Beta Release: Black Ink for iOS

June 14th, 2021

Shortly after Apple announced the availability of a public SDK for building iPhone apps, I got to work porting Black Ink, the beloved Mac-based crossword-solving app, to the phone. Here is the first source code commit comment from April, 2008:

changeset:   340:1c1230530532
user:        daniel
date:        Sun Apr 06 23:29:07 2008 +0000
summary:     Very first building blocks for touch based Black Ink.

I spent a good amount of time over the next month or two on the core functionality of the crossword grid, how it would zoom in or out to fit in the relatively tiny iPhone’s screen, etc. I was pretty confident I was going to release it within the year. I think at that time the App Store interface didn’t support completely removing an app from sale, so I just set the release date really far, like a year, into the future. Surely I’d wrap it up and ship before that.

I was walking through Brighton, England with my wife and young baby when I got a notification on my phone. I’d made a sale! Black Ink for iOS was listed for $10, and somebody had bought it. At some point I had put Black Ink on the back burner again and completely spaced out that the inevitable release date had arrived. Unfortunately the app was far from ready for public consumption. It had been approved, sure, but it wasn’t good yet. I scrambled to find a reliable internet source and then logged in as fast as I could to further delay the official release.

And that’s how I left things for about ten years.

Today I am happy to announce that Black Ink for iOS is available as a public beta release via TestFlight. It’s come a long way since 2008, but it’s still not quite ready to call complete. I’ve updated its version number to 2.0 because some of the features are, or will be, more in line with the 2.0 release of its Mac counterpart. Also, I burned the 1.0 version number on that mistaken release a decade ago.

Click here on an iOS device to join the TestFlight beta.

If you decide to give it a try, I welcome your feedback. I plan to tie up a few loose ends and (hopefully for real this time!) ship a public, for-sale release in the near future. I haven’d decided on a pricing structure yet, but in the mean time the beta version is, of course, free for anybody who wishes to test it out.