August & September Mobile App Development Report

8 Oct
2017

These past two months have been so all over the place and busy for me that I totally forgot to do a post for August and now I’ve almost forgot about September too. In this post I’m going to write about what I did in app development land in August and September. However, I’m going to try to keep it short because I need to jump back into working on various tasks. The rest of this year is going to continue being busy with app development and a lot of important things going on outside of app dev as well.

In August I finished working on Master Fantasy RPG Soundboard and released it on the Apple, Amazon, & Google Play app stores. The app turned out like I wanted it to and I enjoyed working on it overall except for the testing phase, which was the most stressful aspect of working on it. After finishing the app and testing it on various devices I ran into an issue where the app crashed on most devices except for newer ones. After trying an assortment of different fixes it turned out to be in the code in regards to the way I had sounds loading in the app. None of my other soundboard apps have long load times, but while I was working on this soundboard app I created it with a different way of loading sounds in mind. I thought it would make the app load even faster than my other soundboard apps while also delivering any sound pressed instantly like the others apps do. However, it turned out that I was asking too much of the engine I used for this app and that’s basically what caused it to crash. So to fix the issue I changed the way that I make the app load sounds back to how I do with my other soundboard apps. Which I guess lead back to the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That saying definitely applied to this situation and I could have avoided some stress and long nights.

So after fixing the load issue that caused Master Fantasy RPG Soundboard to crash I started working on promo images and a simple trailer video. I wanted the video to be simple but also give the viewer a good idea of how efficient the app is at playing sounds instantly, and how vast the sound effect library is within the app. This app like all my other apps does not require a data connection to be used. After downloading the app you can use it anytime regardless of how bad your data connection is or lack thereof. I had the idea of this fantasy soundboard in my mind for the past couple of years, but kept pushing it back to work on other apps and updates. I’m glad that I came back to it and completed it. I think it’s a neat companion to use during board games, role-playing, and reenactments. I’m sure people will use it in those ways and other ways I haven’t even thought of like people have done with my other soundboard apps. There are some pictures of working on some of the sound and visual design of this app on the July App Development Report. I do plan on having a picture section on this site eventually that showcases some of the photos I’ve taken of my “behind the scenes” app development and design processes. As of now I mainly post those types of images on my Instagram, on these monthly progress posts, and sometimes on my Twitter.

In September I decided to work on an update to my Rest, Relax, and Reflect app. I’ve been told by some of the users of the app that they wished it had a Thunderstorm section which I agreed and thought it should as well. I’m not sure why I didn’t include that section initially. I probably rushed myself to release it so I could dedicate time on another project. It’s not a super popular app but adding a Thunderstorm section and making some other improvements wasn’t going to take long and were going to improve the app nicely so I went for it. One of the first things I did is take pictures for the Thunderstorm section and while taking some of those pictures I decided to take some pictures for some of the other sections to replace the background pics that I didn’t take myself. So now all of the background pictures in the game were taken by me except some of the fireplace photos. Taking the pictures myself for the other sections helped me incorporate the animation effects better and gave the app the perspective I wanted it to have more in those sections.

In between taking and editing the photos I also worked on the Thunderstorm section animations and sound. Audio is more important to me in this app than animation so I spent more time on it. After working on some audio I played around with some different rain and lightning effects until they felt right. Then I separated the intensity levels into low, medium, and heavy like I did for the other sections. After finishing the thunderstorm section and incorporating the new backgrounds for the rain & snow sections I decided to replace some of the fireplace photos as well. I looked around on the internet for public domain fireplace photos until I found a couple that I thought looked great and would play well into the fireplace animation that’s kind of realistic but also kind of looks computer generated.

I also made the background thumbnails in each settings section(except Space Travel) react to whether or not the Black & White option is on or off. Before, the thumbnails would stay in color regardless of if that B&W option was on or off. Now the thumbnails change to black & white or color depending on what’s chosen for that option. It’s a small change but its neat and makes sense that it should react that way. I’m kind of surprised that I didn’t do that when I initially created this app. Regardless, I finished the update last month and testing went well so I released it soon after. It’s available on the Apple & Amazon app stores, and I also released the app itself for the first time on Google Play. I decided to make it free(with ads) on Google Play since its been out for years on the other app stores. It’s still ad free on the other app stores which does deliver a more simple and less distracting experience, which is good for an app that’s main goal is to help the user relax.

Some of the new background images with effects overcast

If you would have asked me a couple of months ago what my last app of 2018 would be I would have told you Master Fantasy RPG Soundboard, but yea……..another app idea popped up in my head that I thought would be a great idea to try to finish and release this year. It’s an app that revolves around Christianity and the bible. I’m a Christian and I believe in God, but I’m not one that shoves it in peoples face. I also recognize that some Christians are hypocrites, which gives the rest of us a bad name. I’m not trying to prove anybody right or wrong, or make judgements. I just want to create a simple to use app that helps others and myself learn more about the bible, and hopefully this app will accomplish that. I’ll just leave it at that until the next progress report post. Alright, I wrote that I wanted to make this post short but I ended up writing a few long paragraphs so that’s all I’ll write for now. I’m sure I’ve left out some things that I worked on and am going to work on, but these posts are supposed to be overviews without going into a lot of details. Until next time ∞

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Rest, Relax, & Reflect Version 2.0 Update

24 Sep
2017

    

√ New Thunderstorm section with five backgrounds and sound & animation options

√ New high-definition backgrounds for the Fireplace, Rainfall, & Snowfall sections

√ New music for Space Travel medium & heavy sound tones

√ Minor user interface improvements

Relax

Rest, Relax & Reflect is now also available for free(ad-supported) on Google Play!

New App Release: Master Fantasy RPG Soundboard

25 Aug
2017

    

Master Fantasy RPG Soundboard is a fantastic app filled with hundreds of high quality sound effects that will help you on your quest. You can use this app as a companion while playing board games, roleplaying, reenacting, or just randomly throughout life. Using this app as a companion to your adventures easily enhances the atmosphere. No internet connection is needed to use this app so it doesn’t matter if you have high speed internet or if you’re in the woods without a signal. This app will work regardless of your connection or lack thereof.

After the initial startup load all of the sounds are at your fingertips for instant playability without the need to load any sounds before playing. No lagging and no ads. This app can easily enhance the atmosphere during board game time at day or night. While on the main menu you can pick the category you want and quickly pull up those sounds and go back to the other categories just as quick as well. The 8 sound categories in this app are Animals, Atmosphere, Combat, Instruments, Magic, Monsters, Objects, and People. Atmosphere sounds can play in the background while you play other sound effects.

This soundboard app also has a favorites feature. Simply hold down the sound effect button you like for 5 seconds to mark it as a favorite with a shield. You can remove that sound as a favorite by holding down on it again for 5 seconds. There are no limits with how many sound effects you can mark as a favorite.

The developer of this app is a big fan of fantasy video games like Skyrim & Witcher and entertainment like Game of Thrones, Vikings & Lord of the Rings, and he made this for other people who enjoy the realm of fantasy video games, board games, cosplaying, medieval role playing, reenactments, role playing, movies, television, & etc. This awesome sound effects app is filled with the sounds of mages, knights, wizards, magicians, vikings, dungeons, medieval battles, nature, castles, forests, battles, wars, sieges, middle age actions, gameplay, dragons, other animals and various different sounds.

Sound effects within this awesome app include…

Animals: bear, bird, cat, cow, dogs, dragons, goat, horses, sheep, wolf and more

Atmosphere: beach, cave, fireplace, forest, rain, snow and more

Combat: arrows, bombs, shields, swords, spears, and more

Instruments: bagpipes, cymbals, drums, fiddles, flutes, harps, horns, and more

Magic spells: fires, heals, ice, teleports, winds, and more

Monsters: grumbles, laughs, pains and sounds from within a cave

Objects: chest opens, coins, doors, rummaging, traps, and more

People: applause, belching, bones, booing, drinking, eating, marching, sayings and more

Become the ultimate dungeon master with Master Fantasy RPG Soundboard

 

(Development, design & audio* by: Avrin Ross of 8-Bit Avrin Apps. *Some of the sounds were obtained from public domain resources like freesound.org and then edited.)

July Mobile App Development Report

8 Aug
2017

App development in July revolved around my new fantasy soundboard app. During the bulk of the month I worked on sound effects for the app. I made sounds with lettuce, cardboard, cards, coins, shoes, knives, my voice, water, nature, paper and other random items. I also edited various sounds from public domain resources. I used the Go Mic by Samson to record my sounds, and edited those and others in Garageband. I’ve used that mic for years to make sound effects and its been great, although I think I will be upgrading soon. I also used some resources within Garageband like musical instruments and sounds within other sections to make different finished sound effects for the app.

Making sound effects for the objects category

I researched and reminisced various fantasy board games and video games to gather sound effect ideas and make sure that most of the main types of sounds in those segments were included in my app in some form. Throughout development on this app I kept a spreadsheet with the sound categories and specific sounds listed underneath that I planned on being in the app. This spreadsheet along with the sound effects themselves were updated several times. After completing most of the sound effects towards the end of month some sounds were cut and some new ones were added after looking at the app as a well put together fantasy sounds effects collection. I wanted to make sure the app included a wide variety of sounds and not too many of the same ones that basically repeated themselves.

Making some sounds for the combat and people categories

Making some sound effects for the people and objects categories

During July I also worked on the visual aspects of the app. I looked around for a font that would fit in well with the app and add a lot to it visually. I narrowed the font choices down to a couple and then quickly decided on one that kept standing out to me. I liked this font the most because it was easy to read in regards to each of the letters being easy to decipher, and overall it had a great medieval fantasy style to it. After deciding on a font I made buttons with a focus on being minimal. I decided to add a slight reflection to the buttons to add a bit more style to them without making them stand out too much. The main focus of this app is to provide high quality sound effects quickly with an easy to use interface wrapped in a modern fantasy aesthetic. An easy to use interface to me isn’t just putting assets in the right areas but also making sure the graphical assets themselves fit in well and form a coherent visual display together.

Towards the end of the month I also made loading screens and the app icon. A day after finishing the app icon I thought it looked kind of dull so I decided to change some of the colors. There were too many neutral colors together which made the icon not stand out like it should. After changing some of the colors the icon looked more invigorating visually overall and the art inside the icon looked sharper.

Working on the app icon. End result is different than what’s shown in this photo

In August I plan on finishing the fantasy soundboard app and releasing it on Apple, Amazon, & Google Play. I’ve only got a few more things to complete on it and then testing, testing, testing. I’ll probably try to put together a simple trailer and have it ready in time for release as well. I didn’t do a trailer for my last app until after release which kind of made the release not as complete initially as it could and should have been. This soundboard app will be the last new app I plan on releasing this year. After finishing it I’ll be updating a couple of apps on iOS just so I can add some words to the title name. Yeap, it ridiculous, Apple is the only main app store that doesn’t let developers change app titles and metadata without an app/binary update. So in order to change the title of two of my main apps to help them hopefully move up in the search results I’ll have to release a new version of them. The apps themselves are complete in my mind so the updates will just be performance improvements that I can probably squeeze in to shave some time off the meager loading times. After finishing a few more things on my app marketing to-do list work will ramp up on my next startup, which is app related.

Until next time ∞

June Mobile App Development Report

6 Jul
2017

June was a month that mostly consisted of finishing an app and then releasing it along with a bit of a positive distraction towards the end.

Quiz of Finance & Investing was released on June 22 but a lot of work went into the app before that in June. When I first started working on design for this app I thought about and worked on a few different dimensions to go for but I eventually firmly decided to go with a standard stock trading screen as the main design influence. Stock trading screens involve a lot of green and red to track gains and losses and moving parts so I incorporated some of that throughout the app without making it distracting from its main focus as an educational app. One of the first things I concerned myself with was finding a text font style that had a professional & computer related look. After looking at a lot and testing a few I ended up going with two different fonts. One mainly for the quiz section which was more standardized and then one for other sections of the app that had an LED dot style. I remember seeing a neat stock ticker banner outside in New York City the last time I was there a few years ago and it had the LED dots type of font to show the stock symbol, numbers & etc so I felt great going with that type of font for the non-quiz sections of the app as well as the promotional images to help drive the stock trading design goal.

Getting ready to do a mock-up of the main menu screen

End result of the main menu mock-up

After picking a font and deciding on the main colors to use throughout the app I made buttons and static text sections. After incorporating the buttons and other text areas I gave the main screen subtle animations to make it appear active and alive like stock trading is during the open hours because of the constant trades and reactions. So on the main menu screen I incorporated randomized movements to the bar buttons that the categories are placed on. The main menu was also the first place that I incorporated the moving ticker at the bottom. I did a lot of testing with the ticker to make sure it looped without overlapping but also somewhat recycled itself to prevent any bog down on the performance of the app.

Working on the main menu layout in Pixelmator

This app doesn’t need or require an internet connection so I didn’t want that to change at all for a cosmetic addition, so I just incorporated some historic data for that ticker to pull from for the main menu. Then on the results screen I added a ticker that gives the results. The results are shown as the focus on the center part of the screen so the ticker is just there to add to the overall design of the app. The last place I added a ticker was on the Statistics screen that repeats the results that are shown in the statistics table.

Which brings me to one of the main additions I added in June. The Statistics section that tracks how many questions you’ve answered in each category along with the correct amount answered and percentage correct. I also incorporated an erase option to wipe the slate if the user wants to. I used the same features in my RX Quiz of Pharmacy app so I was able to reuse a lot of code which was very helpful and efficient when working on this feature. I mainly had to pull the data from differently named sections that were loaded into the app and change around a few numbers since the question count options are a little different in this app. I also added a green/red delegation that depends on if the percentage correct is above or below 50%.

After implementing all the data and design within the app I worked on sound effects. This app isn’t audio heavy so it didn’t take long to finish this aspect. I knew I wanted computer related & breaking news style sound effects so I went into GarageBand with those intentions and created some audio to incorporate. The last aspect of finishing the app build for me was making an icon. I usually wait to make the app icon towards the end of the apps development because by that time I definitely know what the app is about and how I want it represented. I’ve written about the importance of a well represented app icon before and there are plenty of other articles about that as well. At this point of the app process I had the design of the app cemented freshly into my mind so thankfully it didn’t take long to create an app icon that I was happy with. After finishing the icon I tested the app on different devices like usual. I only ran into a couple of functionality bugs and they were easily fixed. I also tested the visibility conditions to ensure the text sizes were adequate for the different categories since they each had a variance in the lengths of the questions & answers. I ended up adjusting the text sizes so they are different but more fitting depending on the category chosen on the main menu and throughout the changes in an Assorted category quiz. After completing a release ready build I uploaded it and worked on descriptions, metadata, screenshots & etc.

Working on the app icon in Pixelmator

After my new app was approved and went live I spent a few days relaxing. It’s deserved! Then while I was on the Amazon developer portal a few days later to change some keywords I noticed an Alexa skill promotion that stated that developers who created a new skill that passed certification in June would receive an Echo dot. I remember seeing this briefly in an email before but this time I thought about it as a challenge. Voice recognition software is neat, I like Amazon as a company, the Echo devices are intriguing, I recently successfully completed a new app and I was up for the challenge of learning and trying something new. So I challenged myself to make a skill in one day. I went through a couple of skill ideas and then quickly decided upon making a Game of Thrones related skill because its my favorite TV show and season 7 is coming out in a few weeks!

I worked on the skill off & on through the day and stayed up late to finish it. The first thing I did was scour the internet for quotes as well as implementing some of my favorites on a spreadsheet. Throughout development I used a template provided by Amazon and a couple of different articles which were mostly helpful. After having a somewhat finished product I went back and forth with testing until it worked as intended. I got stuck on one part were Alexa would just keep responding with the phrase I gave her to say when she doesn’t understand a request. Eventually I found the error on my part, fixed it, and then the skill worked fine. The first certification review was rejected because my example phrases had an incorrect format which thankfully was an easy fix. After changing those and re-submitting it my Alexa skill passed certification and went live. Overall I made the skill within one day and it was approved within two. This is my first Alexa skill and it’s called Quotes of Game of Thrones. I recently received the email about receiving my Echo Dot too so I should be getting that sometime soon in July. Learned some new things, got a result I’m satisfied with, and I’m getting a neat item for free. Awesome! I may or may not make another Alexa skill down the road, not exactly sure either way right now.

Towards the end of June I decided that I wanted to make a simple to the point trailer for my new Quiz of Finance & Investing app. I probably should have done this before release but oh well. I used Reflector 2 to record the screen on my iPhone to capture different question scenarios from my app so I could pick and choose during final editing in iMovie. After I finished gathering different screen captures I worked on the music. While in GarageBand experimenting I believe I got influenced by a combination of Daft Punk and school marching bands because that’s what the end result of my trailer song reminded me of. I was really satisfied with how the song turned out. It makes me want to move and it has a nice orchestral feel to it.

Alright this post was longer than I initially intended it to be. In July I’ll mainly be working on and hopefully finishing my new soundboard app. I’ll probably post some peeks into it on my Twitter and/or Instagram before release. Until next time ∞

Quiz of Finance & Investing App Trailer

29 Jun
2017

The trailer for my Quiz of  Finance & Investing app is now up on YouTube!

New Release: Quiz of Finance & Investing

22 Jun
2017

  

Quiz of Finance & Investing is an educational personal and business corporate finance app with a sleek on target stock trading design. There are thousands of questions within the four categories in this app. The four major categories in this app are; Abbreviations / Acronyms, Definitions, Formulas & Ratios, and Stock Symbols. The quiz is set up with various multiple choice answers for each question and there’s also a statistics feature that keeps up with your data in each category. 

This educational finance & accounting app is for a wide range of people. It’s targeted towards stock traders, investors, students in high school & college majoring in accounting, finance, entrepreneurship and other related fields, financial analysts, advisors and other finance professionals, accountants and other accounting professionals, economists, entrepreneurs, and anybody else with an interest in finance, accounting, or the economy. 

Use this app to learn new information, refresh yourself with information you’ve learned before, and to retain information that you’re already aware of. This app was developed and designed by a finance graduate who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration Finance with a minor in Economics from one of the best business schools in America. The developer of this app is a somewhat active stock trader, value investor, and a big fan of the CNBC shows Fast Money & Mad Money.

This app can help you learn more about stock trading which will lead to aiding you in picking stocks and even being able to help others with stock trading tips & advice. Being informed and knowledgable about the stock market can of course also help you make money fast with the right securities and stock picks, but be careful because you can lose money as fast of you can make money too.

Quiz of Finance & Investing can also be used as a study guide to help college students with test exam prep. Whether you’re majoring in finance, accounting, or economics. This app touches on all of those subjects on the surface level and also in exquisite detail. This app also has a statistics screen and financial related sound effects.

This app is not responsible for any losses you may incur in the stock market or any gains either, but it can help you make those gains through the vast amount of valuable information within it. No data connection is needed to use the main features in this app. 

May Mobile App Development Report

8 Jun
2017

The one and only app I worked on in May is the educational finance app, and the work that was done on it varied greatly in 30min-2hour increments throughout the month. The only aspect of the app I worked on in May was adding more information and also rewording some information. As I added more info I decided to change the wording in some of the questions so there wasn’t any hesitation of what the answer would be if you were sure of the answer. With my educational apps I’m not trying to trick anyone into thinking something false, but instead help people become knowledgable about something new to them and also refresh and/or retain the knowledge of those that are informed on the subject or have been in the past.

In May I finished the formulas & ratios section which turned out to be the second largest category in the app and probably my favorite to work on. One reason why I liked working on it is because you can ask more than one question about each ratio without repeating the same question or answer. You can ask about the definition of the ratio, what the ratio is used for, the formula of the ratio, and what different results exhibit about a company or stock. Ratios are a very informative area of finance and I think this category of my app will be very useful for a wide range of investors and students.

Working on the formulas & ratios category in my app. The visible data on the spreadsheet only shows about .05% of the informational data in this app!

Throughout May I also added a few more lines of data to the abbreviations section. One of the podcasts I listen to on a somewhat normal basis in the car is a finance & investing podcast so there were a couple of moments where I would hear something and notice that the issue or terminology used wasn’t incorporated in my app yet. So when this happened I would jot down a quick note in my phone(at a stop light 🙂 ) to remind myself to add information about that topic during one of my next app dev sessions.

In June I plan on finishing and releasing this finance app. I’m really looking forward to completing this app. This app is kind of a personal project for me because I have an interest in Finance and investing personally and professionally. I also have a degree in Business Administration Finance but I don’t use the knowledge I obtained throughout those college years on a daily basis and not even professionally so using this app will be a nice way to refresh and retain information. I think it will end up being very useful for others in a somewhat similar experience like me, newcomers to this subject matter, and people who work in finance and investing areas.

After finishing the Finance app, hopefully in June, I’ll be jumping back into a soundboard app I’ve been working on and I hope to finish and release it in July! It will probably be my last soundboard app for a while though. I like making soundboard apps and the ones I’ve created get downloads, some more than others of course, so those are two good reasons to continue with them. Anyways, back to work on this finance app. Until next time ∞