Tag Archives: app development

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 ∞

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 ∞

January Mobile App Development Report

6 Feb
2016

January definitely felt like a new journey for me with various changes going on in my life, thankfully most of them were positive. The first week or so I was sick and recovering from a sinus infection which was lame, but I did manage to somehow make progress in app development land throughout the month.

The only app I really worked on in January was Ultra Fortune Ball which involved many improvements for the big 4.0 update that’s set for a March 3rd release. I choose that date because it’s the date this app was first released on the Apple App Store 5 years ago. Ultra Fortune Ball is the first app I ever developed and published so it’s a bit special to me in very unique kind of way. 

I started improving graphics during the last week of December, and then in the beginning of January I continued and finished the graphic enhancements. Pretty much every image in the app is now changed or enhanced in some way. I changed the actual fortune ball itself, but it’s still about the same size as before. Overall I wanted the app to look polished, uniform, and sharp overall. For the ball I made it darker and less blurry on the edges, and then I made the title text darker and sharper. I also decided to go with honeycomb/hexagon graphics for the inside “liquid” part of the ball. I liked the way the honeycomb images looked so much within the app that I eventually decided to make the background stars in the same shape and even the moon also! I also ended up making the buttons have less of a glow around the words and instead made the edges sharper with more contrast between the button and text.

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Being meticulous about design and comparing a few final images to themselves and other different images.

 

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Quick notes about sizes, effects and other random things.

After completing the graphics. I decided to jump into the mechanics of the app itself and how answers are retrieved. I added tables to make the app perform smoother and more functional overall. After adding tables I was able to delete a lot of old code rules within the app, and the code that replaced it was incredibly quicker to incorporate than what I had done years ago. I also added more responses for both languages. There ended up being 173 Spanish answers and then eventually 0ver 200 English answers. There’s more English answers than Spanish basically because I’m more familiar with various English jargons and sayings. After incorporating the changes to the code of the app I turned my attention back to presentation of the app. I added a vibrate feature so that your phone vibrates after you touch or shake the ball IF you have vibrate turned on in your phone settings. There’s also an option to turn this feature off within the app itself in case you want to keep vibrate on for your phone but not in this app.

On the older version of this app the ball would get smaller and then bigger while the inside spun while it was retrieving an answer. Although that looked fine with the new images I wanted to improve the answer animation to look more refined. So I incorporated a framed animation that uses the different honeycomb images that I made earlier in the month so that the sizes changed while the inside also spins. I tried a few different speeds for the sizes changes and spin until I saw one that felt right. After that I made the ball have a blur effect and a contained movement animation where it kind of bounces around without going off screen. After all of that and towards the end of the month I made new app icon and loading screens using the new images.

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Working on load screens for different device sizes.

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A side by side comparison of the main menu. Out with the old, in with the new.

I’m very satisfied with how the update turned out and I’m glad I decided to take time to work on a substantial update instead of something minor or ignoring it and working on a different app. I can’t wait to release it for all the people who have already downloaded the app, whether it be days ago, months ago, or years ago and of course for future downloaders also. Until next time ∞

December Mobile App Development Report

1 Jan
2016

Most of the app development in December happened during the first couple of weeks. After that I had some major outside of app dev happenings that needed more attention. However, even with all the other things going on I believe I ended this year in app dev land very nicely, let’s get into it…..

The first order of business was finishing Word Owl’s Word Search Third Grade. I made the main menu music which took a little longer than I anticipated. I wanted it to sound similar to my previous sight word searches but also different at the same time. I ended up making it more different from I thought I would but decided to go with it because I like what it evolved into.

During testing I decided to add a little more animation to the level complete pop up. I didn’t want it to be too aggressive since this app isn’t necessarily a level based game, its more of a continuous game. So I thought it would be nice to have different color blocks kind of flourish in the background in a somewhat orderly fashion. So I took a simple(on the outside) animation setting from a previous app, changed the images and some of the attributes and it turned out just like I wanted it to look.

After that the testing continued and then I worked on improving touch recognition so unwanted letters aren’t shown as being selected when they’re barely touched. The code in my word search games take it into consideration that unwanted blocks may be touched and it knows not to let it interfere with the correct word selections, but I wanted to show the player this by making it were those unwanted letter are less likely to show as selected.

After those improvements were made I fixed various bugs found during testing, and then I went into release mode by working on screenshots, promo images & etc. Once the app was approved I put together the Word Owl’s Word Search Classroom Bundle and submitted it for review. Unfortunately bundles have to go through a review process and it didn’t get approved until after Apple’s holiday break, but it was approved on the day they returned….better late than never! I wanted the bundle to be available once this third grade edition went live, but I can’t be too let down though because overall I’m glad Apple even has a bundle option. They’re still the only app store that allows developers & publishers to create bundles and make them available at a discounted price.

After Word Owl Third Grade was complete I decided to work on an update for Word Owl’s Word Search Christmas Edition. This update included the touch recognition improvements that I added towards the end of development on the Third Grade edition. For this update I also fixed some UI(user interface) conflicts. Basically I made the menus look better by making the text & button colors change depending on what background was selected. 

Then during the last week of December I stayed up late one night and worked on new graphics for Ultra Fortune Ball! Yeap, the first app I ever developed and published is getting a nice well deserved makeover on the outside design and inside code. Aiming to have this finished in January and then released within the same month or February depending on what day it’s complete.

October Mobile App Development Report

4 Nov
2015

October started with a new app release on October 1st, and the rest of app dev work during the month went towards a new app that’s being released today(November 4th)!

The first couple of days went towards promoting and enjoying the release of Word Owl’s Word Search: Halloween Edition.

Then….because I’m a workaholic that set ambitious goals for the rest of the year….I went right into work on finishing RX Quiz of Pharmacy. I finished several tables containing questions and answers  in September so October development went towards implementation of that data into the actual app, design, testing & audio. After implementing the quiz data I jumped more into design, design, & more design. I decided to make the app basically look like a clipboard with pills on it but also have an overall clean bold look. So I made flat clipboard backgrounds and slightly raised buttons that looked like tablets.  For the color of the tablet graphics I used colors from actual real life pill images online. After finishing those graphics I decided to make a statistics page that would store the number of questions answered, number answered correctly, and answered correct percentages.

After the all the work mentioned above was finished, I went into the testing phase. After finding and fixing some of the data issues I went to work on the audio. For most of the audio on the app I recorded sound effects using actual pills and pill bottles. The button click sounds are the sounds of tablets dropping into a bottle. The Start Quiz button sound effect is the sound of a pill bottle opening with pills inside, and the sound heard after finishing a quiz is the sound of pouring pills on a table. I added minor effects to these sounds in GarageBand after recording them to make sound more bounteous. Then after finishing those sounds I also made basic correct & incorrect sound effects.

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Recording sound effects for RX Quiz of Pharmacy

I really wanted to make sure this app looked different from my Quiz of Medicine app, but also kind of pay homage to it because that app inspired me to make this app. When I started working on Quiz of Medicine I thought I was going to make it more focused, but I went a little overboard with the medications and the app ended up turning into a massive quiz app featuring thousands of questions for over 400 medications. However, I definitely wasn’t disappointed with how that app turned out. I still think it’s a great app and it’s one of my best performing and well received apps with a lot of downloads and mostly positive reviews. 

My goal for RX Quiz of Pharmacy was for it to be more focused on pharmacy overall as a whole. I believe I succeeded with that goal by having it feature abbreviations, law, history, and only the top 200 drugs(in 2015 currently). I’m also really satisfied with the look of the app. I even smiled at the app icon for about a minute after finishing it. Working on an app icon is usually one of the final things I do during development, and that was also the case for this app. So I wasn’t just smiling because I really liked the look of the app icon, but also because it was a moment of culmination.

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Working on the RX Quiz of Pharmacy app icon

Up next on my app development plate will be a finance app and the next Word Owl’s Word Search app. Not sure which one I’ll focus more on, but I’ll be working on both until I figure it out. Until next time ∞

June Mobile App Development Report

8 Jul
2015

June wasn’t as bountiful as May in app development land, but May was a month packed with working on an app, finishing that app, releasing it, and then working on another app immediately after. I also had a lot of non app dev work going on, however, I did make some nice progress with one of my new apps. In June I continued working on the user interface on my new relaxation app. I decided to make the main features of the app the actual main menu/first screen so as soon as the app loads you can immediately go into a realm of relaxation. In the past couple of years I started to realize how important design is within apps and I’ve been intertwining development and design when possible. So instead of mainly developing/coding first or designing first, I often go back and forth between the two to see what looks and feels right.

While working on the user interface for this new app I had a hard time deciding on what font to use. I didn’t want the font to be too demanding to the eye, but I also didn’t want it to be seen as feeble. While deciding I looked at several complete words in different fonts next to each other and within the actual scene in which they would appear in the app. I basically ended up staring at a lot of font styles in different test environments until I eventually decided on one. I don’t plan on releasing this app until probably Fall or Winter this year so I’ll be working on another app that’s near completion in addition to this one in the month of July. Until next time ∞

May Mobile App Development Report

5 Jun
2015

May was a busy month packed with putting the finishing touches on a game, testing it, releasing it, and then oddly working on a new app shortly after the release. Lets get into it……..

  • In May I finished and released my newest app, Crunchy Numbers Math Arcade. During the first part of the month I worked on the audio for the app which included main menu music, in-game music, and sound effects. At first I didn’t plan on having any in-game music, but when I finished the main menu music I wanted to keep making variations of it so I made small chunks of music to play during gameplay. However, I didn’t want the music to be distracting since retro chiptune themed music can sometimes be overly eccentric to some people so I made a rule that lowered the volume of music during gameplay.
  • I also thought it would neat to have power-ups for when things are getting a little rough during gameplay. So after deciding what power-ups to create and making the art for them I implemented them with a rule that made a power-up randomly appear when certain conditions exist. There’s only three power-ups but they’re each different, and one of them is actually just for an extra life. I liked the idea of having a couple of power-ups, but I didn’t want the game to revolve around them, or for players to depend on them. To be good at this game you’ve got to have good reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and of course some math skills.
  • Prior to final testing I implemented Game Center for iOS devices and Game Circle for Amazon devices and/or players that use Game Circle on other Android devices. High scores are a major part of the game so adding leaderboard functionality seemed like a natural thing to do. After finishing the game I did a lot of testing. I only discovered a couple of bugs and I was able to fix them in a day which was great. I always test my apps throughout development which makes the final testing process less hectic.
  • I started working on my next app a few days after finishing the final marketing items(banners, trailer video, & etc) and releasing CNMA. Before release I thought I was going to take a small week or so break from development after release, but I wanted to jump into something new even though I was really satisfied with the way CNMA turned out. Crunchy Numbers Math Arcade is one of my favorite apps that I’ve developed, but I still felt a surge of energy to start working on a new app after it was released. Maybe I felt this energy because I was really satisfied with my recent release, regardless I definitely took advantage of it.
  • The app that I started working on towards the end of May is a new relaxation app. I won’t go much into specific detail on it now, but it’s different from my Rest, Relax & Reflect app. I started working on the overall user interface design for this new app in May. Eventually I became satisfied with the color theme and button design, but I’m still testing different interfaces. I started working on the audio aspects of it last year so a lot of the audio of the app is complete, which is one of the main features of the app. I still have a lot work to do on the app which includes a lot of audio editing, various design aspects, audio implementation, and other development functions. I’m not sure when I’ll be finished with this app, but hopefully it will be sometime within the next couple of months.

 

A little back story about Crunchy Numbers Math Arcade……..

I first came up with the idea of Crunchy Numbers Math Arcade during a retro themed game jam I joined last year. I went back and forth with a few ideas for a game, but once the idea of a math game with a retro look came into my mind I had an idea of roughly what I wanted to create. I knew I wanted it to have a player controlled item in a box confinement with the goal of going to the correct answers while avoiding enemies. After being satisfied with the actual gameplay idea I had to decide what kind of math I wanted the game to have. Eventually I reminisced about a really neat math game I played when I was a kid called Number Munchers. I didn’t want to make a clone of course, which wasn’t going to be the case because the gameplay was already different, but I decided to use some of the math lessons that were part of the game which included primes, factors, and multiples. I wanted the game to have four modes so after finishing the first three modes I decided to implement roman numerals. The first color theme of the game was mostly teal & gray with red enemies and white numbers. I wasn’t satisfied with the fact that there was no real theme to the game.

Then one day while I was at Octane Coffee in Atlanta I started thinking about different color themes. I googled something like “different colors” or something similar and as I looked through the images I saw a set of dry erase markers and thought………it would be neat if I made the game have a dry erase board design but kept the retro chunky box design aspect of it the same. The colors I used in the game are meant to be similar to standard dry erase marker colors and then the standard board with the white surface, black text/numbers, gray boarders and black corners. Once I started creating the new graphics I became really satisfied with the overall look of the game and the remaining aspects of the game really started coming together more. The design decision gave me more confidence in the game itself and a boost of development energy that propelled me to work faster than the pace I was currently moving. Overall as I’ve stated above I’m really satisfied with how the game turned out and it’s become of my favorite apps that I’ve developed.

Until next time ∞