April Mobile App Development Report

8 May
2017

April was a very productive month in app development land, and I’m starting to feel even better about how this year is going even though my app dev to-do list is long and varied. During the first half of the month I ported three of my apps to Google Play. As I’ve stated before I’ve become more and more interested in the Google Play app store. The Android smartphones continue to impress me and the Google Play app store itself does as well as it continues to improve the developer console. Most of my free apps still do incredibly better than my paid apps on the Google Play and both still lag way behind my iOS App Store numbers so I’m still working on metadata and related marketing approaches to gain more invisibility. More on this later.

Since Easter is in April the first app I ported to Google Play was Jumbo Egg Hunt 2 and then after that Ultra Big Celebration Soundboard and Crunchy Numbers Math Arcade made their way to Google Play. Since I’ve already had Android versions of these apps on the Amazon App Store the development process wasn’t lengthy and testing went smoothly also. After testing the apps on non-Amazon Android based devices the next main process was creating store listings. Google Play doesn’t have a keyword section for developers like the iOS, Windows, and Amazon app stores but instead it pulls keywords from the app description. They also don’t give any specifics about word usage, primacy and etc so this creates a bit more of a metadata challenge but I guess it also provides more flexibility since there’s not a character limit keyword section. App titles on Google Play do have a smaller character limit than the other app stores which has made me unable to use the real full names for some my apps because I opted for using more search friendly words in the titles instead.

I’m still baffled at how Google search is so great, but search on Google Play is still often inefficient. I’ve often tested different words while searching their app store and received several unrelated results. So needless to say I’ll continue to do some trail & error scenarios with metadata on Google Play. I do this with other app stores on occasion but Google Play has provided more of a challenge in that regard when compared to other app stores. As a developer it’s frustrating when you search for something on an app store and see several low quality and unrelated apps somehow appear in the results before your app that would provide the consumer with a better experience. In correlation it’s also frustrating as a consumer to search for something and receive insufficient results. Search results are the biggest area where Google Play needs improvement, but with other areas that are great and a huge consumer market I will continue to have a notable presence there with my app availability. I do also wish Google Play would give developers & publishers the option of making app bundles like the Apple App Store does. I think it’s neat that Apple allows us to bundle 2 or more apps together at a discount. All the other big App Stores should include this option as well.

Ultra Fortune Ball is one of my apps that I randomly use sometimes personally. Sometimes somewhat seriously and sometimes as a novelty. If I’ve got a yes/no question that I’m asking myself and I’m at a toss-up of a response sometimes I’ll open the app and simply ask it the question. So yes like most of my apps, I’m not only the creator but also a user. Anyways, there’s a point to this. I began noticing that I didn’t like the animation the ball was giving me and I didn’t like how some of the text didn’t fit into the ball answer area. So during April I put my other app projects on hold and worked on and released the Ultra Fortune Ball 4.3 Update to give the ball a better animation and fix the text issue.

In April I also continued to work on my finance app. I finished the acronyms section which proved to be more time consuming than I thought it would be. I’ve got two more sections to finish and then I’ll be able to jump into the UI design process. I’ll be using a lot of code from a couple of previous apps for this app so that compartment shouldn’t take too long. Really looking forward to finishing the spreadsheet sections so I can jump into design and see all this data in action. In May I plan on mainly only working on this finance app and trying to continue to make great strides with its completion. Until next time ∞

Ultra Fortune Ball 4.3 Update

18 Apr
2017

The 4.3 update is live on the Apple, Amazon, & Google Play app stores!

 

English

  • Improved the ball animation.
  • More of the response text fits inside the ball answer area.
  • Faster initial load times.

 

Espanol

  • Mejora la animación de la pelota.
  • La mayor parte del texto de respuesta se ajusta dentro del área de respuesta de la pelota.
  • Tiempos de carga iniciales más rápidos.

March Mobile App Development Report

8 Apr
2017

During the first week of March I started working on an 8-bit retro makeover of my app Ultra Fortune Ball. For some reason I got in the mood to give a retro redesign to one of my previously released apps. Since I have a lot of work to do on other new apps I’ve been working on I wanted to do this redesign quickly so it had to be on an app that didn’t have a lot of art assets. The first app that popped into my head was Ultra Fortune Ball, which made perfect sense not only because of the small graphical size of the app but also because of the app itself and because it’s the first app I ever developed. A retro design really fit well into this app and it also gave me the opportunity to add some new nerdy & old school video game answers to the fortune ball.

The first thing I worked on for this retro redesign was the ball itself. After making a new fortune ball with a retro look I then worked on the other graphics and then incorporated the retro pixel block style text. After completing the look of the app I added several new answers for the ball to give. After that I thought I was done with the app but then when I tested it and the music started playing I realized that I totally forgot to give the audio some retro attention. So then I jumped into the audio. I used the same theme that I created for the original Ultra Fortune Ball but then I completely changed all of the sounds, loops, and keys to 8-bit and 16-bit effects to give the theme a retro video game sound. After editing and completing the new theme I then gave the sound effects the same treatment as the theme. The app turned out great so I decided to give it its own standalone release on the Amazon & Google Play app stores. However, the App was rejected from a reviewer in Apple which was the first time I’ve ever had an app rejected because of the app itself. They stated that the app had a lack of overall content which is ridiculous considering all the spam, copycat and junk apps on their app store. There’s also no other app like this on the app store. I’ve been in contact with Apple casually about the ridiculous rejection from one of their reviewers but as of now the app will remain an Android exclusive which is fine with me overall because I personally really like the app and it will still get thousands & thousands of downloads without it being on iOS. The main frustrating part about this release outcome is that before I was able to finish the iOS build to submit to Apple I ran into a very odd graphic glitch that only occurred on the iOS version. It took a lot of research, testing, and trail & error to finally find the cause and then to fix it, but then after all that work it ends up being rejected for a lame personal opinionated reason. Adding it to one of the many reasons why I’ll continue to focus more on Google Play. Not necessarily less focus on Apple, but definitely more towards Google Play.

Some of the screenshots from the graphics glitch I ran into on the iOS version that was eventually fixed. (App is not available on Apple. Read above for more info)

After finishing 8-Bit Ultra Fortune Ball I went back to working on my new educational finance quiz app. I then decided that instead of going back and forth between working on that app and my new soundboard app that I would focus on one at a time. So after I finish the finance app I’ll then pick up where I left off on the soundboard app and continue to work on it exclusively. I decided to add another category to the finance app which is of course going to involve more development time and a push back on its release, but it’s going to be worth it. I gave myself a deadline to release the soundboard app by the beginning of July, and since I plan on finishing the finance app first that means that it will be released sometime before July. No specific release date or month right now though.

I told myself if I finish this post at a certain time I could play some Mass Effect Andromeda…..that time has passed, but I still want to play. I’ve been really enjoying Andromeda but because of that it also took away a good bit of my app development time in March and into April as well. It’s a great game with fun gameplay and a lot of nice detail even with its odd bugs here and there. I’m going to try to limit my time with it soon though so I can finish these two apps I’ve been working on, but I’ve got a new planet to explore right now. Until next time ∞

New Release: 8-Bit Ultra Fortune Ball

21 Mar
2017

 

Gathered and generated from the pixels of all the everyday questions and answers in the world. Forged by might and intellectual actions. Born in space. Raised in another galaxy. Now it’s in the palm of your human hand, and with it you hold great power, responsibility, & magic. Life is dangerous. Don’t go at it alone. Take this app with you. 8-Bit Ultra Fortune Ball is an authentic magic pixelated crystal device that will make your life easier and reduce stress by helping you answer everyday questions. 

Hundreds of responses in English and Spanish / Espanol

Features animations, and optional chip tune music & sound effects.

Open the app, choose a language, ask a question, then shake or touch the ball for an answer.

Is it a mind reader? Is it a problem solver? Is there a fortune teller inside the app? Is there a fortune teller inside the magic pixel crystal ball? Can I use this magic ball to play truth or dare? Does it answer questions correctly most of the time or all of the time? Well, simply download it to find out how this app can help answer your simple & complex questions in either English or Spanish/Espanol.

Should I eat tacos today?
Am I going to do well on this test?
Should I smile for this selfie?
If I count sheep will I dream about them?
Should I put on underwear?
Is my tea too hot?
Do I need to even?
Do I need to even odd?
Should I do a jumping jack?
Is that random stranger staring at me going to eat me?
Am I being followed?
Am I going to fall down these stairs?
Is 8-Bit Ultra Fortune Ball awesome? Well, obviously

Using this app is easy & fun and the answers it gives you are right like 99.9% of the time. 

For entertainment purposes only……?…..!…….?…..:)…….:T……..

February Mobile App Development Report

9 Mar
2017

February is the shortest month, but it was filled with app development on two very different apps. The first part of the month was dedicated to more work on my educational finance app. I continued to research, gather, and organize information for the database. I’m more than halfway complete with the information portion of the app and it’s A LOT of data. I just looked at it to see how much I’ve done and what’s remaining, and its pretty daunting on both spectrums of complete & incomplete. One of the things I worked on in February for this app was gathering terms and dispersing those terms throughout the app for an Acronyms section. I initially thought it would be a quick thing to do, but with the mass amount of data in this app along with how varied I want it to be proved that to be an incorrect assumption. After I complete the Acronyms section I’m going to jump into another vast portion of data that’s been organized and finish the additional add-ins to make it more varied as well.

Working with financial terms across multiple spreadsheets for my finance app in OpenOffice

During the second half of February I decided to take a break from the finance app and work on a new soundboard app. I already had the idea of this soundboard app in my mind and on a list of app ideas that I have so the idea wasn’t new but this is the first time I’ve dedicated more than a few moments on it. The only part of this app that I had worked on before besides the overall concept was background graphics. So I picked up from where I left off before and finished the backgrounds for the app first. I then started making a list of what kind sound categories I wanted within the app, and then I went further by listing specific sounds within those categories.

Then after that I jumped into the main part of a soundboard app, the sounds! I gathered some sounds from public domain resources to edit and incorporate and I also recorded several new sounds. With some of the sounds I gathered I ended up doing so much editing to them that they turned out sounding like something completely different. This situation ended up happening often due to my audio experimentation and general curiosity, but it’s been neat to discover what sounds can evolve into after various editing, mixing, & etc. So far I’ve been working mainly in Garageband with the audio and that will continue to be the main program that I use for audio. It’s a great program overall, its included with Apple computers so I’ve been using it for years, and it’s been getting the job done for my main audio tool so I’ll continue with it. 

Using pedals to make fire sound effects in Garageband

During the first week of March I worked on giving one of my apps a retro 8-bit makeover. Since this is the February post I won’t go into much detail on this now, but this reskinned app will be getting a standalone release in March across all platforms that the original app is currently on. After finishing that app I’ll jump back in the soundboard app and/or the finance app I wrote about above. Until next time ∞

January Mobile App Development Report

18 Feb
2017

Whoa, so I almost forgot to write a report on what I worked on in January. For the first half of January I mostly worked on writing the big App Development & Design in 2016 Overview post, and making a banner for it. I like to write those yearly posts to kind of wrap up the previous year in app development land, and look back on what happened and how it’s going to impact the new year. I also like to write it to give viewers a sense of how much work, time, and effort goes into my apps and also remind myself of that, which I can also use to better organize things for future endeavors. I also like looking at download numbers and seeing overall which apps received the most downloads & etc. It’s also nice to look to see which apps received customer reviews. The trend continues that most people who download my apps don’t leave reviews so I don’t look out for them much, but it is nice and a bit reassuring that the majority of reviews that I do get are positive. My goal is to continue to create unique great apps that I want to make that are within my skill realm, and try to make sure they provide a great experience for users, whether it be through education, entertainment, fun, or tranquility.

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Working on the promotional banner for my Development & Design in 2016 Overview post

Throughout the month I also continued to work on gathering, reviewing, and organizing information for my finance app. I’m trying to somehow condense the information but not take away too much from how vast the app is in regards to how much varied information it contains. When it’s complete it’s going to have thousands of lines of information within it without needing any sort of internet connection. I’m hoping to delve into the design of the app in March and publish it in April or May. After that I might jump into my next relaxation app. I’ve also been thinking about doing a different graphical design(aka reskinning) to one of my previous apps so I may mess around with that first. Until next time ∞

App Development & Design in 2016 Overview | 8-Bit Avrin Apps

27 Jan
2017

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2016 was the first year since releasing my first app in 2011 that I didn’t release a new app. Instead, most of my app development time was spent working on updates, some major and some minor. I began the year finishing the big update to Ultra Fortune Ball, which was the first app that I ever developed and released. The other major updates I worked on and released were for Ultra Soccer Match Soundboard, Professor Piggy Bank, Quiz of Medicine, Motivational Quotes to Inspire, Chinatown Fortune Cookie, and my suite of Word Owls Word Search apps. I also released somewhat minor updates for several other apps which included; Saving Bunnies, 8-Bit Eagle Smash, Zompy Jumpy, Detective Deep, Strike the Goal, & Jumbo Egg Hunt.

I really like working on new apps, but I also really like improving my older apps especially when the updates are voluntary. A few of the minor updates I did were mainly because of the new Apple App Store Review Guidelines but all of the other ones were updates that I wanted to work on and made exclusive time for. I like having the ability and authority of providing users with free improvements that can enhance their experience. Some of my most downloaded apps received great updates in 2016 so it feels good knowing that thousands and thousands of people out there are using better versions of my apps. As a creator, improving something that you’ve created is also just an overall great feeling too.

When I began developing apps it was just a hobby. However, as I started to get better and release more apps my download numbers increased which resulted in more income. Now I’m not rich and money still isn’t the main reason why I develop apps, but it is nice getting additional income from a creative endeavor. So this year with Apple iAds dissolving I decided to take a more serious look at monetization with my free apps and try different ad networks. After researching, implementing, testing, and viewing results I decided to go with Google Admob as my main ad provider and then Chartboost and Revmob as secondary ad providers. I had an issue were Admob wasn’t working well enough on my Amazon apps so I decided to use Chartboost as my main ad network with Revmob as secondary for those. Anyways that’s enough talk about monetization.

Below I’ll list my top downloaded apps and top countries that downloaded my apps. After that I’ll write a summary of what I worked on each month and what I plan on working on in 2017 and upload some images of some consumer app reviews I received in 2016.

 

Top 5 Free Downloads

  1. Quiz of Medicine
  2. Ultra Fortune Ball
  3. Motivational Quotes to Inspire
  4. Zompy Jumpy
  5. Chinatown Fortune Cookie

 

Top 5 Paid Downloads

  1. Professor Piggy Bank
  2. RX Quiz of Pharmacy
  3. Ultra Retro Game Soundboard
  4. Word Owl’s Word Search – First Grade
  5. Ultra Soccer Match Soundboard

 

Top 5 Countries for Downloads

  1. United States
  2. Mexico
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Canada
  5. Australia

 

Broad summaries of what I worked on each month….

January: Worked on and finished the big update for Ultra Fortune Ball.

February: Worked on screenshots and promo graphics for Ultra Fortune Ball. Worked on and finished an update for Quiz of Medicine. Tested and implemented new ad networks….this also continued off & on throughout the year with some of my other free apps.

March: Ported a free version of Ultra Fortune Ball to the Amazon App Store. Did a lot of work on the major Ultra Soccer Match Soundboard update. Started working on an Easter edition of Word Owl’s Word Search….haven’t worked on it since though….no sure I’m going to continue due to lack of time and other projects.

April: Finished the update to Ultra Soccer Match Soundboard and put together new screenshots for it. Worked on an update for Chinatown Fortune Cookie.

May: Continued working on the Chinatown Fortune Cookie update. Started working on the big Professor Piggy Bank update. Created a new main promo image for Ultra Soccer Match Soundboard.

June: Continued working on the updates for Professor Piggy Bank. Finished the update to Chinatown Fortune Cookie. Started working on an update for Motivational Quotes to Inspire.

July: Worked on and finished app updates for Motivational Quotes to Inspire & Saving Bunnies. Ported Savings Bunnies to the Google Play and Amazon app stores.

August: Worked on & finished updates for 8-Bit Eagle Smash, Professor Piggy Bank, Quiz of Medicine, Ultra Fortune Ball, & Zompy Jumpy. Started working on a new Finance app.

September: Worked on & finished updates for Word Owl’s Word Search Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grades, Christmas, & Halloween editions. Did a small increment of work on the Finance app.

October: Worked on gathering more data for the finance app. Updated some of my free apps on Amazon to change ad network providers. Continued working on the finance app.

November: Continued work on the finance app. Worked on and finished minor updates to Detective Deep & Strike the Goal on iOS because of Apple new review guidelines. Ported Word Owl’s Word Search 1st Grade & Christmas editions to Google Play.

December: Made a promo gameplay video for Word Owl’s Word Search Christmas Edition. Worked on and finished an update for Jumbo Egg Hunt on iOS due to the new Apple review guidelines. Continued researching and organizing data for my finance app.

In 2017 I plan on finishing and releasing two apps. One of them will be the finance app I’ve been working on and the I’m not exactly sure about the other one. There are a lot of app ideas in my head, but I’m not sure which one I’m going to pull out to start working on after the finance app. In 2017 I also plan on working on an awesome new start-up. It’s app related but it will be seperate from Avrin Ross/8-Bit Avrin Apps….more details on that later and eventually it will have its own site too for even more details. I’m very excited about this start-up and my goals for it. So far all my apps developed by Avrin Ross of 8-Bit Avrin Apps belong to a range of various genres, but my next company will be more focused and branded overall.

2016 was definitely the year of updates for me, and I’m glad I used the majority of my little app development time to work on them, but I’m also very much looking forward to working on new stuff. I plan on organizing my time better in 2017 so that I cut a bit down on my little leisure time and increase my app development time. Family is incredibly important to me so I’m still not going to take away much time from them for my apps no matter how hectic app dev lands may get.

Massive thank you to everyone who downloaded one of my apps! Every single one of them had a lot of work put into creating it. I hope you enjoyed them! If not, I’m sorry, but on the bright side you only wasted a little time and maybe like .99 cents if it wasn’t free, so not a big deal at all. Judging from the number of downloads in combination with only a few negative reviews though I’m guessing most users are satisfied overall so that’s awesome. Speaking of reviews, most people don’t leave reviews but below are some of the positive consumer reviews left in 2016 for some of my apps. Thank you to everyone who left a positive review and the people who helped spread the word about my apps too. Until next time ∞

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2016 reviews on Google Play

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2015 Overview – 2014 Overview – 2013 Overview – 2012 Overview

December Mobile App Development Report

5 Jan
2017

Overall December was probably the month with the least amount of app development in 2016 for me. I spent more of my little app dev free time doing other things like playing video games and catching up on some TV shows. Also, Christmas is my favorite holiday so some of the month was spent doing things related to the holiday. This is the first year since my first release in 2011 that I didn’t release a new app. Something like 97% of the app dev work I did this year was devoted to updates. I like my older apps especially some of the ones I updated this year, but I did get a bit burned at times from not working on much new material. Regardless, in December I updated one of my most popular apps and continued to work a bit on my new app.

A few months ago Apple implemented stricter App Store Review Guidelines that involved probing the app store for old apps that haven’t been updated in a few years, apps with titles too long, and more. Once your app falls into at least one of those categories Apple sends you a nice notice that your app does not comply with one or more App Review Guidelines. Then for more details it advises the developer to go to the Resolution Center in iTunes Connect. Upon doing that you’ll find out why your app was targeted.

So far, the four of my apps that were targeted were because they haven’t been updated in years. Even if the app still works perfectly fine like mine did, Apple still wants you to update. So to resolve the issue and prevent Apple from removing the app from the App Store I had to submit updates. This actually happened to three of my apps last month and I decided to update two of them, and let one make its exit from the App Store. I actually forgot to write about it in last months progress post so I’ll write about on this post. Last month my apps Detective Deep, Strike the Goal, & Raven’s Hidden Hollows received a notice from Apple basically about not being updated in a while. All of these apps worked fine and as intended so the updates I submitted to keep them on the app store were mostly just time consuming. Instead of just giving a blank update though I made a few adjustments to Detective Deep & Strikes the Goal which resulted in faster load times, 64 bit support, & some image enhancements. These adjustments weren’t necessary or needed right now, but since I had to use some of my time to do an update in general I decided to add a bit more time to actually make some minor improvements. 64-bit isn’t a minor issue, but luckily the task of supporting it is currently a minor thing for me to update for.

I decided not to update Raven’s Hidden Hollows though because I no longer liked the presentation and gameplay of the app specifically. I also removed the app from other stores for the same reason. I should have added a story and maybe some puzzle elements to the app, but instead of adding those to an old app I decided to just remove it, and if I decide to make an app like it in the future I’ll add those features. The only hidden object games without a story that I want in my app portfolio right now are my Jumbo Egg Hunt games. Which brings me to the update I had to make in December. During this month Apple sent me the same notice mentioned earlier about my app Jumbo Egg Hunt. This app is one of my most downloaded older apps combined across all app stores and I like it a lot so updating it to avoid it being removed from the iOS App Store was imperative. Again, instead of submitting a blank update I decided to make a few improvements which included; 64 bit support, image enhancements, and faster load times. Since I was updating the iOS version with improvements I went ahead and updated the Android versions as well on Amazon & Google Play.

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An email from Apple

In December I also worked on gathering more data for my finance app. I thought I would be further along in development on this app, but the more research I do, the more I want to continue adding more & more data to the app. I graduated with a degree in Finance several years ago so some of the research has been like a refresher to me which causes me to dive into additional reading and researching. Some of it has basically been common knowledge to me too which is nice because it causes me to work quicker. Development takes odd turns sometimes in general, but it additionally happens for various intriguing reasons when I’m working on an app with a subject on something that I already had an interest in and am somewhat knowledgable about like finance, medicine, soccer & so on. So far I’ve created two soccer themed apps, and two medical educational apps, but this is my first finance related app and finance is a wide rating subject. To make development go smoother and make more progress I’ve finally determined which exact categories I’m going to focus on and the range of difficulty I want implemented. In January I’ll continue working on the finance app and hopefully make grand strides towards its completion. I’ll also be finishing writing and then posting my yearly overview progress report too. Until next time ∞