31 Dec 2009

MacBook on Snow (Leopard)

Posted on December 31, 2009

Two weeks ago I decided to upgraded my MacBook to Snow Leopard. I must admit that I’m really late with this update :-) Normally I’m an early adopter who is pressing the update button while it is hot, but this time I was a little more careful.

First of all I’m using my MacBook productive for my software development projects. So I had to be sure that I’m still be able to do my work after the update. After reading several forums and the list of incompatible software I was surprised how many software had problems with the new OS! A main show stopper was also that my Line6 sound hardware was not supported and switching to windows just to play guitar wasn’t an option for me.

Then after 3 months I finally had the time and confidence to do the upgrade. Just before the upgrade I’ve gone to the list of all my hardware and software and checked if there is a new version available and if is necessary to update (AppFresh is really helpful for that!). After that I did the mandatory Time Machine backup and I was read to go. The installation of Snow Leopard went very smoothly, after inserting the DVD and clicking “Install Max OS X” the upgrade process started and was finished in about 1 hour. After that the system rebooted and voila…. my MacBook was running with the latest Apple OS.

The first thing after the reboot I noticed was that I noticed nothing. At the first sight everything was looking and behaving the same. After some days I recognized the following things:

  • The new Expose and Dock Expose is really nice
  • QuickTime X looks nice but the interface takes a while to get used to it
  • Bugfix No. 1: On my system I’m not logged in as an admin user. So every time when I install or update a software I’m asked for an admin login. Leopard had the very annoying bug that sometimes when you tried to replace an application you had to enter the credentials many times. This is fixed now.
  • Bugfix No. 2: When using FileVault it was not possible to change the default application of a file type. On every reboot Leopard forgot your settings and the file had the wrong icon again and on double click the wrong application started. Works like a charm now.

I must say that I’m happy with my Snow Leopard. Though there are some minor bugs the system feels a lot more mature and I’m looking forward what Apple is going to do with it in the future. OS X 10.6 doesn’t have many new features and I can’t see any performance improvements on my system, but at least It has fixed two annoying Leopard bugs and I can use XCode 3.2 for my projects.

A Happy New Year 2010 to everyone!

29 Sep 2009

Improving an iPhone App - Part II

Posted on September 29, 2009

This is part II of my recent blog post Improving an iPhone App. After having some trouble getting an update of Virtual Voodoo into the App Store I thought it might be a good idea to add some additional tips to my blog.

From the customers point of view it would be good if the initial version of the application is feature complete. But besides the point that it takes a very long time to build a complex application there are also some other point to consider.

One thing is that you never know if Apple “likes” your application. You can find so many cases on the net where people have troubles getting there applications into the App Store. They get always rejected and time goes by while they are trying to find out what Apple wants to have changed in their application. During this time they don’t earn any money! That’s why I think that it is much better to start with a small subset of your application, build it the way Apple wants it and start to improve it afterwards. You should always build the smallest feature subset as possible.

Then release regular updates of your application and provide bug fixes and new features to your customers. This way you can enhance your application due to the feedback of your customers and you can also take profit of the good position in your iTunes category every time you release your application.

23 Sep 2009

Improving an iPhone App

Posted on September 23, 2009

As the competition in the iPhone application market is getting more and more intense it is an important challenge for every application developer to build a successful application. First you have to find your niche and provide the perfect application for it and then you have to deal with some of the problems the App Store comes with.

Getting an update to the store can be a very lengthy process. And if you have new features it might be even possible that your App is rejected by Apple. So if you have an critical bug which you can fix in 5 minutes it might be possible that your customers have to wait for weeks to get this fix. There is now a way to contact Apple if you have an important bug-fix but I don’t know how well it works. The only solution for this is to test as best as possible and then test again.

When a crash occurs and the user decides to send the crash report to Apple you can access these reports in your iTunesConnect account. But it is up to Apple when they provide these reports and they only provide the reports for the latest version. That’s why we decided to integrate plcrashreporter into our next application. After a crash the application recognizes it on the next start and provides the user the possibility to send the crash report to our server. Now we have instant access to crash reports and can start fixing the bug. We even have the possibility to provide feedback to the user, for example if the bug is already fixed. For the admin tool and the plcrashreporter integration we used the CrashReporterDemo (edit: It’s called QuincyKit know) which provides all the functionality we need.

User feedback is very important for the success of an application. Bad iTunes customer reviews can destroy the sales of an application. The reality is that you will get more bad than good reviews. This is mainly because when the user deletes an application on his iPhone he is invited to rate the application. Most of the times these ratings are one star ratings because the user don’t like your product and removes it. People who are satisfied with your App probably won’t do a review because most of the time people do write reviews only when they want to complain. To achieve more reviews it’s maybe a good idea to ask the user to write a review for the application after a certain time. Let’s say after 4 weeks of application usage the user gets an dialog saying something like “Thanks for using our application! If you like it please rate it in iTunes”. By doing this it would be only one click for the user to get into iTunes where he can rate or review your application.

All those steps can help you to hopefully improve your application success and to build a better product for your customers.