Brave Location Mobile Apps and Web Solutions

Daily Optimiser v3.0.1 Available

The latest version of Daily Optimiser - v3.0.1 - is now available on the App Store.

The release notes sound like the standard big company response:

A few small bug fixes and minor performance improvements

However to be honest that’s all I’ve done! I’ve fixed a few minor UI issues I’d missed in the original 3.0 release, and removed a little bit of code to make things marginally quicker.

Enjoy!

N.B. This blog post has now moved to https://writingontablets.com

Web Server Consolidation

I’ve got multiple sites that I develop and host - sites for my mobile apps, my artist friend Josie’s website, my company website and other bits and pieces I’ve built over the years.

For a couple of years I’ve using A Small Orange as a hosting service. They’ve been very good, and if you’re looking for an inexpensive shared host with excellent reliability, I’d definitely recommend them.

However my yearly renewal was due, so I decided to take the plunge and move over to running my own virtual server with Digital Ocean.

I’ve been doing a lot more work on Unix systems recently, so I’m reasonably confident I mostly know what I’m doing. There are lots of useful guides at Digital Ocean to help you out, and I now have a working nginx server serving all of my sites, plus PostFix running as a mail forwarder.

I also ported my company website from a Python Google App Engine site to a static Jekyll one, and am hosting this on my own server now too.

I’m very happy I’m now in complete control of serving all my sites exactly how I want to.

Also it was quite fun setting up an Ubuntu server up from scratch exactly how I wanted it. I wouldn’t have said that a few years ago!

N.B. This blog post has now moved to https://writingontablets.com

A Minor Change and we're through the App Store Review

So I finally made some progress after my rant last time and I’ve finally released the latest version of Count The Days Left to the App Store.

What I changed

The “problem” was that the watch complication was deemed too similar to the battery complication. This was because it’s using the CLKComplicationTemplateCircularSmallRingText template that is one of the few - and pretty restricted - template options available to a developer

Here’s a screenshot from my watch, with the battery complication in the center and the “problem” Count The Days Left one on the right:

Watch screenshot

I decided to make the most minimal change possible - simply change the style of the progress ring from Closed to Open

If you look closely, you can see the massive difference this made below:

Watch screenshot

I think this is actually a better choice, as the very small “open” gap at the bottom of the circle matches the main UI.

Anyway after a worrying delay of 3-4 days while the app was “In Review”, the change was accepted and version 2.0.2 has FINALLY been released!

Moral of the story is …

Never underestimate how crazy the app approval process can be!

N.B. This blog post has now moved to https://writingontablets.com

Inconsistent and Illogical App Store Review

I’ve not been able to release the changes to Count The Days Left mentioned in my last post because of a very frustrating review from Apple’s App Store reviewers.

Review feedback

After waiting over a week for the new version to be reviewed, I received notification that it had been rejected. I assumed this was because of the XCode bug I documented in the last post, but it was actually the following:

8.3 - Apps that appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product, interface, or advertising theme will be rejected

8.3 Details: Your Apple Watch app contains features that mimic native iOS interfaces or behaviors. Specifically, the Complication used for your Apple Watch app mimics that of the native ‘Battery’ Complication design and interface.

Next Steps: Please revise these features to make them distinctly different from the iOS behaviors and interfaces to avoid causing user confusion.

Illogical

Now although the reasons given for the rejection are factually correct, they really don’t make any sense.

Here’s a screenshot from my watch, with the battery complication in the center and the Count The Days Left on the right:

Watch screenshot

However there is a very good reason it looks the same - it’s using the CLKComplicationTemplateCircularSmallRingText template that is one of the few - and pretty restricted - template options available to a developer.

Almost certainly the battery level complication is using the same template, which makes a lot of sense. If you have a “progress” number you want to show - which both the battery and my app do - this is the logical template to use.

Obviously if using this template in your app isn’t going to make it through an app store review, it doesn’t make any sense to allow it in the complications SDK.

However the real answer is that using this complication shouldn’t be rejected by the reviewers. I’m obviously not trying to pretend my app is a battery level complication, and when the user is selecting their complication which one is which (as you can see below):

Watch screenshot

It’s this level of over restriction of their platform that can make it very, very frustrating developing for Apple’s platforms. I’m not advocating a free for all on allowed apps, and their needs to be quality control to not allow apps which abuse user’s data or the like.

However even the intent behind this rule doesn’t make any sense. The fact that my app’s complication looks like another one doesn’t harm the user in any way at all, and if they want to use both at the same time then why shouldn’t they?

Inconsistent

If you’ve been following along as I’ve developed this app, you’ll have spotted the other flaw in Apple’s system.

The complication design hasn’t changed at all since the previous version which was deemed acceptable in previous reviews!

What to do next

I obviously appealed against the review to the App Store, giving the arguments I made above but it still got rejected.

I’m not sure how best to move forward now. I guess my options are:

  1. Resubmit the app again and hope this time I get a more favourable reviewer
  2. Change the complication so it looks differently, which will actually make the app less useful to its users
  3. Remove the complication from the app
  4. Give up, and just keep the improvements in the latest version for myself

Option 1 would be best, although it means waiting another week for a review with an unknown chance of success (probably low because I’ve already appealed)

Option 2 is what I may be forced to do, although it really pains me to make my app worse just to work around Apple’s incompetence

Option 3 would clearly make the app worse, and I know it’s a key feature for more than one user (including myself!)

Option 4 is where we are right now, and is where we’ll be until I find the energy to do something else :(

As you can probably tell, I’m not very happy on where this has ended up.

N.B. This blog post has now moved to https://writingontablets.com

App Store Issues with Watch Update

I’ve been making some minor updates to Count The Days Left

  • Added an optional badge icon so you can see how many days are left without even opening the app
  • Made the app universal so it works better on the iPad, improved the layout so it works in both in portrait and landscape modes, and can be used in Split View

Neither of these improvements are particularly interesting, but what I thought I’d write about was a very irritating bug in either the App Store or Xcode 7.2 (or some combination of the two).

As you can imagine none of the changes are particularly massive, but uploading an archive to iTunes Connect gave some strange errors:

  1. WatchKit 1.0 - Your previous version used an extension for Apple Watch but your current version doesn’t. Users who haven’t updated their Apple Watch to watchOS 2 or later may lose access to their Apple Watch extension.
  2. Invalid Icon Name - The watch application ‘daysleft.app/Watch/daysleft WatchKit App.app’ contains an invalid icon file name ‘daysleft.app/Watch/daysleft WatchKit App.app/WatchAppIcon44x44@2x.png’. Make sure that icon file names follow the pattern “*@x.png" and they match the required dimensions. Please visit developer.apple.com/watchkit for more information.

In particular the 2nd error is strange, as I’ve just used the standard Xcode Images.xcassets template to set the images. There is a 44x44@2x image required which I’ve definitely set to an 88 pixel square image, but it looks like there is a bug setting this in the archive generation.

Screenshot

I’m definitely not the only person seeing this issues, as there is at least one existing Radar bug been opened on the same topic. I also opened a Radar (23871724) - it seems opening duplicates is the best way of making sure Apple know it’s a common problem - which is now closed as a duplicate of yet another one (23859182) - so hopefully this is being addressed by Apple.

My guess is that this became a problem after I upgraded to Xcode 7.2, but I don’t have the energy to revert back to 7.1 to confirm.

I’m not sure if this will prevent the new version being released, so I’ve submitted it and all being well it’ll be available shortly.

N.B. This blog post has now moved to https://writingontablets.com