Automatic Updates, iCloud Drive and backing up your data

After a major OS release, you can typically count on application updates from developers. With iOS 8, there was also the launching of iCloud Drive which involved major changes to the structure of the data we store and access in iCloud. Most of these updates happened in the background, and don’t require our attention.

But some apps do require our attention. I tend to read the release notes [1] with app updates on my Mac and devices. I find them interesting/useful. I’ve been finding an alarming trend with developers warning users to take actions before updating their apps. They range from problems with an update crashing on launch and recommending to skip the version and wait for the next update to telling users to make a backup of their data before updating.

App developers cautioning users to make a backup of your iCloud data before updating the app doesn’t work.

Typical App Store Updates view.

Typical App Store Updates view.

Like this one:

Important Note for iCloud users: if you sync Contacts Journal with iCloud, please backup your data before updating the app. You can create a backup from More -> Manage Data > Backup iCloud Data.

If I’m reading your warning, it’s probably already too late.

There’s a fundamental problem with these types of warnings. In most cases, 1) assume your users don’t read release notes. Cause they don’t. 2) With Automatic Updates turned on in iOS, chances are good, they’ll be unable to stop the update.

One could argue that developers should issue ample warning in the previous versions, allowing users to plan ahead. However, that doesn’t help with users who don’t read release notes.


But the reality is, the iOS App Store needs a delayed download and update feature like the Mac App Store. In addition, developers could request to Apple that users have to initiate the update manually after highlighting where to read the release notes. Users would launch the App Store and see a separate notice, saying something like, “there were a few updates that require your attention”.


Pending Updates view concept 


Users can choose to take appropriate precautions, or just manually start the download. The action wouldn’t add much time to the whole workflow, and the users would have a chance to backup important data.

The example above includes:

  1. A separate section above 'Pending Updates' for updates that need review.
  2. A header containing the number of updates that need review.
  3. A unique badge that grabs the users eye and attention, in this case I used an orange Info icon (i).

  1. That “What’s New” text below the version number. ↩

SpiderOak for iOS 2.0

Well, I'm excited to announce after working on this project for over a year now, the app is done. The SpiderOak 2.0 mobile app for iOS is now designed, developed and available for download on the iOS App Store.

Some takeaways I've learned from redesigning an app from the ground up over a year-long process.

  • Operating systems update and change
    • Two OS updates - iOS 5-6 (iOS 6 changed many UI elements)
  • Design trends change
    • We called an audible, changing the entire menu structure a couple of times.
  • Screen sizes change
    • Designing for Android made this less of an issue for me.
  • Minimum requirements change
    • SpiderOak's feature set and mobile API has updated many times in a year, and our feature set has grown substantially.
    • Many of them have come in the last month, so be adaptable (not just be willing to adapt - but actually adapt).
    • Make sure your designs and specs are scalable to include last minute changes that make sense to everyone involved in writing and testing.
SpiderOak Mobile

Now to work on some updates...

You can check the app out here - SpiderOak for iOS:

SpiderOak - SpiderOak, Inc.

This is a test, this is only a test

Well here’s a quick update. This website is on the Squarespace platform. They have a great iPhone app which was just updated. I figured that I would test it out by writing a post with it.

Some new features

The main ones are as followed:

  • Editing modes - multiple markup language support
    • I love this, I normally write posts like this one in Markdown, if not HTML.
  • Comment moderation with push notifications
  • Support for iOS 4 and fast app switching along with Retina Display support

Very nice update, though I would still like to see analytics reports for more than a week out. A month would be nice.

You can read the full details on the Squarespace blog here.

Remember, don't write blog posts driving your car. This was just a test.

Interview with the developer of GetPaid! for the iPhone

The ability to work anytime, anywhere is often essential for mobile businesses, freelancers and anyone not always necessarily tied to a desk for a living. Being a freelance technology and user experience consultant I have always been interested in innovative tools that allows me to organize my business life.

GetPaid! splash.png

In a previous interview, we looked at an excellent desktop time-tracking/invoicing application. Today we are talking to Henry of Runaway Apps. One of his applications is a full-featured invoicing app that can fit in your pocket. I personally love this application, it has a very nice interface allowing the user to have a record of past and future jobs, visual charts of earnings as well as outstanding payments. Henry has released several updates since I started using GetPaid! and is very responsive to user requests. I wanted to talk to him about his experience developing for the iPhone.

My thanks to Henry for taking the time.

Henry, what is GetPaid!?

GetPaid! Tracks time and generate instant invoice and timesheet in PDF format. (note: See app store description for additional app features.)

How did you get started developing the application?

With a Mac and a Passion. :)

Where did the idea of creating a mobile time-tracking & invoicing application come from?

I was an independent consultant often forgot to record my billable time.

GetPaid! Screenshot.png

What do you enjoy about being a developer in general?

Creativity freedom

Do you develop for any platforms other than iPhone OS?


What kind of advise would you give a starting developer looking to enter the App Store marketplace?

Be creative, be diligent, be patient, most importantly be passionate.

How do you go about promoting your products?

Best product always sells itself, with apple’s help, that is. :)

How do you go about ensuring your app will be found if searched for?

Keywords, keywords, keywords.

What are the some of the difficulties of developing an application that is so important for business?

iPad version has been frequently requested since the release of iPad.

User ratings are such a huge factor when it comes to the point of sale for applications, does that ever become an issue?

When Users  write inaccurate reviews without fully understand the functionalities and there’s no way to communicate back and have the reviews corrected.

Are you working on any other projects besides GetPaid!?

The Prayer Network (PN) is a free “soul”cial network app in app store right now. We are working on other productivity apps as well.

Thanks again Henry, you can find GetPaid! [iTunes link] and The Prayer Network [iTunes link] at your local iTunes App Store.