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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 ∞

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……..