New Year Update

The big news around Yummy HQ is that we’re currently beta testing the next major release. A few users have been trying it out since late last week week and most of the feedback has been positive. Of course there have been a few bugs that I’ve had to fix, but that’s the whole point of a beta test.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be discussing the new features here (so please add this website to your RSS feed or consider subscribing by email using the widget to the right of the screen) but first let’s consider how big a change is coming to iTunes and your iPhone.

The simplest measure is the number of lines of code, and by this metric Yummy 2.0 is nearly twice the size of version 1.0.3. And that’s only half the story as I have spent a lot of time replacing some verbose, automatically generated code with shorter, hand-optimised versions.

When you write an iPhone application there are two parts. The first part is traditional computer code (written in a language called Objective C). Unless you’re a programmer, none of this will make much sense to you. That’s represented in the blue blocks in the above graph. You can also do a certain amount of work by dragging and dropping bits of your user interface, much as you would with a program like Visio. That “code” is in the green.

I didn’t include the numbers, as they’re not terribly important, but the relative sizes are obvious.

Maybe a better measure is the volume of changes. This graph represents the number of lines changed between a version and it’s predecessor.

As you can see, the move to 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 was pretty significant and the fixes in 1.0.3 were much smaller. You can’t however, miss the size of the change moving to version 2.0.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks to learn what those changes look like and how they make Yummy even more useful, convenient and powerful.

Updates on the App Store

In the olden days, way back in September and before, a minor update to an application would put you back in the “new application” category of the App Store which would typically result in a short-term boost in sales. Apple fixed this a while back but one thing that hasn’t changed is the rate at which users take the update.

I got an email from Apple saying that version 1.0.3 of Yummy was available for sale just shy of midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 6th January. By Thursdays sales report I saw that nearly 50% of users had already downloaded it. I’m not sure exactly when the update hit iTunes nor the cut-off time for the report, but it was at most forty-eight hours and maybe as little as twenty-four.

I’ve not seen any platform where optional upgrades are accepted so quickly.

It’s tempting to say that it’s because on the iPhone it’s both easy and free, but how hard is it to take updates for the Macintosh, Windows Update or most Linux distributions? Automatic updates are typically enabled by default but many users actively refuse them, perhaps because they don’t know what they are or what benefit they would derive from them. Of maybe it’s the perceived quality? Most people have never had an update mess up their computer, but everyone knows someone who has had problems. An iPhone application is pretty low risk. At worst you’ve broken a single program.

The explanation I like most is that I have many enthusiastic users who are dying to get the next, exciting update as soon as possible. They read this blog, follow me on Twitter and sit in iTunes pressing the “Check for updates” button trying to get their latest hit.

If you know the truth, please try not to spoil my delusion.

Yummy Version 1.0.3

Yummy version 1.0.3 has just hit iTunes and be available for download. There are three bug fixes in this release:

  • The “laggy cursor” issue I discussed earlier
  • Searching by tag then editing a post returned you to a blank bookmark list. This issue has been fixed
  • Leaving a blank title (not allowed by delicious.com) now gives a meaningful message rather than a vague “Oops” error

It’s recommended for all users. It has been a slightly painful release because Apple originally rejected it. Ah well, it all makes for better software.

AppBeacon

AppBeacon is a relatively new site that guides you to the best iPhone and iPod touch applications and I am pleased to announce that Yummy is one of their featured applications through January 2009.

There are a lot of sites that claim to help you find that key application or game but AppBeacon seems to be unusually well designed and thought out. I especially like the ability to flag applications for future reference as well as mark those you actually own — a great feature for that indecisive and forgetful demographic which I include myself in. I think.

Two Weeks

It all started with an innocuous looking email to Yummy’s support email address:

Tagging seams a bit buggy. When I try to correct a typo with the cursor it works the first time (laggy though) but the second time I’m not able to move the cursor anymore.

Without getting too technical (visit my question on StackOverflow if you want to see them), the way the iPhone works is that it tells the application when events happen and the application can respond appropriately. When certain events occur, you are expected to behave in a particular way in addition to your own actions.

Of course there are lots of events that happen that the application is not interested in. I could rotate the phone into portrait mode or touch in the middle of the toolbar where there are no buttons or hold the phone to my ear, all of which the phone can detect but I don’t care about.

So, inside Yummy I could be responding to events incorrectly or I could be ignoring events that I should be listening for. I was pretty sure that it wasn’t the former, though I did spend some time checking. It took me nearly two weeks to convince myself that it wasn’t the latter either.

So what’s left? As far as I can see, the only code running at the time of the “laggy cursor” is Apple’s so I raised a bug report with them.

Of course even if Apple decide to help, that doesn’t help you immediately.

In the end I got lucky. After getting nowhere for those two weeks the fix that you should be seeing very shortly came to me in the middle of the night. It’s not a complete solution but it works significantly better than before and I also managed to sneak in another smaller fix while I was putting the release together. More details when it hits iTunes.

Gaming the System

It’s at times like these that I realise that I am too, well, nice to ever become a gazillionaire. Every few months I see a new scheme that attempts to game the placement of programs in the App Store and I wonder if I should consider it for Yummy. Every time I decide against it. Sure, in theory I might get a few extra sales but I feel that it would cheapen both me and my software. At the risk of sounding pretentious, you can’t really buy integrity.

But that’s not to say that the text I use to describe Yummy hasn’t evolved as I’ve learned some lessons along the way.

When I first launched it went like this:

Yummy synchronises all your Delicious.com bookmarks with your iPhone or iPod touch, allowing you to quickly browse or search for them. It is also a convenient way to add, edit and delete bookmarks all within one application.

It’s kind of minimal, but that was a deliberate reaction to some of the other apps that were available at the time. Their descriptions talked about very basic features as though they predated sliced bread. I wanted to draw attention to the key differentiators — searching and editing bookmarks — without assuming that my prospects were idiots.

Turns out that there are problems with being minimal, in fact the problem that spamming your description with other apps attempts to solve. After a little experimentation, I found that my original text didn’t appear when I searched for “delicious”. In that sense it’s a wonder that as many people found and downloaded a copy!

Last month I extended my text to this:

Yummy synchronises all your Delicious.com bookmarks with your iPhone or iPod touch, allowing you to quickly browse, search, add, edit and delete them.

Key features:

  • Synchronise with Delicious whenever you want
  • Browse bookmarks by date
  • Search for bookmarks by tag(s) or title
  • View all fields held by Delicious (notes, date, tags, etc)
  • Add new bookmarks. Includes handy bookmarklet for Safari
  • Edit and delete bookmarks

I thought that this version was a reasonable compromise between conciseness, using genuine keywords and showing the key features of the application.

Right now while Yummy is placed behind an application that counts the number of days to Easter and a tourist guide to London, it’s in a much better position now. And all without using sleazy SEO techniques.

Yummy (Cakes)

The folks over at Veiled Games have decided to “market by cookie,” a strategy unfortunately missing from most text books on the subject. I am always willing to learn new techniques, so here is my attempt:

This is the real life yummy cup cake from the Yummy logo. Maybe next time I should make the colours match those in my first attempt at a logo?

(As with the logo, these cakes were baked up by brandarling.com.)

[Update: now part of The Great Indie Bake Off 2008. I’m not a judge but if you want to send me any cake I would be more than happy to accept…]

Alternate way to add bookmarks

I am aware that a number of users find the process of adding the “Add to Yummy” bookmarklet to Safari to be harder than it should be. As I discussed last week, this is not something that I can make a lot simpler — you’ll have to ask Apple to help me there.

But if adding the bookmarklet in Safari or Internet Explorer on your PC and syncing your iPhone is not something that appeals, try this:

Click this link:

Add to Yummy

(It should redirect you back to this page.)

Then add it to Safari using the “+” button at the bottom of the screen and press “Add Bookmark.”

You can change the name of the bookmark if you like, then click ‘Save.’

Now click the bookmarks button. Locate your new bookmark, press the “Edit” button at the bottom of the screen and select the new bookmark.

You must change the URL itself. You need to delete everything before (and including) the first question mark, making the first word “javascript”. When you’re done, the screen should look something like this:

And with that you’re good to go.

10 000+

I thought this image was neat:

10,000+

It’s supposed to be the icons of the ten thousand applications now available on the App Store. I see plenty of duplicate icons but not Yummy’s cupcake. Can anyone else find it?