Where have your apps gone?

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I was surprised to find that the tally of apps I have developed over the previous 5 years or so is close to 300 – an average of an app a week over the period.  I have been asked why I spent so much of my time developing these Apps and although I have touched on this elsewhere in my blog I thought it worth revisiting and explaining why I have taken the decision to remove these apps from the store.

After a lengthy period as a contract developer I made the decision for personal reasons, to close down my business.  This gave me the opportunity to learn about App development and at the same time to consolide my existing web and desktop skills.

Having now made the decision to return to a more traditional role I want to clear the decks and focus on the next stage of my carreer. Correspondingly it no longer makes sense to support the many Windows and Windows phone Apps which I am now in the process of retiring from the store.

Of course that doesn’t mean that if you have one of these apps it will suddently stop working and there is certainly no reason why you shouldn’t continue to enjoy any apps you have for years to come!

As ever you are free to email me about any aspect of any apps that you own!

 

 

Ian

Ian.Walker@WebSurfaces.co.uk

Improving Windows Store Upload Success.

 

 

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“The most frustrating dialog in the world”

 

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“The slowest progress bar in history”

Not sure if I am not just documenting my frustration but here is the story so far:

Background

As a user of Windows 8 (and 8.1) I have observed that when selecting apps from the store I am often left with them in a ‘pending’ download state, with no way, or so it seems to escalate the process and use the apps.  (Other times, the apps download straight away and I will click on the notification window and use them straight away).  So when it came to packaging ‘Vantage Point’ I made the decision to package the Apps content (a large number of image files) with the App itself.  The thinking is that this will make things easier, at least in the short term, as I don’t have to worry about hosting the images online.  It also has the benefit that the App will be more responsive, and will always work offline once downloaded.  The fact that it will take longer to download initially is also not so much of an issue given the frequent ‘pending’ status of Apps as already discussed.  Great I thought, a sensible solution all round!  However at this planning stage I failed to consider the difficulty I would have in uploading the App to Microsoft every time I release a new version.  Being ‘in the sticks’ means that my Internet connection has never been the most robust and my speed/bandwidth for uploading files is, like most peoples, very limited in comparison to my download  speeds (so sayeth the BT engineer ‘oh, you can change that’, so sayeth BT ‘no you can’t!).  This resulted in frequent failures in the upload process and it would take many days (ahem, sometimes weeks) to successfully upload an App to Microsoft.

My (partial) Solution

I found I could mitigate this somewhat by splitting the App into its three constituent platform executables by selecting the option to ‘Never Generate App Bundles’ (see below).  This enabled me to upload three separate, smaller files rather than one large file (that essentially contained these three files)

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All was well, but sod’s law means that after successfully uploading the first two files this morning I was met with the following message:

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After repeating the upload and receiving the same message I came to the conclusion that I would have to rebuild the App again.

At the time of writing I am wondering if I can get away with just rebuilding the x86 version of the App or if i will need to rebuild all three parts (so that the store recognised one complete ‘version’).

I will report back my findings here once I am able to successfully upload a complete version of the App!

Jan 30 Update:

As ever with perseverance I was able to upload all three files, however, I did have particular trouble with the ARM file which was flagged as corrupted several times after completing upload (this is in spite of passing all locally run tests). 

The latest attempt to upload the 32 and 64 bit files has been successful, however the ARM, after several times being flagged as corrupt (I rebuilt each time) is now getting a new message after the upload is complete:

Validation error:   This package wasn’t built for the current version of Windows. Install the current version of Windows and build the package again.

I am continuing the rebuild/re-upload process ….

Jan 31 Update

The ARM part of the package seems to cause more issues than the others, just documenting this intermediate screen shot here as it frequently is followed by some kind of corruption message (I am also trying Chrome in case it gives me more luck!!!)

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When the above dialog finishes I am now getting :

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That makes no sense to me as I have all updates installed for all Microsoft software running under Windows 8.1?

I am now rebuilding the project on an entirely different development machine to see if that makes a difference.

(I feel that the Gods are playing with me!)

‘Learn Piano’ is Top Free Lifestyle App!

 

After hovering around the top slot for a good few weeks (and a brief spell as a ‘paid’ app) I was very pleased to see that ‘learn Piano’ has the top spot this week in Lifestyle Apps.

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Recent updates to the App include support for ‘Play To’, enabling lessons to be streamed to a nearby TV and the ability to download additional lessons via an in app purchase.

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The App is currently in its ninth release (wow) with many more enhancements in planning – hopefully will help it to stay near (or on) the top of the heap!


(Download ‘Learn Piano’ for free here)


Windows Store Download Stats.

So after a very flat and uninspiring period after the launch of Windows 8 looking at my own stats today it is clear that things have started to change over the last Month or so – with a steep increase in downloads (which now total in excess of 37,000)

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Hopefully this increase will continue a pace over the coming year.

Interestingly a similar graph for my Windows Phone Apps shows a much steadier increase over the same period:

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Windows 8 Hardware

At the weekend I had the fortune to visit the ‘gadget show live’ event in Birmingham and was particularly impressed with the variety and quality of the Windows 8 devices that were on display (I particularly liked this Sony device that was equally usable in a tablet and laptop/desktop configuration and powerful enough for almost any scenario)

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It was nice to be able to get hands on with all these devices in one place.  (It did make me think that our PC retailers are not doing as effective a job as they might).

Better than Sex and Oprah Winfrey …

… but not as hot as Windows 8?

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After just a week in the store ‘Learn Piano’ has managed to climb to the fourth position in the Windows Store Lifestyle category putting it above the Kama sutra and Oprah!

In terms of downloads this app has now had a little over 2,000.  What makes this surprising is it has done this with no marketing support (other than this blog) and has not been featured in the store at this point. Of course 2,000 apps is a relatively low number for an App in general terms, but when you consider that this is a ‘niche’ app  in what might be considered one of the minor categories it bodes well for independent developers.  (Independent developers frequently don’t have the resources or clout to launch any kind of worthwhile marketing effort around their apps)

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The store also provides some basic demographics, here showing that the App has been mainly downloaded by ages 22-40 in the USA and UK (as might have been expected)

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DOWNLOAD ‘Learn Piano’ for Windows 8


UPDATE

Now reached number 3 in ‘lifestyle’ and steadying out at just under 500 downloads per day.

Windows 8 App–Initial Download Stats

 

Quite pleased with the growth being shown in download stats for my new Windows 8 App:

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Still early days (just over a week in the store) but nice ‘day on day’ growth so far (total currently around 1200 downloads)

NB The numbers 1,2 & 3 indicate new builds of the App into the store based on users feedback and my own plans for improvement.

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The app featured is ‘Learn Piano’ (Play Piano)– a free download that has a couple of in- app purchase options)

http://websurfaces.co.uk/2013/03/04/learn-piano-for-windows-8/

NB I will publish further stats in a few weeks time, hopefully the growth in download numbers will continue!

Dramatic increase in App downloads since the release of Windows Phone 8

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At this stage downloads of my own Windows Phone Apps appear to have doubled since the release of Windows Phone 8 – with downloads continuing to increase on a daily basis.

While reading positive sales stats and figures from Microsoft and Nokia is always a good thing, having access to ‘real data’ such as this helps confirm that the positive buzz around the platform is being translated into real world results.

As a developer I am energised around the development of future Apps for Windows Phone, particularly in light of the opportunities for shared code and Apps with Windows 8.


NB In order to read the above graph in context to this post, ignore the ‘cumulative’ line and note that daily sales have risen from around 275 on 18th October to around 550 on 9th December.

Windows Phone Tile browser for Windows 8

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Live Tiles: ‘Get the important facts at a glance’

As owners of a Windows Phone we love our Live Tiles.  Apart from the convenience they can save us valuable time when its simply not an option to stop what you are doing and fire up an App.
But as an early adopter of Windows Phone myself one thing I have always struggled with is finding useful and relevant live tiles!  This App goes some way to alleviating this issue by providing examples of commonly used Live Tiles together with a means of downloading their constituent apps to your phone.

The App is designed to be very simple to use.

Here is a typical walk through:

1. Browsing the Live Tiles

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Swipe left and right to view typical examples of the Live Tiles on offer. (Additionally you might use the Filter to highlight particular categories of interest, or switch to ‘App View’ in order to see Live Tiles grouped according to their parent Phone Apps).

2. Selecting a Live Tile

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Touching a tile will act as a toggle between the tile and a special picture code (Known as a QR code) that can be read by your Phone.

3. Downloading the Live Tile App to your phone

QR Selection

Touch your phones ‘scan’ onscreen button (an option that you get when you select the Search hardware button on the bottom right of your phone).  The link will then take you directly to an install for the Live Tiles’ parent App.

Developer Opportunities.

The App is open to any independent developer of Windows Phone Apps to highlight their own Live Tiles at no cost.  Contact the developers (rd3d@WebServices.co.uk) or comment below if you are interested!

Live Tile Browser – Windows 8 Certification!

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Following a gruelling (OK, not really that gruelling) 2 days in the Labs at Microsoft a couple of weeks ago am happy to say that “Live Tile Browser” has received certification for submission to the Windows 8 store.  (I understand that this is one of the first, if not the very first app in the UK to do so!)

I received some great feedback as a result of my time in the labs, much of which has been put to use in developing improvements to the App itself. 

Live Tile Browser should be available with the next iteration of Windows 8 (release candidate) some time next month!

There are still a couple of surprises held back for the App’s release and a video is needed to do justice to the smooth animation but for now here are a few screenshots of the current build:

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