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My app update process

November 6, 2012 Comments off

iosicons


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.