Cordova App Initialization Times on iOS, Android, and FirefoxOS

My app Quiz&Learn Python includes an analytics component which logs certain app events completely anonymously to my backend. One piece of the logged data is the app launch time. After several months of collecting the data, I finally added functionality for me to see these launch times in my "app analytics dashboard". Here, I’ll share that data with you.

Read More

To Localise An App Or To Improve It With More Content?

I’m at a crossroads with my app Quiz&Learn Python. The sales and downloads have been less than stellar, and it’s time to make some decisions. Options are to localize the app or to create more educational content. My choice at this point is to create more content. Read the full post to know why.

Read More

1,000th Download on Android - Download numbers for Quiz&Learn Python

Yesterday, Quiz&Learn Python got the 1,000th download on Android! That prompted me to check the totals for other platforms as well, and I want to share the numbers with you all :) And it's not to brag about my huge success.

So, the totals are:

  • Android: 1,014 (since September 23, 2014)
  • Firefox: OS 96 (since September 16, 2014)
  • iOS: 880 (since July 22, 2014)

The big difference here is that the iOS app has been $.99 for most of the time, while the other versions are free to download. Due to 'marketing efforts', only 130 of the 880 iOS downloads have been paid, though. So, that's a whopping $100 I've made. The developer license essentially pays for itself :D All the joking aside, that's still significantly more than the dollar I've made from AdMob adds in the Android version..

While the money isn't great, I do want to thank all of you for downloading my apps!

The Fisher - One Year in the App Store

About a year ago, it was a rainy day and I was waiting for the train back to Frankfurt from Darmstadt. The Fisher was just accepted by Apple, and I wrote the post about it launching in the App Store. Since I’ve promised to share my experiences and numbers in this blog, I figure it’s about time to share an update on how the app has been doing.

Read More

5 App Reviews

“Rate the App” dialogs have gained a lot of attention in the developer community lately. I don’t want to do what John Gruber did not suggest: rate an app showing a review prompt with 1-star. I find Rene Ritchie’s idea of rating 5 favourite apps right now much more constructive. So, I rated my favourites: 1Password, Mr. Reader, Runmeter, OmniFocus, and ReittiGPS.

I rated Runmeter “only" 4-stars because of the most annoying rating dialogs it shows.

App Transfers in Apple App Store

Last night I (like all iOS developers) got the email below from Apple. The gist of the mail is that developers can now transfer approved apps to other accounts. Previously this has been impossible to do. This has many benefits and use cases for developers:

  • If you sell an app, you can transfer it to the buyer instead of having to handle updates for them. Likewise, if you buy an app, you get full control to it in iTunesConnect under your own account.
  • If you outsource app development, the final deliverable can be an App Store accepted app transfered to your account without having to give your credentials to the developer or managing the App Store submission yourself.  Similarly if you develop apps for others.
  • If you develop apps on your personal account (like I currently do), you can start a company once things grow, without having to distribute the apps forever under your personal account. 

App transfers are also likely to boost the business of app marketplaces such as Apptopia .


Photoshoot for App Icon and Splash Screen

Back in November, I started really thinking about the icon and splash screen of The Fisher. My early idea was to find a freelance illustrator to design illustrations for both. As the whole idea of the app crystallized -- focus on pictures of the catches instead of the details -- it became obvious that both the icon and splash screen needed to be photographs. As I'm somewhat of a hobbyist photographer, I thought I could take the photos myself.

The Fisher app icon.

The Fisher app icon.

So one fine Saturday, I took the bus to the Hakaniemi market hall to buy a fish. The plan was to buy a big perch since that is my favorite fish; they are fierce fighters and taste delicious. I guess it was a good day for perch since they didn't have any for sale. Instead, I bought one pike-perch (aka zander). At 23 euros, it wasn't cheap. Besides the fish, I bought some smoked slices of ham and baloney. Both delicious :D

Anyway, back to the fish. Once I came home, I immediately started a photoshoot with my "catch". After all, the light hours in Finland in the winter are pretty scarce. The equipment and my setup was quite simple with only my camera on a tripod and the fish on the table. I took around a hundred photos of the fish from different angles and distances. While doing so, I realized why the zander isn't the most photogenic a catch: by nature, it keeps its mouth shut. To overcome this and to make it look more fierce, I had to put a toothpick inside its mouth to keep it open :)

With 100 photos, getting to the editing took some time and I only got to it yesterday, over three months after taking the photos. Now the app is close enough to v1.0 to concentrate on the icon and splash screen. I tried many of the pictures both for the icon and the splash screen. In this process, the Photoshop script by Josh Jones saved me a ton of time by allowing easy creation of the icon in different sizes. As for the splash screen, those I made by hand. The final splash screen image is on the right, the icon on the top of the post.

The Fisher splash screen.

The Fisher splash screen.

I'm not completely satisfied with either photo, but I do think they are different from the typical illustrations on App Store icons. The resolution of the icon is good nowadays. That makes me wonder what potential problems I'm missing, since most apps do use illustrations. By using a photo as the icon, The Fisher will be different from most of the apps it competes with. These are the icon and splash screen I'm going to ship version 1.0 with, but you can be sure I'll go and catch (or -- while there's still ice in Finland -- buy) other fish to update both photos for future version.

To summarize: For a few euros, I got the photos I needed, plus a delicious dinner (I cooked the fish in cream with pepper and horseradish). I'm close enough to submitting the app to focus on the icon, so it shouldn't be too long until I submit The Fisher to the App Store. 

MVPs and after-hours app development (or, missing deadlines)

January 4th was the deadline I had set for submitting my app, The Fisher. As it happens, that deadline came and went, and, while getting closer, I'm not ready to submit the app yet. I originally set the deadline for myself and made it public in November. At that time, after a really busy November at my full-time job, I thought I'd have a lot of time to work on the app in December. And, as I do most of the development after normal working-hours at my day job, the looming two-week vacation around Christmas sounded like the perfect time to finish the missing features and polish everything for submission.

As you can imagine, that's not at all how things went. I realized I had postponed a lot of less important tasks at work, so December ended up almost as busy as November. During Christmas break, I had to take some time off from work and development. I felt it was more important to charge my batteries than to work on the app. Even though I missed my deadline, I haven't regretted that decision. I've had a lot more energy to work on things after the vacation.

That is my longish way to say balancing work, life, and after-hours app development is hard. And, as long as the money comes mainly from the day job, that and life come before app development. Still, I want the application to the store to get feedback from real users as fast as possible. To achieve that, I have decided to postpone some features of The Fisher for future updates. I still think it will make for a viable MVP that is useful. And it will give me reasons to update the application regularly with new features.

Now I again have more time and, with the reduced set of features, the app only needs final polishing touches on design and animations, and some fun and informational in-app messages. So I should be able to submit it soon. I even have a new deadline for submitting the application, but this time I'll keep it to myself. It would be too embarrassing to miss my deadline twice in a row :)

Want to get early access to the app and be a beta tester? Contact me, please!