Wooden Clock Update for iOS 7

A large part of the reason I made Wooden Clock a couple years ago was just to try out the, then new, Adobe AIR-to-IOS development and deployment process to see if there was any life left in the notion of hanging on to my Flash “developer” roots. In the end while I obviously got the app published to the App Store I was not won over with the Adobe tools or workflow for the job. It wasn’t as bad as Android development (still is) but I still definitely did not enjoy it since the app’s performance wasn’t what I’d hoped for, the testing workflow was annoying and buggy and working in the Flash IDE was often infuriating for multiple reasons.

As time went on I worked more and more with the Cordova (a.k.a. PhoneGap) platform – which Exports native mobile apps from HTML web apps – and I grew pretty fond of it. Naturally after a while the question popped in my head:

“Would Wooden Clock re-written in HTML perform as well or better than the old Flash version in the App Store?”

Since free time was (and still is) so hard to come by this wasn’t something I could justify trying out anytime soon so I just tabled it for a rainy day that would likely never come. But after getting a few blog comments and emails about Wooden Clock having problems with Apple’s latest software update (iOS 7) I decided I may as well kill two birds with one stone and attempt to migrate the app from Flash to HTML.

So over the past couple weeks using an hour here and there I exported the various clock graphics from Flash and rebuilt the app as a HTML web app.  Overall Things went fairly smooth and I was surprised to discover that the app’s performance seemed as good if not better than it was in the Flash version.

New Flat Style

As I was rewriting the app I wondered what difference, if any, using flat imagery would have on the performance of the clock so I created a secondary set of graphics to allow users to toggle between a flat style or the default (wooden) style. Honestly it would have probably made more sense if I had tried comparing the image performance against canvas object performance since I’m pretty sure image complexity/color-count has very little affect on performance – but I’m not a canvas pro so I stuck with images. The clock does seem slightly more fluid/responsive when using the flat design but the difference is pretty subtle.

Flat Style

A side-effect of throwing in this flat style is that I may actually be able to create full-fledged additional clock skins in the future too – this would never happen if the app had stayed Flash-based.

Flat Icon?

Since iOS7 has a new “flat” look to everything I made an attempt to update Wooden Clock’s icon to fit in. However since most of this app’s cool-factor is based on how realistic and rich the graphics are coming up with a flat version of the icon is a pretty challenging (possibly impossible) task. I landed on something I could live with for now but I’m not in love with it – so maybe I’ll come up with something more interesting later.

iOS7 Icon
iOS7 Icon
Original Icon
Original Icon

For comparison here’s how Apple changed one of their own icons:

iOS7 Icon
iOS7 Icon
Original Icon
Original Icon

App Store Timing

The updated version of Wooden Clock is currently in the Apple App Store review process and should be live in a few days.

New App: Kana Cards HD!

I’m excited to announce that my new app “Kana Cards HD” is finally finished and is now available on the App Store!

So what in the world does this app do? Well as some of you know I am a big fan of the Japanese language and culture – or at least the parts of it I’ve heard of or learned about over the years. I’ve made multiple attempts to learn to speak the language but I’ve sadly never gotten very far. Anyhow – a year or two ago I got the idea to make an app that would help me learn the japanese language – or at least their phonetic syllabaries (kana, or “alphabets”). I kicked around many different ideas for the app – ranging from ninjas, to bunnies to basic flash cards – but after a while I realized I wanted to make an app that was functional but also a tribute of sorts to the japanese language – something that would hopefully reflect my fondness for it.  Whether I achieved that last part or not is a subjective question – but I feel good about the final product as I think it does include something very functional, but also very polished and “shiny”.

Unlike my previous app, PocketSwatch, I decided a few months back to make Kana Cards HD a “universal” app – which means it is specifically designed to run on both the iPhone and the iPad. Achieving this added quite a bit of complexity/time to my already super-scarce development time (sometimes only couple hours a week) – but in the end I’m glad I did it as it gave me some good experience dealing with two completely different user interfaces that shared the (basic) same functionality/code base.

Some additional behind the scenes trivia:

  • All Hiragana and Katakana letters were hand-painted by me on the iPad
  • All the “male” pronunciation audio was recorded by yours truly – but I shifted the pitch up a bit because I couldn’t stand listening to myself over and over during development! 🙂
  • Paintings used for the card textures were pulled from the public domain
  • It took over 8 hours for the app to actually go live once it was approved by Apple … that wait was excruciating!!

As with many other apps out there, the concept and general goals of this app aren’t super unique. There are quite a few apps out there to help people learn the Japanese language. Some of them are really great (example) and quite robust – but far too many are pretty lame and a bit ugly.  I don’t claim that my app is THE best app out there for learning the Japanese language but I will, humbly, say that I believe Kana Cards HD’s core game mechanic and level of polish are one of a kind!

In the end my hopes for this app are that 1.) it helps some folks learn or enjoy some of the Japanese kana (alphabets) and 2.) I don’t offend any Japanese people by any mistakes or inconsistencies in the app!

See below for videos, links etc and let me know what you all think if you grab it.

Kana Cards HD: Screenshots

 

 

 

Kana Cards HD: Links

Kana Cards HD: Demonstration Videos:

Here are a couple demonstration videos of the app in action. As always, make sure to click the HD and fullscreen icon to view the videos properly!

iPad Version:

iPhone Version:

FYI to my friends and family

Please don’t buy the app unless you are truly wanting to learn the Japanese language! I have promo codes I can send you  to download it free if you want to check it out.

Screenshots

[slickr-flickr set=”72157630853262024″ type=”gallery” size=”large”]

PocketSwatch Full Version Now Available!

Just a quick FYI – I’m excited to announce that the full version of PocketSwatch is now available on the App Store (official link)!

As I mentioned in the previous post, the full version will cost a few bucks and is only intended for people who will actually use it in the real world – everyone else can try the free version to get the jist. That said, if any of my friends/family want to try the full version, please send me an email and I’ll send you a promo code to get it free.

It’s probably no shock to most of you that I’m already working an updated version with some neat new features so it looks like I won’t be getting a break from this app just yet. I hope to push the new version out ASAP – I’ll post details about that here when it’s ready.

PocketSwatch for iPhone!

I’m super excited to announce that my new iPhone app “PocketSwatch” has just been released to the app store!!

As I cryptically mentioned the other day, this project completely devoured every free minute I had for the past 4-5(?) week but it was a blast. It even had me getting up at 4:30 on weekend mornings (even on my sleep-in morning) to get it done faster! I was starting to think the app would never be finished because it seemed like for every 5 punchlist items I completed, 10 more would get added to the list! But eventually I came to a “finishing” point – well, really I just started moving all new ideas to a “Version 2.0/Maybe” project.

What is PocketSwatch?

In case the screenshot and app name don’t make it obvious, PocketSwatch is a color swatch creation and reference utility app – primarily geared towards computer-based artists, designers and developers – though non-computer folks might find it useful as well. In short PocketSwatch offers the user four things:

  1. Color Mixer/Swatch Set Creation
  2. Swatch Set Library/Reference
  3. RGB, HEX and CMYK color conversion
    (Note: The FULL version even has Pantone support!).
  4. Emails swatches and download “ASE” Adobe Swatch Exchange files as well!

The actual idea for the app came to me while I was working on another secret app (that has since been mothballed). The reason I dropped the app I had been working on previously to start this was because this idea, unlike 9 out of 10 of my typical app ideas, had an element of real world usefulness.

The other thing I found interesting about building this app was that it had some very logical ways to make a FREE version and a PAID version.

Unlike the Wooden Clock app, which was purely for entertainment and the fulfillment of a new year’s resolution, I see PocketSwatch as a serious tool, for some, so the “FULL” version actually deserves to carry a small price tag.

It’s a simple idea I know and while there are plenty of other “color” apps out there, I believe PocketSwatch is a cut above a fair amount of them both in simplicity/focus and the level of polish. But … I’m obviously wearing “parental” googles here so you all judge for yourselves!

One more thing – the app actually got released to the App Store earlier than I wanted – the current (pending release) versions of both the FREE and FULL app  are a bit nicer (plus I think there is a bug or two in the current FREE version). But – the base functionality is in the public/available one so folks can get the jist at least.

Demo Video

Here’s the official demo video showing the app in action for anyone out there w/out an iPhone. Make *SURE*  the HD button is “ON” before you start so you can see it in it’s full high-res glory! 🙂

App Store Stuff:

As mentioned above, there will be two versions of this app – a free/limited version and the paid/full version. The full version is still waiting to go through App Store review so that’s not available yet – but the free version is now available so folks can try it out and see what they think. By the way, if I was in this to make every possible penny I could I suppose I’d wait until the “pay” version was released before announcing the app. But while I will find it cool if some folks do find it useful enough to pay for, I did this for myself, for fun and to learn – everything else is icing.
Here’s the app store link to the FREE version.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocketswatch-free/id512413428?ls=1&mt=8

Here’s the app store link (Posted on 2012/04/01):
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pocketswatch/id509958461?ls=1&mt=8

PocketSwatch@Facebook

Here’s the “official” facebook page that will serve as the support “portal” for the app:
http://www.facebook.com/PocketSwatch

Ok that’s all…

PS: Special thanks to Holly here for having extra patience when I was/am in full “obsession” mode on things like this.  Without her patience (and some good ideas) I wouldn’t get to make stuff like this. <3