Apple Watch

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” So said Sun TZU.  While most Windows phone developers don’t actually consider Apple to be an enemy it is still not a bad idea to keep an eye on what is going on in that camp.  This was the thinking behind this App which collects together relevant news and information surrounding “Apple” and presents it using the unique pleasantries available to the Windows Phone platform.

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At the moment the App has the following ‘pages’ :

  • News (relevant third party news from around the web )
  • Device news (news specific to the iPad and iPhone)
  • Twitter (Apple specific tweets)
  • Propaganda (News as Apple would have you ingest it)
  • Top Paid  (Current top 25 paid Apps)
  • Top Free (Current top 25 free Apps)

The App is available for 99c here

“The application must not exceed 90 MB of RAM usage”.

In the documentation guidelines for WP7 development it says:

"The application must not exceed 90 MB of RAM usage. However, on devices that have more than 256 MB of memory, an application can exceed 90 MB of RAM usage."

I have been  interpreting that as being peak RAM must stay under 90MB on 256MB devices but it is OK to exceed on 512MB devices and I have been coding my apps accordingly.

Now I suspect that for the purposes of ingestion it is being interpreted as

"The application must not exceed 90 MB of RAM usage.”

IMO we really need a definitive answer to this from Microsoft:

What constitutes peak memory on 512MB devices?

(More on this here)

Update & Conclusion 29/04/2011

After branching away from code that was aimed at devices with more than 256MB RAM (with a consequent loss of both features and performance on these devices) and emailing my XAP through to the Ingestion team I got a response from them yesterday saying that the XAP ‘looked good’ and could I resubmit (which I did).  So it seems clear that I (and presumably everyone else?) should NOT be looking at branching code to deal with devices that only have 256MB memory – rather we should ensure that memory does not go above 90MB in any circumstances, regardless of device.  Of course I haven’t had any official word on this but it seems to be the only logical conclusion. 

I don’t know where to start to vent my frustration at the knock on effects for me of this whole debacle.   Looking at the stats I have for last week it looks as though the free versions of ‘Apple Watch’ and ‘Nokia Watch’ both passed ingestion and have already had thousands of downloads.  Unfortunately for me any conversions (to the 99c Ad free versions) will have been unsuccessful as those versions failed ingestion (and  I have been unable to resubmit them while my account was (is?) in suspension).  Needless to say I am unlikely to recover from this situation (I will be attempting to resubmit ‘Apple Watch’ and ‘NOKIA Watch’ today).  In the meantime the Royal Wedding App is still flagged ‘testing in progress’ on the morning of the Wedding itself. 

From a personal perspective I think it is vital that Microsoft clears up the woolly statement it has in the guidelines (second paragraph above) so that other devs. are not left in a ‘spilt milk’ situation.  It is also important that Apps are dealt with in a wholly consistent manner (such that Apps which are to all intents and purposes the same either pass or fail the ingestion process) I can only guess that the current ‘inconsistent guidelines’  make this difficult for the testing teams (who otherwise appear to be doing a fantastic job).

Post Royal Wedding Addendum

29/4 version 1.15 now showing as ‘signing in progress’.
30/4 Version 1.15 is in the marketplace

(I will look at ways of restoring the missing features following the shenanigans as soon as I get some time).

Marketing Your Apps – In App Advertising (II)

In a previous post I looked at the creation of a free ad-supported version of an app in support of an existing paid app. 

In addition to this there are a number of other opportunities that you can take advantage of in order to maximise marketing related opportunities.

Conversions

My experience of Ad supported apps in the UK (we do not have access to the Microsoft Ad SDK at the time of writing) suggests that you would be wise not to consider this to be the primary methodology for remuneration for your app!  That said, people love free Apps so you might want to consider free apps as a means of getting  your app into peoples hands (in the hope that they will like it enough to purchase an ad-free version).  As a minimum you should consider adding a button in the free app to allow users to upgrade to an ad-free version:

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You might also want to encourage your users with a gentle ‘nag’ screen at startup:

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NB The above dialog box comes from the excellent coding 4 fun toolkit.

Both the above buttons have similar code behind them which launches the marketplace with the relevant app page:

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Promotion

You may also want to consider giving your users an easy way to share their experiences with your app using social networks.  I covered this in more detail in an earlier blog post that pre-dated this series.  Nowadays I just add buttons for Twitter and Facebook:

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TIP: When releasing free and paid versions of the same app don’t make the assumption that both Apps will pass ingestion at the same time! As I write this I have had hundreds of downloads for the free ad-supported version of ‘Apple Watch’ while the paid version still sits somewhere within the ingestion process.

Other “How to Market your App” posts in this series:

http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/category/marketing/

If you have enjoyed this series of posts please vote here:

http://wpdev.uservoice.com/forums/110705-app-platform/suggestions/1719911-create-a-structured-mechanismn-for-devs-to-market-

HELP! My Certification Testing has been temporarily suspended!

 

I am at a bit of a loss on what to do at the moment.  Here is the story:

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After initially passing the ingestion process my ‘Royal Wedding App’ subsequently failed as peak memory exceeded 90MB on a 256MB device.  “Fair enough” I thought.  I did a little more research, implemented the Memory Counter (from the Channel 9 Coding 4 Fun WP7 toolkit) and sure enough it was exceeding 90MB peak usage (a problem for devices with only 25MB of graphics memory) – see below.

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After ‘playing’ with the App for a while you can see here that peak memory has reached 113.21 (NB the hundreds column is truncated).

I decided that rather than reduce functionality on 256MB devices  by removing some of the feeds it would be better to simply reduce the number of items shown per feed.

The screenshot below shows my solution for a 256MB device (with 5 items showing per feed).  We are now down to peak memory at 76.99MB.  Problem solved (or so I thought, read on …)

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I resubmitted the App and waited patiently.  Several days later I was a little surprised to find that the App failed again on peak memory for 256MB devices!  Was I doing something wrong?  At this stage I was getting nervous as the Royal Wedding is getting closer and my updated App wasn’t up in the marketplace to compete with Microsoft’s own!

I decided to be ultra cautious and reduce the number of feed items to 4 for the 256MB devices:

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This gave me an extra 4MB to play with and I resubmitted the App – only to find that it subsequently failed again with the same error!  At this point I was also politely informed that my submissions would be temporarily suspended:

“Considering the issues have been reported to you numerous times in the past and there is no clear evidence of improvement, we are temporarily suspending further certification testing for submissions from your account:”

I opened a ticket at their suggestion, explaining the situation and requesting information on how they go about measuring peak usage so that I could reproduce the issue myself.

  I also took a closer look at the memory control and changed some of the parameters (notably the “UpdateInterval” parameter, which I tried at various values down to 500MS refresh with no change in the peak memory counter being apparent).

I am now clutching at straws with this issue.  I cannot change the architecture of the Royal Wedding App so close to the event itself and in any event resubmission (and the complications afforded by the suspension) mean that I will struggle to get the updated App into the marketplace before the wedding itself.

The one thing I am now trying (against all the advice I can see on the web) is to issue explicit calls to the garbage collector.  This doesn’t appear to change functionality or the peak usage being returned by the Coding4Fun toolkit but maybe it will help me with Microsoft’s’ own methodology for counting peak usage?  As I say, clutching at straws …

I am resubmitting the Royal Wedding App with the explicit Garbage Collection calls and also pointing the ingestion team at this post (I will update this post with any progress I am able to make).

If you are reading this and have any ideas that you think might help.  Please DM me or post a comment below!

Thanks,

Ian

PS Apologies for the examples showing the ‘Nokia Watch’ App – the issue with this App is the same as per the Royal Wedding App being discussed.

Update 25/04

The Royal  Wedding app failed certification again today with the same memory issue.  I have resubmitted with some conditional code that hands over any HTML rendering to the device’s integrated browser (on 256MB machines only).  This dramatically reduces peak memory use at the cost of speed (the app is tombstoned while the browser is fired up).

Fingers crossed it will pass before the big event on Friday.  If it does I will apply the same fix to the Ad Supported version.

 

Update 27/04

Had an email saying that the app is still failing peak memory.

I wonder?

Here is what it says in the docs:

"The application must not exceed 90 MB of RAM usage. However, on devices that have more than 256 MB of memory, an application can exceed 90 MB of RAM usage."

Now I interpret that as being peak RAM must stay below under 90MB on 256MB devices but its OK to exceed this on 512MB devices.  I suspect that for the purposes of marketplace ingestion it is being interpreted as:

"The application must not exceed 90 MB of RAM usage.”

IMO we really need a definitive answer to this from Microsoft.  I have wasted a lot of time developing/updating a really nice Royal Wedding app that will now not see the light of day.

Marketing your Apps–Help create a structured mechanism.

So in contrast to the cartoon below most independent development shops probably suffer from being a little too lean in the first place …

Being a way in to this on-going series of blog posts about ‘marketing your apps’ I have come to the un-surprising conclusion that there is no magic ‘silver bullet’ for success.   There are certainly some things you can do that are more effective than others (I will cover this in a later summary) but one of  my own personal conclusions is that it is important  to think of this process as being “on-going”. Marketing should become a part of the normal process of developing a new app. This perhaps seems like a fairly obvious statement but I think there are probably a lot of developers out there, like myself, who in the first instance view the successful publication of an App in the marketplace as an end point in itself.  But I digress. 

So my hope is that when this series of posts are distilled into a chapter of our forthcoming publication they will provide some assistance in this important and often overlooked aspect of app development.  Going forward it would be great if we could consolidate all we have learned and provide a more structured approach for independent developers to market their own Apps without them having to start from scratch.  I would like to encourage Microsoft to help ‘raise the bar’ in this area for independent WP7 developers as a whole.  After all, the prospect of having 10,000 developers marketing Windows Phone Apps has to be a good proposition for the platform itself!

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So with all this in mind can I take this opportunity to encourage you to help by doing two things:


imageVote for this as a topic for future attention from MS

imageHelp spread the word by tweeting this blog post (click here or use one of the Social Networking buttons below)


NB Mike tells me that he is hoping to be able to make the first version of the book available soon.


Other “How to Market your App” posts in this series:
http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/category/marketing/


Duke Nukem at Gadget Show Live

Spent the day promoting ‘Gadget Watch’ at the Trade day of ‘The Gadget Show Live’.

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Essentially I went round all the stands showing my App to anyone who feigned any interest – focussing on Gadget Blogging / News Sites and Gadget Magazines.  Came away with some contacts for follow ups ..

You can download ‘Gadget Watch’ from here


Enter the Duke Nukem Forever competition to win early access to Duke Nukem here


Marketing Your Apps – Review

 

This is an on-going list of links relevant to independent developers looking at marketing their own Apps. (I’m seeking useful feedback and criticism on all these short posts please.  The end result will form a part of Mike Ormond’s’ forthcoming WP7 Kindle Book)

 

  1. In App Marketing: “Why not Try …”

  2. Marketing your Apps – Using Twitter (1)

  3. Marketing your Apps – Advertising SDKs (1)

  4. Marketing your Apps using Twitter (II)

  5. Marketing your Apps – YouTube

  6. Shove Halfpenny Special Promotion!

  7. Marketing your Apps – Special Promotions.

  8. Marketplace Tips – Avoid negative feedback!

  9. Marketing your Apps – Advertising SDKs (2)

  10. Marketing your Apps – Polls & Surveys

  11. Marketing your Apps – Marketplace Promotion (1)

  12. Marketing your Apps–Help create a structured mechanism.


I am also soliciting Microsoft to look at creating some sort of ‘rough guide to marketing Apps’ – not sure what format this will take yet but if you like the idea please vote for it from the link below:

imageVote for this as a topic for future attention from Microsoft.


(Please feedback your thoughts in the comments after each article).

SmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmile

Thanks,

 

Ian

Where to buy Gadgets at MIX 11

imageSo you are in Vegas for Mix, you have checked out the Gadget Watch App on your phone and maybe want to bring back a Gadget or two for your friends at home?  Where should you go?  Well you are in luck as the biggest gadget store in Los Vegas* is just down the road from the Mandalay Bay hotel itself.  It’s a short taxi ride so may  ask the question at your breakfast table to see if anyone wants to share the ride with you.   Don’t like gadgets?   WTF?

Marketing Your Apps – Using Twitter to target your market.

 

In the first article in this series I talked about using Twitter in relation to real world events that might be related to your App.

In the second  I covered creating a dedicated Twitter account for your App.

Use Twitter to target your Market.

In the case of Nokia watch, the target market is:

  • Developers of Windows Phone 7 Apps
  • Mobile Phone “gangsters” (ie people who like to know what is happening at the cutting edge of mobile phone development – and may buy a new phone because of it)
  • Nokia staff who are curious about Windows Phone 7 (?)

    With this in mind I began a series of posts designed to suggest information that users of this, and other Apps might find interesting:

    image(Targeting NOKIA Watch App)

    image(Targeting NOKIA Watch App)

    image(Targeting Royal Wedding App)

    image(Targeting ‘Shove Ha’penny App – which features a George VI Half penny)

    image(Targeting Gadget Watch)

    If you followed any of the above links you will notice that in general they go to a relevant article on my own Blog, rather than directly to the marketplace. My thinking is that this allows users (including non WP7 users) to find out more about the App than is available in the limited space of the Marketplace listing.  (A side benefit is that I am able to monitor Blog metrics immediately which helps to determine any interest being generated by the tweet).  


    Other “How to Market your App”  posts in this series:
    http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/category/marketing/


  • Marketing Your Apps using Twitter – How the big boys do it

    “With such a positive Gartner rating for Windows Phone 7 there has never been a better time to jump in!”

    Marketing Your Apps – Marketplace Promotion (1)

    My own submissions to the current Spring Cleaning Promotion from Microsoft follows.  NOTE: I am not suggesting that this is a ‘winning formula’ but in the spirit of this series of blog postings for Mike Ormond’s forthcoming Kindle book I thought it appropriate to share. 

    NB The information that is perhaps of most general benefit relates to what Microsoft considers to be the most suitable type of App (see below ‘Quality Apps: What We Look For ‘)

    My submission relates to  “Gadget Watch”:-


    • Your App Hub Live ID rd3d2@hotmail.co.uk
    • Application ID d4310f9e-545c-e011-854c-00237de2db9e
    • New App or Update to Existing App? New
    • (if update) What major new features have you added?
    • Uses Live Tile: (yes or no) No
    • Uses Panorama: (yes or no) Yes
    • Uses Pivot: (yes or no) No
    • Why does your app delight users? –

    “Gadget lovers by their nature delight in interesting and new ways of looking at "stuff". ‘Gadget Watch’ has a dynamic Metro based ‘Panoramic’ UI that brings together the best Gadget news and reviews available across the web. Gadget lovers are busy people and the aim is to show ‘what’s new’ with the minimum of fuss. Achievement unlocks provide a little extra unexpected ‘delight’ and the ability to show both summary and detail information (T3 feeds version 1.1) is a real bonus. In app feedback is encouraged with direct emailing to the app author as well as the ability to review the app itself and share links to articles via Twitter (Version 1.2) are all welcome features”.


    and ‘Royal Wedding’:

    • Your App Hub Live ID rd3d2@hotmail.co.uk
    • Application ID d4310f9e-545c-e011-854c-00237de2db9e
    • New App or Update to Existing App? New
    • (if update) What major new features have you added?
    • Uses Live Tile: (yes or no) No
    • Uses Panorama: (yes or no) Yes
    • Uses Pivot: (yes or no) No
    • Why does your app delight users? –

    "The Royal Wedding has been termed "The biggest social event of the Century" and as such deserves only the finest App as an accompaniment. Royal Wedding watchers can delight in the constantly updated information from the Prince’s home at Clarence House as well as from news sites across the internet. Two twitter feeds highlight specific wedding chatter and also tweets made from the area immediately surrounding the wedding itself. The application also offers biographies of all the major parties involved including the Abbey and Engagement Ring!"

    NB An update is already in testing that includes offline reading and the ability to ‘tweet’ or ‘facebook’ items of interest to your followers.


    Apple Watch (May)

    • Your App Hub Live ID rd3d2@hotmail.co.uk
    • Application ID c183b2cb-0c57-e011-854c-00237de2db9e
    • New App or Update to Existing App? New
    • (if update) What major new features have you added?
    • Uses Live Tile: (yes or no) No
    • Uses Panorama: (yes or no) Yes
    • Uses Pivot: (yes or no) No
    • Why does your app delight users? –

    "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” So said Sun TZU. While most Windows phone developers don’t actually consider Apple to be an enemy it is still not a bad idea to keep an eye on what is going on in that camp. This was the thinking behind this App which collects together relevant news and information surrounding “Apple” and presents it using the unique pleasantries available to the Windows Phone platform.

    "Delightful" (Steve Jobs)


    “MUFC” (June)

    • Your App Hub Live ID rd3d2@hotmail.co.uk
    • Application ID 59fbee60-7893-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8
    • New App or Update to Existing App? New
    • (if update) What major new features have you added?
    • Uses Live Tile: (yes or no) No
    • Uses Panorama: (yes or no) Yes
    • Uses Pivot: (yes or no) No
    • Why does your app delight users?

    As the only App in the marketplace dedicated to keeping the legion of Manchester United Fans up to date with news, press releases, twitter chatter, videos and blogs relating to MUFC fans are almost sure to be delighted! The Red crest and Jerseys of the team are echoed through the design of the panorama based interface to provide a pleasing connection with the clubs own unique identity. Overseas fans can keep up to date with the clubs progress wherever they are located and whatever they might be doing. “Wonderful”.


    ‘’Royalty” (June – hoping to tie in with the APP Magazine published in the UK this month)

    • Your App Hub Live ID rd3d2@hotmail.co.uk
    • Application ID c594c52d-ce3d-e011-854c-00237de2db9e
    • New App or Update to Existing App? Update
    • (if update) What major new features have you added? Additional news feeds, Achievements’ ,Facebook & Twitter Integration, Feedback & Review options.
    • Uses Live Tile: (yes or no) No
    • Uses Panorama: (yes or no) Yes
    • Uses Pivot: (yes or no) No
    • Why does your app delight users? –

    "The general Public both home and abroad have always had a fascination with the Monarchy, and in particular with the British Royal Family. Apart from a delightful user interface (that takes full advantage of the capabilities of the Windows Phone platform) the rich content, ranging from news articles and press releases to photographs and videos is sure to delight anyone with an interest in keeping up to date with the Royals. The only app to feature ‘Royal Achievements’ is sure to delight not only the general public, but dare I say, members of the Royal household themselves!."


    NOTE: ”Royalty” got the featured App position in the marketplace on 11/6/2011


    And here are the details of the Spring Cleaning Promotion itself:

    April 4, 2011

    Spring Cleaning: Opportunities for Your Apps

    A common question we often hear from developers is: “What can Microsoft do to help me promote my app?” One of the great things about the Windows Phone Marketplace is our unique range of merchandizing opportunities. On any given day and in every single market, there are at least three different types of merchandizing slots on every WP7 device.

    Promotion: The Three Types of Merchandizing Slots


    The most prominent merchandizing slot is the Panoramic, which offers an opportunity to not only feature your app by itself, but also puts the app’s panoramic imagery across the entire marketplace. The next level of merchandizing is the Featured Icon, which presents your app icon and title along with 3-6 other great apps. And finally there is the Featured List programming which prominently displays your app icon and ratings in a vertical list.
    marketplace
    All of these different spots give a lot of visibility to apps. When an app is featured in any of these slots, developers see dramatic increases in their apps’ daily downloads.
    So what can you do to increase your chances for promotion?

    Quality Apps: What We Look For


    The most important thing you need to know is what makes a GREAT app. When we think about what makes a great app, we think of the following:
    Functionality + Features + UX = Great App
    What exactly does this mean? Great apps start with strong functionality, add an interesting set of features, and finish with a delightful WP7 user experience. It’s important to understand that a great app combines all of these characteristics. Delivering a delightful WP7 look and feel is unlikely to get your app merchandized if it has performance issues, poor content, or if it just isn’t very interesting.
    Other things that increase the likelihood an app gets promoted: using a Live Tile, integrating a Panorama or Pivot Control, or making smart use of Push Notifications.

    Spring Cleaning: Opportunities for Your Apps


    Today we are happy to announce what we’re calling the “Spring Cleaning” project1 !
    For the next three months, we are going to give you a chance to let us know that you think your app is great and that you think it is deserving of prime placement in the Marketplace. Once you let us know you think your published app is great, we’ll expedite review of it for a merchandizing placement. Placements are not guaranteed, and we won’t be able to tell you ahead of time if your app will or will not be featured; but we will review every published app you tell us about.
    Here are the rules:

    1. There will be three different opportunities: April, May, and June 2011
    2. Your App must be published to the Windows Phone Marketplace by the 15th of each month (by 11:59 PM PST)
    3. Your App must work as promised
    4. Your App must be new to the Marketplace or be a new version with substantial, new features or capabilities as mentioned earlier
    5. You then email the following information to wp7springclean@microsoft.com:
      • Your App Hub Live ID
      • Application ID
      • New App or Update to Existing App?
      • (if update) What major new features have you added?
      • Uses Live Tile: (yes or no)
      • Uses Panorama: (yes or no)
      • Uses Pivot: (yes or no)
      • Why does your app delight users?

    Not every app will be selected for merchandising or promotion. However, sending us this information tells us that you think your app has what it takes to be promoted & merchandized. It also means that we will take the time to review your app to see if we think it should be promoted. The best apps that combine Functionality + Features + Great Windows Phone UX will be selected and scheduled to be promoted in the following weeks.
    We are excited by all of the great apps that we are seeing delivered to the Windows Phone Marketplace. “Spring Cleaning” gives the best apps a chance to received increased visibility and downloads.
    We look forward to seeing what you create!

    The Windows Phone Marketplace Team


    Other WP7 Marketing related blog posts in this series:
    http://rd3d2.wordpress.com/category/marketing/