Dark Sky 5

For iPhone 6 users, we are also including the option to turn on automatic pressure sensor reporting. The iPhone 6 comes with a built-in barometer, primarily used for determining altitude. But there also exists the potential to revolutionize weather forecasting. If you opt-in, your phone will periodically submit pressure readings which will provide us with extremely useful meteorological data. We’ll hopefully have lots more to say about this in the coming months.

Chances are regular computing devices can get sensors and other non-computing features faster than regular electronics will get computing capabilties to form Internet of Things.

Future of the Apps

Last week I presented at the ITEM 2015 and shared my view on the evolution of the business of applications and offered some advice to startups looking to build their company around application(s).

Here is the gist of my talk:

  • Applications play increasingly important role in our digital lives. On the last WWDC keynote Apple mentioned that the average person has 119 apps (check out other numbers from the keynote).
  • The industry is huge. Last year developers received $10bln on iOS App Store alone (cumulative paymnets of $30bln this year against $20bln announced last year).
  • Apps have gone a long way from multi-hundren dollars packages full of floppies and manuals to nearly free downloads available instantly. We continue to withness "race to the bottom": $1.26 is not that much for an average price of app.
  • With widespread subsidization of mass consumption applications (e-mail, calendars, notes, contacts, etc.) acqui-hiring has become fairly common way to monetize apps in this category. It may be tempting to follow the example of Sparrow, Mailbox, Accompli, Wunderlist and others, but it is difficult and very uncertain.
  • Working in a niche on a specilized application gives far greater chance to build a business around app development.
  • New niches often form around new devices, which inspire users to find new ways to use technology products.
  • What is even better for our multi-device always-connected environment – services.

Take a look at the slides below. I'll the video, when it becomes available.

Freemium is hard indeed

In discussion with Shuveb Hussain, who admits that he Killed App Sales By Going Freemium, Marco summarizes it nicely:

Freemium is hard. Its effectiveness depends on where you can put that purchase barrier in your app. Many app types simply don’t have a good place for it.

Pricing is generally hard. Especially, if the magic "free" is involved.

It usually good idea to have free users "pay" for basic service by spreading the word about your application or service (of course, you have to provide them with ability to do so). Once they grow to depend on you and grow the need for advanced features, they would start paying for real. And finding the boundry between basic and advanced determines the success of freemium model for a particular app.

Pixelmator comes to the iPhone

The offerings sound impressive. The trouble, of course, is making them useable on the iPhone. Other apps have brought powerful image editing tools to the iPhone before, but they've generally failed at making them easy to work with.

This is the question indeed. Would be great to see new UI ideas for the tasks like advanced photo editing, which traditinally belonged to the realm of "real" computers and now move to mobile.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/27/8669947/...

Cross-platform cloud clipboard

The company is now working on a cloud clipboard app called OneClip. The app is designed to let the user copy whatever they want and access it on whatever device they need it on.

We usually think clipboard, when we need to pass data between applications on a single device. When transferring data between devices, we think files.

Will be interesting to see which UX solutions Microsoft would offer to manage the cloud clipboard and how they handle sync, when something is copied to the clipboard on multiple devices.

Photoshop Touch out, Photoshop mobile apps in

Adobe has announced that Photoshop Touch (photo retouching app for iPad and Android tablets) will be discontinued on May 28, 2015. Development focus will shift to a family of more specialized mobile apps like Photoshop Mix,Photoshop Sketch, Brush CC, Color CC, and others.

We recognized that bringing core Photoshop technology to mobile would open many creative opportunities for our customers, but it had to be done right, which meant nailing the experience. To do that, we needed to distill very complex desktop workflows and features into a naturally intuitive touch environment. We’ve also sought to provide a solution that helps people achieve great results quickly. So we’ve recently focused on creating individual mobile apps that each perform core tasks, rather than provide all-in-one solutions that mirror the desktop versions of our applications.

This move is interesting in many regards.

First, this is one more proof that super powerful all-in-one applications are not always a good fit for mobile uses and workflows. Mobile needs apps – smaller well-defined utilities, which serve few (ideally only one) purposes. More content creation activities move to mobile and they are fulfilled by sets of highly focused independent apps. This will prompt more sophisticated inter-app communication capabilities in mobile OSes.

Second, pay-for-app is getting way for pay-for-service. Apps like Comp CC, Shape CC, Brush CC, Color CC only make sense if you use Adobe applications on desktop and subscribe to Creative Cloud. In this setting mobile apps serve complimentary role and create value added for the CC service.

Looking forward to see how Adobe's Project Rigel, which promises serious retouching for mobile, will come out in late 2015.

Automatic Developer Platform

Automatic released a set of APIs to power applications with automobile driving and even real-time events data.

This can be first widely available Internet of Things type of system, where data gathered from thousands of drivers can each of them improve driving experience. Just a few ideas:

  • plan routes for drivers in a given area such that they all spend minimal time on the road
  • optimize engine parameters for particular driving patterns to maximize MPG
Source: https://developer.automatic.com/

Affinity Photo – new Photoshop killer

Last couple of months have been fairly fruitful for photo apps with new release of Lightroom, arrival of new Photos app for Mac (check out great review from MacStories and I almost missed the release of Affinity Photo – new photo editing app for Mac from Serif.

Serif advertises its software as “the fastest, smoothest, most precise, professional image editing software for Mac.” My fellow designer, who tried Affinity Design – another graphics product from Serif – told me that it definitely felt very snappy and seemed quite capable to him.

Worth checking out if you are into photography and use a Mac. Affinity Photo is free while in beta.

AlterNote released on the Mac App Store

AlterNote – elegant minimalistic note taking app for Evernote – released on the Mac App Store (with introductory price of $4.99).

Check out review on MacStories:

This simplified version of Evernote is slick, quick and gets out of the way, while syncing flawlessly with my Evernote database. And all for just $5.

On the other hand this app is a great example of a demand for clean simple applications with well-defined functionality. I wonder if Evernote would buy it one day.

Introducing Windows, 10 Editions

In a blog post Microsoft announces variations in which Windows 10 will come:

As in the past, we will offer different Windows editions that are tailored for various device families and uses. These different editions address specific needs of our various customers, from consumers to small businesses to the largest enterprises.

I counted 9 of them so far:

  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Education
  • Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
  • Windows 10 IoT Core
  • versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for industry devices

Will Windows 10 come in 10 editions, when it is released?

Google, Microsoft, Facebook & Adobe’s iOS Apps

MacStories published an interesting piece with stats on how major non-game app developers maintain their apps in the iOS App Store. The article compares Google, Microsoft, Adobe and Facebook. The choice of companies for research is very interesting because

  • Google maintains its own successful mobile platform
  • Microsoft also maintains its own (although, not as successful) mobile platform and until recently was very reluctant with bringing their major apps to iOS
  • Adobe has always had its traditional market and audience on desktops
  • Facebook represents new-age service originated from the Web and cannot move forward without mobile.

Definitely worth checking out.

Threes vs. 2048 on Google Play

Threes, precursor and inspiration to popular game 2048, has been removed from Google Play because it used "2048" as a keyword. Jessica Conditt reporting for Engadget:

Google – probably a human there, not a robot – reinstated Threes after just a few hours offline and following a stream of articles and Twitter activity around its removal. Of course, 2048 remained live on Google Play the entire time, alongside a bunch of other Threes clones. This string of events highlights one of the biggest differences between Google and Apple, and how they approach their app stores.

TechArcade also has a nice rundown of the situation with an angle on apps and games clones in app stores:

Pretty much any search for any popular game will turn up something that probably has a trademark or copyright that's being used without permission. Again, things are not as bad as they once were, and the App Store's got its own game title tomfoolery going on. But this Threes situation is ignoring thousands of active violations of store rules, intellectual property, and just common decency, to nail a big-name tile without warning for a questionable violation.

Take down without warning or any upfront notice was the biggest problem here. Good that Threes is back.

Dropbox for iOS to get document editing functionality

New Dropbox app for iOS announced on their blog along with highlights for future versions:

In the next few weeks we’ll be adding the ability to create Microsoft Office docs right from the Dropbox iPhone and iPad apps, so you won’t have to wait until you’re at your computer to start a project or write down notes. The Word, Excel, or Powerpoint file you create will be saved into whatever Dropbox folder you were in when you tapped ‘Create document,’ so you can access it on any of your other devices or on the web.

This looks a lot like Google Drive's document creation/editing functionality, but for Dropbox it feels a little bit over the top. For many (myself included) Dropbox is desktop-first mobile-second service. It is nice to be able to access my files from anywhere and document previews come in very handy on mobile, but editing – not so much.

This scenario

The best part, though, is how these features work together. For example, when you’re meeting with a client to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project, you can use the recents tab on your iPhone or iPad to quickly pull up your last project for reference. Then you can create a Word doc to take notes as you discuss. After the meeting, you can @mention your client in a comment, so they have the notes and can add anything you’ve missed. Then when you get back to your desk, you can turn that Word doc into a full project plan.

sounds compelling, but the difficulty is in making users to remember to go to Dropbox app, when they want to quicky start taking notes. Firing something like Byword or iA Writer, which open with a new document ready to take your input, and saving it to Dropbox after the meeting is a lot more natural.

Open-source clone of MineCraft

TrueCraft – clean-room implementation of Minecraft with a nostalgic sentiment:

I miss the old days of Minecraft, when it was a simple game. It was nearly perfect. Most of what Mojang has added since beta 1.7.3 is fluff, life support for a game that was “done” years ago. This is my attempt to get back to the original spirit of Minecraft, before there were things like the End, or all-in-one redstone devices, or village gift shops. A simple sandbox where you can build and explore and fight with your friends. I miss that.

Looks like it is not uncommon these days to create new applications as clones of some older apps, but with less features.

Windows 10 can run reworked Android and iOS apps

Microsoft’s pitch to developers is to bring their code across without many changes, and then eventually leverage the capabilities of Windows like Cortana, Xbox Live, Holograms, Live Tiles, and more. Microsoft has been testing its new tools with some key developers like King, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, to get games ported across to Windows. Candy Crush Saga as it exists today on Windows Phone has been converted from iOS code using Microsoft’s tools without many modifications.

From developer's perspective difference between "no changes" and "not many changes" is huge (much more than that between "not many changes" and "many changes"). Any change required to provide compatibility with new platform means commitment and additional support costs for developer. Will be curious to see if this helps to bring developers' attention to Windows 10 platform.

EverCam Goes Open Source

Evercam is a commercial software company. We’ve decided to open source all of our code because we believe it is the best way to achieve our goal: To build the best camera management software in the world.

Will be interesting to see how it goes.

Adobe rolls out next version of Lightroom

Adobe has announced new standalone and Creative Cloud versions of its image management and Raw conversion software, Lightroom. The latest versions gain simple HDR and Panorama merging tools that create 16-bit DNG files from the merged results. Also added is the ability to paint-out regions of gradient filters, to allow more flexible overlays.

Many have worried that new Ligthroom 6 will only come with Creative Cloud subscription. Not this time. Standalone version with perpetual license is also available. Although, to tell you the truth, it is really buried on the site.