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App Store Connect and Tide bank

The audience for this post is pretty niche, but I thought it worth posting nevertheless. If you’re a UK-based developer with an App Store Connect account and want Apple to pay your proceeds into a Tide bank account, you are in the right demographic.

In short, this was not possible until recently. Apple pay from abroad somewhere so you need an IBAN number, and Tide didn’t support international payments, even in Sterling.

That changed recently. But if you enter your details into Apple’s website it says “The local clearing code you selected does not match the corresponding part of your IBAN.”

If you’re familiar with IBAN numbers maybe the solution is obvious but it wasn’t to me. With the help of David from App Store connect and some luck (if it didn’t work I may have lost some money!) I found the answer:

Don’t enter your bank account number and sort code. Instead, dissect your IBAN number. It’ll be in the form GB67SAPYXXXXXXYYYYYYYY. Put the digits XXXXXX in the sort code field and YYYYYYYY in account number field. Put the IBAN number in the IBAN field.

A couple of days later I got an error message: “An error occurred whilst creating the Request,” suggesting that I shouldn’t have emoji characters or large attachments (I didn’t). I emailed Apple and got a not entirely convincing response.

Still, it appears to have worked.

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trivia

Ten years

It was ten years ago that the original iPhone software developer kit was released. I’d just bought an iPhone a couple of weeks earlier so the timing was perfect. I downloaded a copy and… well… here we are. There are a bunch of retrospectives, but here is probably the best.

As for me, I never really intended to start a business. I goofed around with the SDK for a month or two. It was only when the App Store launched without a Delicous.com client that I got serious finishing off the code that I’d started. The end result: Yummy. There have been more apps, the formal foundation of Wandle Software and lots more.

Yummy is still around. As are five other iPhone apps and a Mac app. If you’ve ever downloaded one of the apps, thank you. If not, now’s your chance!

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Goodbye Delicious

Delicious has been bought by Pinboard (of all companies) and is going to be switched into read-only mode on June 15.

If you look at what’s been happening in the last few years, that it has been sold (again) and is being shut-down should hardly be a surprise. If you recall, we had to remove support for Delicious in Yummy — an app that was deigned as a Delicious client! — after their API was broken for months. It’s not a pretty end, but it’s still an end that I want to commemorate.

Early version of Yummy

Why would I want to commemorate such a failure? Well, Wandle Software was, effectively, founded becaused I liked and used the service. In 2008, when I first got an iPhone, I used it as a “read later” service; I used it to save and share interesting links; I even pulled its RSS feed into my blog as a kind of micro-blogging service. When the iPhone SDK launched a had a quick play around and figured that I wouldn’t have the time to do much. Then the store launched without a Delicous client and… long story short… I wrote one, called it Yummy and launched it in late August.

As much as I liked and used Delicious, it was flawed even from the beginning. The API was terrible. I did a talk at the London iPhone Developer group ostensibly about API design, but actually a barely disguised opportunity to complain about Delicious. (In short, it’s not entirely clear what the API is designed for. It’s not terribly good at syncing bookmarks. And the methods it did have didn’t work well on a device with 128Mb of memory.)

In addition to being badly design, it was also badly managed. At the time that Apple were taking around two weeks to approve app updates, Yahoo decided to announce a significant change to the API and then released it on the same day. No third party clients supported it. There was no first party app. I won’t recount the complete saga here — I already did that once — but, suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty.

Having said all that, developing for the iPhone was (mostly) fun. My day-job involved working on “big iron” so making anything work with a single, slow CPU and very limited memory was a challenge. And sales in the first couple of years were in the thousands. Clearly not a huge commercial success, but not bad for a hobby and it encouraged me to keep going.

Meanwhile, Delicous’ death-sprial continued. A sale. Removal of the fun API change above. Brief optimism that things would change. Then the realisation that they wouldn’t.

I wrote this nearly a year ago:

At this point I see no point in maintaining Delicious support in Yummy. When you consider that the app is named after the site this feels a little crazy but pretending that Yummy supports Delicious when it can’t is starting to feel dishonest, even though this is not a problem of my making.

But just becasue we could see it coming doesn’t make the end a happy occasion. Here’s to you, Delicious. I’m sorry to see you go.

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trivia

WWDC 2016

Quick Calendar on Sierra
Quick Calendar on Sierra

I normally have a few words to say about the announcements that Apple makes at their annual developer conference, and this year is no exception.

The features of iOS 10 are (broadly) not hugely relevant to our current apps. It’s not possible for any of our apps to integrate with Siri; none really lend themselves to plugging into Messages. I feel that CameraGPS probably works best as a separate app rather than trying to plug into Maps (and I’m not even sure it would be possible).

But there are opportunities for new apps that — time permitting — may see the light of day. Watch this space.

At the time of writing, it’s my intention to make sure that all our apps continue to work on iOS 10. This is a much bigger update for CameraGPS than the others, as it relies on a feature that has been deprecated.

Having said that, from a user perspective it seems to be a nice release. Even the first beta is relatively stable, though not good enough (in my opinion) for your main phone.

The story is similar on macOS Sierra. Quick Calendar runs just fine on the first beta build (though I might need to tweak some of the colours!). It looks and works pretty much the same as El Capitan, which I mean as a compliment. I’m not sure how much I’ll use Siri. I think I’d be embarrassed to use it in a crowded office!

So, overall, Apple’s announcements don’t change very much for Wandle Software’s apps. But they still look to be good releases! Keep an eye out for the final versions in September!

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trivia

CloudKit

If you’re at all interested in how apps get built, you might like a blog I wrote about how Yummy synchronises favourite searches between devices using iCloud.

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trivia

Wandle Software: Year Four

I think it’s useful to have a periodic review of activities. I haven’t always published them but, where possible, I will always try to.

I’m posting this update a little later than last year. I had every intention of writing this after the anniversary of the company and shortly after Apples’s developer conference where they announce their plans for the following year but life got in the way(!). As before, what follows is more ambition than commitment. Please keep reading the blog for what actually happens.

First, let’s run through what we achieved in the last year:

  • CameraGPS 1.1 was the first thing to come after last years “state of the union.” It’s now at version 1.2.
  • Next was a new app: ShareEverywhere. The release got coverage in the Guardian, so probably the best launch we’ve had, at least in terms of visibility. It’s unclear whether hitting the App Store several hours after the availability of iOS 8 affected sales but made a disappointing start. ShareEverywhere is now at version 1.1.2 (which was an update for iOS 9).
  • Rootn Tootn and www.cut had minor updates for iOS 8 and the new iPhone screen sizes. The latter took a lot longer than I expected due to numerous rejections by Apple.
  • Yummy got a major update in version 3. It was effectively a ground-up rewrite designed to get the underlying code in a shape suitable for working with in the modern era. Some of that promise is already apparent, updates currently in progress confirm that it was the right thing to do.
  • Next the Wandle Social Bundle launched, bringing together Yummy, ShareEverywhere and www.cut.
  • Finally, we released Quick Calendar, our first push into Macintosh software.

It’s been a busy year! Three new (if you include Yummy) apps and lots of updates. It’s fair to say that the next year won’t be quite so eventful. Time pressures mean that I have to be a bit more focused on the bottom line than I might appear to have been in the past.

Most of Wandle Software’s income still comes from Yummy, so work will continue there. Another feature update is in the works. It will take advantage of some enhancements in iOS 9 and bring some new tricks of its own. More news when details are finalised. There may also be a small update before that.

Next in terms of revenue is ShareEverywhere. I have ideas for some new sharers and, obviously, the plan is to keep the existing ones working (which is hard with so many third-party APIs to keep track of).

CameraGPS has not been as successful as I would have liked. I’ve not used it myself as much as I hoped I would and its reception, both in terms of sales and feedback, has been muted. I will very likely make an iOS 9 compatibility release if necessary. I also have some ideas about adjusting its business model.

In the wings are a minor update for www.cut and a bigger, albeit mostly cosmetic, update to Rootn Tootn.

The surprise hit of the year has been Quick Calendar. It has exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations for both downloads and revenue. Revenue comes from an entirely voluntary “tip jar” and a very pleasant surprise is both the number of people making a contribution and the fact that many are choosing something other than the absolute lowest amount.

As always, there are lots of ideas for new apps but there are no plans to launch any in the next year (though circumstances always change!).

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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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trivia

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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KSBDA International Spring Exhibition

I’m very late writing this, but I thought it was worth commemorating even very much belatedly.

Rootn Tootn‘s icon and logo were shown in an exhibit last year. In the words of the designer:

Rootn Tootn graphic artwork was shown at the 2014 KSBDA International Spring Exhibition, May 31st through June 5th, 2014, at University of Seoul in Korea. It hung among works of designers and professors from more than 5 countries beside Korean designers and professors. Totally 300 plus works were exhibited.

(Bonus points if you can find the icon in any of the pictures in the link!)

Rootn Tootn Logo
Rootn Tootn Logo

I’m really happy with the design work for that app and I’m glad it was put on display for a much wider audience. Next time I’ll try to find out about it beforehand!

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2014

2014 was a busy year for us. Of course, we never completed everything we hoped to but we’ve achieved a lot.

  • Two new apps, CameraGPS and ShareEverywhere
  • Two further big updates to CameraGPS, and a couple of minor ones
  • Two further updates to ShareEverywhere
  • Four updates to Yummy
  • Five updates to Rootn Tootn, including the big, new 2.0 release

All that, plus some changes to www.cut that we’ve not been able to release.

For various reasons, it’s unlikely that we’ll get quite as much done in 2015 but we already have some exciting updates in progress. 2015 should be good.