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Ready for another hint on my secret new iPhone app?
How about this highly-masked screenshot:
And another non-pixelated one:
I thought I'd drop another hint about my forthcoming iPhone app.
Here's a masked screenshot of one of its main views... can you make anything out?
Oh alright, one more... and not pixelated this time. Here's the Edit Location view:
Any ideas what the app does?!
Not too long to wait; it should be released within a few weeks. But if you can't wait that long, I'm adding a few more beta testers: apply now if you'd like to try it before release, and get a free copy if you provide helpful feedback.
Narrator, my fun application to read out stories and interviews in multiple voices, has been updated to version 2.0.7.
This is a minor bug-fix update to correct an issue with looking up licenses in certain situations, but is recommended for everyone.
I hinted before about my secret iPhone app, which is very near to being ready for release.
I was planning on distributing it as a free app with In App Purchase to upgrade to full functionality, as I discussed a while back.
But I've been rethinking that of late; while I really like the idea of In App Purchase (IAP), I don't think it really works in its current form. Many developers have reported that when they try free+IAP, they get lots of 1-star ratings via rate-on-delete from people who download the free app then delete it without really trying it. Plus they get lots of negative reviews from free downloaders who don't understand the concept of IAP and expect something for nothing.
I'm thinking that until Apple fixes this by removing the horrible rate-on-delete feature, and perhaps educates users more about IAP, this won't be a feasible distribution mechanism for demo-style purchases.
So, that leaves me with two options:
I've done both variations (Valentines and SmileDial Lite & Pro), and neither was ideal. With option 1, people can't try the app to see if they want it, though apps are cheap enough that it isn't too much of a gamble to just buy. Whereas with option 2 people can try the free edition, but they have to re-enter their info if they switch to the Pro one, and I have to maintain two releases.
I'm currently leaning towards option 1: just release it as a paid app. Then maybe in the future I could add a free Lite edition, and perhaps offer IAP in that edition if there seems demand for it.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments or privately via my contact page.
Time Out, my free tool to remind you to take regular breaks, has been updated to version 1.5.6.
This is minor release that makes the break screen now still appear if the Time Out application is hidden.
Apologies to everyone who has been waiting for the promised Time Out version 2. It is still in the works, but has been delayed due work on IPhone apps. My secret new iPhone app is almost ready for release... but then I'll be doing an update to it for iPad compatibility, then I have a Simon update (version 2.6)... then I'll be ready to work on Time Out 2. So yes, it's still coming this year. I'm looking forward to getting back to it.
With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought I'd point out an iPhone app I wrote for this very occasion: Valentines.
Valentines enables you to create any number of fun Valentine messages with your own text and a photo within a heart-shaped frame. The photo will have a slightly pink tint — see the world through rose-colored glasses. :) You and your valentine can view it on your iPhone or iPod touch, or you can save it to your photo library:
Flipping over, you can edit the message and choose an existing photo from your library or take one with the iPhone's camera:
You can also display a list of all valentines, and add new ones, rearrange their order, or delete them:
Valentines is available on the App Store for just $0.99. Check it out!
I've just done bug-fix updates to a couple of my Mac apps. Caboodle, my lean clean snippet machine, was updated (actually late last week) to version 1.3.5. And BlogAssist, my handy HTML markup tool, was updated to version 2.2.4.
Both of them included a fix for an issue with looking up licenses in certain situations. BlogAssist also enhanced the application icon to 512x512 size, for ideal viewing on Snow Leopard. (Caboodle's icon was updated to 512x512 in the previous update.)
I thought I'd drop a hint about my secret new iPhone app, coming to the App Store in a few weeks. I have hinted a little about it via Twitter (@dejal), usually referring to it as [DEJALDACTED], a play on the "redacted" label often applied to new iPhone technologies covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements.
This app has been in development for about six months, part-time (around Dejal support, other app updates, and contract work). I'm still not ready to announce the app, but it won't be too much longer. The initial version will be for the iPhone and iPod touch. I also plan to add native support for the iPad, leveraging the larger screen, once it is available.
The app is currently being tested by a small group of beta testers. I will soon begin accepting a few more people into this elite beta group, to get some fresh perspectives and more testing. If you're interested, you can apply to become a Dejal beta tester.
Here's a little teaser of part of the app's icon:
Last week I posted some predictions on Apple's forthcoming tablet device. I knew that I'd get some of it wrong, but felt fairly confident that I would get some things right. Let's see how I did!
Name: I think that "iTablet" is probably the most likely name, though I'd prefer simply "Tablet". "iSlate" is a popular idea, which could also work. I also like Cabel Sasser's idea of "Canvas". I doubt it'd be called "iPad" as some have suggested, as that is too close to "iPod" and would cause confusion.
Well, I was wrong on the name. I still think "iPad" is too close to "iPod", but I'm sure people will get used to carefully enunciating the device name. I don't dislike the name, other than that issue, though.
Form factor: I would expect a rectangular slab with slightly rounded corners, much like the iPhone. It would likely have a aluminum unibody back, to provide rigidity for the screen.
Yes, it has a form factor much like the iPhone, though a larger bezel around the screen than I would have expected. I haven't seen definitive info about the case material, but it sure looks like an aluminum unibody to me.
Screen: The rumors seem pretty set on a 10" color touch-screen display, and that seems entirely reasonable. That would be a good size for watching media, reading books, browsing websites, and other activities. I would expect it to be much the same as the iPhone's, with a glass front, though that'd add quite a lot fo weight. I wouldn't want to them compromise on a plastic screen, though.
Yes, it's a glass touch screen. It's actually 9.7", which is close enough. The pixel resolution is 1024 x 768 at 132 ppi, compared to iPhone's 480 x 320 at 163 ppi. Interesting that the resolution is lower, but I guess that makes sense, since you might hold it slightly further away than a phone.
Buttons: I'd expect it to have just a Home button like the iPhone, and probably a volume control and power button on the sides, again like the iPhone.
Correct: Home button, mute & volume control on the right side, and power button on top.
Connectors: A recent rumor is that the tablet will have two dock connectors (one one a short edge and one on a long edge). This makes sense, so you can dock it in either orientation. I wouldn't be surprised if it came with a more substantial dock than iPhones, to prop it up at a comfortable angle for watching movies etc, and provide support for using the device while docked. I wouldn't expect any other connectors.
Only one dock connector (unfortunately), so the iPad can only be docked in the portrait orientation. Can't believe I forgot to mention a headphone jack, though. Plus it has a built-in microphone and speakers, of course.
The dock is more substantial, plus there's a welcome addition of a dock with a built-in keyboard.
Connectivity: It'll definitely have wi-fi, and almost certainly Bluetooth connectivity. I would like an optional 3G connection as well — one device model that can be used with or without a 3G contract. I would see the tablet as most useful around the house, so I wouldn't want a mandatory 3G contract, but I can see that some people (e.g. real estate agents) would benefit from a 3G connection.
Yes, wi-fi and Bluetooth. A pleasant improvement that it supports connecting Apple's wireless keyboard via Bluetooth, too (which I think would be a better option than the keyboard dock).
The 3G connection is indeed optional, via separate models (for an extra $130). I'm very pleased about that, though the price difference seems a little high.
Sensors: The device will definitely include an accelerometer for rotation, and may include other sensors. Probably not the proximity sensor, though, since people won't be bringing the tablet to their face!
That all seems accurate. I forgot to mention the ambient light sensor, which it does still have.
It also has a digital compass, like the 3GS, though interestingly only has "assisted" GPS in the 3G model. I guess WiFi-based location would probably be accurate enough for the WiFi-only model (e.g. when taking it to a coffee shop with WiFi access).
Camera: I would expect a front-facing camera for chatting. Probably a higher resolution than the existing one in iPhones.
I was wrong on this one; there's no sign of a camera. I think that's a mistake, but perhaps one that will be addressed in a future model.
Keyboard: It will have a software-based keyboard. A 10" screen wouldn't fit a full-sized keyboard, but it'd be bigger than the iPhone's, so could be typed on with 10 fingers if you're so inclined. Having originally learnt to type on a ZX81 membrane keyboard that would be about the same size as the tablet's I know it's entirely possible to type just fine on such a size (and a smooth surface). One thing I'd like would be for the keyboard to be scaleable: pinch it to resize the keyboard to expose more or less of the app window. It'd also be nice if they supported a Bluetooth-connected keyboard (and hid the on-screen keyboard in such cases), though that would definitely be optional, and I think it not entirely likely.
Yes indeed, a software-based keyboard. The intro video showed people 10-finger typing on it. Looks like the keyboard might be more flexible than on the iPhone, with more customized buttons, though no sign of a scalable keyboard option.
But yes, they do support a Bluetooth keyboard. I'm confident that the OS will be smart enough to hide the on-screen keyboard when a Bluetooth or dock keyboard is in use.
Storage: I'd expect it to come in a couple of storage capacity sizes, probably 32 GB and 64 GB. Still built-in flash memory like the iPhone.
Yes, 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models.
Operating system: I expect the tablet to use a variation of the iPhone OS. I wouldn't be surprised if it uses iPhone OS 4.0, i.e. so the iPhone and tablet share the same OS (with device-specific features, just like between the iPhone and iPod touch). If so, I'd expect Apple to rename it as "Touch OS" or similar... which they should have done with the intro of the iPod touch anyway.
There were a lot of people expecting a full Mac OS, or a new OS X-based OS. But as I predicted, it's just the next generation of the iPhone OS. Looks like they're sticking with that name, though. Apple seems to get overly attached to names, even when they're increasing inaccurate — look at iTunes for example. Hardly all about music anymore!
Multitasking: With the larger screen and no doubt faster processor and more RAM, I'd expect the OS to support multitasking — allowing it to run multiple apps at the same time. There might be an easy way to switch running apps (e.g. press the Home button to flip through them), or it might be more transparent, simply not quitting apps when you go Home.
No sign of multitasking, unfortunately. (Though I haven't seen the SDK yet.) The OS does seem to use multiple windows within an app now, though, based on what I saw during the intro.
iPhone apps: Existing iPhone apps will probably be supported, launching into a window the same size as the iPhone screen for compatibility, perhaps with the ability to resize the window.
Very happy to be right about this one. I like the little "1x" / "2x" buttons to scale iPhone apps up to (mostly) fill the screen.
Other apps: No doubt Apple will bundle the device with new and updated apps written to leverage the larger screen. For example, the iPod and YouTube apps would play videos full-screen. There have been rumors of iWork for the tablet, which seems possible (and certainly welcome), though maybe not entirely likely.
iWork was indeed a correct rumor, and looks very nice. I'm pretty comfortable with the $9.99 price for each app, too; better than giving them away, and setting a more reasonable price than the average "ringtone" app on the App Store. I would hope that app developers will treat the more work for iPad apps as an opportunity to set more realistic prices. But we'll see.
Price: I've heard various prices suggested, as high as $1,000, but most people seem to think that $700 is the maximum it could go for. I'd hope for something around that range, or less if they can swing it. Like the iPhone, I'd expect the initial release to be priced fairly high, and for the price to drop later.
The prices did turn out to be around that range. Six models, from $499 for the base 16 GB WiFi-only model, up to $829 for the 64 GB WiFI + 3G model.
Availability: I expect Apple to announce it on Wednesday, and perhaps make a beta release of the developer SDK available at that time. It might be available for pre-order at that time, too. The tablet release will probably be around April, I would guess. Some people say March, but I don't think that would give developers enough time to update their apps or write new apps for the tablet. I wouldn't be surprised by a June release date, along with a new iPhone model and OS update for existing devices.
The developer SDK is indeed available today (I haven't had a look at it yet, but will do so shortly). The iPad isn't available for pre-order yet, but there's a form on Apple's site that implies it will be before long. The release date appears to be late March for the WiFi-only models, and April for the WiFI + 3G models.
How'd I do? Not too bad; more of my predictions were correct than incorrect. Better than a lot of people's wild notions, anyway. :)
So will I buy an iPad? Without a doubt. Which one? Probably the 64 GB WiFi-only model ($699). As I said, I don't see much use for 3G coverage for my needs, so the extra cost of a 3G model, plus the ongoing monthly costs, don't really make sense for me. But I'm glad Apple has the option for those who need it.
I can't wait to get my hands on one!
Inspirational video. "What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship," says bestselling author Seth Godin, arguing that we must quiet our fearful "lizard brains" to avoid sabotaging projects just before we finally finish them.
20% of Mac Bundle Box purchases will be donated to the American Red Cross for Haiti disaster relief.
I thought I'd indulge in a little punditry regarding the rumored Apple tablet device, expected to be announced at the Apple event next Wednesday. This is just based on rumors I've read and my own thoughts; I don't have any inside knowledge.
That's all I can think of at the moment. It'll certainly be interesting to see how far off I am when the event rolls around. Apple has a great capacity to surprise us — nobody could have predicted how great the iPhone would be before it was released, and I don't expect to be disappointed with the tablet.
What features would it need for me to buy one? Just one: existence. As soon as Apple announces a tablet for pre-ordering, you can bet I'll be breaking out my credit card. Even if the tablet isn't a life-changing device like the iPhone, which I expect it to be, I'll want one so I can develop for it.
Yesterday around 150 independent Mac and iPhone developers participated in Indie+Relief. These developers pledged to donate proceeds of all yesterday's sales to a charity of their choice for Haiti relief efforts.
This event was organized by Justin Williams of Second Gear Software. It started off as an idea for himself, and he shared it with people on Twitter, and the idea spread. Soon, he was gathering information from other developers and setting up a website, with the design help of Garrett Murray. What started as a simple idea for himself grew into a major fundraising effort involving hundreds of applications.
I was more than happy to join in, and am pleased to be able to report sales totalling $1,350 yesterday (which is definitely more than a typical day!).
Furthermore, my wife's corporate overlords have a program of matching charitable donations, so that will bring the total up to $2,700.
It'll probably take a few days to get a total from all developers participating in Indie+Relief, but it sounds like more than $100,000 has been raised.
A very big thank you to everyone who participated, and especially to the many kind people who purchased Dejal products yesterday. I got emails from a few people saying that they had been thinking about buying Simon, and decided to buy the Enterprise license as a way to help donate to Haiti.
If you missed this event, not to worry — you can still make donations to the charity of your choice. I recommend Mercy Corps, but Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross and others are also excellent choices.
Finally, Narrator is currently in the Mac Bundle Box promotion. The bundle organizer will be donating 20% of all proceeds from this bundle to the Red Cross. So you can still donate while getting great software.
As you no doubt know, Haiti recently suffered a disastrous earthquake, with at least 200,000 dead as of the latest official report.
Many people have been reaching out to offer support and donations to reputable charity organizations.
The Mac and iPhone independent developer community have come together to do their part. Almost 150 independent developers have declared that they will donate the proceeds of software sales on January 20 (tomorrow) to worthy charities of their choice.
I am participating in this. All proceeds from Dejal Mac app sales on this day will be donated to Mercy Corps for Haiti relief efforts.
If you've been thinking about buying a Dejal Mac app, please buy on the 20th so your purchase helps those in need.
For more information about the Indie+Relief effort, see the website. Take a look at the hundreds of other great apps available from generous independent developers. As the banner says, you get great software, Haiti gets financial help.
I hope you enjoyed these posts.
Dejal has been around since 1991, but has gone through a number of changes over the years. In the first decade, from 1991 to 2001, I wrote applications and system extensions (FKEYs etc) for Mac OS 9 and earlier. These are still available on the Classic Products pages.
In 2001 my wife and I moved from New Zealand to the US, and of course my business moved with us.
In 2002 I formally set up the company as "Dejal Systems, LLC", and started writing applications for the then-new Mac OS X operating system. The first such app was Narrator, a fun app to read stories in multiple voices. Later in 2002, the first version of Simon was released: my server and website monitoring tool. (News from 2002.)
In 2003 I started a Mac OS X version of QuickEncrypt, an encryption tool that had been fairly popular under Mac OS 9, though as it turned out it got sidelined by other projects, mainly due to lack of customer interest. I also released the first version of Time Out, a useful (and free) break reminder tool, and BlogAssist, a HTML markup tool... which was also free initially. And finally, I introduced Caboodle, my handy snippet keeper app, also as freeware initially. A busy year for new apps! (News from 2003.)
In 2004 a third-party product that I was working on as a contract programmer was released: MindFortress. The client saw Caboodle and wanted something similar with their spin on it. It was a popular inspiration: the makers of iData wanted help with rewriting their product, so I did that as a contractor, too. I also decided to give away the old Classic products this year, and introduced yet another new app, Macfilink, an affiliate link cloaking tool, written as a joint venture with an Australian friend. My various existing apps were also updated. (News from 2004.)
In 2005 I rolled out a major website redesign, including adding a RSS feed for news. Several apps were updated, including Time Out to version 1.3.2, Caboodle to 1.0b3 (still not in general release!), and most notably a major upgrade of Simon to version 2.0 then 2.1. (News from 2005.)
In 2006 I started sponsoring the great Joy of Tech web comic, which has been renewed each year since. Various apps were updated, most notably a major upgrade of BlogAssist to version 2.0, where it became a paid product, and Caboodle finally reached a 1.0 general release. I also introduced the Dejal Blog and Dejal Forums, and redesigned the Dejal logo to its current form. (News from 2006.)
In 2007 I made a number of website improvements, including an improved design and nicer Dejal Store pages. I also started tweeting (@dejal), posted lots of blog posts, and of course did a number of app updates.
In 2008 I rewrote Narrator from scratch to use the latest technologies, and released as version 2.0, along with the usual batch of app updates and blog posts. I also branched out into iPhone app development with my first app for that platform, SmileDial, a handy and fun app to text or call people by touching their face: touch their eyes to have them read a text message, or touch their mouth to speak to them.
In 2009 I continued the blog posts and app updates, as usual. I also introduced two new apps: a free Mac app called FinderFront to bring all Finder windows to the front when you click the desktop, and an iPhone app called Valentines to celebrate Valentine's Day with heart-shaped photos and messages. I also added iPhone optimization to the website. Plus I spent a few months working on a secret new iPhone app, which I've hinted at on Twitter as [DEJALDACTED].
So what's in store for 2010 and the next decade? Firstly, the aforementioned new iPhone app. That'll be an exciting release. After that, I'll work on version 2.6 of Simon, and Time Out version 2, which was designed and started quite a while ago, but has been pushed back... but no more. After that, I have big plans for updates to my other apps.
Other than the [DEJALDACTED] iPhone app release, I see 2010 as returning my focus to my Mac apps. 2011 and beyond... who knows. Maybe I'll work on apps for Apple's rumored tablet, or more iPhone apps, or new Mac apps... or more likely a combination of all those (and updates to the existing apps, of course). The focus will depend in large part on feedback from customers like you.
Regardless, it'll certainly be fun to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Dejal in 2011!
Time for my traditional list of the cities I spent one or more nights in during 2009:
Portland, OR (home)
Cannon Beach, OR
Seattle, WA (twice)
Just one air travel trip this year, to DC for the lighting ceremony of the National Christmas Tree, Capitol tour, White House tour, and memorial and Smithsonian exploring. An enjoyable trip, though my wife and I both came home with colds that took us out for the next couple of weeks.
We're still hoping to get back to New Zealand for a visit around Christmas time, this year. We really have to make it this time, to help scatter my father's ashes.
I included a photo of my home office in a previous post, "There's no place like home":
I thought I'd explore it for those who are interested.
Not visible is another desk to my right, which holds a paperwork organizer, drawers of cables, a HP OfficeJet print/scan/fax machine, etc.
So that's my world. :)
I know that a lot of people will be going away or not thinking about software over the next week or two, but I'll continue to keep an eye on the Dejal Forums and support queries. So if you have any questions, let me know.
As my gift of the season to you, I've just added an automatic coupon "JOYTOALL" on the Dejal Store — everyone gets discounts on all my Mac apps till the end of 2009!
Visit the Dejal Store to share the joy.
I hope everyone has a pleasant and safe holiday season.
As a followup to a post of a few months ago, "I'm an introvert, and I'm okay", I thought I'd talk about my work situation.
I work from home, and I like it. A lot.
I run Dejal from my home office:
There are of course the obvious commuting advantages: literally just a few steps to get to work; no wasted hours sitting in a car or other transport; no costs of said transport, eating out for lunch and similar expenses. And I can claim home office expenses. It is also very handy to always be home when service people arrive, or I need to sign for deliveries, etc.
This is not a lifestyle for everyone, though. Going back to that previous post, extroverts would find it draining to be working alone, hardly ever needing to leave the house. I know that many people who can work from home choose to instead work at a coffee shop or rent an office space, for the social interaction. But for me, I thrive on alone time, and have no problem with not leaving the house for days.
Not that I'm really alone most of the time. My wife, Jennifer, also works from home almost every weekday. She works for a big corporation, and has a cubicle at the office, but is able to telecommute, and most days does so. Fortunately, she is also an introvert, and we each have our own home offices.
For those that can swing it, by way of vocation and temperament, there's no place like home.