smiledial

Dejal site tweaks

The eagle-eyed may notice a few subtle changes when visiting the Dejal website.

Over the last few days I changed the website header to merge the old Mac, iPad, and iPhone header items into a single Apps one, which gave room to move the search field from the bottom of the page up to the top.

I've been wanting to merge the platform headers into one for a while, as they didn't really make much sense anymore. Sure, I still write apps for Mac, iPad and iPhone devices, but I also have an Apple Watch app for Pack (my handy packing list app), and I only have one app for iPad currently (Tweeps, a Twitter account manager), so it hardly needs its own list.

Moving the search field is something I've thought about for a while, too. It was at the bottom of the page (above the site map links) for many years, but many people didn't notice it there, so couldn't find what they were looking for. The Dejal site is quite extensive, with several apps, blog posts, forum discussions, FAQ answers, developer pages, and more, so finding something specific can sometimes be tricky, especially if its a forum post from years ago. So moving the search field to the top should make it much more discoverable and useful.

I actually had two different search fields before: some of the the Dejal site is powered by custom PHP (primarily the product pages), which used to use a Google-powered search, and some is powered by the Drupal CMS (the blog, forums, etc), which has its own search mechanism. But now they are unified: searching via the search field at the top of every page will use Google to search the entire site, and on the search results page there is a link to instead limit the search to the blog, forums and FAQ, which uses the Drupal-powered search (and offers an advanced search function).

Currently there are Google ads on the search results (that I don't get any money for; it's a cost of using their free site search). If the feature is used enough I'll pay the $100/year to remove them, but I'll wait to see if people actually use the search more, now that it's more prominent.

Out with the old:

Old website headers

In with the new:

Old website headers

While I was at it, I did some other changes, e.g. replacing "Dejal Mac Apps" with "Dejal macOS Apps", and a few minor style changes and tweaks.

In other news, Apple is working through its back-catalog of apps that haven't been updated for years, and asking developers to update or remove them (or they will remove them after 30 days). This is a very worthwhile project; too much of the App Store is ancient junk that no longer works, or looks ugly on modern iOS versions.

I was affected by this: a few years ago I had discontinued two of my apps (well, technically three, one having Pro and Lite editions): SmileDial and Valentines. They were still included on the App Store for anyone who had old devices or didn't mind that they weren't being updated anymore. But with Apple's clean-out, it was time to remove them. So they are no longer available. I'll keep their product pages around indefinitely, though, for historical reference.

SmileDial & Valentines discontinued

I don't like to discontinue apps, but sometimes it's necessary, or just a matter of accepting the inevitable.

My first two iPhone apps, SmileDial (written in 2008) and Valentines (written in 2009) haven't been updated for years. They did what they were designed to do, so didn't really need updates. Though to be frank, they never made much money or had many downloads, so I simply couldn't justify the time to update them.

I haven't even run them myself in ages, but I assume they still work, albeit not using the modern appearance and screen sizes.

So today I officially discontinued them, and made them free on the App Store. I'm not going to remove them from there or my site: if you find them useful, you're welcome to download and use them at no cost. Just be aware that they won't get any updates, and I can't really provide any support for them (though if you ask, I'll certainly try to answer).

App Store Reviews Now Distinguish Versions

TidBITS just published an article discussing how App Store Reviews Now Distinguish Versions. A recommended read.

I was quoted for this article. My full comment was:

I think that is a most welcome enhancement. Often, reviews mention deficiencies that are addressed in subsequent versions, but without a version number (and to a lesser extent, a date), potential customers have no real way of knowing if that comment is still relevant. For example, for my SmileDial Pro app, I had two reviews for version 1.0 saying it was a little slow to navigate, so I addressed that in version 1.1. Now, it is clear that those issues were with an older version.

(You can check out SmileDial via its product page.)

SmileDial Pro special price ending soon

When I released the version 1.1 update to SmileDial Pro, my fun iPhone app to call or text your favorite people, I also reduced the price from $3.99 to $1.99.

This was a temporary experiment, to see what would happen — would the reduced price be offset by increased sales volume? That has not eventuated; sales stayed about the same. So next week I'll be raising the price back to $3.99.

There has been much discussion on the intertubes recently about iPhone app pricing. It's recognized by most that $0.99 "ringtone apps" is not a sustainable pricing level for long-term success. While a few developers can make large amounts of money at such price points (mainly for really popular games), for most developers it simply doesn't work.

I am determined to continue supporting and improving my apps, so have to price them accordingly. If an app is too cheap, it doesn't justify the time it takes to improve it. So I can't support $0.99 or $1.99 prices, other than for quick "one day event" apps like Valentines.

Anyway, I thought I'd give notice of the price increase, so if you are considering buying SmileDial Pro, you can still get it at the special discounted price for another few days. Don't delay too long, though!

To learn more about SmileDial Pro, including seeing a video of its features, check out the SmileDial website!

SmileDial 1.1 released

My first iPhone applications, SmileDial Lite and SmileDial Pro, have been updated to version 1.1.

Note: currently as of this writing, SmileDial Lite 1.1 hasn't yet appeared on the App Store, but I expect it soon. SmileDial Pro 1.1 is available.

Version 1.1 adds some new features, along with performance improvements:

  • Added a Settings option to Display Person's Name: if on, the person's name appears at the bottom of their photo. It is on by default.
  • Added a Settings option to Convert Numbers: if on, a number like "1 (800) MY-APPLE" will be converted to the numeric equivalent, "1 (800) 692-7753". This is off by default.
  • If a number from a Contact contains letters (e.g. "1 (800) MY-APPLE"), and isn't converted via the above setting, it is not auto-formatted, to avoid stripping off the letters.
  • Scrolling between multiple people (in the Pro edition) is now faster.
  • Flipping to and from the Edit Person view is now faster.

Check out the SmileDial website for more information, including a movie demoing the main features (though it hasn't been updated for version 1.1 yet). You can see some of the new features in the screenshots. You can also find links to the App Store on those pages.

Sneak peek: Valentines for iPhone

I've just submitted my second iPhone app to the App Store... well, really my third, since SmileDial Lite and SmileDial Pro are separate apps.

Introducing Valentines, a fun app to help celebrate Valentine's Day. It is currently in review by Apple, but hopefully will be available on the App Store before Valentine's Day itself!

You can get a sneak peek of this new app on the Valentines website. It enables you to create one or more Valentine messages with custom text and a photo within a heart-shaped frame. You can tap a camera button to save the result to your photo library, or just show them to your valentine on your iPhone:

Flipping over, you can edit the message and choose an existing photo from your library or take one with the iPhone's camera:

Valentines will be available on the App Store for just $0.99. Since it's so simple and cheap, there's only one edition; no need for a free Lite edition to evaluate.

Speaking of SmileDial, I recently also submitted version 1.1 of both editions, which includes some much-requested improvements. They should also be available shortly.

SmileDial demo video added

I've just added a demo video to the SmileDial site, that goes through most of the functionality in SmileDial Pro (SmileDial Lite is very similar, but without the multiple-people features and the shake-for-contact-info feature).

I recorded the video using the excellent ScreenFlow application, recording SmileDial Pro running in the iPhone Simulator. Then I tidied it up a bit to remove lengthy hesitations in my interaction (but the speed of the app isn't changed). I had to fake displaying the contact info via a shake, since the simulator can't do that; ScreenFlow's animation ability helped with that, moving a static image of the contact info into view and out again in almost exactly the same way it appears in reality. I also inserted static images to simulate making a call and creating a text message. And I replaced the status bar with static images (black and white ones) to avoid distracting clock jumps in my edits and when looping.

It turned out that ScreenFlow refused to export the portrait orientation as .m4v video without stretching it, so I exported it in Lossless format then used QuickTime Pro to convert to .m4v, which can be played both on desktop machines and the iPhone. The movie auto-plays inline on the Mac, and plays on command full-screen on the iPhone, for the genuine experience.

For fun and a better context, I embedded it in an iPhone frame on the page. I also added some more screenshots.

Check out the SmileDial site to watch the video. As always, feedback welcome!

Introducing SmileDial for the iPhone

SmileDial Pro and SmileDial Lite are now both available on the iPhone App Store. Here's a product-page-as-blog-post description of both editions:


Call someone by touching their smile, or send them a text message by touching their eyes! Not as creepy as that sounds, really! SmileDial displays a photo of someone's face: tap the top half of the photo to send them a text message, or the bottom half to call them.

One or More People

SmileDial Lite helps you call and text your favorite person. SmileDial Pro extends this to multiple people: swipe through multiple faces to choose the one you want. SmileDial Pro also enables you to call them via other phone numbers, send an email, visit their website, map their address, and more, in a fun way: shake the iPhone to show more contact information.

A tap of the Add Contact button flips the photo over to reveal fields to edit the name and numbers for text messaging and phone calls, plus buttons to show the contact info and change the photo.

Use Contacts... or Don't

[Choose contact]When you first use SmileDial, it automatically flips so you can specify a person. You can simply enter a name and numbers and choose a photo. Or you can pick an existing contact, via the Choose a Contact button or the Add Contact button in the name field. This will ask for a person and, if the they have multiple numbers, which one to use.

If the chosen contact has a nickname, that is used for the name. You can change the name and numbers as desired, too; the original contact won't be altered. After providing one of the numbers, it is automatically copied to the other if blank.

Photogenic

[Edit photo]A contact's photo is used for SmileDial, if available. It is previewed in the background of the edit mode. You can also choose another photo: an existing one from the Camera Roll or Photo Library, or take a new photo with the iPhone camera. The photo can be moved and scaled as desired, e.g. to show just the person's face. The new photo is stored in the Camera Roll, so you can import it into iPhoto or use it elsewhere if desired. And again it doesn't alter the contact record, so you're free to have fun with it.

Versatile Numbers

If you want to use a different number, simply tap it to edit. It is automatically formatted. This formatting can be disabled via the Settings app if desired. You can also choose a different number from the contact info: simply clear the field then tap the Add Contact button to reveal the available numbers of the contact.

Change Person, or Add More People

[Add person]

Once a contact has been specified, the Choose a Contact button becomes Show Contact Info. Tap this button to access the full contact information.

If you want to change the person used for SmileDial, you can clear the name and tap the Add Contact button to choose a different contact. But for SmileDial Pro, you have another option: add a new person.

SmileDial Pro includes a People button while editing. Tap it to display a list of people in the order they appear on SmileDial's main side. You can change the order, delete them, or add any number of new ones.

Here to Help

[Welcome hint]SmileDial includes helpful hints at the bottom of the screen while editing, plus an introductory hint when you first flip back to the main side. This hint can be shown again via the Settings if desired. The About screen includes convenient buttons to access the Dejal website, too... in fact you can tap any of the displayed information to view related pages, e.g. the version number to go straight to the release notes.

Try It Now!

SmileDial Lite is available completely free! SmileDial Pro is provided with "sustainable pricing": an inexpensive price that will enable planned updates for both editions. SmileDial is not "abandonware". Dejal is a long-established independent Mac software company, now expanding into iPhone software (which uses much the same Cocoa technology).

Dejal has a reputation for prompt and friendly support. Check out the SmileDial Forum for assistance from the developer and other customers, to suggest new features or enhancements, or provide other feedback.

Introducing SmileDial Lite for the iPhone

Today marks the official release of SmileDial Lite, the free edition of SmileDial. This is my first iPhone app... the first of several planned ones.

SmileDial Lite is a simple app. Once configured, it shows your favorite person's face when you launch it, and you touch their smile to call them, or their eyes to create a text message to them. (Get it... talk with the mouth, read with the eyes.)

You flip the photo over to configure (it auto-flips on first launch). Here you can specify the name and numbers to use for text messages and phone calls. You can also display more contact information, and change the photo.

SmileDial Lite is completely free. Check out the SmileDial site for more information, or the iPhone App Store to download it:

SmileDial Pro is currently in review at Apple, and should hopefully be available soon. See the SmileDial Features page for a comparison of the two editions.

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