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Wandle 2013

It’s already nearly May so 2013 is well underway. While there has not been much in the way of visible activity from Wandle Software a lot has been going on behind the scenes. I thought it was worth a quick discussion about our plans for the year.

As ever, I’m not going to get into too many specifics. I always think it’s a good idea to consider apps based on what they currently offer rather than what is promised at some unspecified point in the future and would encourage you to do the same. Having said that, all our apps continue to be supported and will continue to receive updates.

This year we’ve already made a small update to Rootn Tootn. There’s a bigger one in the works, with one major new feature that’s taking a lot of work to get right. As a teaser, I’ll say that once it works it will open up the possibility of a new, companion app…

Our longest serving app, Yummy, is also likely to get some attention this year. The next release, out shortly, will be a minor update that in addition to a couple of minor fixes actually removes a couple of things. For example, now that iOS has built-in Twitter support there is little need to keep the custom support that I built in a few years ago.

Removing features is not something I take lightly, but it will allow me to focus on features that most people do use and differentiate it from first party apps (now that there is one). Despite being in development since 2008 there are still features that I would like to build into it and removing stuff that is no longer needed will make that process easier and quicker.

www.cut will also likely get a small update. It does one task and — we like to think — does it well, so that will be just a few tweaks and minor fixes.

Most activity so far this year, and likely for the rest of the year, is around new app ideas. The problem with new ideas is that you can never be entirely sure which ones will work out, so no announcements and no timescales at this time.

In short, it’s business as usual!

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Rootn Tootn 1.1.1

Rootn Tootn History screen (v 1.1.1)
Rootn Tootn History screen (v 1.1.1)

I hadn’t intended to make this release. I made these changes back in December and planned to include them in the next major update (version 1.2) but the scope of that has increased somewhat and it’s taking longer to put together than I’d hoped. So, here are two nice, small improvements.

  • Edit a timer event, moving it before a previous timer
  • Date headings in the History view

The first is a fix for what, in hindsight, was a mistake in the original versions. I wanted to avoid the situation where you could have overlapping events. It seemed unlikely that anyone would want to do that. To keep the interface clean I made it so that you couldn’t update an event to clash with the next or previous one. Unfortunately this meant that if you missed a feed it became very difficult to add it back.

The solution? Simply relax the checks. 

The second change is to split the History view into dates. This breaks up the events so you can see what happened and when that little bit easier.

So, two small changes. But both, I think, make Rootn Tootn that little bit better.

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Goodbye Yummy Browser

If you’ve been paying attention to the recent updates to Yummy you might be wondering where the companion update for Yummy Browser is. And the answer to that, I’m afraid, is that it’s not coming.

Unfortunately the time has come to say goodbye to Yummy Browser. Soon it will disappear from the App Store and you will no longer be able to “buy” new copies (though you will be able to re-download it if you already have a copy).

Why am I taking this step?

I created Yummy Browser with two objectives in mind. Firstly as a way of testing the effectiveness of mobile advertising and secondly as a “lite” version, a way of letting people try Yummy before paying for the full version.

Neither has been a great success.

Advertising just isn’t the panacea that many people seem to think that it is. My impression is you need of the order of a million regular users before it starts to make economic sense (or perhaps a smaller but more targeted audience). It won’t surprise you to learn that Yummy Browser has somewhat less than that.

And back in 2008-9, it was the received wisdom that a “lite” version was the way to get around the fact that Apple didn’t provide a way for users to trial software. Well, they still don’t have that facility and, while some developers have had success with that strategy, it has not worked brilliantly with Yummy. It’s difficult to calculate exact values since Apple provide no analytics but what I can say is that on many days, despite being free, Yummy Browser gets fewer downloads than Yummy.

More tellingly — and not entirely unexpected — more people who buy Yummy actually keep using it. When I release an update I get a large number of downloads for Yummy but far fewer for Yummy Browser. The spikes in the purple below represent updates from Yummy shrinking rather than big increases in updates of Yummy Browser.

(These are weekly numbers. Updates to both products are normally released within a day or two of one another.)

And finally, Yummy Browser has not been available for download in the US for a while now and it appears not to have affected downloads of the paid version there.

Yet despite little revenue, fewer downloads and less “sticky” users, supporting and developing Yummy Browser takes away effort that I could be putting into Yummy, www.cut, Rootn Tootn and other app ideas.

What I’m trying to say with all this text and the graphs is that this is not a decision that I’ve taken lightly, but I think it will improve things for users of all Wandle’s other apps. And let’s not forget that Yummy Browser won’t just stop working today.

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Yummy 2.7.4

Well, it’s taken more than a year to be available, but Delicious finally updated their API so that clients can use spaces in tags. And that’s what this new version of Yummy, submitted to the App Store yesterday, is all about.

In short, if you use Delicious tags are now delimited by commas, just like on the website, rather than spaces as has been the case in Yummy until now. If you use Pinboard, nothing should have changed.

Because it’s a change, I’ve also added a hint on the tag entry screen so you know what character to use.

If you have already downloaded bookmarks and Yummy has (incorrectly) split your tags into individual words, then I’m afraid that you’ll have to log out and back in again. This will download all your bookmarks again, but this time they should have the correct tags.

I apologise that this has taken so long to come about but, as I’ve said to everyone who has contacted me about this issue, this was a problem with the API and not strictly a problem in Yummy.

There are also a couple of other smaller changes in this release. Firstly, there’s a bug fix. Occasionally Yummy got the count of the number of tags wrong. Annoying but not disastrous. That should be fixed in this version.

Finally, until now when you logged out of Yummy, it kept all the old details up to the point where you start syncing with the new account. I felt that this was a fail-safe; an extra opportunity to cancel. But I’ve had a few emails from people saying that they like to log out to prevent other users from seeing and editing their bookmarks.

In 2.7.4, Yummy now allows this by wiping out all the previous account information when you confirm you want to log out.

At this stage I think it’s unlikely that Apple will approve the update this side of Christmas but it should hopefully be a nice New Year gift for everyone.

Update: Released on December 20.

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Yummy 2.7.3

I have just submitted a small update to Yummy that is currently with Apple and will, hopefully, be released some time in the next week.

It has a single bug fix: if you leave the app when you’re on the tags screen Yummy will sometimes crash. This should never have resulted in data loss so, while I never like to release crashing code, I would hazard that most people never noticed.

Update: Yummy was approved on the 4th December, pretty much in record time — thank you Apple!

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Rootn Tootn version 1.1

I have just submitted the first feature update of Rootn Tootn to Apple for review. Hopefully it will be available for download from the App Store in the next week or so.

The theme for version 1.1 is “stuff that I didn’t have time for last time.” In addition to a lot of small tweaks, there are three big features: statistics, data export and accessibility.

Version 1.0 allowed you to record and view lots of information but there was no way to see it all in context. With this update you will be able to see some statistics, showing what happened on average over the last week and for all time.

This is what it looks like:

Rootn Tootn Statistics screen

At the top there’s a graph showing averages for each day of the last week. The bars show the number of events (feeds, changes); the line shows the average duration. Press and hold on a day to see the actual numbers.

Below the graph are text summaries of the average number of events and the average duration per day for all time and just for the last week. I thought that these would be the most interesting and useful statistics but, of course, you might have other ideas of things you’d like to see.

This brings me to the second feature: data export. You can export all the data that Rootn Tootn records as simple CSV (comma separated variable) files that can be imported into most text editing and spreadsheet apps, or even Dropbox so you can open in a “full” application on your Mac or PC.

While I’m sure that you can think of other benefits, the two main ones I see are: you can analyse the figures in arbitrary ways that I can’t imagine. And secondly, I don’t want you to feel that Rootn Tootn is holding your data hostage. If you want to get extract it and use it elsewhere, you should be able to do so.

The final thing is something I’m not sure I should describe as a “feature,” but is pretty neat nevertheless: accessibility. That’s the name that Apple use to describe the feature, but what does it really mean? In short, it means that partially sighted people can work with apps just as well as those with perfect eyesight. It works by “speaking” the user interface. You can read more about how it works in general here.

What I would say is that I have good (albeit corrected) eyesight so I’m not completely confident that I have correctly made every part of the app fully accessible. Please let me know if you find an area that needs work.

So that’s Rootn Tootn 1.1: easier to use, better visualisation of your data and the ability to export it.

Update: Apple approved it on 30 October.

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Yummy 2.7.2

In my rush to get Yummy 2.7.1 out I missed a couple of things: one feature and one bug. I fixed that in 2.7.2 and added a small bonus.

The bug I have already written about on Twitter. Basically, if you are still running iOS 5 but do not have Twitter enabled then Yummy is liable to crash when you open a bookmark or the web preview screen. While Apple approve the real fix, if you enable Twitter support (even if you don’t use it) you can work around the problem.

Secondly, in using the new iOS 6 share sheets, I accidentally removed the “Open in Safari” option. In 2.7.2 that’s back. As is a new option, allowing you to open links in Google’s Chrome, too.

With luck this will hit the App Store some time in the next week.

Update (12 October 2012): Yummy 2.7.2. was approved last night and it available for download now.

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Yummy 2.7.1

I have just submitted an update to Yummy to Apple for review. Hopefully it should make it to the App Store some time in the next week. As with the recent updates to Rootn Tootn and www.cut, this revision is all about supporting iOS 6 and the new screen size on the iPhone 5 and fifth generation iPod touch.

The changes for Yummy were both more difficult and more extensive, much bigger than you might expect given the 0.0.1 version number increment. The “harder” I’m sure you don’t care about but the “more extensive” I hope you do. The most visible change is that the three little buttons at the bottom of the bookmark and web preview screens are gone, replaced with the iOS 6 standard “Activity View.” It looks like the attached picture.

Yummy 2.7.1 share sheet

The options available will depend on your device, but it should be the same or better than before.

(A quick aside to answer a question that I’ve been asked a few times now: no, I can’t add Yummy to the Activity view of other applications.)

Yummy 2.7 allowed you to use the new, built-in-to-iOS post-to-Twitter functionality. Yummy 2.7.1 extends that to the new post-to-Facebook dialog. You’ll find that the “Log into Facebook” button is no longer in the Settings screen. Instead you’ll need to configure the system-wide Facebook settings.

If you’re not running iOS 6 yet, things will mostly work as before.

However, there may be some Yummy users who will not be able to take advantage of these new features.

In order to build in any iOS 6 functionality I had to use the most up-to-date developer tools from Apple. This has meant dropping support for devices running versions of iOS less than 4.3. In practice this means all original iPhones, all iPhone 3G’s (not the 3GS which does support iOS 6) and their equivalent iPod touches. As I said last month, I am sorry if this affects you but there is nothing I can do if I am to keep Yummy current. Of course, version 2.7 won’t suddenly stop working.

The other casualty is Facebook support in devices that are not running iOS 6. This was a decision made more out of practicality than necessity. The post-to-Facebook functionality has taken a disproportionate amount of time to maintain compared with its utility or usage. By switching to the built-in functionality I can spend more time on more unique and useful features. The main device that this affects is the original iPad, though there may be others.

All software involves trade-offs but I think Yummy 2.7.1 will be a big improvement for the vast majority of users. I hope you like it.

Update 1 October, 2012: Apple just approved the update. It should be available on the App Store shortly.

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Rootn Tootn 1.0.1

I have just submitted the first maintenance release for Rootn Tootn since its arrival on the App Store in June. This is a very minor update, mainly designed so that it works optimally on the new iPhone and the latest iPod touches.

Rootn Tootn home screen on the iPhone 5

As you can see, Rootn Tootn 1.0.1 will use the full screen of these new devices, allowing you to either add more reminders that you can see on one screen or see more of your pictures.

If you upgrade to an iPhone 5, you’ll probably find that your old picture isn’t quite big enough and you’ll get a dark grey bar at the bottom of each screen. If you just select the picture again it will re-size it correctly for your new device.

In addition to support for the new devices, I have also added a couple of minor bug fixes and one small feature. I very much doubt you’ll notice the fixes — a far as I know, no serious defects made it into the released version — but the feature is nice. In version one, you had to press the small, green plus sign to add a new reminder. In 1.0.1 you can press anywhere in the “Add new reminder” button.

Hopefully it will make it into the App Store before the iPhone 5 hits the shelves or at least very shortly afterwards. Fingers crossed.

Update: It made it onto the App Store on the 20th September.

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www.cut 3.1.1

A minor new release of www.cut is with Apple for review and should be in the App Store shortly.

If you recall, version 3.1 added the ability to find the title of a link before you post it to Twitter or Facebook. Version 3.1.1 refines that ability, trimming excess spaces and converting weird HTML characters into something that’s readable by humans.

Apple say that they’re review 94% of app updates in five business days so hopefully you’ll have it before the end of the week.