Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Updates to Currency Exchange & Flights

We rolled out couple of updates to our Flights and Currency Exchange applications

The update to our Flight Application was primarily to improve the internet connectivity check. Couple of our users complained on an issue and this update should fix it.

The update to Currency Exchange add more currencies. We now support conversion between over 85 currencies worldwide. This update also includes a manual refresh option that lets you update the values manually. We also show the last updated time

We hope you’ll find these new features useful. Do try out these apps. We have more updates coming soon.

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Update to Flight Status App

We recently rolled out an important update to our Flight Status application. It was an important update as we included the following information.

  • Arrival and Departure Delays for Airports (US & Canada)
  • Weather forecast for Airports (US & Canada)
  • Zoomable maps for all airports worldwide
  • Temperature (in F & C) for Airports (US & Canada)
  • Improved connectivity check

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We think these are important pieces of information that are needed for travelers. We hope you’ll find these useful. Do try out our Flight Status app (link: iTunes)

Regarding Apple’s Payment delay

There has been lot of talk about delay in Apple’s payment for the month of Feb. Here is my take..

I think Apple has been making some significant changes (they announced along with 3.0 beta) to their payment engine. As they announced earlier, they are going to allow subscription based payments and upselling within the apps. This obviously is a BIG deal and making these changes to a live system with few million existing transactions and many on-going transactions is no easy task. So I am not surprised that this upgrade is delaying stuff.

If you didn’t receive your payment beyond 45 days, yes Apple has to do something about this immediately. But I wouldn’t worry about these delayed payments much.

I can’t wait to see the new payment system with subscription in AppStore.

iTunes AppStore Numbers

I came across this presentation form Morgan Stanley and noticed some interesting stats regarding iTunes AppStore. Here are couple of slides….(credit Morgan Stanley).

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Here are few points I found interesting…

  • 74% of the Apps in AppStore are paid apps. This is good news for developers
  • The average price of paid apps in each category is greater than what I expected. In the travel category, where we have apps in, the average price of the app is $5.09 which is more than I expected. Interestingly, the verge price of apps in Medical category is $22.01
  • While we find that AppStore is almost filled with Games, that infact is not the case. It looks like 14% of the apps are games. Without these numbers, I thought it would be around 30%
  • There are around 13 Apps purchased per users. This is a good and encouraging number for developers
  • The number of apps released month over month have been accelerating at a great pace

Do you see any interesting things from these numbers?

New APIs in iPhone 3.0s

As you know, Apple rolled out the preview version of iPhone 3.0 today. There has been lot of talk about all the features in many of the sites today. As a developer, I’d like to add my perspective on what excites me the most.

Subscription Pricing

For Applications like Flight Status, we have to pay the backend data provider based on usage. For this reason, one time paid model doesn’t work for us. Subscription is the right way to do this. This was one of my first feature request for Apple and I am glad Apple is including this 3.0

Maps API

This is great stuff. According to Apple, you can use the awesome Google Maps app inside your application. I think this can do wonders if the apps use them right.

Push Notifications

This is great feature Apple promised last September and they finally promised to deliver. Better late than never. I am glad to see this and it can be put to great use by various applications.

In App Email

I don’t think Apple talked about this feature today, but this is another great feature. This is a problem today where an app has to be closed to open up an email app when you provide email option in your app. If Apple provided an API for this, it is going to be another excellent option.

These are some of the features that excited me as a developer. Ofcourse, as an end user, I am excited about features like MMS, Horizontal Keyboard, Cut/Copy/Paste (to be honest, I almost never needed it) etc

Now, I only wish the iPhone Developer Site is up to start kicking tires.

How about you? Did any of the features interest you?

Apple tweaks AppStore’s new review system

Just few days back, I talked about changes to the AppStore’s review system improving it to a great extent. It looks like Apple is further tweaking the system to make it even more useful. The new changes are very welcome and I am sure many users will appreciate them.

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As you see above, you can now view the number of reviews based on the star ratings. If this looks familiar, this is probably because you have seen this type of implementation in Amazon’s Customer Reviews section.

I am glad to see these enhancements making their way into AppStore. We should commend Apple for tuning AppStore very frequently making it more useful.

WSJ: Five Best iPhone Travel Apps – Trips & Next Flight Included

Watt Street Journal talked about five reader-approved travel apps for iPhone and we are happy to see two of our applications listed among the five. Trips and Next Flight applications are included in the list. This is what WSJ says about these apps

Trips:

Trips: Travelers can enter their itineraries — airline, hotel, car rental reservations, etc. — and stay abreast of developments, changes, delays and so forth. “I’ve been thrilled with it,” said Florida-based reader Steve Urquhart in his recommendation. The program, which costs $9.99, requires a little bit of work upfront to enter your info, but after that Urquhart says it’s a pretty convenient tool that lets you email your updated itinerary to others, among other things. “It’s really, I think, a well put together platform,” he told the Terminal in a quick telephone chat

Next Flight:

NextFlight: Offers users a way to quickly watch flights between two locations and monitor their status. “Comes in handy when you need airlines to reschedule because of weather/delays,” writes Benet Wilson, a fellow airline blogger who suggested this app, priced at $2.99.

Thank you Steve and Benet for recommending our apps. As always, these apps will keep getting better.

iPhone 3.0 – Preview Next Week

If you haven’t heard, Apple just sent out invitations to media regarding an iPhone 3.0 preview event.

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This is great news. I can’t wait to see what’s in 3.0. The previous major version, 2.0 introduced AppStore. What will 3.0 introduce? I suspect 3.0 could also be optimized for TouchBook as well. May be this is the starting point for AppStore for upcoming TouchBook. Ok, enough with my predictions.

May be not…

One of the reasons I think they are calling this a preview because I assume they wanted to give developers an early heads up before they include this version in their June revamp of the iPhone. I foresee some serious improvements to the way iPhone handles graphics. As we know, Games are the most succesful apps on iPhone. I assume improved graphic in 3.0 will make it even better. Considering the importance Apple is giving for third party apps in their video ads and retail store promotions, I suspect this event will try to reach out to these developers.

Ofcourse, I still hope to see push notifications, video recording API etc included in 3.0. Can’t wait for the preview. What do you think? What do you expect to see in 3.0?

Apple Improves AppStore’s Review System

Ten days back I wrote about how AppStore’s review system can use some improvements.

In case of Movies or Music, the content never changes. The publisher posts a movie or a song and the song itself never changes. The reviews provided by the users kind of stays true for the life time of the movie/song. This is certainly not the case for applications in AppStore. There could a negative feedback on the first version of the application. The developer could’ve fixed it in the subsequent version, but this is not reflected in the feedback. More often than not, the reviewer never comes back to edit a review even after several updates to the application. This kind of leaves the review system to the disadvantage of the developer and even the user because the info is outdated. I myself see this in reviews of my app where a negative review of the first version stays on the top even after this the issues mentioned in the review have been fixed.

Well, it turns out, Apple just rolled out an update exactly along the same lines – allowing users to view the reviews of the latest version. The key changes in the latest update include…

The reviews are now sorted by recent date.

Previously reviews were sorted by the number of user votes, which meant earlier reviews get to the main page – either positive or negative. This meant old reviews showed up and it didn’t make sense. With these new changes, the reviews are sorted, listing the recent reviews first. This means, the reviews are referring to the recent version. This was the case in the AppStore on iPhone. But, I am glad to see these changes in the iTunes.

You can just view reviews for current version

You can just choose to view the reviews for the latest version, which is very useful for both users and developers. This feature is also updated on the AppStore on iPhone. You’ll see the version number beside the review title on your iPhone.

Separate ratings for Recent Version & All Versions

We earlier has just one rating for the application. Now, there are two ratings. One for the recent version and second for overall reviews for all versions.

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Screenshot for my Flight Status App

These are great changes from AppStore. Previously, review system was common across entire iTunes. I am very glad to see Apple making AppStore specific changes to make it more useful. As I mentioned earlier, Apple is improving AppStore almost every week. These recent changes are very welcome. Keep it coming Apple.

Apple’s TouchBook and AppStore?

There has been lot of talk recently about Apple’s upcoming NetBook with Touch capability. I’d like to call it TouchBook. While there has been good amount of rumors so far, I absolutely have no doubt that Apple (and others) will launch a touch device. Not only the patents Apple filed point us in this direction, but we can clearly see that this is the direction the industry is moving.

So far, we have been dealing with intermediate input devices like Mouse & Keyboard to interact with the computers. Its about time we interact with them directly through Touch and Voice and we see that Apple, Microsoft and many others are moving in this direction.

All of these make me believe that a TouchBook (or whatever Apple calls it – Newton?) is the future and I am pretty sure Apple will lead/show us the way. It may not be out some time this year as many people expected, but I think it’ll certainly be out sooner or later.

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While the device can be useful in many ways, I think the real power of such a device will be exposed when they include AppStore. As we know, Games are the killer apps in AppStore. Now, imagine what similar games – just more powerful in your hand-held device with better graphics capability – on such a device will do. Ofcourse, the AppStore will bring in unlimited possibilities to such a device. I think this could end up being the next generation gaming device which can be docked onto your large screen or TV.

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The possibilities of such a device are limitless. I can’t wait to see just the device, but the AppStore for such a device. Go Apple.