Category Archives: Apple

Upcoming updates to Mechanical Pomodoro

Continuing from my previous post, The Amazing Mechanical Pomodoro has been available on the iTunes store and getting some good buzz.

There was a nasty bug which we missed during our tests but we managed to put a new version on the store in 24h that fixes the problem.

I can’t stress how much we’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and we’re thinking on a way to make it up to you.

In the meantime, I want to make a quick post to share some of the upcoming improvements planned for the next weeks:

  • Update interface and artwork for iOS4 (Retina Display).
  • Improve animation on the Flip Clock.
  • Add true background processing for iOS4 as soon as it becomes available to us.
  • Add sound options (since not everyone likes a ticking sound).
  • Customize Pomodoro standard time.
  • More steam.

That’s the general roadmap ahead of us, if you think there’s something amazing adding there, contact us. I’ve been personally answering every e-mail and reading your feedback.

So let’s set our timers to 25 min and get working. :)

The Amazing Mechanical Pomodoro

The Amazing Mechanical Pomodoro is now available at the iTunes App store.

The app for the iPhone/iPod Touch helps you implement the Pomodoro Technique for increasing productivity and focusing at the tasks at hand.

The technique consists in breaking down work in  25 minutes chunks of time (called Pomodoro) and focusing only on the task at hand (use your favorite task manager).
After each Pomodoro you take a 5 minute short break and after the 3rd Pomodoro you can take a 15 minute long break. The Pomodoro Technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo.

This is the first app for the iPhone made at Think Orange. We asked Bauke Schildt to colaborate with us on this project thanks to his amazing design skills.

Design vs Functionality

There were 2 main pillars for the development of this application:

a) KISS – Keep it simple stupid. We wanted to be easy to use so no complicated options, buttons or bloated functionalities. For example, most people already have a favorite task handling system (GTD, Things, Tada List, pen and paper, etc) so we didn’t waste time building another one on top of Mechanical Pomodoro.

b) Design is everything. The app had to be gorgeous. After building the prototype, we sat down with Bauke to come up with a theme (steampunk style) and create a beautiful design that supported all the functionality but still being usable.

Technical Notes

We used Appcelerator’s Titanium Mobile to build the Mechanical Pomodoro, their support is fantastic and being able to use one code base for both Android an iPhone versions is a great win for us. Development time was also much faster in comparison with XCode but the documentation for Titanium needs to be deeply improved.

We took 3 days to create a complete functional prototype of the application and then it took 1 month (part time) to finish development with the new design, tests, performance tweaks and real iPhone tests and finishing touches. The animations were particulary hard to achieve and took the most time to “get it right”.

The app was done with 1 coder (me) and 1 designer (Bauke Schildt).

Notes on Apple App Store

If I recall, it took us 3 weeks to get our company registered at Apple. But the process to get the app approved was much quicker. It took 1 week for the app to be reviewed and only 2 days for approval.

My advice is test your app very well before submitting, break everything and fix it again. Distribute the app to 2 or 3 friends and let them test it. Listen to their advice. :)

Summary

It was trilling building something for the iPhone and seeing it on a real machine for the first time. It’s hard to describe the feeling. I hope people enjoy the app as much as I had fun building it with Bauke. Expect more apps soon.

The app is available at the app store and costs $1.99 (or 1.57 eur). Android version will be available as soon as Google Checkout is available in Portugal. :|

I have 4 promo codes for the app (US Store only), make a comment with a valid email and I’ll give it away.

Gallery

And finally, some images from early prototype to finished product. Sketches coming soon.

Update 04/08/2010:

Just submitted an update to iTunes Connect that fixes the bug when returning from sleep or other tabs. Also added some small tweaks and improved artwork.

We’re preparing another one with some suggested features and requests. thanks for all the feedback.

Apple responsible for 25% of US music sales

If you needed more proof that the music cd is dying and record companies should accompany the the shift in consumer preferences then maybe the next amazing numbers by the NPD Group should convice you:

* Apple is generating one quarter of all US music sales (25%). And Apple is also responsible for 69% of all online music sales.

* 65% of all music sold during 2009 are still in CD format.

Times are changing. Apple managed to stay ahead of the game by thinking forward and not fighting change. But as the music industry is now paying more attention to the situation, the TV and newspaper mediums are starting to face the new dilemmas from digital distribution and most are choosing to fight the trend. Let’s see how well they’ll do.

Wallace & Gromit Grand Adventures

Traditional point and click adventure games are a dead genre but some publishers still try to push games with a more modern interface and storytelling aproach.

picture-1

Today I bought Wallace & Gromit Grand Adventures on Xbox Live and it’s pure fun. Go try the demo or look at the trailer, it’s worth it.

P.S: And don’t forget that Bionic Commando:Rearmed is selling for 5$ on discount.

turn your netbook into a mac?

Netbooks seem to be the new craziness in technology these days, stores everywhere are selling them, manufacters have upgraded the offer to almost every color, shape, configuration and size available and portable bandwidth is also contribuiting for more ubuiquity.

Apple’s own solution to the ultimate portable machine is still the Macbook Air, which some people may say is a bit pricey, so I guess it was just a matter of time for someone to hack Apple’s OS X into a netbook and try to obtain a cheap Apple machine.

Boing Boing has a handy chart for those who want to adventure into building your own hackintosh. The procedure doesn’t seem very easy and not everything may work without some tinkering with the console and installing aditional drivers.

If you’re interested, go take a look at the tutorials and Boing Boing’s Mac OS X Netbook Compatibility Chart and tell us how it went. :)

Fluid on Mac

If you’re a Mac user and an avid consumer of web applications (Flickr, Delicious, Basecamp, Netvibes, Gmail, etc, just to name a few) then you’ll problably be happy to install Fluid.

Fluid is a small application for the Mac which enables you to create Site Specific Browsers (SSBs) for your most used web applications. That means they will run as if they were a stand alone application on your Mac with it’s own desktop icon, menubar, etc.

You can even leave it the dock for easy access to your app, so give Fluid a try, it’s free. There’s even a Flickr Group full of icons for your dock.

Note: If you’re using Windows I guess you could try Prism from Mozilla Labs.

what’s in your dock or sidebar?

So, my question for today is: What applications do you keep on your dock/sidebar? Which essential applications do you use daily?

The following is part of my dock:

  • Finder
  • Mail (although I still prefer the Google Mail look and feel)
  • DashBoard
  • Firefox (has all my essential development plugins)
  • Safari (faster browsing)
  • iTunes
  • MAMP (very easy and painless php+mysql+apache on a Mac)
  • Textmate (my favourite editor)
  • Pixelmator (I learned to forget about Photoshop because I only use 10% of it)
  • GoPlan (using Fluid)
  • Transmit (ftp made easy)
  • Stickies (lot’s of them)
  • Calendar
  • Terminal (never knew I would say this but I can’t live without it now)
  • Control Panel
  • and the usual folders and trash bin.

new Xbox 360 Dashboard

Microsoft revealed the new and revamped UI for the X-Box 360 last week on E3 and it was about time.

The current dashboard although not being too bad, has a few problems which sucessive update haven’t fixed, such as  too much information on screen, a bit of lag, hard to navigate in so much content (you have videos, games, addons, music,etc) and some areas were simply over-complicated.

Old Xbox Layout:

New Layout below:

With this aproach I think Microsoft is going the “Apple way” and going for a more simple, less complicated but coese design. On the other hand, with Sony releasing it’s “Home” pseudo-Second Live world/dashboard and given the Wii’s success with the Mii’s, Microsoft felt the need to introduce some sort of Avatars into the console.

Joystiq has posted a video walkthrough of the new Dashboard and Xbox Focus has detailed information on the new features. Now it’s all about waiting for the next system-update and experience the new dashboard hands-on.