Yummy 3.1

Introducing Yummy 3.1, the first feature update of Yummy since the completely new version 3 first hit the App Store earlier this year. It’s currently with Apple for review and should be available to download in a week or so.

With each release of Yummy, we try to have a main focus. The theme for version 3.1 is tags. To that end, here are some of the highlights:

  • Tag suggestions
  • Tag filtering/sorting
  • Tag cloud
  • Improved tag selection screen (both in the app and the share extension)
Yummy 3.1 Home screen

Yummy 3.1 Home screen

But just because tags were the main focus doesn’t mean that there are no other features:

  • Saved search (shared between your devices using iCloud)
  • Bookmark filtering/sorting
  • Tap-and-hold back/forward to get list of previous links in the web browser

Let’s talk about those features in more detail.

You can ask Pinboard or Delicious for suggestions when you’re creating or editing a bookmark; you can filter bookmarks (by date, shared/private, to read) and tags (number of bookmarks) and sort (alphabetically, chronologically, by tag count). The speed of modern hardware make these options possible when they were not when Yummy was first written.

Saved search is a popular feature that was in Yummy 2.x but didn’t make the cut for 3.0. It’s back in 3.1 and it better than ever. It now syncs between your devices using iCloud. If you flag a search as a “Favourite” then it will appear on the home screen ready for quick access.

As ever, there are a lot of other, smaller features that I won’t get into here. It’s a pretty big update for a “0.1”. We hope you like it.

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WWDC 2015

As always, WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, is a bit of a firehose even when you’re sitting at home just reading the blogs and watching the occasional session video. I’m not sure how people in San Francisco actually keep up!

What I’m trying to say is that this post is far from complete. I’m sure that I’ve missed something important. But here is my top four things that I’ve taken away so far.

Bitcode

I list this one first because this is the one I’m most concerned about. The gist is that instead of compiling apps down to ARM and ARM64 code and sending that to Apple for review and release, we send a “partially compiled” app to Apple. When a user downloads it, Apple’s servers finish the job, compiling this intermediate code down to the specific hardware that they have.

Clearly this is Apple’s way of saying that new hardware is on the way — also see App Thinning — and they don’t want us to have to recompile our apps before they’ll work on it.

Why is that bad? Well, I have no idea what code will be executing on my users machines. What optimiser settings are Apple using? What compiler are they using? Are there any bugs in it?

Or put another way, Apple put an invisible step between the developer and the user. If it works, users get an optimised app. If it doesn’t, the developer gets a bunch of one star reviews for something that they had no ability to test. It doesn’t seem to me that the upside outweighs the risks.

Let’s hope they do it well and cautiously. Or that the new hardware is worth the hassle!

iPad multitasking

This one is going to sell a lot of iPad Air 2’s to developers in the next couple of months. I love this both as a developer and as a user.

As a user, being able to run two apps side by side suddenly makes the iPad far more useful. Can I say, finally?

And as a developer, it’s not even terribly hard to implement as long as the app is relatively new. With the caveat that more testing is needed, I got Yummy up and running in the Simulator without changing any code.

SLSafariViewController

It’s basically a “Safari view controller” that developers can use to show web content in their apps.

I thought that this would be ideal for Yummy. The value of the browser in Yummy is diminished by its lack of autofill (of password, addresses, credit card details, etc.) and log in details. SLSafariViewController, which suffers from none of those disadvantages, sounds like the solution.

However, in the first beta at least it’s limited in two important ways that means it won’t work in this scenario. Firstly, it’s modal. Secondly you can’t edit the URL. I’ve raised bug reports about both. We’ll see.

Still, I can see uses for it in its current form.

Spotlight searching inside apps

This is another good one, both for users and developers. Using Spotlight search — which has had lots of other nice improvements too — it will be possible to find things inside apps.

For example I was able to use Spotlight to find bookmarks that had been indexed by Yummy. This is more work that the multitasking but is not super hard.

In summary…

Yeah, I didn’t mention Swift or the Apple Watch. I think both have a great future but I don’t have any immediate applications for either right now. (For what it’s worth, my first app with Swift in it will probably ship before the end of the year.)

Like the multitasking, the Spotlight searches are going to create more reasons for more users to keep using compatible apps. But, more than that, it’s going to make apps considerably more useful without having to invest vast amounts of time to get the benefits.

This contrasts greatly with the last two releases of iOS. With 7, a huge amount of work was required just so that apps didn’t look out of place in the New World. For many apps, that work resulted in no new features or stability improvements. Version 8 required none of that, but it was a huge release for developers. Extensions were brilliant, but required a lot of work, especially since the development tools were flaky.

iOS 9 appears to be a stability release for Apple and the new features seem to give a lot of “bangs per buck” for developers. That’s my kind of release.

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Quick Calendar

Update 25 June 2015: Available for download now.

Quick Calendar

Quick Calendar

In the olden days, Apple added the Dashboard to Mac OS X. It had lots of potential — widgets to quickly give you information or make simple calculations — but it stagnated and then has pretty much gone in Yosemite (10.10). By and large it has been replaced by the Notification Centre.

I wouldn’t mind so much, but there’s one widget that I use all the time: a simple monthly calendar. It didn’t link to Apple’s Calendar to show events or anything clever. It was just a quick way to work out that, say, next Friday is the 23rd or that February 24th is a Tuesday.

And, oddly, it’s not there in the Notification Centre. There’s a list of todays events. There’s a list of your reminders. There’s what’s happening tomorrow. The weather. But not a simple calendar widget.

Well, now there is. Or at least, will be soon. I’ve submitted my Mac calendar widget to the Mac App Store and, with luck, it’ll be available soon.. It will be free but we accept donations right inside the app if you’d like to support us and help us product future updates.

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ShareEverywhere 1.1.0

We’re pleased to announce the imminent availability of ShareEverywhere 1.1, the only share extension you’ll ever need!

Custom Sharer

Custom Sharer

Two major new features in this release:

  • Sharers can be re-ordered
  • Custom sharers

Of course there are the usual array of fixes and minor enhancements, too.

Ordering the sharers means that you can put your most frequently used services in the most convenient place for you. In the main app you simply press and hold on the sharer name and drag it to where you want it. This order is maintained in the share extension.

Secondly, custom sharers. Custom sharers mean that you can pre-populate values that you might want to use frequently. For example, you might want to send links by email to a colleague or pictures using iMessage to your partner. Custom sharers mean you can set up these properties in advance, reducing the number of taps needed to share your content.

We don’t normally talk about specific fixes, but there’s one worth mentioning. I liked Instagram’s new Layout app. Once you create your image you can share it with Facebook, Instagram or using the system share menu (including ShareEverywhere). But not Twitter.

It was at this point that I found that the ShareEverywhere Twitter sharer didn’t work with Layout. It turns out that some of the code assumed that the image will be a JPEG but Layout exports a PNG. That’s fixed in this version, so you can now export directly from Layout to Twitter.

ShareEverywhere 1.1 is currently with Apple for review and should be available to download in a few days. It’s a free update for existing users or $1.99 as a new purchase. It’s also available as part of the Wandle Social Bundle for $4.99.

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Yummy 3.0.2

The TL;DR version is: one new feature, lots of bug fixes, available soon.

Yummy 3.0.2 is currently with Apple for review and should be available to download in the next week or so. There were two legs to this relatively minor release.

Firstly it crosses off the few remaining crashing bugs and hangs. At the time of writing, only two users have been affected by crashing bugs in 3.0.1 according to my crash reporter, but that’s still too many. The hangs are harder to quantify but we think they’ll all gone in this version. As always, please let us know if you find otherwise.

Secondly, adding back features that were in 2.x but didn’t make it into 3.0. This time it’s the turn of “add bookmark from the clipboard.” If you tap the add button and the URL field would otherwise be blank, Yummy 3.0.2 inserts any URL on the clipboard for you.

Alternatively, you can have Yummy automatically show the add bookmark dialog on launch. You can enable this in the settings.

Apple have been approving updates in about a week, so it should be available to download soon.  We hope you like it.

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Delicious API Outage

Update 10 April: It appears that the Delicious API is available again and you should be able to sync your bookmarks in Yummy again.

For what it’s worth, I don’t feel that Delicious communicated the problems very well — their blog said, incorrectly, that the API was working — and the amount of time they’ve taken is clearly disappointing. Sadly short of hosting our own bookmarking service, there is little that we Wandle Software can do when this happens.

At the time of writing most users will not be able to log into or sync with their Delicious account using Yummy or any other third party clients. The cause of this is Delicious moving data centres:

We are currently in the process of moving our data center. The entire maintenance window is expected to be from Friday April 3rd at 8:00 p.m. PT until Saturday April 4th 9:00 a.m. PT. During this time you may experience interruptions when saving and retrieving links. We are anticipating a full site outage at some point during that window,  but we are expecting it to last less than 1 hour.

It appears that they hit, or nearly reached, this target for their website but there are a number of unresolved issues around the periphery (feeds, importing/exporting links). They have not explicitly mentioned the API — the method by which Yummy accesses your bookmarks — but it’s certainly not working for me and I have received a number of support requests.

It appears that some work is ongoing. Over the weekend I was getting “503” errors (“Service Unavailable”) but as of Tuesday morning requests are failing with “invalid certificate” errors. If you’d like to validate this yourself, you can do so with the following command (replacing username and password with your actual username and password):

curl ‘https://username:password@api.del.icio.us/v1/posts/update’

I can only apologise for this outage and wish that there was something that I could do to help. In the meantime, I am waiting to submit Yummy 3.0.2 in case there are some required changes that they have not currently documented.

Please follow the Delicious and Wandle Software Twitter feed for more real time updates.

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The tale of www.cut 3.3

This should have been a short, dull story unworthy of a blog post. It may still be dull (you be the judge if that) but I thought it was worth documenting.

So, www.cut. It’s our smallest, simplest app, designed to shorten URLs with barely any user interface. It’s simple almost to the point of being barren. If you launch it with a URL on the clipboard, you don’t even need to tap a button for it to do its magic. Its USP is its lack of interface.

Back when iOS 8 was new, I wanted to add one of the new “Action extensions” (so you wouldn’t even need to open the app). While I was at it I made a few small internal changes and hit submit. The plan was for it to be available a couple of weeks after iOS 8.

But it wasn’t to be. Apple rejected it saying that the UI wasn’t of sufficiently high quality, pointing out the large amount of white space on the iPad version.

Unfortunately, that lack of UI is kind of the point. Also, it hasn’t really changed since 2010. I didn’t have an immediate response and, because it was just a small update otherwise, I decided to concentrate on Yummy and CameraGPS instead.

Five months later, with Yummy 3 submitted and CameraGPS already available, I decide to revisit www.cut.

With iOS 8 now being on the vast majority of devices, I decide to drop iOS 7 support. I also update some of the APIs and, only to address the review rejection, add a web preview of the shortened link on iPad and landscape iPhone 6+. I am not convinced that this actually improves the product, but there’s no point of all the other changes if I can’t get the app in the store at all.

I submitted this update the same day as Yummy 3, which was a compete, ground up rewrite of a much more complex app. One update was approved and one was rejected. Can you guess which?

They rejected it again for exactly the same reason. This is, to say the least, frustrating. They show the same screenshot, showing a blank screen. The web preview being blank because no URL a had been entered.  In hindsight I probably should have anticipated this however that’s not why this rejection was frustrating.

My crash reporter tells me that www.cut crashed while it was in review. However, the reviewer didn’t mention this.

There are lots of high profile app rejections but “little” ones like this are at the heart of the problems with app review to my mind. To summarise: users who are apparently happy with the UI have missed out on neat new Apple promoted features and bug fixes for five months but the a crash in the new version isn’t considered important enough to mention.

But back to www.cut. I figured if the web preview neither improved the product nor managed to get the app past the reviewers it wasn’t worth keeping. I removed it. But that still left the user interface.

The reviewers kept talking about “not using the full screen” but it’s quite tricky to make two text fields and three buttons fill an iPad screen. What could be done? I was skeptical that it would work, but I re-worked the www.cut logo, placing the text under the buttons as usual and the red border all the way around the screen. This “uses” the screen without adding extra, superfluous interface elements.

That feels like a lot of work just to get the action extension — the whole point of which is that you won’t ever see the apps interface! — but in the end we got there. I hope you think it’s worth it.

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www.cut 3.3

Third time lucky as they say. I had this update ready to go last September, shortly after iOS 8 launched but Apple rejected it. With a few visual tweaks to make the reviewers happy and a few other functional changes. www.cut 3.3 should now be available on the App Store.

The one line summary: this is the iOS 8 update for www.cut. I’ve made a few small tweaks to the UI but the most visible change is the addition of an extension so you don’t need to mess with the URL scheme.

www.cut Shorten actionHere’s how you would use the extension in Safari:

  • Tap the “Action” menu, the one when you can share to Facebook or save to your reading list
  • On the bottom row, scroll to the right
  • Tap “More”
  • In the list find “Shorten” and switch it on
  • Tap “Done”
  • Tap the now-visible “Shorten” button
  • Tap “Done”

Steps two to five only need to be done once.

(And yeah, that should be a numbered list. My WordPress template seems to have gone crazy and replaced the numbers with letters…)

Internally I’ve updated to a newer version of the Bit.ly API. Existing users will have to log in again, this time using their username and password rather than going through the palaver of finding their API key. I’ve also taken the opportunity to modernise some of the code, though no Swift just yet!

It’s available on the App Store now.

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Wandle Social Bundle

You may have noticed that most — three out of five — of Wandle Software’s apps have a “social” focus. Yummy manages your links from social bookmarking websites Delicious and Pinboard. ShareEverywhere means you can share your links to many networks, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. www.cut allows you to shorten your links before sharing.

They all work well together and will soon be available in the Wandle Social Bundle for a reduced price — effectively, buy Yummy and ShareEverywhere, get www.cut free.

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Yummy 3.0.1

Yummy 3 was a massive update. It was effectively a completely new app with very little shared with the version that it replaced. Inevitably, sadly, some bugs made it through into the finished version, despite lots of testing by myself and the largest number of beta testers I’ve ever had for a new app. (Please let me know if you’d like to be added to the beta list.)

iOS Simulator Screen Shot 13 Mar 2015 12.16.41

Yummy 3: Tag list view

Version 3.0.1 is all about resolving as many of those issues are possible:

  • Fixed a bunch of crashing bugs. Most were pretty obscure, happening rarely to a small number of users, but that’s no excuse. A better excuse is that I wasn’t able to reproduce most of them so the fixes are somewhat speculative.
  • Performance improvements. The slowest thing in Yummy (all versions) is dealing with tags. I’ve made it quite a lot quicker, though you’ll likely only really notice during the initial sync or when migrating from Yummy 2.
  • Fix the add bookmark functionality. This was the most embarrassing bug to make it into the final version.
  • Fixes and performance improvements to the migration from Yummy 2. This should fix the syncing and share extension troubles that some users have been experiencing. There is a workaround.
  • Workaround for a bug in Pocket that meant that you couldn’t save bookmarks using Yummy’s share extension.
  • Improvements to “get webpage title” functionality.
  • Dismiss keyboard when saving a bookmark.
  • A new alternative to the “tag cloud” screen, which looks pretty much the same as the tag screen in Yummy 2, including the count of bookmarks.
  • Updates to the versions of a number of open source components used.

I don’t normally include this much detail when talking about bug fix updates but I think it’s important to detail what’s going on this time.

I’m sorry if you’ve been affected by any of the bugs and I hope this release makes Yummy more usable again. Thank you to the users who submitted crash reports or emailed me with their thoughts or observations. As the App Store description notes: I can’t fix problems I don’t know about.

Yummy 3.0.1 is currently with Apple for review. It should be out soon.

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