Marketing Autograph This (Part I) – It Just has to be Listed in the App Store Right?

First a disclaimer: Autograph This is our first independently developed mobile application that we are solely responsible for marketing so look at this series as more of a journey to try and figure out how to market a new mobile app as opposed to a tutorial on how to market an app.

So in the early part of 2011 my wife had the idea to produce an iPhone app that would allow people to get celebrity or athlete autographs on a digital photo during meet and greets or after ballgames. I enlisted the help of a friend and co-worker who was also a mobile developer and we set out trying to create it. Over the course of several months we worked on it on weekends and evenings (setting it aside at one point for a few months to work on something else) and at some point realized we would actually finish the app coding. We enlisted the assistance of a friend of mine from college to do some design and we completed it in early November.

We have no grand delusions that this is going to make us millions of dollars or anything. It is an app with a specific purpose that does one thing albeit very well. Everyone involved was looking at it as a kind of learning experience. One of the first major decisions was how much to price the app. I was for $1.99 and my partner was leaning toward $.99. After looking at competing apps in the marketplace as well as reviews for apps that charged $1.99 we decided that $.99 was the way to go. We really were just looking for some exposure and didn’t want to open ourselves up for negative reviews based on the price. The other big question was how were we going to market the application to generate downloads. We’re just a couple of developers and so we weren’t looking to spend thousands of dollars on ad campaigns.

The application was approved by Apple on November 14th and so we immediately released it to the app store. We didn’t do a coordinated press release or any kind of pre-marketing. We barely got a website up. If we were better funded we probably could have spent some money doing these things but I was kind of curious how the first few days would go based solely on a presence on the main category page of iTunes and announcing it through our personal social network channels. The number of downloads didn’t exactly knock our socks off. I’m pretty sure at least half of the downloads are friends, family and promo codes.

So with basically no marketing being what we expected it to be we set out to find affordable channels to market the application.

Next up: Submitting to iPhone App Review Sites


Interesting Issue with iPods and Launching Your iOS App

This isn’t documented anywhere that I can tell but here’s what was happening.

I was testing a universal iOS app that I was working on and decided to just use the iPod Touch (iOS v4.2.1) I had out at the time. Unfortunately when I’d launch the app a black screen would appear with the standard status bar and nothing else. I put a breakpoint in application:didFinishLaunchingWithOptions and found that it wasn’t getting called. Strangely the app worked fine on my old iPhone 3g (iOS v4.2.1). I put the iPod aside and decided to come back to it later. Well today was later.

After playing around getting the app ready to submit to the app store I discovered that the same issue was appearing on my iPhone. After futzing around with it for a little bit I realized that I had deleted the “Main nib file base name (iPhone)” key from the application’s plist file. I restored the setting telling the app to launch “MainWindow_iPhone” and all was well but that got me thinking that maybe I didn’t test this properly on the iPod. I tried launching the app on the iPod and still no dice. I figured I was on the right track so for fun I added the “Main nib file base name” key into the plist file and set it to “MainWindow_iPhone”.


So the end result is the app works on all devices now and I have three “Main nib file” keys in my plist. One for iPad, one for iPhone and one generic one.

Ad-Hoc App Distribution with XCode 4

Update (12-02-2011): The process of deploying to the app store was fairly simple using this new archive process. The only catch was editing the scheme to change the Archive option to use the AppStore code signing identity and using the Submit button instead of Share. Check out the app in the iTunes AppStore – Autograph This!

So amongst the many nice features in XCode 4 comes the modified process for building your app for distribution. And with “The Google” not being entirely helpful about the process as well as the docs on the Apple developer site still containing the XCode 3 instructions I thought it would help at least somebody out there for me to document the process. Please note that since I haven’t built one yet for distribution to the app store this just covers ad-hoc distribution. Maybe I’ll update this when we release to the app store.

Interacting with the provisioning portal hasn’t changed. You still need to create your distribution profile and download it to your development machine. Once you’ve done that is where the process has changed.

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The myth of Android fragmentation vs. iOS

With my planned move to Android from iOS as soon as I can get my hands on a good LTE phone I get a lot crap from Apple fans about Android fragmentation and carrier updates and whatnot. I hear all the time about how iOS is better because you can get access to updates quicker. They have a point. When the latest version of iOS is released I can get it immediately (actually sooner since I’m an iOS developer). I know I can root an Android phone to get the latest versions but having to jailbreak my iPhone to get the features I want is one of the reasons I’m switching to Android and this just seems like it should be unnecessary (I probably will anyway).

So I was curious recently when I saw some stats regarding iOS version adoption: Developer stats say 90 percent of iOS device users run iOS 4.x! iOS 4 is the latest major version release from Apple. I wondered how Android stacked up and this is where I feel Android loses a little bit in the message.

What is the latest version of Android for phones? 2.3
How many users have it? 0.8%

Looks bad on the surface. However by using the same criteria in the iOS article let’s ask the question a different way.

What is the latest major version of Android for phones? 2
How many users have it? Nearly 90% (

So from a developer’s perspective I can count on the same percentage of iOS users to have the latest major version as Android OS users regardless of minor version updates. The problem is in the marketing of the OS. Android touts it’s minor releases as major ones. In my world version 2.3 isn’t supposed a major upgrade from 2.2. But they give them fancy names like Cupcake and Froyo and now it sounds like a major revision.

What it boils down to is two different update procedures that seem to result in similar statistics. With Android it is up to the carriers/manufacturers to release the updates and when they do it is OTA so everyone gets it. With iOS everyone (almost) has access to the latest version but you need to plug in to get it and that’s just not always going to happen.

Water ripple effect on an HTML5 canvas

It’s a nice demo of what is possible with HTML5 but still lacks in performance. At least on my laptop.

Maybe Motorola Shouldn’t Have Asked

Source: Droid Life

Badass JavaScript: Face Detection in JavaScript via HTML5 Canvas

Badass JavaScript: Face Detection in JavaScript via HTML5 Canvas


You have probably seen face detection at work in programs like iPhoto and Picasa, but what if you could do that performantly in JavaScript? Chinese developer Liu Liu has done the honors, and implemented the algorithm using the canvas element.

The algorithm is implemented on top of a JS port of a…