasing it in a more controlled fashion, starting with a small set of partners. Stay tuned for more on that, and please let us know if you’re interested in being added to the whitelist.

OK then. So what’s in this new Affiliate Program for us exactly?

  • Offer your users credit toward their first Uber ride when they sign up via your app
  • Earn $5 (USD) in Uber credit for every new rider
  • Receive credits that never expire in your Uber account every month
  • Build something amazing and get your app featured on our site

Gotcha. Free rides! That’s awesome! Oh, no, wait … no it’s not. Not if you hang in Most Livable City #3:

Uber Has Expanded to 130 Cities, Vancouver Remains Only One It’s Ever Had to Back Away From

Oh, wait more … no, it’s really not.

This program is currently available to developers in the US only.

Well, that’s not rocketing up our priority list then. But hey, if you are a U.S. developer with a map-using app, something you probably want to consider!

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Airship Pushing Us Overboard

So it’s been a seriously long time since we looked at APNS providing options, as it’s been the universal default for everyone we’ve worked with since to default to Urban Airship. And, generally, to be perfectly satisfied with their free level of service. Turns out they’ve had enough of us freeloaders:

We’ve discovered that we work best when we’re working closely with our customers to help them solve their problems and implement a mobile-first experience for their users with our complete solution. [Ed. - why, what a polite way to say “getting paid”!] Today, we’re taking some concrete steps toward crystallizing that focus by sunsetting our free Developer Edition product that offers a subset of the capabilities of our complete solution.

If you are using the Developer Edition offering, everything will remain the same for the next six-months until its retirement on December 31, 2014. Between now and then, Developer Edition users can either choose to establish a paid relationship with Urban Airship for access to our push-only product or our full solution suite, or migrate to an alternate solution…

Well, these days when less than half opt in to pushes at all, it’s pretty hard to make a case for that for most of our Airship usage. So let’s see what options there are in the “migrate to an alternate solution” space for the freeloading indie, shall we?

In the messaging-focused provider category:

Appoxeestarts at $500/month

Boxcar — 200 pushes per minute to 100 devices for free; goes up by ppm

Element Wave — unlimited to 5K users for free; trial-only for more

Moblico — trial accounts only

Push IO — trial accounts only

PushApps — 1M pushes to 100K devices from 5 apps for free; notably cheap unlimited plans

PushWizard — 30 messages to one app on unlimited devices for free; smorgasbord of paid additions

PushWoosh — unlimited pushes to 1M devices from 5 apps for free; tiered paid feature sets

TheAppSales — “a good size number” for free

XtremePush — unlimited pushes to 1M devices from 5 apps for free; tiered paid feature sets

In the cloud service space that provide messaging on the side:

Amazon SNS — 1M pushes for free; then $1/1M pushes

App42 — 1M pushes for free; tiered price plans

Asking Point — 3M pushes for free; pay via commission

Kinvey — 5M pushes for free; tiered price plans

mobDB — 600K pushes for free; then $15/1M pushes

Parse — 1M pushes for free; then 5¢/1K pushes

If there isn’t something there that suits your feature vs. price requirements adequately, there’s always rolling your own: By far the most popular on github, which we’ll take as sufficient proof of adequacy and not bother looking further, is

Redth/PushSharp: “A server-side library for sending Push Notifications to iOS (iPhone/iPad APNS), OSX (APNS 10.8+) Android (C2DM and GCM – Google Cloud Message), Chrome (GCM) Windows Phone, Windows 8, Blackberry (PAP), and Amazon (ADM) devices!”

but if you want more choice, hey there’s 412 following it thrown up for APNS on Github, go wild.

One last special mention of noodlewerk/NWPusher that lets you do your development with a local OS X application, which certainly would have expedited many of our past projects.

Think we managed to catch all the services currently worthy of short list consideration here; if we missed stumbling over your favourite, of If you have any positive or negative experiences with any of these to share, please do!

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Core Data And Swift

Been quite a while since the last time we rounded up Core Data goodies, since when we’ve gone through The iCloud Angst Apocalypse and ended up with that class of problem being relegated to the new CloudKit hotness … if you don’t need, like, cross-platform access or anything. Which most people want. As, indeed, we’re going to be designing the iOS side of a project in that cross-platform space next week; so let’s take a look at what’s going on now in the new Swifty iOS 8 world, shall we?

First off, here’s an decently comprehensive curation of important tools as the Swift world dawns — keep an eye on all of these to see how they adapt to new world Swiftiness:

Top 10 Core Data Tools and Libraries :

Marcus Zarra gives us The Core Data Stack In Swift which inspired Core Data Stack in Swift Simplified

kylef/QueryKit is a nifty Core Data query language in Swift; also check out kylef/KFData for some convenient Objective-C conveniences

Another interesting initiative (h/t ManiacDev) is Alecrim/AlecrimCoreData: “a Core Data wrapper library written in Swift, “inspired” by MagicalRecord and LINQ.”

Read Swift Core Data Format String Injection — or end up as an xkcd cartoon

Like videos? There’s a bunch here. This series looks particularly worthwhile, comes with code and is updated through the current Xcode 6b5:

UPDATES:

Core Data Batch Updates in iOS 8 And Swift

SugarRecord / SugarRecord: “…you’ll be able to start the CoreData stack structure just with a line of code and start working with your database models using closures thanks to the fact that SugarRecord is completly written in Swift.”

mogenerator 1.28 has “experimental” Swift code generation

New in Core Data and iOS 8: Batch Updating with Core Data Demo: Batch Updating and Asynchronous Fetching

Swift: Distributing Core Data Entities Over a Network

iOS 8: Core Data and Asynchronous Fetching

Your First Core Data App Using Swift

michaelarmstrong / SuperRecord: “A small set of utilities to make working with CoreData and Swift a bit easier.”

Protocols in Swift with Core Data

tadija / AERecord: ”Why do we need yet another one Core Data wrapper? You tell me!”

Core Data versioning is not temporal … My general recommendation is to avoid heavy migrations at all costs. They are not designed to work on iOS and frequently cause issues.”

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iOS 8 Grab Bag

So, pretty much got your head around Swift now and ready to move on to all the other new goodies in iOS 8? Here’s a series that’s been chugging along since WWDC well worth your time to read:

Over in the Wenderlich tutorial empire, we see no reason to expect that this will be less awesome than the last three of which we bought all, so we’ll confidently recommend that you go ahead and preorder

iOS 8 by Tutorials: Learning the new iOS 8 APIs with Swift or hey, go whole hog with Swift by Tutorials Bundle

In the meantime, there’s lots of Swift tutorials, and this introduction to Metal

iOS 8 Metal Tutorial with Swift: Getting Started

If you deal with passwords anywhere in your app, if you’ve missed it so far (h/t: ManiacDev) head over now to

AgileBits/onepassword-app-extension

Welcome! With just a few lines of code, your app can add 1Password support, enabling your users to:

  • Access their 1Password Logins to automatically fill your login page.
  • Use the Strong Password Generator to create unique passwords during registration, and save the new Login within 1Password.
  • Quickly fill 1Password Logins directly into web views.

And even if you don’t have password management, take the time to read their very nice explanation of extension security at

Filling with your approval: On 1Password’s App Extension and iOS 8 security

Here’s a nice little button class (h/t iOS Dev Weekly) to get you started with the funky effect stuff:

AYVibrantButton is a stylish button with iOS 8 vibrancy effect. It is a subclass of UIButton that has a simple yet elegant appearance and built-in support for UIVisualEffectView and UIVibrancyEffect classes introduced in iOS 8. Yet, it can be used on iOS 7 without the vibrancy effect…

Here’s an iOS 8 savvy HUD class whose necessity is explained for those who might question it as

There already are so many other open source progress HUD components!

While other progress HUD components are nice they all have their problems. MBProgressHUD is outdated and buggy, MMProgressHUD is totally over engineered and requires a long time to implement, SVProgressHUD and HTProgressHUD are not implemented in the right way and they all don’t offer the extensibility of JGProgressHUD. JGProgressHUD was inspired by all of these components to create the ideal progress indicator.

We adore people not overburdened with modesty.

UPDATES:

Self Sizing Table View Cells; Understanding Self Sizing Cells and Dynamic Type in iOS 8

A Step-By-Step Tutorial On Using iOS 8′s New Keyboard Extension; The Trials and Tribulations of Writing a 3rd Party iOS Keyboard

UIAlertController Changes in iOS 8

iOS 8 Privacy Updates

iOS8 Sampler for iOS

Working with Touch ID API in iOS 8 SDK

iOS 8 Metal Tutorial with Swift: Getting Started; Metal By Example; objc.io’s Metal

Image Resizing Techniques and PHImage​Manager

Introducing the iOS 8 Feast!

Apps Using iOS 8 Extensions

What we learned building the Tumblr iOS share extension

EL Mustache – iOS 8 Photo Extension in Swift

iOS 8 Handoff Tutorial

Tutorial: Creating Interactive Notifications With iOS 8’s Notification Actions

Introduction to iOS 8 App Extension: Creating a Today Widget

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Project Diagnostics: Faux Pas

Hey, we can all use some more help finding problems in our projects, right? Check out this most promising new tool Faux Pas:

What the Clang Static Analyzer is to your code, Faux Pas is to your whole Xcode project.

Faux Pas inspects all of these things together:

  • Code
  • Project configuration (e.g. build settings)
  • Interface Builder files
  • Static assets (e.g. images)
  • Version control

This means it can warn you about errors that span the boundaries between these different parts of the project. For example:

  • Code tries to load a resource file that doesn’t exist
  • Code uses a localization key that is missing for some languages
  • Project references a file that is outside of the version control root
  • Project is missing an API usage description (e.g. NSContactsUsageDescription) while using that API in the code

So we figured we’d give it a shot at our current project. In which our code compiles clean with -Weverything, because we play Xcode on hard level, so it ought to be good right? Well, not by 5825 problems, doh!

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 7.03.41 AM.png

There is a lot of stuff this thing checks that’s impossible to check efficiently any other way. We’d go into more detail … but why bother? It’s an demonstratedly invaluable tool, download it now!

h/t: iOS Dev Weekly!

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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…

A Candid Look at Unread’s First Year

Unread for iPhone has earned a total of $32K in App Store sales. Unread for iPad has earned $10K. After subtracting 40 percent in self-employment taxes and $350/month for health care premiums (times 12 months), the actual take-home pay from the combined sales of both apps is:

$21,000, or $1,750/month

Considering the enormous amount of effort I have put into these apps over the past year, that’s a depressing figure. I try not to think about the salary I could earn if I worked for another company, with my skills and qualifications. It’s also a solid piece of evidence that shows that paid-up-front app sales are not a sustainable way to make money on the App Store…

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!

UPDATES:

Increasing In-App Revenue with Metric Driven Design and Emotional Targeting

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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?

UPDATES:

iOS8 Day-by-Day :: Day 6 :: Profiling Unit Tests

iOS8 Day-by-Day :: Day 11 :: Asynchronous Testing

objc.io #15: Testing

Swift: Unit Testing Tips and Tricks

Cloudbees has virtualized OS X environments for continuous integration with Jenkins.

Greenhouse apparently wins the Xcode 6 support prize: September 8th – “If you want to give it a ride then drop us an email at team@greenhouseci.com and we’ll enable it for your account. We will enable it for all users automatically in the future when it gets a bit more stable so stay tuned.”

Asynchronous Testing With Xcode 6

Xcode 6.0.1 Asynchronous Tests

Continuous Integration With Xcode Server

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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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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!

UPDATES:

CloudKit: The raywenderlich.com Podcast Episode 9

Choosing CloudKit brings up the point of data security, at least the user perception of such, that might be not insignificant depending on your intended app:

They will not need to setup another account with yet another set of credentials to manage. More importantly, their data will be stored with Apple, a vendor they have already choosen to trust. It will be stored in siloed, private data stores that not even the developer can access. That cannot be said for apps using Azure, Parse or other backend services.

Web Services, Dependencies, and CloudKit

CloudKit: The fastest route to implementing the auto-synchronizing app you’ve been working on? with Get up and Running with iOS 8′s CloudKit

Beginning CloudKit Tutorial

About iCloud changes in 1Password 5

“…apparently it’s also the API that Apple has always wanted for itself.”

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