Sometimes it’s really hard to work on app creation. I’ve been doing the mobile development thing for almost two years now. While I have found some success, I’m far from early retirement. Sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting my time. I’d probably would have made more money delivering pizzas or simply giving up and collecting unemployment. But every so often, a ray of sunshine rips through the darkness. I can see signs of inspiration — showing me that I’m on the right track.
My skills in Xcode have improved somewhat. I realized that the best way to publish The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook was not as an iBook, not as an ePub, but as an app. I used the program Pages in Apple’s iWork to create an ePub document. But after a disappointing response on the iBookstore — which uses the ePub format — I decided to try something else. An ePub file is like a self-contained website. In other words, it’s basically HTML. With Xcode, I could create a UIWebview to display this content. I could make my own version of the iBooks app.
My app wasn’t as glamorous as Apple’s iteration, but mine was much faster. Also, it was a lot easier to scroll through the content. With iBooks, an iOS device has to struggle to figure out page counts and page layout. That created a big problem for my textbook — a publication with lots of text and images. Aside from the search function in iBooks, my app simply had better performance. I worked hard to ensure that my textbook app would work great on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. I created a universal binary that supported both landscape and portrait orientations. From 320×480 to 1024×768, the app would adjust to the screen size — but without the lag I was getting in iBooks.
Those that tried the app version seemed to like it. Apparently, Apple liked it too. They had rejected a previous attempt to publish The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook as an app, citing usability issues, but my newer app was accepted. The app’s construction was sound. Some might disagree with Apple’s “Walled Garden” approach to app publishing, but I think they were right to reject the first version. It forced me to create the better version.
Shortly after release, the app was featured as a “New and Noteworthy” book.
I was happy with this success. I was proud. This was an app that I built with Xcode. I didn’t use GameSalad or Corona to build this app. It was Objective-C and I was manually editing HTML code. I felt like a tough guy. I decided to build on this success.
Using what I had learned with Xcode, I decided to create my own review app. I like publishing articles for this website, but it’s not very profitable. With the proliferation of ad-blockers, and general viewer desensitization to advertisements, banners under-perform. I decided to try a new plan. I was wondering if I could put review articles inside an app. This self-contained website would use iAds to generate revenue. That’s when I created Critique – the cool app about cool apps.
The initial response was underwhelming. The income from this app was far below expectations. I thought that I was wasting my time again. Yet, something surprising happened. This app was also featured by Apple. It was listed as “New & Noteworthy” in the Entertainment section of iTunes. At the same time, The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook also jumped in notoriety. It was listed as “What’s hot” in Books.
Counting Commove, this is the third Photics app to be featured by Apple. (Perhaps there were others. I’m not sure.) It shows that my development skills are improving. It’s difficult to get noticed in such a competitive market. I was able to do it at least three times. That’s no fluke. I have to remember moments like this when those discouraging thoughts arise. Success is out there on the iTunes app store.