Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dickers, sadly the app that will never be.

My wife and I are having fun with the new stickers in iMessage.  I soon came to realize that with all the emoji and stickers and typing available to us, sometimes the only thing that could truly capture the nuances and depth of feeling was to be able to send a dick.

I quickly drew some doodles in a paint program, and made a sticker app to put on both our phones. It started just for us, and I didn't plan to submit to the App Store.

Then after a few days I thought of the perfect name.  Dickers.  I decided the worst that could happen was Apple would say no.  The best is they could say yes, and knowing the App Store, the stupid dick app made in an evening would sell more than those apps I've spent years developing and improving.

So I spent an evening drawing better dicks.  I carefully selected all the rating options, so the app would have a 17+ rating.

Thankfully, Apple has really improved their approval process, so I was able to get a response the next day.  A resounding no.  "Your sticker pack is not suitable for the App Store. Specifically, your sticker concept is unacceptable." 

The good news?  I also did a sticker app that lets you draw your own stickers.  Yes you could draw hearts and flowers, but you can also draw your own dicks.  Go get Sticker Sketcher.  

The even better news?  Have a Mac?  Here's the Xcode project, you can install Dickers on your own iPhone.  (Here are some steps)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Social Networking & Tragedy

2009: I'm still debating ever posting this, or just writing to get these thoughts down.  
2013: Its now been 4 years since he died.  Rereading still brings tears...not posting this year.
2016: I have re-read this every year.  Litsa, his long-time partner wrote a book about this that you should buy.   

October 2009:
As Facebook and all the other social network sites become more and more a part of our lives, they sometimes then become part of deaths.

I'd only met TJ "Bear Attack Guy" Langley a few times. He had been in several plays my brother directed. But really, how can you forget the guy who literally survived a bear attack with the scars to prove it.

So he was in several friend-of-a-friend connections.

I first heard something was wrong through Facebook on a Thursday as his long-time girlfriend and best friend was posting information that he was missing. He'd gone on a solo hike in the Cascade mountains in Washington State and was 48 hours overdue. I would check throughout the day, seeing as more little bits of information came in; search and rescue starting their actions; finding his car at the trailhead.

By Thursday night, getting dark and I knew searches would stop; it was more and more worrying. More of the same all through Friday, people exchanging hopes and prayers that there would be a happy ending and the search increasing.

By Friday night and Saturday morning, my wife and I were really scared. Being realistic, even a small accident that prevented him from walking out would have been Tuesday, and with the ever colder fall weather and not sure how many days of supplies he'd have it was scarier and scarier.

Finally Saturday evening we saw the news--this time via the newspaper websites instead of Facebook--that his body had been found. Everybody stopped posting at that point, none of the "RIP TJ" posts appearing until the next day.

Thanks to the Facebook, I did know what was going on...I might not have heard anything otherwise.

My two complaints: "Facebook, 'like' isn't the only choice for commenting on a status update."
* Took long enough, but there are more choices now than Like.

And it was heartbreaking as my wife (fairly new to Facebook herself at the time) was confirmed as a friend of Litsa's after we'd heard the tragic news--and in the "suggested friends" list TJ was listed as another suggested friend.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

iPhone 7 guesses

OK, a prediction I haven't seen elsewhere:

iPhone 6/6s has had the same "@2x Retina" screen quality that first came out in the iPhone 4 with 326 pixels per inch.

The 6 Plus and 6s Plus upped that with a "@3x Retina" screen with 401 pixels per inch.

Not sure if the bigger 7 Plus will go up to a 4x Retina and 535 pixels per inch, but I'm predicting the 7 will bump up its screen to a "@3x Retina" with 489 pixels per inch.*  Better screen, faster, better camera are always good enough reasons for people to upgrade.

(And that's on top of what others have guessed with be a Higher Color Range screen.)

* Exactly how it does the 6 Plus screen does scaling is a little different, that's why its 3x and iPhone 6's potential 3x aren't the same.

UPDATE!  Nope.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Apple Watch 2 Guesses

Yeah, the usual thinner and more powerful...

The watch really does notifications best.  Those are a tiny amount of actual content with nice graphical wrappers and animations.  

My wife and I often communicate in single letters and emoji.  "U"  "K"  "👐"

I predict the Watch 2 will have a very custom Cell Phone chip to do notifications.  Super low power, and optimized for receiving small amounts of data -- sent via either Apple's push notification service or text message and that's it.  According to ancient FAQs, old school Pagers had very long battery life, measured in weeks or months on a AAA battery.    

Hopefully Apple has the clout to either have it included in your cell phone plan, or baked into the cost of the watch so there's no monthly fee.

* Highly compressed voice for Siri is the biggest possible thing it might send.  Looking a few minutes at the compression Siri uses, 10 seconds of audio could be about 5K to send, so very small too.  Definitely something Apple could do.

UPDATE!  Nope.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Force Touch

When I checked out one of the new MacBooks, I knew that pressing the trackpad wasn't really clicking physically, but simulating it.  But my fingers couldn't tell the difference.

The Apple Watch does other interesting touch "feelings".  Taps when you get a message.  Try to scroll beyond the end of a list with the crown and there's a bouncy feel as it snaps back.

It's pretty positive that will be added to the new iPhones next week.  I think everyone is thinking about the "Force" part of it, missing the "Touch" part when it comes to iPhones.

Buttons that have a "click" feel when you press.
Lists that bounce back when you drag them too far.
Photos that give a "stretchy" feedback as you zoom in.

Games get interesting too, pieces that "click" into place as you drag them.

Hopefully the "taptic" hardware can simulate all sorts of interesting feedbacks.

UPDATE:  Nope.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Playing the App Store lottery

There are so many existing apps, plus all the new ones, that writing apps really is like playing the lottery these days.

A new game has an nearly 100% chance of only ever making enough money for a cup of coffee.  It has a small chance of making enough to buy a car.  And a tiny chance of making enough to buy a house, or even a small island.  (There are 1 million apps, top 100 least are the house or island category--1 in 10,000 odds.  The top few are in the by a "large island" category.)

I saw a report (and promptly forgot where) that about 12,000 new games come out each month.

That's 3,000 a week.  

Apple features some of those new games each week.  And that's really all that matters.  Unless you have a lot of money to spend on ads, get very lucky, or do shady things like buying downloads, being one of those featured games is the only path to success.

Right now, Apple features about 15.  And they do want to mix it up so it is not all the same type: some action games, some puzzles, some driving ones, etc.  So you don't have to be in the top 15 out of all 3,000 to get featured, its more like the top one or two out of the style of game you make, so say the top 2 out of 500.

2 in 500 aren't great odds.  But the potential payoff if you get that winning ticket is immense.

So I'll keep playing the app game...

Thursday, May 7, 2015


A few years ago, checking your phone while at dinner with someone would've been considered pretty rude.  But not so much any more.

There's really a formula to it, the more people in the group, the less rude it is to check your phone.  It drops quickly to "normal behavior" once the group has 3 or 4 members.

Now, checking your watch (Apple Watch) sends the message you have somewhere else to be.  But I bet that changes too, as more and more people have watches and devices that show their messages and emails.  Glancing at the screen, then getting out the iPhone only if it's something more important than the people you're with.