URL Shorteners In Under Two Minutes

This morning I added the goo.gl URL shortener to Flower Garden, so I thought a quick post with sample code might be helpful for other developers looking to do something similar.

I use the URL shortener in Flower Garden to send bouquets through SMS. Space is limited in a text message, so the message just contains some text explaining what is it and the URL pointing to the bouquet image. (Yes, I would much rather send them through MMS, but Apple isn’t exposing that yet to developers).


In this case, the full URL is http://flowers.snappytouch.com/sms.php?id=949618b4b3c6f3d76e32b45446e238a0 which gets thankfully shortened to http://goo.gl/IV5cq. Continue reading

Analytics For iOS Games

Unlike a lot of console and PC games, most mobile and web games keep evolving over time [1]. It’s up to a game’s designers to ultimately decide how to change and improve the game, but the more data about players’ habits they have, the more informed a decision they’ll be able to make. Having good analytics on iOS games is simply essential these days. Continue reading

The Curious Case of Casey and The Clearly Deterministic Contraptions

As we gear up for Casey’s Contraptions launch on May 19th, this is the first post in a series dealing with different aspects of the game. I’m planning on covering technical aspects like today, but also design and other parts of development.

Casey 640x100

For those of you who have been living under a rock and haven’t seen the Casey’s Contraptions video, go watch it now. I’ll wait. Or even better, here it is. You don’t even have to leave this page:

Continue reading

The Business of iPhone and iPad App Development

Business coverFull disclosure: Apress asked me to review this book and sent me a free copy. I agreed with my usual condition of being able to really say what I thought about the book, good or bad. So here it is.


Great book for someone starting out on iOS development. You would be at a severe disadvantage if you don’t know about most practices described in the book. Single resource for lots of good practices you’d have to pick up from blogs or Twitter otherwise.

In More Detail…

Don’t be fooled by the title. The Business of iPhone and iPad App Development by Dave Wooldridge and Michael Schneider isn’t one of your boss’ stuffy business book. This is a practical, hands on, guide to making a successful iOS app. It assumes you already have an idea and know how to develop it, but it guides you through the steps of focusing the app, designing it so it can be profitable, and releasing it with the best possible chance of becoming a good seller.

You’ve probably heard a dozen stories of developers who create a great app, submit it to the App Store, and then wonder why they only sold a dozen copies. This is the book they need to go along with that great app.

The book roughly follows the development timeline of an app, from the initial concept, design, implementation, testing, and release. At each of the stages, it covers any aspects that can have a significant impact in the sales success of the app. Even though you can read the book cover to cover, the chapters are very well defined, so it’s easy to jump directly to the part that interests you the most.

With Casey’s Contraptions almost ready to submit to Apple, I read with particular interest the chapters on creating prerelease buzz and increasing awareness of the app. Lots of good advice there.

Don’t expect anything groundbreaking though. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or you’ve been hanging out on Twitter with all the iOS developers, you will know most of what the book has to offer. It might still be worth it for a few pearls of wisdom here and there to fill some blind spot. However, the book should be required reading for any new iOS developer. Easily the best $20 you can spend as far as impact in the final app sales.

I usually have no patience for technical books with filler chapters and sections. This book is very good about getting to the point, although it has a few sections that feel a bit out of place in that they’re quite basic and technical (like details of generating provisioning profiles, did we really need that in this book?). All in all, that’s a pretty minor point and easy to get around them.

Delayed Release

Probably my main criticism is that the book doesn’t mention one release technique that I consider to be a requirement for any major launch these days: The delayed launch. As the authors mention several times in the last few chapters, once you submit your app, you have no control over when Apple approves it, so you have to play some guessing games.

Instead, you can delay the release of the app once it has been approved, and set it to a known, fixed date in the future (say, a week from approval). At that point, you can really kick in your PR in high gear, contact media outlets, and, most importantly, send them promo codes for your app, even though it’s not available for sale yet.

The goal is to have all the PR hit on launch day or shortly after. The more you can make that happen, the more successful any PR efforts will be, and the bigger the initial launch (and hopefully the following sales) will be.

All in all, The Business of iPhone and iPad App Development is an easy recommendation for the new iOS developer. Go read it right now before you even think of shipping another app.

All It Needs Is Love

The App Store today is a different beast from the one in early 2009, when iShoot ruled the charts. Look at the top paid games on the App Store today. Actually, don’t worry, I did all the leg work for you. Here they are:

Top paid
What can we tell by looking at those games? I see two clear categories: Games with a strong, established IP (Street Fighter, Sonic), or independent games with a huge amount of polish and style. Continue reading