Friday, March 30, 2012

Windows 8

My thoughts on it are pretty similar to this.  Metro seems much better for a tablet or phone size & touch than it does for a desktop size screen and a mouse.

Unless they change some things between the preview and the release, Windows 8 will be more of a learning curve for existing Windows users than switching to a Mac.  That's something that should terrify Microsoft and PC makers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Tapose is an interesting app, and shows what an alternate universe might have been like if Microsoft hadn't killed the Courier project.

And while interesting, it also shows some good reasons why Microsoft was correct to cancel the Courier.  It would have had two physical screens with some separation between them.   Without the ability to slide the center like this app does on the iPad's single screen, Courier would have always been weird for anything other than this sort of tool.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Handy Graphics Tricks

This is one that Pete came up with, for cards in our poker apps, but it's worth mentioning again with the new iPad's retina screen needing even bigger graphics. And we did a slight variation in Knife Dancing too.

All the hands in the game are really recolored versions of the same hand photo to have different skin tones.  So they're exactly the same shape and outline.  Pete saved them as 8 bit images, which for the hands looks good, but the blending along the edges isn't as nice.  It's hard to see here but there's an outline around the hands for the edge blending that happens next.

Pete made a separate 32bit version that does have all the levels of alpha at the edges, but just blank for the hand part so very small to store.  All 4 versions of the hand can share this one alpha image!

Then in the app I combine them on the fly into one graphic.

CGRect  rect = CGRectMake(007681024)
UIGraphicsBeginImageContextWithOptions(CGSizeMake(768, 1024), NO, 0.0);
[[UIImage imageNamed:@"ipad-hand1-8bit.png"] drawInRect:rect];
[[UIImage imageNamed:@"ipad-hand-alpha.png"] drawInRect:rect 
          blendMode:kCGBlendModeDestinationIn alpha:1.0];
theHand.image = UIGraphicsGetImageFromCurrentImageContext();

The iPad retina hands saved normally are over 7MB(!)  Using these split and shared images it reduces those to 2.5MB.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

4.6" screen thought

iPhone rumors flying.  Apple ordering screens doesn't mean they'd make it into an iPhone.

Measuring, the trackpad on my 13" MacBook Air is about 5".  Pretty close to that 4.6" screen rumor.  Wonder if it could go there...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Retina iPad Dilema

New graphics on the new iPad 3's screen look amazing.  But they really do make the apps much bigger.  Individual images can be up to 6MB!  (Like in this app, where we want image quality the best, no matter the size.)

It makes a difficult choice, especially for Universal apps that run on both iPhone and iPad.  For a long time the limit for an App to be downloaded over the cell connection was 20MB.  The iOS 5.1 update did increase that to 50MB.

But since it's done by the iOS version on the device and not the App Store server, anyone who hasn't upgraded still has the 20MB limit.  People upgrade pretty well, but looking at some stats, it's likely that half of the people still haven't upgraded to 5.1 yet.

Even if the people are upgrading from 5.0x to 5.1 quickly, that 20% on iOS 4 are upgrading very slowly. At this point many months after 5.0 was released, I doubt they really are "upgrading." They're getting upgraded as they buy a new device.

I don't want to throw away between 20 and 50% of potential customers, especially on some sillier apps like Knife Dancing that are downloaded quite often while out and on a cell connection...most likely there are drinks involved too.  Same for Pawn'd, we're putting in the iPad Retina graphics and it looks amazing, but it will push it way over the 20MB limit for older devices to get with a cell connection.

We're trying a hybrid approach for some apps.  Upgrading buttons and things that contain text because the small curves with high contrast in text show the most pixelation when not upgraded.  But leaving some other things alone for now.  (We did that for Knife Dancing, plus some tricks Pete did with double images, coming in at a bit under 20MB.)

We're seriously thinking of making the planned free version of Pawn'd be iPhone only to keep the size down, and maybe a separate HD version for iPad...or just add the Universal part in a few months when more people have upgraded.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our great marketing idea that failed

We had a unique marketing plan for one of our apps (Pawn'd) trying to take advantage of the new iPad launch.

The lines at the Apple stores meant we could target a lot of iPhone and iPad users all at once.

We had friends and family go to Apple stores in 5 different cities around the country bright and early before the stores opened at 8am, with a card we specially printed about our game Pawn'd clipped to a dollar bill.  The card had a little info about the game, and asked them to buy the $0.99 game using the $1 gift attached.  We gave away the cash and card to the people in line for the new iPad.  They could either get the game on their iPhone to play in line, or get it for their brand new iPad.  Each of our friends had between 70 and 100 dollar bills & cards to hand out to their line.

All those purchases of the app we hoped would help it climb up in the App Store charts, becoming much more visible.  Plus we predicted all those people would be likely to show off the game and talk about how they got it by being handed a dollar in's a good story to tell, people handing out cash to a whole line at the Apple store.

Unfortunately, it was a miserable failure.  We did hand out the cards and cash fine, about 350 of the 500 we'd prepared, and many of the people getting a card thought it was a great idea and said they'd go get the game.  But then virtually nobody who got a card and cash went ahead and bought the game.  This got us about 10 mores sales on the day the new iPad launched, and that's it.  The next day was back to the usual very small sales number.

We're all surprised, the game has tons of 5 star ratings and reviews, so it wouldn't be they'd go see bad reviews or ratings.

So I think we bought a lot of people a cup of coffee that day.

And kinda funny, one of our helpers bumped into her dad in line waiting to get his new iPad.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Verizon iPad 3 Tethering

Searched a bit on Google, but finally found how to turn on the tethering on my new iPad with nice fast Verizon LTE by poking around in the iPad settings.

To turn it on, it is in the main Settings app, then General, then Network, then the Personal Hotspot is there.  I think just going there makes it appear right below WiFi on the first settings list, so it's much easier to find the next time.

Posting so maybe the next person will find the answer quicker...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

CEOs should be afraid

This analysis (which I found from here) I also think is exactly right.

And the iPod analogy is good.  By the time people were even doing any catching up to the last iPod, Apple was on to the next better version, and then the iPhone which was a massive leap ahead.

But I think there's another comparison that should be even scarier for all the other big companies.  What if it's like how Microsoft won the OS battle.  In the late 80s and early 90s there were other computer companies, and other operating systems.  I had an Apple ][gs for college, there were Macs, and Next, and Sun, and Unix, and more.  Even on PC hardware there were more choices, a friend used OS/2 for many years.

In the end, Microsoft won and Windows has been the dominant consumer platform ever since, with Mac in a smaller 2nd place.  (*Consumer, servers are different.  But everybody I know owns a computer, and none of them own a server.)

A phone, even with no apps, is still a phone and everybody has a good reason to own one.  A tablet with no apps doesn't do much.  And Apple may already be to where Microsoft got with Windows.  If you wanted to have lots of choices for software in the 90s and 00s, Windows was it.  Which then fed to developers to make more.

Yes, a tablet may never be as good for some tasks as a computer...but it's as good or better for so many others.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New vs Better Magic

In the past years, Apple introduced a number of things that just blew people away.  The iPod, iPhone, iPad, and to a lesser extent even the MacBook Air.  Things they'd bring out that showed how the future will be.

Now analysts somehow think they must introduce something that groundbreaking every time they have an announcement, and if they don't everything is a disappointment.  For the new iPad simply making it faster, and with a better screen than nearly anything  else on any size device wasn't enough?  (Really: my very big 27" iMac has a screen that has more pixels in width, but still not as many tall.  And that screen is 27" rather than under 10".  And other than that the new iPad will easily beat every other screen I've got.)  All while keeping the battery life and price the same.

Same for the iPhone 4S, making it faster and better in every way (but looking the same) wasn't enough for analysts.

But seems it's more than enough for everybody else, they sold millions of iPhone 4S's.  Judging by how long the pre-orders have gone with delivery on day one, they're got a nice stockpile and are going to sell millions of new iPads in the first days.  This will be an especially easy sale for many people: I think the new iPad will be like the first time you saw a big HDTV--suddenly every other TV you've ever watched paled in comparison.

To compare, when was the last time ANY other company introduced something like those that blew people away and changed everything.  HDTV.  Maybe Microsoft back for Windows95.  Netscape/Mozilla.  The CD player?  I can't even think of very many examples of devices that changed things the way Apple has.  Oh, yeah, the Apple ][ and first Mac as well.

Gotta be rough when some people expect you to produce new magic every time, rather than making your existing tricks much, much better.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

So Firefox...

Why do you have 2 totally different looking "working" spinner things that show in the tabs?  And why would they rotate in opposite directions?