This week at 148Apps.com, we got to known iOS developer Lady Shotgun. Jennifer Allen writes, “Doing things a little differently from the rest, Lady Shotgun considers itself as a co-operative of freelance game developers, with the team working remotely from each other rather than through a central office. It might be unorthodox but this team is made up of folks with some extensive experience in the game industry. Uniqueness continues through the fact that Lady Shotgun is made up, predominantly, of female game designers and coders with men forming the minority here.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-28 :: Category: Games
GiggleApps.com headed to work for a review of the unique Grandpa’s Workshop. Amy Solomon says, “Grandpa’s Workshop is a fun interactive app which teaches about the tools found in a workshop as well as learning about simple math concepts.
I really enjoy how this app works, as a fun older gentleman walks children through workshop-related activities such as identifying tools, painting different projects or mending broken objects jigsaw style.
Simple math-related activities are also included such as using a tape measure to measure boards, cutting boards into fractions such as halves or quarters, choosing the correct number of screws or other parts grandpa needs as well as a spot-the-difference section involving tools that may be similar or different.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-25 :: Category: Education
Finally, AndroidRundown.com’s KickStarter spotlight this week was for the BlueTube Amplifier. Joseph Bertolini writes, “Being a sort of audiophile I appreciate the sound of a classic tube amplifier and I recently just started re-downloading my favorite albums as lossless FLAC files to preserve that original sound quality. Looking around the market today, it is really a sad time for those who really care about the quality of their music as cheap parts are appearing from overseas and there is a resulting flood of bargain Bluetooth speakers and docks on the market. These sound terrible, and combined with the super-compressed audio files that the average user has in their music collection music really has taken a technological step backward at a time when there has been nothing but technological advances. Well, audiophiles and smartphone owners rejoice because I have discovered our savior and it does not come from the likes of Sony or any large corporation. Meet the BlueTube Bluetooth Tube Amplifier, and built out of solid cherry and walnut hardwood it promises to look as great as it sounds.”
To understand the roots of “Monster Slider” you must first back track to when the game’s design was originally conceived. Community Manager Ryan Olson helped fill in the blanks:
“Rob Lockhart, the game designer, was at a game design conference called Games Learning Society in Madison, Wisconsin. He was thinking of god games like Black and White and The Sims and what would a god game look like in its simplest form. Directly shifting the world to guide a creature to a goal was the result. When Rob got back to the studio, he gathered up some odds and ends in the office to create a paper prototype of his idea. Once some of the gameplay was tweaked, then the game went into full production…”
As great as having a unique idea and vision for a product is, only through iteration and collaboration can these kinds of concepts make the jump from the page to the screen. This is where prototyping comes into play. Despite the word “prototype,” implying some sort of playable product, different designers choose to present their concepts in different ways. Each studio is different and apparently Toy Studio is no exception to the rule.
“The original paper prototype we made of some gameplay options was something to experience! Rob, the designer, was acting as the game AI creating puzzles from scraps of paper and moving the monster we had to represent Squishy in front of us. He would bring in people from their desk and sit them down to play out a few games. There was a bowl of jellybeans in the meeting room and then Rob put them on some tiles and we had portals. Just like that. Squishy’s Revenge was just scraps of paper, candy and odds and ends from some board games we have in the office that turned into an original game…” — Rob Lockhart, Game Designer
And just like that, a game was born. Shortly thereafter a tight knit collection of three were tasked with bringing a glorified break room mess to life. With the help of only a single designer, coder and artist, the product leapt for the design document page and into existence. But not all was well in the world of rotating tiles.
Stay tuned, for tomorrow we finish our epic tale, and learn more about Toy Studio’s latest effort, Squishy’s Revenge!
This week at 148Apps.com, writer Blake Grundman offered part one of his developer interview with the folks behind Squishy’s Revenge, Toy Studio. Grundman writes, “Despite only having been in existence since September of 2009 the team working behind the scenes at Toy Studio have been hard at work, churning out an impressive thirteen games in that short span. Having successfully released titles on both the Nook Color and Facebook, it seemed like the next logical step was to transition into the iOS space.”
Read the rest of part one at 148Apps.com, and keep checking in for parts two and three soon.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-09-29 :: Category: Games
Over at 148Apps.biz, founder Jeff Scott reported on Unity’s big announcement at Unite11. Scott says, “Shown during the Unite11 keynote, Unity 3.5 includes lots of new, very impressive sounding features like Multi-threaded rendering, Improved occlusion culling, and Radiosity Normal Mapping lightmaps. All in all, about 40 major new features. I’m thinking this will make some developers very happy — and me, as a game player will reap the benefits! For a full list of new features in Unity 3.5, check out the press release.”
GiggleApps writer Amy Solomon contributed a review of Snap and Share Kids Cam, stating, “I take a lot of photos of my son, who will also now ask me to take a snapshot many times of things he finds amusing, sometimes asking me to email them to family members. This app easily allows a child his age to take and send photos himself, as this app is very simple to use and contains nice spoken prompts explaining each event leading up to the emailing of photos. So easy to use in fact, that I plan to use it myself as this application is surely quicker than taking a picture, finding it on the camera roll, tapping to email, typing the recipient’s email address and tapping again to send the email on its way.”
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2011-09-06 :: Category: Photography
And thus we come to another weekly round-up of 148Apps network goodness. There’s so much more to see on the various sites, so check them out for yourself – and don’t forget to follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for daily news updates and contests galore. See you next time.
Mr. CEO, members of the developer program, iOS users, and abusers. I have come here today not to only address the great advances of the App Store but to also address the issues.
During the past year the App Store has seen amazing growth. We’ve seen a quadrupling of the number of applications, downloads, and devices. Since it’s inception, the App Store has generated over 1.5 billion dollars in revenue for Apple with over a billion dollars of that going to developers.
The App Store is a unique mobile application market. Apple has done something that no other device manufacturer had done before or since. Not only has Apple developed a common mobile platform delivered across a variety of devices, they have done so across over eighty different countries and mobile carriers. This is the most perfect mobile device and application marketplace match ever created. Apple controls everything from the device research and development, manufacturing, sales, and application delivery. Reducing the mobile carriers to the point that they are simply service providers. Prior to the iPhone, mobile carriers controlled everything from device features, names, and what applications were available at what price. Under the iPhone, they control just the cellular service. Palm, Google, and soon Microsoft will try to replicate the Apple App Store model, but none have yet to be able to — even though they have the perfect example of how to do so.
One year ago there were 65,000 applications available that had amassed 1.5 billion downloads. As of now there are over 229,000 applications available and those applications have been downloaded a total of over 5 billion times.
Growth in the number of applications this year has been more linear than the exponential growth we saw the first year. That has more to do with the saturation of the app store than it does with size of the market. Over the past 12 months we saw nearly 200,000 new applications approved and nearly 4 billion additional downloads. That’s a 3x growth in number of applications this year as opposed to a 109x growth the first year. That works out to a pretty steady 10-20% growth in the number of applications, month-over-month for the past 12 months.
If the current growth trends continue, the App Store could see 35 billion downloads of nearly three-quarters of a million different apps one year from today. Lofty goals indeed, but I don’t think we expected to see the growth we saw this past year. With the continued adoption of the platform on revised devices like the iPhone 4, and whole new device lines like the iPad, and potentially others, I think there’s a great chance that it will continue that growth.
While in it’s first year, application prices dropped considerably and quickly, they have remained fairly steady this year. Due to changes made this year we can expect to see the growth of freemium applications continue as well. And more income will be generated by in-app purchases versus application sales. This is something we can not track though, so it will be a mystery how much income this will bring developers.
The last year has not been without issues. While the App Store to consumer segment continues to be very well received, Apple still has issues to address with it’s developer relations. While greatly improved, there are still issues with application approval. In addition, the open-ended nature of that developer agreement has given Apple the opportunity to change their mind repeatedly and remove an entire segment of application from the App Store without notice.
The developer tools provided by Apple continue to evolve. Xcode, the development environment provided by Apple is consistently lauded by developers as the best available on any platform. The next version, Xcode 4 appears to be even better. While still in beta and under NDA, developers have been leaking a few details here and there that make it sound like a great step forward. Adding features often requested and integration of features such as interface designer and the Instruments performance monitor into the main application.
While everyone knows that developers have to play by Apple’s rules if they want to be in the App Store, those rules are an ever changing target. This causes problems as it’s difficult to develop to rules that are enforced inconsistently and constantly changing. We’ve seen whole companies sprout up, spend money researching and developing applications, and then be ruined as those applications were not approved by Apple for sale in the App Store. Thereby destroying the company that had been built up exclusively to develop for the iOS platform. This has to change.
We’ve also seen whole segments of application approved for sale and then later removed from the App Store. Segments such as Google Voice based application, applications that present a desktop-like interface, and so-called bikini apps were once approved and then later removed – en masse from the App Store. This too has to change.
The application approval delay has been reduced considerably — a job well done there. But there are still some apps that fall through the cracks and don’t get approved in a timely manner. The real issue there is that the developers don’t know why. There is no communication back to the developers on what is going on, what the potential issue is, or how to resolve it. It appears this is usually caused by an exception. An app reviewer takes a look at the app and has a question and passes it up the chain of approval. That seems to be where it gets stalled. Nothing is communicated back to the developer other than it requires further review and it can stall for weeks in that status. Oddly, some developers have been able to remove that application and re-submit and have it go right through as a different reviewer doesn’t see an issue. There is the inconsistency and communication issues, those need to change.
Over this coming year I hope to see Apple firm up it’s developer agreement and explicitly spelling out what developers can and can not do in the App Store. And then the important part, stick to that agreement for all developers. You can’t ignore the rules for some developers and strictly enforce them for others.
While there are reasons to change the rules to adapt to the changes in the market, keeping these changes to a minimum and communicating them properly before they are made are the key to keeping your developers happier.
Censorship has become a concern. We’ve seen the issue where any application that pulls data from the Internet needs to be marked as 17+ since they could, theoretically, pull adult content. This has been very randomly applied to apps it seems. If it were consistently applied, the NY Times application would be marked 17+. It, of course is not marked that way. We’ve also seen applications rejected that could be considered a freedom of press concern.
Censorship could become a major concern, and something to think about for any publication releasing an app on the App Store. Some theorize a world where Apple can control the media by approving or disallowing applications based on their political content. While I don’t think it’s a huge potential concern — or at least not as much of a concern as conspiracy theorists would make you believe — it needs to be considered when developing for the iOS platform.
In summary, the App Store is growing by a phenomenal amount and sales of devices and applications show no real signs of slowing down. We’ve seen growing pains as the larger the App Store gets, the harder it is to manage, in general those have been addressed well. There are issues with developer relations and approvals, but consumers are happier than ever.
In spite of the issues, the state of the App Store is strong.
A forum post over at Mac Rumors has shed a little light on the hugely delayed availability of internet tethering for the iPhone on AT&T. Announced at the iPhone OS 3.0 event (yes, that long ago!) AT&T is yet to introduce the feature that allows users to share their iPhone’s 3G connection with a computer via Bluetooth or USB.
The forum post shows two images found within the iPhone 4.0 Beta that is being seeded to developers and shows a Setup Internet Tethering option as well as a popup screen explaining that in order to enable tethering the user must contact AT&T. AT&T remains the sole carrier of the iPhone in the US and has been dogged by issues with its network including dropped calls and poor 3G coverage. Many believe that its delay in rolling out tethering to the iPhone is due to worries that it may put too much strain on the network.
Will the launch iPhone OS 4.0 be the moment those desperate for tethering have been waiting for? We guess all will be revealed at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference this June.
If you haven’t gone ahead and jailbroken your iPhone already, you’re no doubt as excited as us at the prospect of iPhone OS 4.0. So many of the features we’ve long been craving to have on our phones will be at our fingertips, hopefully some time this June.
Whether you’re looking to prevent the RSI-inducing homescreen swiping that occurs when you install more than 50 or so apps or you simply want to change your background image, iPhone OS 4.0 will have the answer.
Music fans will love the ability to run apps like Pandora in the background while browsing the web or checking emails, and non-iPad owners will relish getting hold of their first iBooks for iPhone.
But we know all of the cool new features in the next OS already, don’t we? Apparently not. Sources who have their hands on the latest developer builds of the next iPhone operating system are providing snippets of information on some more great tweaks that weren’t even mentioned during Apple’s “Sneak Peak” back in early April.
In iPhone OS 4.0 a swipe to the left of the first homescreen (which takes you to Spotlight in OS 3.0) brings up a new interface with some new buttons. iPod controls, much like those you see when double clicking the home button in OS 3.0, sit in the center with a quick iPod app launcher button to their right. On the left is the best new feature yet and previously only a plaything of the iPad owner – orientation lock. At last, browsing the web in bed is no longer something you have to do sitting up or lying at an angle only familiar to contortionists. 9to5Mac, who posted images of these new features, suggest that this could be part of a wider plan to introduce “mini-widgets” in the final build of iPhone OS 4.0
File Sharing and more
Meanwhile, over at The Boy Genius Report, even more cool tidbits are surfacing. First is the ability to drag manually add files to your iPhone via iTunes. Simply plug in your phone and access the File Sharing section under the Apps tab in iTunes to drag files to and from your computer and on to your device. Closing running applications (as part of the multitasking feature) has become easier too. In much the same way you currently delete apps from your iPhone, simply holding on an open app’s icon will produce small close buttons for you to click on and shut down the app.
This is about as much that’s out there at the moment but remember, Steve Jobs promised over 100 new user features when showing off OS 4.0, so expect many more neat tricks and enhancements in the coming weeks.
I get a lot of e-mails daily, most of them the usual snore-worthy PR mailshots from the App Store big boys .. and of course (well, at least most of the time), these are about upcoming games and apps for the iPhone itself. So, it was refreshing this morning to receive the heads up on a new completely open-source project from iPhone development studios Edovia and FutureTap.
Originally a Canadian-German co-production between both firms, InAppSettingsKit is an open-source project which allows iPhone developers to place settings in-app, as opposed to hiding them away in the iPhone OS Settings.app.
Edovia and FutureTap admit there has been extensivediscussion among the iPhone community about which option is better. Do you oust your app’s settings to Settings.app and hope the user finds them successfully, or do you opt for the in-app route and risk cluttering your once streamline app with a bunch of settings most would only use on the rare occasion? According to Edovia and FutureTap, there are quite a few reasons in-app settings should be considered.
- Settings.app becomes a total mess with longer load times
- If only in Settings.app most users simply don’t understand the mechanism and miss the settings
- A context switch is needed to switch between settings and the app. If on the 16th screen, this involves quite some tapping and flicking.
- In-App settings can instantly change the behavior of the app
Sure, in-app settings are popular. After all, What’s better than to be able to edit the global settings of an app, without having to leave the actual app? We’ve seen a slurry of the big name apps take this approach. Including the likes of Twitterrific, AIM and more recently, Tweetie 2 .. among others.
What’s interesting about this project is, as a developer, instead of having to choose one route and ultimately having to accept the consequences via user feedback, it proposes a new outlook on settings for iPhone OS. Dubbed ‘Hybrid Settings’ the settings are place in Settings.app sure, but they’re also available in-app too, providing the best of both worlds – and don’t worry about visual consistency of your settings either, using the kit your in-app settings will look just like as if they were pulled straight from Settings.app.
“We’re proposing a second approach that we call “hybrid settings”. In this model, the user has the choice: the settings are available in Settings.app. But they’re placed in-app as well. That way, every user can decide where to edit the settings. The in-app settings are a 100% clone of the Settings.app style.”
Developers can find out more about the project at InAppSettingsKit.com – and if you have an app and you’ve recently added the InAppSettingsKit to it, the guys at Edovia and FutureTap want to know. Add yourself to the list at: inappsettingskit.com/apps.
Gamevil is the fantastic company behind Zenonia and Baseball Superstars. I recently had the chance to review their latest game, Zenonia, and it blew me away; you can read my review here, but suffice to say that I thought it clearly surpassed other RPGs in the App Store. While the Korean-based company has only released two games in the US App Store so far (the other Baseball Superstars), both have been very well-received.
The president of Gamevil USA, Kyu Lee, generously agreed to answer a few questions about Zenonia, Gamevil, and the App Store in general. He has some really interesting and intriguing insights—it’s not often that we get to hear things from a mobile game developer’s point of view.
Parts of this interview were also used in my Search for Satisfaction editorial, but there’s plenty of additional content here!
Bonnie Eisenman (148apps): Hi, Kyu, and thanks for taking the time to do this! For starters, what inspired you guys to make Zenonia? I don’t just mean “why make an RPG”–I mean, “why make a good RPG?”
Kyu Lee (Gamevil): We’ve been developing and publishing mobile games since 2000 in South Korea. One of the most popular categories in South Korea is Role-Playing Games, and it is an extremely competitive category. We “had” to make good RPG games in order to survive through the tough competition. We have been developing RPG games ever since we launched “Last Warrior” in 2001, the first RPG mobile game in Korea, which was less than 50KB. ZENONIA was a project decided to be done after we launched our multiplayer network game, “Path of a Warrior”. Continue reading Interview with Gamevil (Developers of Zenonia and Baseball Superstars) »
Developers and news outlets alike have been up in arms about the clarification made in the agreement signed by developers before receiving the SDK. Unfortunately, there have been some serious misconceptions about what, if anything, has actually changed and what it will mean for both the official development and jailbroken communities.
Section 3.2 Use of the SDK, paragraph (e) states:
(e) You will not, through use of the SDK or otherwise, create any Application or other program that would disable, hack or otherwise interfere with any security, digital signing, digital rights management, content protection, verification or authentication mechanisms implemented in or by the iPhone operating system software, iPod touch operating system software, this SDK, or other Apple software, services or technology, or enable others to do so.
Bio: Web developer by day, Mac and iPhone developer by night.
- Created iPodderX, the world’s first podcast client
- Wrote “Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Safari” prior to the SDK being released
- Loan Shark was chosen early on by Apple as a “Featured” app, and is also featured in Apple’s own “iPhone Your Life” pages.
Finishing up our interview with August, I ask him about what it is like being an iPhone developer in the lime-light, or Celebrity Developer. He talks about how much fun it has been to break out of the traditional role from time to time, and how it has really helped out his programming business.
I also get his opinions on Apple’s filing to have jailbreaking iPhones judged illegal, what that means to the development community, and how jailbreaking is actually beneficial to the App Store and making the iPhone a popular development platform. August also tells us why he has avoided it.
Most importantly, August gives us the breaking story about the soon to be released app, YOWZA!!, and how it will change the way you shop and use your iPhone.
Listen to how August met Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman on Heroes) on Twitter, and joined forces with Rick Yaeger from MacMerc, to create a whole new business model for an iPhone app, and how they have tackled the problems of turning your iPhone into a money-saving shopping tool! And it’s going to be FREE!
This is the start of a new series here on 148Apps. A series where we interview people from all areas of the app development process. From developers, to designers, even management. Looking to help others gain insight into what works, and what doesn’t work in app development and sales. – Editor
App Store Insider: Corey Johnson, Probably Interactive
Corey tells us how he made the transition to developing for the iPhone, and tells some stories about the pitfalls of working within Apple’s strict guidelines. Overall he has been enjoying the experience, and relates that Apple’s tools and services for developers keeps getting better. Corey comments that Apple still has a ways to go toward helping the programmers communicate with their users and get useful feedback.
Lastly, he tells us about some of the apps he has in the AppStore and how he came to create them. His app, Movie Brain, required some lateral thinking to get his app to be a self-contained, searchable database of all movies. He also introduces a new app coming soon, just in time for Oscar season. The app is called “And The Award Goes To…Oscar Edition” and will be able to display past Oscar winners as well as the nominees for the upcoming Oscars. In addition, the app will allow you to cast votes for you favorite movies and compare them to the votes of other users of the app. Corey hopes this will be the basis for other interactive apps he has planned for later.
Links to all of Corey’s apps are below. Let us know what you think of the interview and any feedback for Corey on the apps.