September seemed like it passed by incredibly fast. I told myself I wouldn’t try to do as much as I have in the previous months and slow down a bit, but September went by so fast I’m not sure if I did slow down or not. App development started with work on a financial educational app I’ve been working off & on in small increments. The work on it mostly consisted of researching, gathering, and organizing data. I’ve got a couple of other updates I plan on working on and finishing this year so I’m not sure when I’ll finish this new app, but I’m looking forward to continuing progress on it and eventually releasing it.
Most of my app development time in September consisted of working on the six app Word Owl’s Word Search update. Since I’ve been able to enhance standard text to better formatted higher resolutions I wanted to put that into use on more apps that have prominent text in them. The standard text in my word search apps mainly appear on the left side displaying the words within the word search. I already created higher resolution letter blocks and buttons so they didn’t need enhancing and they’re unrelated to how the standard text displays. I really like my word search apps especially the educational aspect of them and how they look overall so I knew I wanted to improve these apps. I worked on and tested each app individually to keep the process more organized since there were going to be 6 different app updates on different app stores which in the end equals over a dozen individual builds. With each Word Owl Word Search app I learned new things in regards to touch recognition and focused more on presentation. Since I knew I was definitely going to improve text resolution in all of my word search apps I decided it would also be a good time to go ahead and improve touch recognition in those that didn’t have it. The touch improvement does a better job of not selecting unwanted letters. Sometimes a letter block would change alpha as if its being selected because of its close proximity to the letter being selected, but now there’s a less chance of that happening. The code within the app already took this into consideration initially and made sure to not let it interfere with the correct selections. However, now with the update there’s a better chance of a letter block not thinking its being selected externally even its momentarily touched on the edges.
Making a promo banner for the update in Pixelmator
In terms of presentation, I decided to add a little game complete animation to the apps that didn’t have an additional one. All of the apps had a level complete/good job pop up but with some of them I took the level complete congrats a step up with some sort of firework type explosion depending on what the app theme was. Snowflakes for Christmas, bats for Halloween, and different color word blocks for the sight word classroom editions. The holiday versions already had this implemented, but some of the grade level versions didn’t so I added it to them. After finishing all of the builds I tested them on different devices(tablets & phones) on each platform(iOS, Amazon Android & Google Play Android). I ran into a few bugs throughout testing which involved a lot of back and forth with finding and fixing the bug, generating a build, & testing. Eventually all of the apps turned out fine so then I proceeded to uploading builds and updating metadata. I looked into which keywords each app had, and decided to add some new ones to each one that weren’t used in the others to kind of spread out the chance of a person finding at least one of my word search apps. I also updated some of the screenshots and descriptions. After releasing an update I like to pay closer attention to update numbers, and most of these apps ended up receiving nice update numbers so far. Getting a lot of update downloads lets me know that a lot of people must be enjoying my apps and finding them useful at least to some extent. I’m sure there are some that download apps & updates without even using the app yet because I do that sometimes but I think most people will usually check out an app somewhat soon after downloading it initially.
Ok enough rambling about that update but that’s what took over most of my dev time in September. The update themselves didn’t take long individually, but since it was six different apps on various app stores the overall time was dominant. Towards the end of September I added some more data for the finance app I mentioned earlier. In October I plan on updating the RX Quiz of Medicine app with enhanced text resolution and possibly Strike the Goal since they have a fair amount of standardized text, especially RX. Until next time ∞
√ Enhanced text resolution.
√ Improved touch recognition.
√ Added an additional level complete animation.*
(*The additional level complete animation was only added to the Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade editions. All the other editions already had an additional animation.)
August continued the trend of…..UPDATES! Since January 2016 I’ve been steadily working on various app updates during most of my development time. August was a massive month of work, but due to what I was able to accomplish it will be the last month this year in app dev land that’s devoted mainly to updates. However before diving into what’s next, let talk about what happened in August.
The first app update I worked on and completed was 8-Bit Eagle Smash. For this app I updated the text score font to match the look of the rest of the game. This game was created in a couple of days during a gamejam so it was kind of rushed, but the new font obviously looks better with game. I should have updated it earlier than 2 years after release, but other apps continued to take precedence over this one. While testing I also noticed that one of the tweet functions caused the pre-entered text to be cut off so I also fixed that. After doing a quick search on Twitter I discovered that most people(like 99.99%) who play this game don’t tweet their scores, but I still wanted to feature to work efficiently as intended. The game also received 64-bit support and overall performance enhancements which cut down on the already short load times. More can be read about the game itself and the gamejam that initiated its development on the 8-Bit Eagle Smash release post.
With iAds closing down I also had to replace it in the remaining apps that still had it embedded. I only put banner ads in 8-Bit Eagle Smash so I replaced the iOS banner ads with Admob banner ads. Then for the Zompy Jumpy update I replaced the iOS banner ads with Revmob and replaced the Chartboost interstitial ads with Admob. Zompy Jumpy is also running on a newer improved game engine so the minor loading times and gameplay movements are improved. When it comes to ad providers Admob is my favorite and then it’s kind of a tie between Revmob & Chartboost. Chartboost doesn’t have banner ads so I’ve decided to go with an Admob interstitial & Revmob banner ad combination for most of my free apps.
The biggest and overall most time consuming update that I worked on and finished in August was Professor Piggy Bank. I started working on this update months ago, but this month brought the update to completion. This is one of my favorite apps and it gets a decent amount of downloads sometimes, including some from actual classrooms, so I wanted to make sure this app received a few more major improvements. A list of what all the app update contains can be seen on the Professor Piggy Bank 2.0 post or on one of the app store pages so for this post we’ll just dive into what was worked on in August. The last big section that was completed in August was the recording and implementation of the additional dialogue. The Quiz mode features more than double the amount of questions so there was a lot of new audio to record. I also added some new correct answer graphic pop ups so we had to record audio for those as well. My wife happily agreed to continue being the voice of the game so one day we got the parents to keep to kids to minimize disruptions and we were able to record all the new dialogue that evening. I already told her in person and also via a Facebook post but another big THANK YOU to my wife for lending me her lovely voice. Kiss kiss! Ok back to dev land……I also did the minor editing to each piece of audio after we recorded it so after we were done I only had to implement it into the actual app. After finishing the implementation I started testing the app with the completed new update. I ran into some issues in quiz mode with a couple of incorrect sections in the quiz spreadsheet so I found those and fixed them quickly. After testing I worked on a couple of new screenshots to showcase some of the visual enhancements. Once I got the screenshots I wanted I had to edit them to conform to the various different sizes required for each app store that the app is on.
There have been issues with blurry text appearing in some of my apps so I updated two of my text heavy apps, Quiz of Medicine & Ultra Fortune Ball. The issues mainly appeared in Android devices, and usually they were Kindle Fire devices. This fix also enhanced the text resolution overall so I decided to update the iOS versions of these apps that didn’t have this component already embedded. So during August both of those apps received that update and I also replaced the iOS banner ads that were no longer working.
Now that the majority of the updates that I’ve wanted to do are done I’m now able to jump into app dev on a new app. The new app I’m working on is a finance app so yea nothing too exciting if you’re not interested in finance. However, it’s one of my interests and I’ve noticed a void within the app stores for the type of app I’m creating so I decided to jump back into development on it. I had the idea for it a while ago, but pushed it back because of other new releases and updates. I’m hoping to finish and release it sometime this year. In August I mainly worked on gathering data for it, and that will continue in September as well along with some UI design hopefully. There are still one couple of other app updates that I’ll be working on in September as well, but nothing that time consuming compared to some of the other big updates I’ve released this year. They’ll mainly be blurry text fixes to my word search apps on the Amazon app store. This issue doesn’t appear on all devices and it doesn’t make the text unreadable at all, but knowing that it does appear for some users along with knowing how to fix it means……I’m fixing it. I also plan on making some new videos for the newer versions of some of my apps. It’s somewhat unfair to apps that had an initial release video, but have received major visual & feature updates since then. So yea I’ll be working on a couple of new videos sometime soon too. Until next time ∞
I enjoy music a lot and I stream it often. Before Apple Music came along I used Spotify for my music streaming needs. I recently tried Apple Music for three months as my main music streaming source thanks to their free three-month trial. Now that the trial has ended I’m happily back to using Spotify as my main streaming source again with no plans on renewing Apple Music. Here’s what I liked and disliked about Apple Music.
- Generated playlists (usually had some gems even with half of it being songs I already knew about) up
- Getting music early (specifically the new Radiohead “A Moon Shaped Pool” album)
- Siri….sometimes. When it works it’s great, but it tends not to work well often. Siri also makes an appearance in the Cons section.
- Works with Apple TV. I don’t have an Apple TV but that’s a good thing for those that do.
- Initial music taste setup. Had to choose from generated lists so I couldn’t select specific bands. There were bands on there that I liked for sure, but for every band I saw that I liked on one screen I could think of several similar bands that I liked more.
- No Chromecast or PS4 support. I use both of those devices somewhat often, especially Chromecast in regards to listening to music.
- Search results (if you spell a band name or track wrong they don’t try to guess what you meant. I know I’m not the only one who quickly searches for a band or song while in the car….at a stop of course.)
- Search results layout (example: why have a Top Albums section, how about just Albums?)
- When you go to search a Trending Music section is shown below which would be great if I listened to a lot of “trending music” but I don’t. The only artist I ever saw on that section that I would listen to sometimes is Drake. It would be better if this section showed what music is trending with me personally, like bands that I’ve searched for or listen to often. Then it would be an efficient section where I could quickly click on bands I’ve search for like The Strokes, Young the Giant, Foals, Beach House, Metronomy, & etc. Instead it just shows popular music by some genres of music that I don’t listen to much like Rap or Pop.
- Siri (this should be something that would just be in the Pro section, but most of the time when I asked Siri to play a specific song or album it either played the incorrect response or didn’t even attempt to do anything. I must add also that I speak proper English and I don’t have any kind of thick accent. People have even told me that I sound really proper. I’ve also been randomly told that I sound like I’m from Ohio & California oddly enough.)
- Force touch is limited. The only two options available when using force touch are play Beats 1 & search. It would be better if it was customizable, showed things more related to how you use the app or specifics like recent playlists, artists & etc.
- No free ad-supported version like Spotify.
- Playlist management isn’t as quick & seamless as Spotify makes it.
- The user interface. I could go on & on comparing it to Spotify and what I like about Spotify more in this regard specifically, but I’ll just keep it simple and state the Spotify interface is more efficient and user friendly.
√ Added a lot of new questions in Quiz mode.
√ New correct answer pop ups in Quiz mode.
√ Added higher resolution text & coins in various modes.
√ More dialogue added.
√ Faster load times.
√ 64-bit support
√ Faster initial load times
√ Updated score font
√ Fixed tweet bug
(This update went live earlier this month, but I forgot to make a quick post on it🙂 )
July was another month filled with app update progress. During the middle of July I finished the Motivational Quotes to Inspire 2.0 update. Work on it in July first consisted of adding new quotes and then when I thought I was finished with that I continued work on adding the Spanish feature. For the Spanish feature I first worked on translating the settings sections. Then I quickly translated all the English quotes into Spanish with the help of major translator programs. After that I then I added the off/on language switch on the settings scene graphically and within the code. I wanted to make sure it was quick & seemless, and it turned out that way. There’s no load time on the settings screen when making the language switch and when you go back to the quotes screen the quote you viewed before going to the settings is there in the language chosen.
Working on Español settings text for Motivational Quotes to Inspire
After finishing the Spanish feature I ended up going back and adding new quotes a few times in which I then had to translate those quotes and change random search parameters within the app code. After getting to a point were I felt satisfied with the quantity & quality of new quotes I made a final build and began testing. There were only a few bugs found during testing and they were quick fixes. The app itself was compiled with a newer improved version of the engine I used for it initially so that also resulted in faster load times. I also switched the ad provider from iAds to AdMob since Apple shut down iAds, which will also prevent any bugs from happening by having old code pertaining to iAds.
Towards the end of July I finished the Saving Bunnies update and ported it to Google Play as a new release for that App Store. The first thing I worked on with that app was removing the initial startup ad and removing iAds since Apple shut down iAds as mentioned above. I then added Revmob & AdMob ads. The Revmob ads are banner ads that appear after the game session and sometimes on the main menu screen depending on which App Store version. The AdMob ads are interstitial and appear after the game session is played a few times. Neither ad is shown during gameplay which I make sure is true with all my free games that have ads. I also updated the mountain graphics because they were the only original graphics within the game that I felt didn’t flow well with the rest of the look of the game. This app was also compiled with a newer improved game engine which resulted in faster overall load times and audio enhancements that improved the sound clarity.
App development work in August will consist of……….more update work! I hope to finish the major update for Professor Piggy Bank that I started working on a few months ago and also finish a couple of minor app updates along the way as well. Until next time ∞
Saving Bunnies! is now available for free on the Google Play & Amazon app stores!
Also, the new update to the iOS version includes new mountain graphics, audio enhancements, and faster load times. These improvement are also within the two new Android versions mentioned above.
Thank you to the thousands of players that have already saved thousands of bunnies. I hope you continue to enjoy the game, and welcome to the new players. Have fun saving those bunnies!