03 Oct

Ars Technica – Report: iTunes beta suggests app rentals may be in iOS’s future

A handful of code in iTunes 10.5 beta 9 suggests that Apple may soon start allowing customers to rent apps from the App store, according to The Tech Erra. If a rental system were put into place, it could cut down on money spent on apps that customers never use, which could reduce resentment customers feel toward developers when an app doesn’t work the way they thought it would.

A few strings in the iTunes beta code appear to be pop-up messages to notify customers about the state of rented apps: "Apps are automatically removed from your iTunes library at the end of the rental period" and "This app will be deleted from your computer" are a couple of the included statements.

A rental system through the App Store would be similar to the try-before-you-buy program that Amazon currently offers in its own Android Appstore. None of the language uncovered in the iTunes beta indicates whether rentals would carry a price or be free for their limited run.

via Ars Technica – Report: iTunes beta suggests app rentals may be in iOS’s future. A rental system would be nice, I hate buying apps that I try out and then get rid of. I wouldn’t mind paying say half or less of the normal price and then paying the remainder if I decided to outright buy the app.

19 Jun

Mika Mobile – Android

With Battleheart having been on sale for a few weeks, I feel I’m equipped to offer up some impressions of the android market from a developer’s perspective.

Still, despite those disclaimers, Battleheart for Android has become a meaningful source of revenue, and has proven that the platform isn’t a waste of time. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a polished, high quality product is more likely to be embraced on Android than on iOS because the quality bar on the android market is so pathetically low. Here’s some interesting data: on iOS, user reviews for Battleheart average 4.5 stars (4000 total ratings), which is quite good. On Android it’s a stunning 4.8, with 1000 ratings. So not only is it reviewed more highly, it’s also reviewed more often, with a huge percentage of android users taking the time to rate the app. I think the lack of competition makes quality apps really stand out, and generates a lot of enthusiasm from app-starved android users.

The technical side of supporting android isn’t so bad, but it is a bit of a nuisance. 95% of the heavy lifting is handled by Unity, the game development engine we use to develop our apps. Actually porting the game only took about a day. Still, some devices don’t handle our shaders in a consistent way, some devices just plain crash for no apparent reason. These kinds of issues are few and far between though – the main thing I had to concern myself with was simply making the game work properly at various screen sizes and aspect ratios, which I had been doing all along, so it was trivial to get it up and running.

The most frustrating part about developing for android is actually just dealing with the deluge of support e-mail, most of which is related to download and installation problems which have nothing to do with the app itself, and everything to do with the android OS and market having innate technical problems. Do some googling for “can’t download apps from android market” or similar wording, and you’ll see that this is a widespread chronic issue for all devices and all OS versions. There are numerous possible causes, and there’s nothing I can really do about it as a developer, since its essentially just a problem with the market itself. Based on the amount of e-mails I get every day, download problems effect 1-2% of all buyers, or in more practical terms, somewhere between two and three shit-loads. I have an FAQ posted which offers solutions for the most common problems, but lots of people can’t be troubled to read it before sending off an e-mail demanding a refund.

Mika Mobile – Android. It’s nice to see that Android has the potential to support developers, though the download and market problems really need work. Probably the most common complaint I hear about across any phone or any maker.

17 Jun

Ars Technica – Apple quietly drops special subscription requirements for iOS apps

Apple revised its App Store review guidelines this week, noting (among other changes) that apps are no longer required to offer an in-app subscription option. Content providers can continue to offer outside subscriptions that are accessible via an iOS app, so long as no external links to outside purchasing mechanisms are built into the app. If subscribers can pay for content within the app, it must use in-app purchasing APIs, though content providers are now free to set whatever price they like.

These changes should address one of the major complaints about Apple’s subscription requirements, allowing content providers to set pricing to account for Apple’s 30 percent take. Also, it clearly spells out that services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Kindle, and others can continue to give its users access to content paid for via subscriptions that are handled outside the app or the App Store.

These changes don’t address the other major complaint that content providers have, namely that they won’t be able to collect detailed demographic information directly from subscriptions paid for via in-app purchasing. However, Apple allows latitude for developers to optionally request the information from users as long as the requested information and its transmission and storage are covered by a privacy policy compatible with Apple’s own.

While the timing of the changes comes a few weeks before the previous June 30 deadline, it’s also worth noting that they were published just one day after the Financial Times announced its strategy to offer subscribers access to its content via a Web app, which bypasses Apple’s App Store requirements and its 30 percent commission entirely. While some publishers already announced plans to support Apple’s previous in-app subscription plan, Apple’s changes may encourage others to produce native apps instead of Web apps. While Web apps offer cross-platform compatibility and don’t require Apple’s approval, native apps tend to have better performance and integration with iOS’s native user interface.

via Ars Technica – Apple quietly drops special subscription requirements for iOS apps. I’m glad Apple cleared this mess up. The new rules feel much more balanced for both publishers and Apple.

06 Mar

Arash Payan – Presenting, Appirater

Now every time the user launches your app, Appirater will see if they’ve used the app for 30 days and launched it at least 15 times. If they have, they’ll be asked to rate the app, and then be taken to your app’s review page in the App Store. If you release a new version of your app, Appirater will again wait until the new version has been used 15 times for 30 days and then prompt the user again for another review. Optionally, you can adjust the days to wait and the launch number by changing DAYS_UNTIL_PROMPT and LAUNCHES_UNTIL_PROMPT in Appirater.h.

via Arash Payan – Presenting, Appirater. Pretty useful piece of software for iOS developers.