Categories
Apple

New Developer Resources

Just in time for Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference Apple has released a couple of updates for developers. These are the Developer app and the developer forums.

Developer App

The Apple Developer app has been updated to support the Mac. This uses MacCatalyst to be able to provide the functionality on the Mac. If you open the app you are presented with a three-column layout. The sidebar on the left, a list of items in the middle, and the detail information on the right.

The sidebar allows you to select from different groupings, including Library, Browse, Platforms, and Events. These will provide you with various items under each heading. As an example, if you click on an item under the “Platforms” heading, you will get a list of videos related to that platform. If you select one of the videos, you will get the details on the right side. This is very similar to what you would get on the Apple Developer website. This applies to each of the sections under the headings.

Issues

While the app contains a lot, and is a very welcome addition to the Mac, the app is not without issues. The first of these is that there is no way to adjust the font size. This mans that if you have a large screen, or are using a large screen resolution, it may be hard to read the text. Considering how much Apple puts into accessibility, this is definitely not accessible.

The second issue is one that I find strange. If you expand the right most pane out, the content is always centered. It does not flow like it should. instead the content stays centered.

Both of these issues should be fixed, particularly the in-ability to adjust the font-size. The font size issue may be a limitation of Catalyst on macOS Catalina and maybe the functionality will work with the next version of macOS. Next, let us look at a refresh to a resource that developers may overlook, the developer forums.

Developer Forums

Today Apple unveiled a refreshed Apple developer forums. The Apple developer forums are designed to allow developers to connect with each other, as well as Apple developers, to help discover and work out issues with Apple’s platforms. The old developer forums did look as though they were from the mid-2000s, which they were.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the old developer forums.

New Forums

Given the age of the Apple developer forums a refresh has been needed. Today Apple released the new developer forums. The new forums bring a new overall look. When you open up the developer forums you are presented with two column view. The columns are Top Posts on the left, and Top Tags and Top Users on the right. Similar to the image below.

Asking and Replying to Questions

Besides searching, one of the most common tasks for the developer forums is to ask a question. When you do this, you will see a page with two areas, the question and a Live Preview. The question box uses Markdown to be able to format the questions. You are able to use quite a bit of formatting. Here is a full example below.

Once you are done writing your question, you can add tags. This is done with a search to allow you to add a tag to your post. When you begin typing, a list of matching tags. If you do not have any text in the tags, a list of all of the available tags will be shown. Below is what the tags look like

If you do not have any questions but want to help others, you can reply to a question. When you do this, you can use the same Markdown formats for replying to a question.

Viewing a Question

One thing you may do when you are using the developer forums is to view a question. When you view a question you will see the question text, a thumbs up/down button on the left, the tags, how old the question is, and when it was asked.

Below the asked question, you will see any replies. The replies should be in oldest to newest. If there are more than 15 replies, the additional replies will be on subsequent pages.

Next to the name of the person who asked the question, you will see a “Share Button”. The share button will display a standard Share Sheet, for the platform.

Overall, the new look works well and is an improvement over the previous developer forums. Despite all of the good, there are some issues with the new developer forums.

Problems with the new Developer Forums

The new developer forums leave a bit to be desired. In terms of layout, typography, and overall aesthetic for the developer forums, they are absolutely fantastic. Viewing an actual issue now offers a larger view and a larger amount of white space. The buttons are big, and in some respects too big. The overview is nice, as are the top tags. However, everything now comes down to search, or clicking on an existing tag within a question.

The number of results is still limited to 600 with no way to add more filters or even sort. Furthermore, the search results are usually not relevant. For instance, I did a search for “beta iOS”, thinking it would show some recent beta posts, but here are the first five results with when they were asked:

  • Beta iOS 9 – Asked 4 years ago
  • How do I install the beta iOS 9? – Asked 5 years ago
  • How How install/download beta iOS 13/watchOS 6 profile? – Asked 11 months ago
  • Proactive search not displaying on Public Beta iOS 9 – Asked 4 years ago
  • beta iOS 10.3 battery drain – Asked 3 years ago.

Other than the third result, the rest are not very useful. Maybe it was the search, so let us look at another example. This time I just searched “iOS”. Here are the results:

  • iOS 10beta to final ios 10 – Asked 3 years ago
  • iOS 11 recovery to iOS 10 – Asked 2 years ago
  • iOS 11 GM to iOS 11 – Asked 2 years ago
  • iOS 10 restore to iOS 10 – Asked 3 years ago
  • iOS 10.0.2 (iOS 10.1) Betas – Asked 3 years ago

Again, these results are not very helpful. I figured I would try something a bit newer, like ARKit. Here are those results:

  • ARKit – Asked 3 years ago
  • SwiftUI and ARKit – Asked 11 months ago
  • ARKit on iPad? – Asked 3 years ago
  • Geolocation and ARKit – Asked 3 years ago
  • ARKit question – Asked 2 years ago

Even the results for ARKit are not super relevant, excluding the second result. Therefore, I am not sure if they will be useful.

Ways to Improve

I do not want to just highlight the about the new developer forums. Instead I have some ideas for improvement.

List All Tags

Provide a page that shows all of the tags, and the number of posts with that tag. I can understand not showing all tags and even limiting it to the top 50 or 100 tags with the option of displaying all tags would help developers find what they are looking for.

Filters

Add the ability to filter results. This could be with an additional keyword search that would match the current results. This even could be with some Boolean logic, for instance the phrase “swiftui and Xcode NOT beta” would show items that have both SwiftUI and Xcode, but not beta. After all these are developers and they are able to use logic.

An additional filter that Apple could add would be for time frame. Even if these are a static list, it could go a long way to being more useful.

Closing Thoughts

I will be the first to admit that I often forget about the forums except right after WWDC when I go and look to see if others are having similar issues. Even though the developer forums have been updated, I am not sure how useful they will be given their current state. I do want to reiterate that the new look is much better and much cleaner and is definitely welcome. It is the overall functionality that needs some improvement.

I am guessing that Apple wanted to get something out in time for WWDC, and they did just that. As is the case with many of the products that get re-written, it appears as though the developer forums have been done with a minimum viable product. With a minimum viable product, not every feature with the previous version is re-implemented at first, just due to time and cost. Hopefully, many of the missing features will come to the developer forums in the coming months.

Categories
Apps

Tetris Subscription is Highway Robbery

If you have played any games on any device, one of them has likely been Tetris. Tetris has been around since 1985 and there have been many versions of the game even on iOS. Tetris licenses out the name of the game so others can create a game. Back in January of 2020, a whole new version of Tetris was released by the development group N3twork. The release can be viewed on tetris.com.

As is the case with many apps these days, they are free with ads. Quite often there is the ability to remove the ads. When the app was released, there was an offer to remove ads. This was a one-time fee of $4.99. I immediately purchased this, because I do not like seeing ads when I am playing a game. The one-time purchase mechanism is useful in some situations, however, it is becoming less common. Instead, many apps are moving towards a subscription model.

In many cases, this makes sense, because a subscription can generate consistent revenue. The reason for this is because many people sign up for a subscription and often forget that they have subscribed. When it comes time to renew, if they didn’t pay attention the notice from Apple, and say, “oh it’s only x, I’ll keep subscribing”. If the fee is small enough, say $4.99 a month, most would not argue with that.

While I was digging through the interface of Tetris, I noticed that there was the option to change avatars and your background. These had a lock in the lower right corner. So I tapped on it, and it brings up the option for “Tetris Premium”, which I can understand.

What shocked me though was not that they were offering a subscription, but the price. It is $4.99 per week. This is not $4.99 per month, which I can somewhat understand, but PER WEEK. This means that if you were to subscribe to Tetris Premium for an entire year, it would cost your $259.48. Here is what you would get for that:

  1. No interstitial ads
  2. Exclusive LCD Theme
  3. Three Exclusive Avatars

That is it. I would hope that they would add more backgrounds and avatars.

My Thoughts

To me, this is completely absurd. I will concede that it is possible that this is an “accident” and it meant to be per month, but it does not seem to be the case. It is also possible that the interface can update to whatever the current offer. There are many apps that are scammy apps that try to trick people into spending money for very little in return.

I am not saying that $4.99 is inappropriate for all applications, quite the contrary. However, for a game like Tetris, pricing of $4.99 per week is definitely not worth the price. To me, this just seems like a cash grab. Not only should N3twork be ashamed, Tetris Holdings, Inc. should protect their brand, because this is going to make people stop trusting any Tetris apps in the future.

Categories
Apps wwrite

wwrite and wwriteLite 5.0 Now Available

Back in 2010, I shipped an iPad only app called wwrite. I have written a whole analysis of the current state of my apps which goes in depth including lessons learned.

wwrite 5.0.0 and wwriteLite 5.0.0 are big updates that include a few new features, fixes some bugs, and changed a few things. Here is a full list of the changes.

  • There are 5 new icons, Green, Moon, Orange Gradient, Psychedelic, and Sun.
  • Modified Customize Templates to now allow you to choose from over 340 colors instead of using the sliders that have been used previously in the app.
  • Added Share button to export current file, which also allows for quickly copying the file contents to another app.
  • You can now perform actions on files in the File List, including Locking/Unlocking File, Enabling/Disabling Auto Save, Sharing a File, duplicating a file, and deleting a file.
  • Created an “Ad” to advertise the ability to Remove Ads. This will appear intermittently and is wwriteLite only.
  • Added support for TrackPads and Mice.
  • Added more keyboards shortcuts, including Archives, About, Support via Email, Support Via Twitter, Settings, and Customize Templates.
  • You can now navigate the File List with the up and down arrow keys.
  • Escape key while on Text will go back to the File List.
  • Added support for 2nd Generation 11-inch iPad Pro.
  • Added support for 4th Generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Tweaks

  • Moved Print Button to Tools menu to make room for “Share” button.
  • Adjusted Distraction Mode icon to show on any background

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed an issue with the tint color not being set properly when starting the app on a file.
  • Fixed a bug where the app would crash when importing templates from wwriteLite.
  • Fixed the archive emailer not closing when you cancelled sending an archive
  • Fixed the inability to cancel a file creation on an iPhone or iPod touch when you don’t have any templates
  • Fixed an issue that stopped the tint color from updating when you changed the app icon

Categories
Apple

Apple Releases Covid-19 App and Website

It should come no surprise that one of the biggest news items at the moment is the Covid-19 virus. Many people are currently in quarantine and have been practicing social distancing to help reduce the spread of the virus. There is a lot of information that is being shared by a variety of individuals that is false. Particularly during this time it is important to get the correct information

Today Apple, in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to produce a new Covid-19 app that is also available on the web at apple.com/covid19.

With the app, or website, you can begin answering questions about symptoms that you, or someone else, have had. Some of these questions include symptoms, travel, if the person lives with someone who has Covid-19, and related questions.

There are a couple of things to note. First, “Your answers will not be shared with Apple or the CDC without your permission”. This means that it is completely anonymous. The second item is

By using this tool, you agree to its terms and that Apple will not be liable for any harm relating to your use.

Recommendations provided by this tool do not constitute medical advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

Once you have finished the questionnaire, it will provide a recommendation, based upon your answers. One result that everyone should follow is:

You Should Practice Social Distancing

Help stop the spread. When outside the home, stay at least six feet away from other people, avoid groups, and only use public transit if necessary.

It is good to see Apple provide accurate and timely information.

Besides the app, Apple is helping in other ways, as outlined in a video by CEO Tim Cook.

Source: Apple

Categories
Apple

Apple Updates its WWDC App

Today Apple announced that they are updating their WWDC app. There are three major changes. These are the name, a new WWDC tab, and in-app purchasing. Let us start with the name.

The WWDC app is now known as the Apple Developer app. One can This app’s name is definitely more befitting given the next feature, the WWDC tab.

The WWDC tab is a new tab that encompasses what was previously the entire WWDC app. This includes WWDC schedules, your favorites, lab schedules, and WWDC sessions.

The last new feature is the ability to enroll in the Apple developer from right within the app. This is done using an auto-renewing subscription within the app. Initially, the subscription feature is only available within the United States, but will be rolling out to more countries over time. Apple does have a step-by-step tutorial on how to enroll using the app.

if you already have an account you can log in. The ability to be able to enroll in an Apple Developer account will make it much simpler for developers to be able to enroll in the Apple developer program, without needing to go through the Apple developer site.

Hopefully, this is only the start to new features being added to the Developer app.

Source Apple Developer