Archive

Archive for January, 2014

ATB Viewer for Mac 1.1 now available

January 30, 2014 Comments off

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This is the first of many updates – please keep the feedback coming!

The app now detects iCloud backups that are too old to support syncing, and it suggests that you make a new backup.

Added support for resizing the account and transaction table columns, and remembering your settings between launches.

Changed the default colours used on the budgets and reports screens to match my latest iOS 7 update.

Improved the way the app handles its windows. If you close the main window, it will now terminate the app, ready to be re-launched.

Fixed bugs to do with balance calculations when viewing transactions in descending order (newest first), and also the blank transaction screen issue (caused by having empty account groups).

Other minor improvements.

If you find ANYTHING that is not working correctly, see my support page or get in touch.

Mac app pricing vs iOS

January 29, 2014 Comments off

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In their Q1 2014 results, Apple stated that they sold 51 million iPhones, 26 million iPads and 4.8 million Macs. That is 77 million iOS devices vs 4.8 million Macs. Or approximately 16 times more iOS devices than Macs.

This statistic is also evident in app sales figures. In October 2009, my Meter Readings app made it to the 15th top paid iPhone app in the UK and at that time it had around 700 downloads per day (as a result of it being featured in The Sunday Times and then by Apple themselves – my normal sales figures are a LOT lower than this, believe me!).

Earlier this month I launched ATB Viewer, my first Mac app and a companion to Account Tracker on iOS. It soon made it to the 11th top paid Mac app in the UK, with just 40 or so downloads. Yes, 40. This just confirms that the market is significantly smaller and inline with device sales.

There is no real difference to the cost of developing an app for iOS vs one for the Mac. In fact I would say developing for the Mac is more time consuming, due to its older, convoluted APIs. So if it costs roughly the same, yet the available market is 15-20 times smaller, clearly Mac apps need to cost 15-20 times as much to make the same amount? And if a developer can’t break even, they are NOT likely to support the platform.

Of course, not all Mac apps are this expensive. However I can almost guarantee that the cheaper ones don’t make their developers any money at all. Chances are they will be working REALLY hard for next to no return.

So, on to the real reason for this post … 🙂

A couple of people have complained, saying my ATB Viewer app is “overpriced” or “not good value” at £4.99 (*). Sure it is more than an iOS app. Out of the purchase price, I get around £3. So on a day when I made it to the 11th top paid app in the UK, I made £120 (most of my sales are in the UK). It is looking like normal sales will be around 1-5 per day, or £3-£15. Given that it costs 10s of £1000s to develop an app (**), and £1000s to support it each year, it will take MANY YEARS to get the cost of development back, if ever!

When I do release a full version of Account Tracker for Mac (later this year), I will probably charge £14.99 as that seems to be the low end of the “better” finance apps. This would be discounted for a short period so that those of you who support me don’t feel they are paying twice.

In summary, I (and probably 99.999% of other app developers too) don’t make a lot out of app sales. For me it is a fun hobby, and I am thankful I have a full time job to support myself and my family. But having said that, I don’t feel I should work for nothing!

* £4.99 is 1 cheap bottle of wine, 2 coffees, or 1.5 pints of beer

** about the cost of a car, depending on its functionality

Account Tracker 4.0 now available

January 24, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 This is a MAJOR UPDATE, adapting the user interface to iOS 7. If you don’t like change, or you don’t like the iOS 7 interface in other apps, PLEASE DON’T UPGRADE as there is no easy way to go back. Please see here for an idea of how the app will look on a device running iOS 7 (earlier iOS versions will not see this UI change).

Note that you can no longer configure the “black” theme on iOS 7. Also the blue arrow buttons on the accounts, account and budgets screens have gone as they take up to much room. Instead, swipe right to left on a row and select Edit.

Also included are the following enhancements …

Added support for importing UTF8-encoded CSV files.

Added options for backup reminders after 14, 21 and 28 days. Also quick restart periods of 30, 45 and 60 minutes.

Other minor improvements.

Note that the minimum iOS version now supported is 5.0.

Account Tracker 4.0 coming soon!

January 24, 2014 Comments off

I will release v4.0 later today UK time. Check out the screenshots here, and remember that you will only see this major UI change if you are running iOS 7. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to upgrade.

TIP: why not download the free version to try it out first?

Hill Lists 4.0.1 now available

January 23, 2014 Comments off

hlicon57 Minor improvements to the layout on iOS 7. Also made the Today/Unknown button on the date screen more obvious.

Improved the way you enter dates on the iPad. This fixes a long standing bug where your ascent list could be confused if adding ascents out of order.

Brought the backups screen into line with my other apps (Account Tracker and Meter Readings).

More on iOS 7 user interface changes

January 13, 2014 Comments off

I have now updated two of my apps to have a more iOS7-like user interface (specifically Hill Lists and Meter Readings). I have received a lot of positive comments on these changes (and no negative ones!), which is good news indeed. Similar changes to Account Tracker have also been completed and I will be submitting v4.0 to Apple soon.

Having finally decided to go ahead with an iOS 7 update, my concern about this change is all a bit moot now. Apple have just told developers that as of 1st February, all new apps and app updates MUST be built with the latest iOS 7 SDK! This means that any update will force developers to migrate their apps to iOS 7.

I know some of you don’t particularly like iOS 7. If this is the case, remember that updating an app is your own choice!

ATB Viewer for Mac 1.0 now available

January 10, 2014 Comments off

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This is a companion app to Account Tracker for iOS that lets you view your iOS backup files and data on the bigger screen of your Mac!

It can automatically load your latest backup from iCloud, and apply recent changes if you are using iCloud syncing. Alternatively you can manually select a backup file to open (e.g. from Dropbox).

You then have full access to your accounts, budgets, reports and transactions. The only things you cannot do is add or edit transactions, or change (most of) your settings. These changes will come with the full version later in the year.

ATB Viewer can be found on the Mac App Store. While there is a charge for the app(*), I will almost certainly discount the full version of Account Tracker when it is first released.

I am very keen to hear your feedback and suggestions, as this will help me improve the full version! 🙂

* Note that Mac apps cost just as much (if not more) to develop than iOS apps, yet the available market is far smaller (perhaps only 10%). This is why a typical full-featured finance app sells for £15-£40 (US$20-$60).

Meter Readings 4.0 now available

January 6, 2014 Comments off

mricon57 This is a MAJOR UPDATE, adapting the user interface to iOS 7. If you don’t like change, or you don’t like the iOS 7 interface in other apps, PLEASE DON’T UPGRADE(*) as there is no easy way to go back. For a preview of how the app looks, see the screenshots on the AppStore or here.

Also included in v4.0 are the following enhancements …

Moved the meter settings to a single Meters screen (at the top left). This screen has three functions: to jump to the selected meter on the graphs screen, to manage your meter list and to change your meter settings and rates.

For meters that don’t use rates, you can now set the meter currency to N/A. On the iPad this displays a single graph for usage only, rather than usage plus an empty cost graph.

If you have more than 9 meters, you can now scroll left/right between them all without having to jump to a specific meter first. This change also improves the memory usage of the app, to help prevent memory exhaustion crashes.

Added a setting to turn on/off the “next meter” question when adding readings (some people prefer to add readings one at a time).

Made the user guide more visible (from the settings icon on the main screen).

Other minor improvements.

Note that the minimum iOS version now supported is 5.0.

* if you have enabled AUTOMATIC DOWNLOADS for UPDATES in your iTunes & App Store settings, you might want to turn this off!

Hill Lists 4.0 now available

January 3, 2014 Comments off

hlicon57 This is a MAJOR UPDATE, adapting the user interface to iOS 7. If you don’t like change, or you don’t like the iOS 7 interface in other apps, PLEASE DON’T UPGRADE(*) as there is no easy way to go back. For a preview of how the app looks, see the screenshots on the AppStore or here.

Also included in v4.0 are the following enhancements …

On the list screen, I now display more meaningful areas or regions per hill. You can still see section numbers by sorting by section, or on each hill screen.

Added a sort by ascents option, which sorts a list of hills by decreasing ascent counts.

Changed the icon and launch screens for the winter. The image is (of course) Buachaille Etive Mor.

Other minor improvements.

Note that the minimum iOS version now supported is 5.0.

* if you have enabled AUTOMATIC DOWNLOADS for UPDATES in your iTunes & App Store settings, you might want to turn this off!

iOS 7 user interface changes

January 2, 2014 Comments off

Apple releases a new version of its mobile operating system (iOS) every year, around September/October. The latest version is iOS 7, and it brought a completely new look and feel, with flatter colours, thinner fonts(*) and a paler look to a lot of apps. The following Apple apps are good examples: App Store, Calendar, Clock, Mail, Messages, Photos and Settings.

Some of the iOS 7 UI changes apply immediately to all apps, e.g. the alert and action popups – these now have a white background. Other UI changes happen when a developer re-builds their app with the latest Software Developer Kit (SDK) from Apple. An app built for iOS 7 can still run on earlier iOS versions, and in fact the old user interface will still be used on iOS 5 or 6.

The UI displayed is therefore down to which version of iOS you are running, rather than the app itself.

Some people don’t like iOS 7. This is perfectly fine (of course), and as a consumer you can choose not to upgrade to Apple’s latest OS (or buy their latest gadgets). If you are running iOS 5 or 6, all your existing apps are likely to look the same, even if they are updated to support iOS 7. But if you have upgraded to iOS 7, an app designed and built for iOS 7 simply can’t support the old style interface. The only way a developer could do this would be to release two separate versions of each app.

I don’t want to do this, but I do want to move forwards. I am therefore about to release new versions of Hill Lists and Meter Readings, and I am rebuilding Account Tracker too. If you are running iOS 7 and really don’t like the iOS 7 interface, you have two simple choices: downgrade your operating system (very complex), or don’t install the app updates (very easy).

No-one is forcing you to update an app, just leave it on its current version and the UI won’t change!

I hope this explains the situation. No doubt I will get a few negative reviews complaining about the new interface. However this is not the fault of the apps, it is really the user’s choice of iOS that forces the UI change.

* in iOS 7 you can change the default fonts to be bold in the main settings app, under General then Accessibility.