Why I Have Adopted the Online Journey Planner for Tube Deluxe

There is nothing like direct user feed back, it’s one of the things I love & loathe about the app store. Version 6 of Tube Deluxe has generated a fair few & furious 1 star reviews (and emails) regarding the removal of the offline planner.

I am going to be bringing the offline planner back?

No.

Are you £^&*@!©? insane, can you not read the 1 star reviews?! Continue reading

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Tube Deluxe 6.0! On its way…

The last year of my life has been seriously hectic & app updates have not been as fast as they once were. Understandably some have taken this mean that I have abandoned the app, not true. I have been keeping a great deal going in the back ground such as push notifications & the status system. But that said the map in the current version has become outdated. So if it’s updated maps you want, it’s updated maps you’re going to get – 16 of them.

I am taking Tube Deluxe in a new direction, essentially all the best features of London Travel Deluxe, Tube Deluxe and some new ones are being merged into one single glorious application. I have thought about this for over 5 months, toyed with UI’s, demo code, feature sets and asked what others think. It may not be to everyone’s liking but there are some fundamental changes in version 6… Continue reading

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What on earth have you been up to?

I know…I have been very quiet of late. In short. I had the privilege of embedding myself with the Rightmove crew towards the end of 2011, version 2.0 of their app was the result. Wife & I bought a 130 year old house, have been renovating it & absolutely loving it. This has resulted in some extreme D.I.Y, an extensive power tool collection & new skills learnt.

Tube Deluxe 6 is in the final stages of testing…big changes afoot, more on this next week.

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iOS5: There’s a reason it’s called ‘beta’ software.

7 days ago Apple announced iOS5 & released it to those with an Apple developer account. We now have 1 & 2 star reviews turning up in the app store like this…

2 star review for NextBuses for not working on iOS5

1 star review for Agant's UK Train Times not working in iOS5

I’m not out to demonise individuals, which is why I have blanked out the user names. However, I do want to highlight why leaving reviews like this is utterly misguided and what it means to install beta releases of iOS.

Firstly. The review system is not for leaving bug or support related questions, for example, ‘How do I add a favourite?’ or ‘Your app just crashes’. Users are much better off emailing the developer in question so they can help resolve the problem. By all means if they don’t respond, tell people in reviews. All too often I see support issues in the review system. Developers have no way whatsoever to respond to these, both sides loose out when support problems end up as 1 star reviews. Dev’s get a bad rep & have no idea how to reproduce the problem and the user still has no way to resolve the issue.

Secondly. I can understand users are very eager to get their hands on the latest & greatest iOS shown off at WWDC. So they sign up for developer accounts for £59…with a few clicks, an alternative restore through iTunes, voilà, latest iOS is installed on your shinny iPhone. Problem is, this is beta software and there’s a very good reason it’s called beta software. It’s not finished.

Downloading & installing beta versions of iOS is akin to moving into a near-new house with missing windows, no carpet & some furnishing. In other words, it’s a building site. If you don’t understand this distinction, then you have no business installing it. You may not even be able to roll back to a prior iOS because of the firmware (software written directly to internal chip-sets) updates that will occur. You could brick your phone.

Right now…iOS5 eats battery life, transition animations need optimisation and many applications (including Apple ones) will crash. Through no fault of the developer, some third party apps will not work at all, we are not clairvoyant. There is no point in dev’s releasing fixes for these issues yet because this is just beta 1, there could be 6 or more beta rounds to go. All the while these problems will be ironed out (by Apple, dev’s or both), altered or maybe even others introduced. The end goal of this process is to release a stable iOS, along with working & performant applications that we are all happy with.

Posted in apple, ipad, iPhone, iPod Touch | Tagged | 13 Comments

Tube Deluxe nominated for Appys awards :D

It has been many years since I lined up outside The Carphone Warehouse on Clerkenwell Rd to get my 1st generation iPhone. It sent me down a very successful & enjoyable development path. I have just been told that London Tube Deluxe has been nominated for ‘Best Travel App’ in The Carphone Warehouse Appys awards. Please vote for Tube Deluxe at http://appys.com/award/travel/

Posted in apple, iPhone, iPod Touch, Tube Deluxe | 2 Comments

Red The Robot for iOS is on the way…

Update: Red The Robot (iTunes link) is now in the app store.

Update: Gary from A4cwsn does a through & impartial review of Red The Robot (video)

I very rarely accept joint venture proposals; but sometimes the people you meet, the idea & content is just so compelling, it far outweighs the mine field of JV’s.

Red helps out with some programming.

Red The Robot® from IGS is a character that motivates and encourages children (3+) on every level to get involved with phonics, sounds & reading through simple cards & stories. It’s a reasonably straight forward application focused squarely on the task at hand; having fun & learning. Definitely a case of less is more.

The app plays sounds and asks questions, “Can you find a picture that fits this sound” (Fire engine sound plays) is just one of the many examples & learning aspects in the product. It lends itself particularly well to the iPad.

This is just the beginning for Red The Robot on iOS, more cards, stories, apps & updates are planned.

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iAds & Deprecation Purgatory

You didn't heed the deprecation warning correctly did you?

My recent update of Tube Status unleashed some savage reviews & angry users and I was at a loss to explain why it had all gone horribly wrong for some but not others. Turns out I’d been tripped up by the simple deprecation of static property in the iAds framework…I am now in deprecation purgatory whilst the fixed version is in approval again (update: Apple turned the approval around in less than 24 hours, very impressive!).

iAds was introduced in iOS4 and later updated in iOS4.2, probably for iPad. The property

ADBannerContentSizeIdentifier320x50

was introduced in iOS4 then quickly deprecated in 4.2, being replaced by

ADBannerContentSizeIdentifierPortrait

Continue reading

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How do I check to see if I have iOS4 installed?

There are several quick ways you can check to see what version of iOS your device is running…

  1. On the device
  2. In iTunes

Continue reading

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Tube Status 3.0 on the way

It’s about time Tube Status had a major update. I have moved it to iOS4 only to simplify development & namely to take advantage of Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) for faster & far more managable threading. So what justifies a major version number? In one word – Departures.

Tube Status now includes the latest real-time departure boards that TfL recently made available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud service. In fact all of my other apps showing departure boards (Tube Deluxe & Tube Boards) have been moved across to this web service, they have been happily hammering the service with 100′s of thousands of requests a day. More departures are also available, I now show departures into the next 30 minutes for tube stations.

Some screenshots…

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TfL u Rock! TrackerNet is Online.

I know TfL bashing is quite a popular sport and I myself have been critical of them in the past. I have just come back from a press conference at TfL. The TrackerNet (Live Departures) & Status feeds are going live & a new developers area has been opened on the TfL site.

Although the TrackerNet feed came online about 6 months ago and had to be promptly shut down due to load. These problems have been well & truly solved now; Microsoft have dropped in an industrial strength cache in front of the operational systems and you can now easily access all this data for free.

I am told this is just the beginning. The system is modular, TfL plan to bring a full blown Journey Planning API online next year as well. Who know’s maybe iBus will follow on from this too? But no firm announcements on that yet.

This is ground breaking for open data & public transport in the UK & very forward thinking of TfL. Now that the data will be easy to access, we can expect to see some creative & useful applications across many devices & the web.

I think there’s a lot the dev community can contribute back too, for example interesting data sets & other services.

(P.S You need to to sign up as a developer to get access to the feeds)

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