Monk – Version 1.4: It’s a gift, and a curse

Monk-Logo-1024Here’s a funny story:

One of our users left a review on the App Store saying that there were two episodes missing from our Monk App. Of course he was right – thank you for the pointer. Today was time to fix this.

Turns out that the two episodes in question (“Mr Monk and The Astronaut” starring Jeffrey Donovan, and “Mr Monk and The Big Reward”) were buried deep inside the code and were there all along – the app just wasn’t showing them.

Computer code… it’s a gift, and a curse!

Glad it was only a small fix to bring them back, finally and after long last completing the Monk Episode Guide for iOS. While I was at it I also made sure the app runs smoothly on iOS 8 and iPhone 6.

The update is now with Apple and should be live within the next few days.

Poirot comes to iPad and iOS 8 – Version 2.2

I’ve just submitted The Belgian Detective Guide, Version 2.2 to the App Store. This update brings the following super exciting features to this little app:

  • added iPad support – the app is now universal
  • added Sophie Hannah’s novel The Monogram Murders
  • ready for iOS 8
  • and still working on iOS 5 devices

I’ve taken the same approach to adding an iPad interface as on previous apps I’ve converted. While not a totally new experience, the app now shows up when you’re searching from an iPad, and has the added benefit of an integrated web view for both Wikipedia and IMDb data. This means less tapping. Here’s a quick preview:

 

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I took care to still support iOS 5 – not an easy task when everything is looking at “the new thing” such as iOS 8 and iPhone 6.

The new development tools (Xcode 6) are not bad, with a huge plethora of new features -which usually comes at the expense of things that used to work rather well. Thankfully most of those are still in the same place as they were before.

In other news: we’ve shut down the dedicated website for this app and are in the process of integrating it into this one, so we have one place for support, feedback and announcements (and because we’re not allowed to ever speak the P word again, otherwise The Enforcer from that tree company comes down hard on us again).

The new version should be live within the next few days.

It’s an iPad, Watson!

We’ve given our Sherlock Holmes app a small makeover in Version 1.5: it now has a proper iPad interface! Not only that, we’ve also added:

  • all remaining episodes from Elementary, Season 2
  • five new movies starring Arthur Wontnter
  • one new movie starring Robert Stephens
  • another new movie starring Christopher Plummer

The update is available immediately and for free. And here’s what it looks like:

 

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Designing the iPad Experience

It’s not always easy to add an iPad specific interface, especially if the app doesn’t really need it to function well. We’ve been thinking long and hard, gone through several design concepts in the past and always came to the same conclusion: an iPad interface really doesn’t add anything new to the app.

When iOS 6 came out we’ve noticed that an iPhone app no longer appears in the App Store search results when browsed from an iPad: you have to manually switch to “show iPhone Apps” to see matching results. This trend has been carried over into iOS 7 of course, and several customers told us they just couldn’t find our apps – thinking they were not available in their country. A fair assumption. We knew we had to address this.

Then we thought: what if we don’t really change anything and make the app behave on iPad just like it did in “iPhone mode” – but make it universal anyway? We tried it last month – and soon after our first prototype we could see the benefits of keeping the current iPhone look/feel/functionality while adding iPad benefits.

Here’s what we did: All tabs at the bottom have been retained, the rows displaying details about each item look just like they did on the iPhone, but when you browse to the detailed description, the iPad implements a welcome change: data from Wikipedia or IMDb is loaded on the same page – displaying more details then ever before without having to navigate to a new screen.

On iPhone that’s impractical – but on the iPad we have an abundance of screen real estate which makes this possible and a shows you “details at a glance”.  We hope you like it!

With Julia’s help I’ll add the iPad features to all our other apps over the next week or so. I hope to submit all updates before the Developer Conference on June 2nd.

Bike Tour Diary goes iPad

The day has come on which our first ever iPad app is available on the App Store: with immediate effect, Bike Tour Diary is now a universal app – looking good on both iPhone and iPad.

It’s the same app of course, just with added goodness for the larger iPad screen real estate. Here are some screenshots from Version 1.1:

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But we didn’t stop there: here’s a full list of all the new features in this new release:

  • the app is now available for iPad (yey!)
  • added backup/restore feature (restore requires full version)
  • you can now share data with iTunes
  • added an icon that indicates whether a Tour has Waypoints
  • fixed a bug that would crash iOS 6 devices when removing waypoints beyond 0
  • and it even works on iPad 1 (marvellous!)

A new microsite will tell you all you ever wanted to know about this project, including a full User Guide for all versions. Check it out here:

This little project has turned into quite a large one, and I can’t stop fiddling with it. Creating an iPad app wasn’t as easy as I had imagined – I’ll tell you all about it on my personal blog when I have the time.

Right now I’m working on the Mac Version of Bike Tour Diary so we can see our Tours on an even larger screen. I’m literally working on the finishing touches as we speak.

Other features for iOS are live tracking, DropBox integration and Tour sharing – all coming soon. If only the day had more hours!

Download Bike Tour Diary from the App Store today:

AppStore

we make Interactive Episode Guides and Reference Apps