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.
Source: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spideroak/...

iOS 4.1 update is now live

My recommendation for updating:

  • Go to Settings ➜ Turn Airplane Mode ON
  • backup your phone in iTunes

    • By turning Airplane mode on, this reduces the chance of getting interrupted by a phone call, text, or push notification
    • It’s also is a lot faster


(Photo from www.cultofmac.com)

Wasted talent

Scam apps like this one here irritate me to such an extent that I am actually writing about it, which in fact only helps the developer out. There is no bad promotion. But the fact remains there is too much crap in the App Store. Search is broken, unless a developer has fantastic marketing through word of mouth, they really have to choose smart creative keywords to be found. They would also be wise to enroll in app reviewer and promotion programs. But before I digress too much, let me state my point. Smart developers, please, apply yourself and your talents in a better way.

Since the launch of the app store I have been curious about the market as a whole. I check out craigslist and job boards with keywords like iPhone, developer, Cocoa, Obj C, etc. There is a market with job openings, the mobile developer/programmer job openings are astounding given the economy. Go off and do some good. Stop putting apps out there that only tech savvy people would know are fake. Claiming the app will track your friends phone if you give it the number, unlock your phone with a thumb print scan, there are even hand warmer apps. Actually I think my phone has that app already installed, it opens after an hour long conversation.

This practice is especially evil when you charge for it. Unfortunately given the structure of the store it breeds a window shopping experience asking for impulse buying. Typically there will be a disclaimer telling the buyer that this app does not actually do what we just told you it did. But awesome news for shady developers, don’t fret, you can still trick your buyers. That wonderful “more” button is so convenient. Depending on the length of the description the disclaimer on the bottom could be hidden, only revealed when clicked. Why would someone develop an app where ratings dwindle and reputation is tarnished? I don’t know, I want to understand, I do. Does the feeling of “taking someone” give that of service.

Yes, the claims of millions and billions of apps and download’s and dollars made is justified. But frankly too much of the app store is reminiscent of that guy in the trench coat selling fake Rolex watches to trusting tourists. Both will give the time, it’s accuracy is another story.

Really to the disingenuous developers in the crowd, check craigslist. You will make more money that way, and guess what? There’s an app for that. Personally I like this one.

Shady Practices in the App Store

BNO News for the iPhone

I’m seeing a new trend in the App Store in iTunes that scares me a little. Charges and (sorta) hidden fees that come along with a paid app. I am limiting this to paid apps because I am under the system of belief that free apps have the right to charge for an added feature set. My first aggravation came along with an application my buddy recommended to me. BNO Breaking News. It was an app that he had found which solved the “I have an idea for an app” conundrum. I don’t why I call it a conundrum, but I’m keeping it. So continuing, he was ecstatic when he found his app for sale. BNO Breaking News is a real simple application that simply sends the user ‘push notifications’ to the user’s iPhone. I was pretty impressed with the idea and that he found an application that perfectly met his needs and expectations. He told me about it and without much hesitation I downloaded it while I was still on the phone with him.

The charges started with the application costing 1.99. Not a bug deal, but I see that number as a paid app that is viewed by the developer as semi-premium. Many of the applications that cost to download “paid applications” are .99. Little differences like a dollar make a big difference. I was not paying a close attention to the fine print in the description, but BNO’s plan was to offer the application at 1.99, with a trial period. To get more than one news update a day a subscription plan is required. For a year’s worth of news pushed to my iPhone it would cost a total of $13.97. In my opinion it’s just not that good of an application to call for a $14 price tag.

The part that really got me fired up enough to write a negative review for the app was that there was a change in the application in an update. Conveniently, BNO added an account button inside the application. There really is no real reason to enter the application otherwise. Just make sure push is enable in settings, and the app just sits there. I consider this bad design, and that’s being kind and rational. I look at this as a hidden charge which I refer to as an app store bait and switch. So, unfortunately there is an application on my phone which is useless. I am not willing to pay $13.97 to use this application, being under the impression that 1.99 was the real price. But with the faceless customer service and developer support that is the iTunes App Store, I think this kind of ethically challenged business practices will continue for sometime.

The combination of one-click, impulse buying together with faceless customer service, makes screwing customers easier developers. It’s just good business.

BNO News Screenshot