iPhone 6 Protruding Camera

Images posted on Weibo claim to show an iPhone 6 under testing at Foxconn, via GforGames. The validity of these images cannot be confirmed, but the shots do line up with previous rumours. The iPhone 6 depicted here has a protruding camera (similar to the current design of the iPod touch), rounded edges and a considerably thinner profile than the current iPhone 5s.
— http://9to5mac.com/2014/03/31/purported-iphone-6-pictures-show-protruding-camera-rounded-edges/

If Apple has made the (supposed) decision to use a protruding camera design for the next iPhone model, then clearly we're still missing a large part of the puzzle.

The obvious reason for Apple to use a camera module that sticks out from the main device body is to minimize overall device thickness. It's also a decision, I'm guessing, that Jony Ive would want to avoid at all costs. The iPhone camera has been flush with the body for every model including the current iPhone 5s. So why bring attention to it?

For the iPhone to become even thinner than the 5/5s, they would need thinner components like the display and battery. It appears, based off of leaks and rumours this far, that Apple has accomplished just that. But, they couldn't thin down the camera module any farther.

If thinness is the only reason for a protruding camera, I would rather stay at the iPhone 5s thickness. This phone is already pretty damn thin, I'm happy with it and I suspect the vast majority of users are.

Apple wouldn't make a design decision like this unless they had a great reason to and I highly doubt "thinness" is it.

Could we be seeing magnetic optical lens support? Apple has patents on the subject and this is the best guess I can come up with.

Aside from that, I'm baffled.

App Review Fatigue

When is the last time you reviewed an app on the App Store?

When is the last time you wrote a positive review?

I ask because the app reviewers have left the building. Vanished. Gone.

The number of reviews compared to new users has decreased significantly in the last 18 months. In 2010, I was seeing an average of one new review and rating per 10-20 new users. Today, it's somewhere between one out of 200-300 new users.

This drastic decline in reviews for my apps happened shortly before iOS 6 shipped, summer 2012. Is there an App Store related reason for the change in behaviour? I can't come up with any hard evidence to back that up.

It's not just in my own apps that I've seen this trend develop, it appears to be Store-wide. I can't remember the last time I looked at an app on the Store and noticed more than one or two reviews for the current version, and even then, they're never all constructive. (I'm excluding, of course, major apps like Facebook and Apple's apps because those have exponentially more downloads than the 'rest of us'.)

Users are not reviewing apps like they once did. It might be because the average user has more apps installed on their iOS device, thus less attention to give one app. It might be caused by recent App Store design and layout changes.

But my best guess is that users are tired. They're fatigued. And why shouldn't they be? They've been poked and prodded with Review Prompts for years. They've had enough.

What incentives do users have to write thoughtful, constructive, and detailed app reviews?

I see plenty of fantastic apps on the App Store with virtually no reviews and terrible apps with dozens or sometimes hundreds of nasty one-star reviews.

The incentive to write negative reviews is clear. A negative review comes from a user who is usually either angry because they feel they've wasted money, the app doesn't work as expected, or they're holding the developer at ransom because their app doesn't have feature X and they'll change their review when feature X is included. (They won't actually change their review, FYI).

For a user to write a positive review they have to be delighted enough to navigate to the App Store themselves or be prompted by the app and still be delighted after seeing that irritating dialogue. This is very rare although it does happen.

Based on that criteria, we have a broken system that favours negative reviews over positive ones. A system that provides little incentive for users to actually participate in and one that adds very little value to developers unless they're a multi-billion dollar company.

The purpose of App Store reviews was for existing users to tell potential customers about their experience with the product. In a perfect system, the sum of an app's total reviews would paint a clear picture of the product. But if an app lacks enough quality (honest, insightful, in-depth) reviews, it's impossible for a potential new user to gain any real data from existing users.

That's what's happening here and it's a downward spiral. The top 1% of apps see ever higher install rates because of the sheer number of reviews they receive in volume. The rest of the Store barely gains any traction.

The App Store review system is quickly becoming ever more skewed and irrelevant. Users and developers alike are no longer taking it seriously.

It's time for it to go the way of the dodo bird. And until the review system is either fixed or replaced by something better, I give it one star.

Dan Counsell on App Review Prompts

I’ve put together a basic set of rules I think anyone involved with making apps should follow. It’s nothing fancy, and by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good start:

1. Don’t ask at launch. Seriously, never do this.
2. Choose the perfect moment, after a positive interaction is best.
3. Try not to interrupt the users workflow, don’t be annoying.
4. Only ask once. If they’ve said no, never ask again.
5. Ask passively if possible, place it in the app settings or updates notes.

I know having to ask for ratings is far from ideal, but until Apple changes or improves the way app discovery and search work in the App Store, we’re all stuck with it. Spend time thinking about how best to ask your customers for reviews. If you stay honest and respect your users, you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
— http://dancounsell.com/articles/prompting-for-app-reviews

Totally agree with Dan. It just doesn't make sense to ask a user for a review while interrupting their workflow. Sometimes though, it's not easy to find that perfect time.

This is the approach I'm taking in my apps. Only present a modal prompt for review at the best possible time. If I don't see a clear way to do so, then users simply won't be prompted. 

Thoughts on the Fleksy SDK for iOS

The Fleksy SDK came out of beta today. It's a keyboard substitution framework for iOS. Developers can install the Fleksy SDK into their apps with very little work or effort. More about Fleksy

The preverbal elephant in the room from users is Will your apps include Fleksy now that's it's publicly available?

That's a question this developer hasn't decided on. Fleksy is great because it's so easy to integrate into an iOS app. It works really well once installed, and there's some nice(small) incentives for developers. Best of all, it's free.

What I don't like is the total lack of control app developers get when integrating the Fleksy SDK. We're essentially locked out. This, of course, appears to be by design.

For instance, I wanted to include the Fleksy keyboard in Bug Trackr, but only as a bonus for users who had upgraded to the Pro account. With the current 1.0 release of Fleksy, I can't. I have to either enable it for the entire app or choose not to include it at all.

Fleksy also doesn't properly imitate the stander iOS keyboard animations. Instead of the keyboard animating up from the bottom of the screen, it just appears. Not only is this jarring, it breaks assumptions about how the keyboard is going to act. Many apps, including my own, animate UI elements in tandem with the keyboard animations. So what is a developer to do about this edge case?

Typically, we could just test for the keyboard type. But wait! Fleksy doesn't provide an API to test if it's currently displayed. In fact, it doesn't really provide APIs of any kind.

I've always felt that good iOS plug-ins closely follow Apple's own UIKit rules and best practices. Fleksy breaks these rules and seemingly follows someone else's best practices.

That's all well and good. But if Fleksy wants mass adoption, they need to treat developers with a little more respect instead of an inconvenient middle man. 

Launching Bug Trackr

This week, I launched Bug Trackr, a software bug management tool for iOS devices.

This was the first iOS 7 app I've built from the ground up (I hate that term, such a cliche, yet it's appropriate) and it's a miracle I finished it.

Bug Trackr started in May 2013 as a tool I created solely for myself. It wasn't a product I wanted or foresaw shipping to the App Store. It lacked focus and included a workflow I thought would only be constructive to the way I did things. It was a hodgepodge of frameworks and had basic syncing and never quite worked right. The AppDelegate.m file was coming apart at the seams, I was calling private methods, it didn't have an icon.

After WWDC and the realization that so much work had to be done to my existing apps and those in the pipeline, I started using my mishmash bug tracking tool more and more. In September, I decided I needed to start over after a Core Data bug corrupted the sqlite file and I lost everything. Quite the oh fuck moment.

I started again. > New Xcode project. I knew what I liked in the original but I also knew the mistakes to avoid. I wanted this to be my first iOS app developed for iOS 7, not an app updated to iOS 7. I wanted to leave textures and shadows behind. This was a utility app after all. It doesn't have to be cluttered and hazily focused on innovative UI. This was an app primarily used by developers and "power users" (I hate that term too).

What mattered was performance. I needed to be able to add thousands of bug objects with hundreds of app objects if I needed to. I needed to be able to have a clean UI, something that would be easily upgradeable to future iOS releases. I needed to make sure I planned the base app so it's easy as possible to add features in future. I achieved them all.

And so, yesterday, I unleashed Bug Trackr to the world. And I made it free.

When creating something, the price is the hardest decision to make.

I wanted people to start using Bug Trackr without a barrier but I also have to eat. I believe a one-time in-al purchase was the way to do that. You get a fully functional app if you just add one app object. More than that, it's a cup of coffee.

I have some neat features planned for Bug Trackr. I'm also heavily requesting user feedback.

Bug Trackr grew with me, now it has to grow with the world too.

Learn more



Sure is a Candy Crush Saga

I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
— Albert Ransom, Creator of Candy Swipe

It sickens me too.

Candy Crush Saga is a money making cash cow which incidentally is also the sole reason the game exists. The game is made by horrible people who resort to the lowest of the low to squeeze every last cent from its players (whales).

But clearly, that's not enough - they're trying to shut down any apps that use "candy".

This poor sap's app was release 2 years before CCS started sucking the good will from the App Store. Because of the backwards, broken, and prehistoric United States Trademark and Patent Office, this isn't just outrageous, it's completely legal. The next time someone defends the US patent and trademark system, read them this letter.

What can you do about it?

Never play Candy Crush Saga again. Remove it from your phone. Remove it from your children's iOS device. Better yet, write a review for the app and reference the linked letter.

Spread the word.

Source: http://candyswipe.com/king.html

Purpose then Signature

If everyone is busy making everything
How can anyone perfect anything?
We start to confuse convenience with joy
Abundance with choice
Designing something requires focus
The first thing we ask is
What do we want people to feel?
Delight. Surprise. Love. Connection.
Then we begin to craft around our intention
It takes time
There are a thousand no’s for every yes
We simplify. We perfect. We start over
Until everything we touch enhances each life it touches
Only then do we sign our work
Designed by Apple in California

I've been looking to sum up my thoughts on iOS 7. Yes, it's been out for months and it's the new normal, but this release, more than any other iOS release, has been the most difficult to paraphrase.

This morning, the opening text from the iOS 7 unveiling was brought back to my attention. Low and behold, those were the words I was looking for.

The result of designing to surprise and delight creates love and connection. If I took a stab at Apple's mission statement, that would be it.

iOS 7 has accomplished that task. It may not be what every user wanted when they were using iOS 6, but it's a success based on Apple's mission statement for the release.

Google Buys Next

Tony Fadell: We had been hoping to build an independent company. There were plenty of people who offered money but Google offered a great middle ground — we focus on product and vision and they will help build out the company and help scale it.
— http://gigaom.com/2014/01/13/nests-ceo-tony-fadell-explains-why-he-teamed-up-with-google-its-about-infrastructure/

I don't know if he's trying to convince us that Google bought Next so that Next could thrive, or if he's trying to convince himself.

Call me jaded and cynical - I just don't buy it.

Too often we see great startups gobbled up by massive tech companies. Usually the Giant is only interested in the talent behind the products they make. Sometimes, the Giant interested in a patent or feature from the startup's product which they can roll into their own.

But Google buying Next to ensure the future success of the Next products? Doubtful.

Next would be an attractive purchase for any of the Major tech companies. It's not necessarily the technology Next used, it's the implementation. They gave their products a heart and soul - something Google has never been able to achieve. 

And the (public) brains behind Next is Tony Fadell. This is the same person behind Apple's original iPod division. Was Fadell the main reason for Google's purchase or was he just icing on the cake? Time will tell.

The sad part is, Next as we know it is over. With in a year or so, Fadell will have left the company or been moved somewhere else within Google. The Next brand will be gobbled up within Google. The products will either be discontinued or abandoned.

Pretty grim, I know. But we've been taught from experience by seeing countless fantastic and promising startups gutted after acquisition.

At the end of the day, though, Google buying a neat thermostat, smoke detector, and whatever household appliance they were working on doesn't bother me. Tony Fadell being a Google employee does.

Point for the other team.



If you're an iOS app developer, trying to remember the (now) extensive list of system-supported typefaces is near impossible. Remembering the exact way to type those typeface names and subnames using UIFont fontWithName? We all need some assistance.

So check out iosfonts.com. It's a great site that lists every typeface supported by iOS. You can filter by major iOS version and even add a sample string so you can see what your text string looks like in each and every typeface.

I've used this site frequently over the last few years and it's an invaluable resource.

I would love, however, for the site to show me the name of the typeface next to my custom string. The way it works now, once you find a typeface you like, you have to remove the custom text to see the typeface name.

If anyone knows of a Mac equivalent, let me know.

Source: www.iosfonts.com

iOS 8 Wishlist: Beta App Store

Ever tried to test a beta app on iOS? There's profiles, UUIDs, certificates - it's a boggled up mess. And for regular users (not nerds) to install an beta app? A nightmare.

I want Apple to address this problem in a way only Apple can. Create an App Store for betas.

Developers could still only add 100 beta testers to a list. But without the complex installation process on the user end.

This Beta App Store would be available to any iOS who wanted to participate. An icon would appear in SpringBoard when the user opts-in in Settings.app.

In this Beta App Store app, users can browse available updates to betas they're already testing as well as provide feedback to developers.

A Beta App Store is also going to provide a user profile to developers and require testers to routinely provide feedback.

Users would gain a test ranking based on how valuable and helpful developers found them.

What do beta testers get in return? A free copy of the apps they test when the final release is published to the App Store.

Developers? A streamlined way to seed their betas to real-world users. They could stop worrying about tester installation and retention. It's a better way to regularly gain feedback from testers.

What does Apple get? A happier developer community and the ability to bring the beta development process under their roof with their rules.

This Week's App Store Review Conundrum

Everyone has been weighing in this week on what to do about apps asking users to rate their app. 

As detailed on this week's episode of The Talk Show, offending apps display an alertView prompting the user for review. Gruber's main irritation was apps not respecting - or even offering - a 'Never Ask Again' button.

I agree, the way most apps handle asking for reviews is awful. I think in the current App Store ecosystem, it's acceptable to ask your users for a review. But the prompt should have two buttons, Go to the App Store, and Never Again.

If a users selects Never Again, we should do just that. Never, ever, prompt them again.

So prompts are OK, but for god sake, don't make them so annoying. Developers, present them at times when it's most likely convenient for a customer.

Gruber suggesting that folks start rating apps with one star when they ask for review is silly. He didn't tell his readers to do it, he just wondered if it would have an affect if more people started to. But this doesn't solve the problem.

As for Apple banning apps that ask for review? Good luck. It's far too many to manage and monitor and Apple doesn't have real incentive to do so.

I agree that Apple, practically speaking, couldn’t ban this practice. But I’m not so sure that a groundswell campaign to rate these apps poorly wouldn’t work. The App Store is indeed a big place, but there aren’t thatmany reviews for most apps, even popular ones.

The problem though lies deeper than Apps asking for review. The real problem is the review system itself. It's an antiquated way of displaying current customer popularity and satisfaction. It's a system designed for an App Store circa 2008, not 2013.

In a world where most people have over 100 apps on their iPhone, who has time to rate even 10% of them? Who has the care to?

Most reviews I read are from angry customers who want to report a bug. There should be a better way for customers to send bug reports to developers. And customers should be discouraged from using the app review system to shame developers or give one star reviews because an app is missing a feature they want. That isn't what the review system was designed for.

The rating/review system has been misused to the point of redundancy.

The number of reviews/rating has become more important than the content in the reviews. At least that gives a potential customer some hint on an apps popularity.

And if a developer pushes a minor update, why are all reviews pushed to the side? Reviews for all point releases should be treated equal. A review for 2.5.1 is just as relevant as a review for 2.5.2.

So how do we fix this bag of hurt?

Scrap it and start again. We need a new system where less attention is place on individual customers, and more on customers as a whole.

Replace Ratings with Popularity. This is a dynamic value based on time spent in apps compared to similar apps, user engagement, how long an app stays installed on a device compared to other similar apps, etc.. Also include Twitter mentions. Pull data from every available place and translate that into a meaningful score that users understand.

Reviews should become more than a score. Don't simply ask users to choose a number between 1 and 5. Ask them a series of general questions about the app. Likelihood of recommending the app to a friend, did the app live up to its promise, that sort of thing. But also try and weed out reviews.

Ask if the user is reviewing an app because of a bug, if they are, direct them to the developer. If the user is reviewing because they want to hold a one-star review over a developer's head because of a future request, forward them too.

What we've been talking about this week is really about finding the best bandaid for the Review/Rating problem. We need a radical rethink of how the App Store tells customers what apps are good and which are garbage.

Source: http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/12/1...