My Apps & iOS7
With iOS7 out now I'd thought that I should address my apps and what is happening to them on iOS7.
dAmnMobile is being rewritten to be a brand new iOS7 only app, starting with the iPhone version and eventually becoming a universal app. This is being worked on currently and is slowly coming along between my other work. It will be launched when I am happy with it, until then dAmnMobile 2 will work as expected.
Currently I have no plans to update dA Messages to be iOS7. This is mostly due to a lack of time to do so. If I can convert it to be 7 only in a short amount of time, I may do so, keep an eye on it.
This app will not be updated other than for bug fixes. This is due to a few reasons including the fact that the sheer amount of users it has are adverse to any change I make. It works, and they are happy it seems.
Thoughts on iOS7 and the new iPhones
After Apple's announcements yesterday, I've been thinking about what these new devices mean for both myself as a developer and others as consumers.
The iPhone 5c brings a new device to the market, which yes, is based upon last year's hardware, but will the regular consumer notice or care? Most likely not. Apple has just made this tier much more marketable and appealing to consumers as for a consumer what looks new must be new.This is a move by Apple to make the iPhone into a brand with two parts like the Macbook line with it's Air and Pro lines.
As a developer, this means the potential consumer market to sell apps within just exploded with this new device. I predict it will quickly become the best selling device in the iPhone line due to it's consumer appeal, after all who wouldn't want a cheaper, coloured iPhone.
The 5s is a remarkably easy product for Apple to market. Simply put, it's faster, has a better camera, and now has a fingerprint sensor.
The A7 processor in the 5s brings the first 64 bit processor to a phone, a processor with desktop caliber performance according to Apple and based on the initial hands-on by the press, this isn't just Apple exaggerating either. The 5s also brings what is called the M7 to the table, a motion coprocessor which seems to do exactly what your Fitbit would, tracking your motion and similar statistics. This then enables apps to read this logged data when launched. Consider this bad news for the likes of Fitbit.
The camera in the 5s got a major bump up in specs, slow-mo video recoding, burst-fire mode for stills, true tone flash and auto image stabilisation are all new. Combine these together and you get the feeling that Apple is chasing down the point and shoot manufacturers by combining what is slowly becoming great camera hardware in such a small package with superb software.
Finally, you have the key new feature of the 5s, Touch ID. Touch the home button with your finger and unlock your phone, seems great to me. This is one feature I'll have to play with in person to see if it works as good as it is advertised to but if it does, it's gonna be awesome for iPhone consumers.
The new gold colour is an odd choice by Apple, one that seems to lend itself more to the Asian markets such as China and Japan than the western market but as Apple is expanding within China this year, it makes absolute business sense to introduce this colour.
I've actually had iOS7 on my main phone since WWDC in June. It's a solid OS stability wise by now and is a pleasure to use once you get over the initial design shock.
The whole OS has change which will help to liven up the third party apps as well as iOS itself. Every developer I know is now rethinking their products to suit iOS7 and it's goals of clarity, deference to the content and depth. This is an exciting time to be an iOS developer, it opens up a wide field of opportunities even in niches that have been filled dozens of times.
Overall, the announcement will help Apple and the ecosystem grow even more, and provide great opportunities for developers. I can't wait to see what apps come out soon with iOS7 in mind.
Presenting deviantART Standard Time
Ever wanted to calculate when an event or contest is running? Ever realised most of these times are based upon the timezone that deviantART HQ resides in? Ever hit a wall while trying to work out the difference?
deviantART Standard Time is a user script that adds the time that is it currently at deviantART HQ alongside your local time in the menu bar of deviantART allowing simple and quick calculations of the time difference to find out when an event, contest or happening is occurring in your time!
Grab it below!
dAmnMobile - Free For Three
"What do you do for a job"?
Therefore, my answer to the question is that I am a product creator, not just a programmer.
dAmnMobile & iOS7
What is that icon you say? Well as of iOS7, dAmnMobile 2 is officially "broken" in terms of it's user interface and small parts of the login code. So the plan is to not to just fix those bugs but to instead rebuild from scratch the entirety of the application.
The reason for this decision in all honesty is only half related to the bugs, the other reason is the progression in both my programming skill and style over the past two years since dAmnMobile 2 was released. The code within version 2 is now holding back progress as it was badly designed and implemented.
As with iOS7, dAmnMobile 3 will bring a brand new interface, simpler, more beautiful and even more usable than now. The system for interacting with deviantART and dAmn will be improved remarkably bring changes that I have been wishing to add for the last six months.
I can't wait to share the changes that I am planning, the first being the work in progress icon above and what the future holds for dAmnMobile. If you have any queries or thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
- Started a company doing mobile apps, Sunya.
- Was invited to Apple Headquarters as a guest to their Cocoa Camp event.
- Left University and my degree to pursue working at Sunya fulltime.
- Been an app developer for over two years.
- Began work on Sunya's first official product (more on that soon).
- Reached over 50,000 downloads by users of my applications.
My deviantART apps all originate from my own personal need for them. dAmnMobile, I wanted to chat on dAmn via my iPhone then my iPad when I eventually got one. dA Messages, I wanted to check my messages in a better user interface than the mobile site provided at that stage. dA Uploader, I wanted to upload to my Sta.sh quickly with a simple UI. The side effect of me wanting these personally is that you received them as well.
The concept in people's mind that third party apps should be free as the website is needs to be corrected. My personal apps are either paid apps or apps with in-app purchases for a reason, that reason is that I like to be able to earn a little bit of money from my side projects. I put my own personal time into these apps, not any time that I am already paid for. Asking for my work for free, is like asking a graphic designer to design a website for free, you shouldn't do it. I work hard on my products and people that ask why it isn't free slowly grind me down to the point where I ask myself if my work is appreciated at all.
A lot of third party projects are available for use with deviantART but the creators are never thanked for their efforts and personal free time that they put into these projects.
For example, have you thanked the developers behind superdAmn recently? How about the BotLab developers for their endless work on the bots that help run hundreds of chats on dAmn? Or maybe baronbeandip for his work on Android apps? Why not go thank them now, they will appreciate it a lot and it will give them more of a reason to actually continue working on these projects in their own time.
I am of the belief that everything you do should be done to make a dent upon the universe. My deviantART related apps are created solely to improve other's experience while using deviantART on their iOS devices. Improving the experience of deviantART on mobile is one of my attempts to create my own small dent in the universe but without thanks and just criticism it slowly makes me question why I continue to work on these projects.
So please, go thank the developers of your favourite projects for their tireless work or even give thanks to the dt team for their work of creating deviantART as it is today. It will help show them that they are appreciated and will only take a moment of your time.
I leave you with but one thought, what are you doing to put your dent upon the universe?
What I use to get stuff done.
What hardware do I use?
My sole development machine is a base model 15" Retina Macbook Pro with 16GB of RAM. This is nearly always hooked up to a 27" Thunderbolt Display to give me more screen space to work within.
As my work consists of mostly mobile development I have a decent stack of devices around me at all times, including my personal iPhone 5 and iPad Mini. I also have an iPad 3 for testing retina versions of my iPad apps. Recently I won a Blackberry Dev Alpha C but haven't had a chance to really use it as of yet.
Other accessories I use daily include:
- A pair of Sennheiser HD202s, they are really good headphones for the price, decent sound quality and good isolation of background noise.
- A stack of external hard drives to store music, movies and backups, totalling 4TB of storage.
- An Apple Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad. Having gotten used to the tracked on the Macbook itself, I had to purchase a Magic Trackpad because a mouse felt odd in my hand. Keyboard is for similar reasons but I'll take suggestions for better keyboards.
- A dA PRO Nomad bag that I recently purchased once I heard the store was closing down. Sadly this bag is sold out now.
- A Griffin Twenty is used to Airplay music around the house as I want. Hooked up to some great little speakers I bought used. Sounds great.
And what software?
In terms of software I predominately have XCode and Photoshop open to facilitate iOS development, along with these I normally also run:
- Google Chrome - for browsing the internet.
- Sparrow - for reading and keeping up with my email.
- Tweetbot - to keep up with Twitter (it's my primary news source now).
- Skype - for chatting to clients and friends as needed.
- Terminal - for source control and quick navigation of my files.
- Sublime Text - for any other development work that isn't mobile related.
- Rdio - for music, new release music instantly and with no hard drive space used, it's great.
- 1Password - secures all my passwords and allows me to use extremely long passwords as I please.
- Fantastical - replaces Calendar with a simplified app for me, allowing me to just make/review events quickly as needed.
- Flux - adjusts the colours of my screen based on the time reducing the blue glow at night that can cause problems with my eyes.
- Github - used to store my source code online aas backups as needed while also providing an issue tracker for bugs or feature requests.
The Dream Setup
I'm pretty happy with the current setup as it stands now, I'd love to get a monitor arm along with a larger desk in the future. Replacement headphones for the HD202s are in the pipeline, moving up to Sennheiser HD598s.
But honestly my current setup works superbly and with the aforementioned tweaks I'd be happy.
Have any questions you'd like answered about how I work? Want to share your space? Would you like to see interviews of other dA members similar to this?
Designing a mobile client for a chat system such as dAmn or IRC is a tough problem to tackle. Getting the interface to work correctly, gaining good performance are some issues I have to tackle.
Since August last year I have been working when I can on building a new core for dAmnMobile to be included in the next major release. This system already fixes many bugs that the old system had. It improves performance, eliminates those pesky disconnections and crushes other bugs.
I am planning to set aside a week or more shortly to rethink dAmnMobile completely in terms of how it flows for the user. Questions such as how to simplify tabbing, moving between chats and managing other aspects all need a thorough rethink before this begins.
Some of my current ideas are as below:
- A faster tabbing method, maybe double tap a message to reply?
- Notifications that appear will allow a user to move to the chat that it came from.
- Swipe to change chats, e.g. swipe from one chat to another quickly instead of dropping back to a table view.
- Private Chat support with integration with CLINK to allow private chat requests between modern dAmn clients.
- Topic and Title support in the iPhone app including the ability to edit.
- Full support for the dAmn protocol including /whois and other commands thus far not included.
- A searchable chat list so that a user can add chats to their list easier.
The Last Two Years
On the 1st of April, it will have been two years since I launched my first app on the iOS App Store, dAmnMobile 1.0, so I thought it'd be interesting to do a walk through memory lane of what has happened in the short period of those two years.
What Happened In Those Years
dAmnMobile 1.0 launched on the 1st of April 2011. It was the first mobile client for dAmn. It brought a simple user interface with superdAmn built natively in. It wasn't great, but it was a start.
Three days after launch, dAmnMobile 1.0 received a Daily Deviation thanks to Thorero and Lilyas. This helped with getting the attention the app needed for success.
The iPhone version of dAmnMobile 2 came first on September 2nd, 2011 with the iPad version releasing shortly after on the 27th. As part of the launch, I charged $0.99 for the app, then after a week or two, pricing was moved to where it remains today at $1.99.
Next up in my product development sights was a Message Center app for dA. Initially I thought this would be simple, in reality, I couldn't be more wrong. One word, DiFi, DiFi is hell. But I trudged through this hell and out came dA Messages, a simplistic Message Center client for dA. It launched on the 13th of January of 2012.
In July 2012, Sunya, my mobile application development company was born. The story behind Sunya is actually amusing. We had a local tech expo coming up and the organisers had a spot free that they couldn't fill. I had been talking to one of the main organisers via Twitter about TechEx and other topics and they asked if I wanted to have the booth. This was all three days before the expo started. Sunya was created in those three days before the expo, and we showed our work to local companies and community members. I've been working full time at Sunya since then.
After I came back from Cocoa Camp, I began work on my next app, Stash. Designed by Ikue, it was a full Sta.sh client utilising the new API's that deviantART provided to retrieve your Sta.sh. Stash launched in December 2012 on the 12th (And yes, I just noticed that it was launched on the 12/12/12 now ). Within a few hours of it's launch I received a Daily Deviation on it which I have to thank bradleysays and princepal for.
Looking back upon the last year, I've had some amazing opportunities given to me, which have brought major challenges and changes to my life.
- May: Invited by Apple to attend Cocoa Camp 2012.
- July: Started Sunya as part of TechEx Wanganui. With the help of several local council employees and others, Sunya was begun and has been growing since. Without their support and help, it wouldn't exist.
- August: Attended Cocoa Camp 2012 at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino. For me this was the highlight of my year, first time out of the North Island of New Zealand, first time on a plane and similar experiences just made it awesome. Along with that, the people I met during Cocoa Camp made it into a long lasting memory and I hope I can stay in contact with them.
Throughout the year, I've launched and developed several applications which were special in themselves.
Working with Ikue to create Stash as a particular highlight as it was my first time working with a designer so closely to create an awesome product that I could be proud of.
Another particular highlight relating to the launch of Stash was having the site shared by Federico Vittici of MacStories. Watching the response just related to his single tweet was extraordinary and I want to thank him for that.
Nice new Stash client for iPhone: stashapp.co.nzFederico Viticci (@viticci) December 13, 2012
As for 2013, I am waiting to see if it can beat 2012 and I am sure it will.
During 2013, I am hoping to continue working under Sunya building great apps for clients (side note: We're looking for clients now if you know anyone who needs an app), along with developing more of my own apps and projects.
Here's to the New Year and what it will bring.
Stash was lovingly handcrafted to provide you with a fun, fast, and friendly way to upload your artwork to your deviantART Sta.sh account.
Built using the official deviantART Sta.sh API you can quickly, and easily, shoot photos using your built in camera, submit files already on your device, and even compose literary works anywhere, any time.
The iPad mini takes the winning formula of the iPad and compacts it into a device that is just as beautiful while being smaller and lighter. The weight difference makes a huge change when trying to read a book or even the web in bed or on the couch.
As with all iOS devices, the screen *makes* the device. While the iPad mini is a step back from the Retina devices Apple users have become accustomed to, the screen's colours and viewing angles are just as superb as we are used to. With a resolution of 1024x768, this puts the iPad mini at a respectable but not fantastic 163 pixels per inch.
Considering the cost of the device, which starts at $329USD and rises to a maximum $659USD, a Retina display is not to be expected in the first iteration. To fit a Retina display into the iPad mini, Apple will need to be able to keep the price the same, while lowering the weight of the Retina display to keep within the current confines of the device. I think in the second iteration Apple will have nailed this, so if you want Retina, wait a year.
The iPad mini's bezel is a lot thinner, at the start this caused me issues, but as I've acclimatised to the device, coupled with the software in iOS6 that combats a resting thumb, it has become a non-issue to me.
The construction of the device is of the expected Apple quality, which is stellar, my White and Silver iPad mini feels great to handle with just enough heft to not feel like you are holding air.
The switch to metal buttons on the device is a great choice by Apple and I hope they roll this change out to the full-sized iPad. The buttons provide much better travel and feedback which helps when trying to quickly silence the iPad mini while in the dark.
The iPad mini brings a new feature to the whole iOS product line, stereo speakers, these surround the new Lightning connector and sound simply superb.
All iPad apps run on the iPad mini, yet some just don't feel right to use. the cause of this seems to be the combination of the resolution and screen size. The smaller tap targets are usable, they are around the size you expect on an iPhone, but do take time to adjust to.
Typing on the software keyboard is a simple to do in portrait mode, it feels like typing on a landscape iPhone , but while the mini is in landscape mode, it is a bit uncomfortable to type due to the size of the device.
With the advent of the iPad mini, I can see Apple having a winner in the form factor and size without the compromise of the device not being a real iPad.
I feel it will be more likely that I will take this device with me everywhere due to it's form factor over a full sized iPad, the size makes the mini feel like a notebook and less like a textbook for me. I'll be keeping the full-sized iPad for at home and work.