My iPhone AppsJuly 19th, 2008
Since Apple opened the floodgates to the AppStore for iPhone and iPod touch, the amount of anticipatory feedback I am getting from customers has exploded. Not a day goes by without messages from hopeful customers asking if and when my applications will be available for the iPhone. In particular, Black Ink and MarsEdit.
Will I release versions of these applications for the iPhone? Most certainly. Without a doubt. When? That’s a bit tougher to answer. I want to release these applications as soon as I possibly can, but no sooner. That is, I don’t think it would be fair to the public or good for my reputation to release premature applications, so I’m taking “my sweet time” to be sure I’m at least satisfied that they are good, reliable 1.0 releases before I go public with them. Stay tuned!
In The Mean Time
So what is an anxious customer to do in the mean time? I appreciate that iPhone users find it extremely frustrating to imagine what powerful aides their devices could be to them, if only they had the right software. While I do expect that, in time, there will be no better way to blog or solves crossword puzzles on this device than with my software, there is other software that is worth mentioning.
Waiting For MarsEdit
In the blogging department, WordPress users at least should have something to tide them over soon. Matt Mullenweg has announced a native WordPress client, which is apparently complete and submitted to Apple. They’re just waiting for it to go live on the store. Since we can’t try it out yet, I can’t exactly vouch for it, but I hope it will be a step up from navigating the web interface from the phone!
The folks over at Six Apart have also released a native iPhone blogging client, but unfortunately it only works with their paid TypePad service, so it won’t be of much help unless you happen to subscribe to that service.
Waiting For Black Ink
The allure of crosswords on the iPhone must be pretty obvious, because there are already two applications available for downloading and solving puzzles, and they’re pretty good! I have enjoyed buying these applications and seeing how other developers have tackled the problem of displaying a crossword puzzle while also leaving enough room for the user to type in the answers.
The first, simply called “Crosswords,” was developed by my friend Ben Gottlieb, of Standalone, Inc.
Notice how they’ve developed a completely custom keyboard, which aside form sporting a monochromatic look, is also significantly smaller than the default keyboard. This leaves more room to show the puzzle content. The high quality of the custom artwork makes the application shine, although it’s clear the puzzle rendering itself could be a bit cleaner.
The other application, called “2 Across,” comes to us from developer Eliza Block.
Notice that she uses the default keyboard, but provides an extremely zoomable puzzle display that exudes quality. The rendering is extremely sharp and the touch responsiveness is immediate. I also like how she animates the puzzle when you select a square, so that the word is as visible as possible within the confines of the display.
Back To Work
It would have been a great joy to have my applications in the App Store on day one, but looking on the bright side, it will be somewhat easier to finish developing them and to release them in a known context. It’s becoming clearer by the day what people are looking for in the store, and the wealth of applications makes it easier to experience what works and what doesn’t work on this new platform.
July 19th, 2008 at 7:19 pm
There is a plugin for Movable Type that produces a Mobile Safari-friendly interface:
I tried it briefly and found that it worked well enough, although I dumped Movable Type in favor of WordPress immediately thereafter. ;-)
July 20th, 2008 at 3:37 am
It never ceases to amaze me how generous Mac software developers are towards their own competition. It makes the whole experience of buying software for OS X that much more pleasant.
July 21st, 2008 at 12:35 pm
I’m a supporter of being conservative and waiting to release an iPhone application. Your point that it is becoming clearer as to what users want is a good one.
There are many things that still need to be ironed out with the app store. For example, Brent Simmons is working on version 1.0.5 of NetNewsWire but only version 1.0 is currently available through the appStore.
That said, Apple seems to be taking feedback from users quite seriously lately (Changes to spaces and stacks in 10.5.3) and will probably have the AppStore refined in the next 6 months. Although it’s hard to tell what will require refinement and what is just a one time overload of everyone submitting their applications at once.
July 21st, 2008 at 5:50 pm
What’s your take on the WordPress iPhone App in development/review?
It is not a full competitor, but I do see a feature I’d like to have in Mars Edit (Mac and iPhone). Right now there’s no easy way to pull existing content from a blog into Mars Edit.
July 21st, 2008 at 5:53 pm
Jeroen: It’s hard to judge without using it, but I’m looking forward to trying it.
What do you mean when you say you can’t pull existing content into MarsEdit? That’s what the Refresh button does. (Grabs as many older posts as you specify in weblog settings).
July 21st, 2008 at 6:09 pm
I should’ve been more specific, indeed reading exsisting posts works. But reading posted pictures doesn’t.
From what I can tell from the screencast available at the mentioned URL it seems like it reads the pictures present in the uploads folder. Would be a really neat feature.
Imagine posting from an MarsEdit iPhone with some picture, and being able to reuse that picture at a later date from MarsEdit on the desktop without any hassle by selecting it in the media browser.
July 21st, 2008 at 6:12 pm
Aha! Thanks, Jeroen. Yes that is a cool feature indeed, if that’s what is happening. I would LOVE to have access to the existing images on a WordPress server but up to now the API hasn’t supported it.
July 21st, 2008 at 6:16 pm
I just took another look at the screencast, and unfortunately as far as I can tell it’s just pulling images from the iPhone’s internal library, not from the WordPress blog.
It will be a great feature to add one day and among other things that I’m hoping will get accelerated support now that WordPress themselves have a strong incentive to support it for their own app.
July 22nd, 2008 at 11:39 pm
I have taken the WordPress app for a spin and it does what it claims. I like the ability to upload photos, but I agree about accessing the site’s media library. That would be nice.
Still, I will wait (somewhat) patiently for this app.