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Account Tracker – 60 updates and counting

September 5, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 atficon57 I was looking at the iTunes Connect developer portal and noticed just now many releases of Account Tracker there have been.

The first release (1.0) was on July 30th 2009, well over 5 years ago. Since then there have been no less than 59 updates, making v4.3.1 the 60th release! Pretty much one per month!!

26 of these have just been bug fix updates (including 4.3.1), but the remaining 34 have all added new features.

As we approach iOS 8, the AppStore is not what it used to be. Instead it is flooded with 1000s of apps that all do more or less the same thing. While the market is large, the available market for a single developer is dramatically smaller today than it was a couple of years ago. This is a huge shame for those of us who want to continue supporting what have been successful apps in the past.

Let us see what the future brings …

Account Tracker 4.3.1 now available

September 4, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 atficon57 Fixed the syncing issues I introduced in the last update.

Extended the new transaction workflow improvement to users who don’t use either the details field or the category field.

Fixed a layout issue to do with long category names overlapping the category button (again).

Other bug fixes, including iOS 8 support.

Account Tracker sync issues

August 22, 2014 Comments off

aticon57 Today I released version 4.3 of Account Tracker, in which I have added support for Family Syncing over Dropbox. Unfortunately this has introduced a few issues (see my support page for full details).

I will get fixes out for all of these issues (plus a critical iOS 8 fix) in the very near future.

Apologies!

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.

iOS 7 is coming soon!

September 14, 2013 Comments off

As I am sure you all know, iOS 7 will be released next week. See this post from Apple for full details.

I have tested all of my shipping apps, and am not aware of any issues (but see below), although there are a few visual differences. See my post from late June where I go into this in more detail.

With all major operating system updates like this, I would highly recommend backing up all of your app data before upgrading. Don’t just rely on iTunes, use the backup solution in each app, and export your data off your device, just in case anything goes wrong.

On a related note, every few months I am contacted by a customer saying “my toddler has just deleted my app, I restored my purchase from the AppStore but all my data is gone”. Apple’s sandbox model means that apps can only store their data with the app itself (or now iCloud, however this is VERY slow for large amounts of data). This, together with a lot of bad experiences with iTunes backups, is specifically why all of my iOS apps include a backup solution.

If you value your data, PLEASE take regular backups. Oh, and don’t let toddlers play with your main device! 🙂

UPDATE (15th September) – it seems that Apple have changed something behind the scenes that prevents a primary device from sending the initial sync to a new secondary. I have a workaround for this, and will submit it once I see whether there are any other issues.

Backups (again)

December 20, 2012 Comments off

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As its the apocalypse tomorrow, its probably appropriate that I remind you all about backups. 🙂

Your iOS devices are backed up regularly by Apple, either by connecting them to your computer (iTunes) or over iCloud (if enabled). This is always your first line of protection, however you shouldn’t rely on it alone. Apple only store a single backup per device, and there is no way to go back to a known point in time should the worst happen.

All of my apps have a built in backup solution. If you would be horrified at the thought of starting again from scratch, you should think about backups and how frequently to do them. For something like Account Tracker where you are potentially making multiple changes per day, you might want to backup every day or so, or certainly weekly (I do the latter). For other apps it might be less frequently.

Account Tracker has a backup reminder feature (turn it on and its then only 2 taps to backup). Meter Readings and Hill Lists can be configured to automatically backup to iCloud when you make changes.

Backups are a simple snapshot of your data, and initially they are stored on your device with the app. If you or someone else (e.g. a child or grandchild) deletes your app by accident, your backups are deleted too! To protect against this, you also need to think about exporting backups off your device.

Exporting can be done the old fashioned way (by email), or you could use a cloud based storage mechanism. The two I support are Dropbox and iCloud. If these are enabled, all new backups are automatically copied off your device for safekeeping.

I highly recommend thinking about backups, not just for my apps but for any piece of software you use regularly where you value your data (documents, photos … etc). Losing it all can be a disaster, and it really is simple and inexpensive to protect against it.

Even if the apocalypse happens …

Top search terms

November 22, 2012 Comments off

My website can track the top search terms that are used to reach it (271,432 hits and counting!!).

Other than the obvious top searches such as “account tracker”, “graham haley”, “account tracker app”, “graham haley account tracker” and “account tracker ipad/iphone”, here are the top five questions I can respond to (all related to Account Tracker) …

1. account tracker for mac – I have not managed to do anything on this since the summer, however I hope to get back to it soon.

2. account tracker for pc – now that I have a Windows Phone version, it is possible that I might fund a Windows 8 version that will ultimately sync with the phone version. We’ll see …

3. account tracker sync – this is my top feature request (by far), and while you can currently copy data between devices with the backups feature (see https://grahamhaley.co.uk/accounts/backups/), an auto-sync solution is coming very soon!!

4. account tracker android – despite being regularly contacted by Samsung and more recently Amazon about porting my apps to Android, it would need a huge investment of time and money, and without help I simply can’t do it – sorry!

5. account tracker import csv – this is relatively easy to do as long as you get your data into the right format. Again see https://grahamhaley.co.uk/accounts/backups/ for full details.

My app update process

November 6, 2012 Comments off

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You might think doing an app update is primarily about the coding and testing. This post summarises the many steps I have to take between being “finished” and you getting an “update available” message from iTunes.

1. Documentation. Primarily this involves editing the built in User Guide, which is an HTML document. I also need to write the What’s New section for iTunes, which I also include in the User Guide (since many people miss this when updating).

2. Each update requires a new version number, so this needs to be updated in the app itself. Also if it is the first update of the year, I update the copyright notice.

3. Since the version number is shown on the application launch images (the brief image that is displayed when you launch the app), these need to be re-generated. Each app now has 7 launch images: portrait mode on the iPad (retina and non-retina); landscape mode on the iPad (retina and non-retina); the old iPhone/iPod Touch (retina and non-retina); finally the new iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only). I tend to use OmniGraffle to produce these.

4. Build the app for submission to Apple. This takes perhaps 30-60 seconds! 🙂

5. If I have changed something visual, I need to take new screenshots for iTunes. Since you can include up to 5 images, this involves taking 15 screenshots in total: 5 for the iPad (retina only), 5 for the old iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only) and 5 for the new iPhone/iPod Touch (retina only). Screenshots are taken by pressing the Home and Power buttons at the same time, and the resulting images are then trimmed to remove the status bar at the top of the screen.

6. I also take new screenshots for my website, typically in the order of 15-30 of them per app. I tend to use an “old” iPhone 4 for this, however I then have to resize each image down to 50% as the retina images are too big for the web.

7. Apple has a website called iTunes Connect where developers can manage their apps. I add the new app version, paste in the What’s New text and upload the 15 iTunes images (which can take ages). I can then submit the app for approval.

8. Despite some early horror stories, the approval process has always been very fair (IMHO). Typically apps are approved in around 5-10 days.

9. Finally once I get notified it has been approved, I upload all the screenshots to my website, update the text on my website and then officially release the new version. Phew!

10. For apps like Account Tracker, all of the above is repeated for the Free version. I also use separate screenshots for the US ($) vs the rest of the world (where I use £). As you can imagine, there are a LOT of images to upload (60 to iTunes in total, uploaded one at a time).

So next time you update one of my apps, now you know what I went through!

Account Tracker user interface tips

August 14, 2012 Comments off

One of the challenges of designing such a powerful mobile app is getting the balance right between helping new users and not cluttering up the limited space with help buttons and text. I have chosen to keep the UI as clean as possible, however there are a few “more subtle” areas that need some explanation, hence these tips.

On the main Accounts screen, tap the total at the top to change the balances shown (between today’s, available, minimum and reconciled). You can also use the right arrow to step through these options.

When you select Edit, you will see three horizontal bars to the right of each row. Touch, hold and drag these to change the order of your accounts. This technique can also be used to move accounts between groups.

While editing, you can enable three transaction views at the bottom. All/recurring transactions shows all transactions up to today, Scheduled shows all transactions from today to the end of next month, and Reminders shows all transactions with the reminder switch set.

Whenever you see the blue arrows/buttons, tapping them does something different than tapping the rows themselves. On the main Accounts screen they let you change an account’s settings, on an individual account screen they let you copy or move transactions quickly, and on the Budgets screen they let you set, change or delete budgets.

On the individual account screen, the left arrow scrolls to the top of the list, the balance itself scrolls to make the most recent transaction visible and the right arrow scrolls to the end of the list. Tapping the right arrow again will add a month at a time, right out to 2 years into the future.

To manually reconcile (i.e. tick off) transactions, turn on Reconcile by Transaction in the settings, then tap the tick button. Your reconciled balance will be shown as you do this.

On the Budgets and Reports screens, you can change the period (e.g. to daily, weekly, biweekly/fortnightly, yearly or even custom dates). Simply tap on the date(s) at the top of the screen. Use the arrows to step through each period (or to set custom dates).

The Reports screen includes 7 separate reports, and to switch between them simply scroll or swipe left and right. The small dots at the bottom tell you where you are.

When viewing the pie charts, only the top categories/details are shown due to space limitations. To view all categories/details, tap on the List button at the top right. To return to the charts, tap on the Charts button (again, top right).

Finally use the Help button on the Settings screen to view the user guide, and also to link to my support pages. If in doubt, please get in touch for help!

Hopefully you will find these useful.

iOS 5 and notifications

November 7, 2011 Comments off

For those of you running iOS 5, the new Notification Center (US spelling) is a convenient place to access all of your notifications. However for me, my own apps were DISABLED by default. You will still get a small banner-style notification at the top of the screen, but this is only displayed for a few seconds so is likely to be missed. To fix this, go to the main Settings app, and select Notifications. Find my apps (Account Tracker and/or Meter Readings) and turn “Notification Center” to ON. You can also choose how you want these displayed (banner or alert) as well as other options like sounds or lock screen … etc.