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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 ∞

November Mobile App Development Report

8 Dec
2016

Development work in November was mostly devoted to working on the new finance app I’ve been working on & off with. I continued to gather and check information for different categories and arrange  them in separate lists. I also decided on which exact categories to have in the app, which makes information compiling more productive. In December & January I’ll continue working with a large amount of data for this app. No guarantees, but I plan on releasing this app in the first or early second quarter of 2017. I’ll be reusing a lot of the code that I used in my Quiz of Medicine & RX Quiz of Pharmacy apps so that will save me a lot of time after completing the massive data section. I haven’t touched the design aspect of it yet so the timeframe of app completion will then depend on how quickly that progresses. I have a few rough ideas in mind on how I want it to look, but I want to complete the data portion before diving into design this time.

I ported Word Owl’s Word Search First Grade & Christmas editions to Google Play last month. With the release of great new devices, improvements to the developer console, a huge user base, and increasing download numbers for some of my apps, I’ve decided to focus more on the Google Play store. Apple iOS will still be my main target, and Amazon will stay at second in importance, but now Google Play will be a very strong third target for my apps. I already make an Android based build when I’m releasing an app on Amazon so when I make a build for Google Play I won’t have to change a lot. I won’t be releasing every one of my apps on Google Play because I still have some issues with the store, but going forward I will be focusing more energy there with new apps and possibly some of my older apps. Until next time ∞

October Mobile App Development Report

8 Nov
2016

The amount of time I had towards app development in October seems like it was split almost evenly into working on a new app and working on some updates. I started the month by working on gathering more data for my financial app. When I gather data for this app I also verify it with different sources and then organize it to make it flow smoothly into app dev implementation. Eventually I’ll comb through all the data again and make sure there are no duplicates, misspelled words, and any other hiccups.

In October I also decided to update some of my free Amazon apps that were running interstitial AdMob ads. I recently began to notice through some random testing that my free Amazon apps running these ads were loading and responding slower than my the same Android apps on Google Play. Both Amazon & Google Play accept the same Android build once I convert it but Amazons Android based operating system is different than a pure Android OS. Due to this situation sometimes things that work one way on an Android OS may react differently on an Amazon Android OS. I want to make sure my apps work as smooth as possible and that the ads don’t get in the way of that so I decided to try some different implementations.

After some load time and touch recognition testing with different ad providers I decided to switch my free apps on Amazon from Admob interstitial & Revmob banner ads to Chartboost interstitial & Admob banner ads. After doing this each app that I updated loaded faster and the ad impressions were better. I’m not sure of the exact technicalities that caused these actions before & after, but testing different implementations eventually worked to bring out the best performance. I still prefer Admob as my main ad provider when feasible, but Chartboost has its positive aspects as well.

In November I plan on continuing work on my new financial app. It’s a very data heavy app and like my other apps, the main features are going to work without an internet connection, so working with data is a very important part of this app. I don’t think I’ll be finished with this app this year, but after I finish with the data I’ll jump into user experience(UX) & user interface(UI). When I start working on those facets I’ll upload some screenshots to present how the app will look. Until next time ∞

September Mobile App Development Report

7 Oct
2016

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.

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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 ∞

August Mobile App Development Report

8 Sep
2016

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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 ∞

July Mobile App Development Report

4 Aug
2016

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.

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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.

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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 ∞