Archive for January 2009
A couple of days ago the latest update to Oz Weather – v1.3 – was approved for sale by Apple. There are some major enhancements. A lot of work went into this one!
Shortly after release of the new version, Oz Weather finally jumped into #1 spot in paid app rankings in the Australian iTunes store. I’ll cover the effects of this on sales figures in a future blog post.
From the appearance angle, there is a striking new icon (emphasizing the Australia-only weather focus of the app) and a range of fun new background color themes to choose from – just in case anyone tires of seeing the same app colour scheme day after day – as you might only in app that typically gets daily use.
As with previous improvements to the app appearance, I’ve got Peter Fellows to thank for this great design work.
From the functionality point of view, there are several big advances too. Although I’d covered most of the available Bureau of Meteorology forecast locations in previous versions, this version covers all available forecast locations, and for each one will display current weather from up to the 6 nearest observations locations in each case – accessible via the famous side-swipe action that is so often admired in the iPhone’s much more basic built-in weather app.
There is also a new “Capital Cities” item which allows you to see forecasts for the 7 main capital cities all on one page, and to side-swipe through the latest observations for each one, or tap on a city’s forecast line to jump straight to its current observations.
There are also a range of other new features and enhancements like
- Sunrise and sunset times for today
- Forecast min and max temperatures displayed on current observations page
- Dates added to day name on forecast page
You can choose whether or not to enable these new features by going to your iPhone’s home page, selecting the “Settings” icon, and then scrolling down to the “Oz Weather” entry in the list of application settings.
I’ve actually had a lot of fun building this, and the jump is rankings and sales is very gratifying. But it remains to be seen how durable this will be. There is currently an extreme heatwave hitting Melbourne and Adelaide and this could account for a general increase in weather app sales. In fact competing apps have also done very well in the rankings at the same time despite having had no recent updates or icon changes, which does seem to suggest that the unusual/extreme weather is affecting things. But I’ve also had some very positive feedback about the new design. WDYT?
In an earlier article I listed the names of font families and the individual font names available on the iPhone. However, I didn’t take the extra step of actually generating samples of each font type. So here, thanks to some code published by Jonathan Saggau, is a composite image containing a sample of each font type, using the font’s name.
To obtain that font within your code, supply the given font name to the fontWithname class method eg.
UIFont *sampleFont = [UIFont fontWithName:@"MarkerFelt-Thin" size:14.0];
For your enjoyment, here is a recent Twitter thread I participated in.
Tim Haines tweets are in this color. My tweets are in this color.
- @gpdawson Did you know that Oz Weather was in the top paid list for Pakistan 3 days ago? At number 77 no less. Did their cricket team visit?
- @timhaines What a gem! I’ll have to add that into my promo. No Pakistan cricket team here. But I’m guessing not many sales for #77 in P.
- @gpdawson It was 3 days ago, do you have sales stats for then? I’d be interested in how many sales were needed? Maybe 2?
- @timhaines In past two weekly reports there was 1 (one) sale in Pakistan. And 0 (zero) in latest daily reports. LOL!!!
- @gpdawson Ha. Apparently by having 1 sales, you can get to number 77 on Pakistan’s top paid list. Woot! @gpdawson did it with Oz Weather
So yes, apparently just one sale makes it to #77 in the Pakistan iTunes store.
In fact it seems similar is true of a number of national iTunes stores. @veiledgames reported that just one sale in Israel puts them in the top 50 there. And @majicDave reported that four sales was enough to get to #1 in Lebanon.
Let’s just say there is obviously a lot of potential for growth in these places. Maybe the much anticipated (but as yet purely speculative) Nano iPhone or iPod Touch will help things along.
It seems that the major problems with iPhone and iTunes app store pricing synchronisation have now been resolved – although still not a peep from Apple about what has happened or what was done.
How do I reach this conclusion?
- Firstly I observed that my app’s reviews jumped up from 77 to 94, after having been stuck on 77 since before Christmas.
- Secondly I observed that my earlier modifications to my app description had finally propogated to both iTunes and iPhone app store.
- Thirdly I made some further minor changes to my app description, and found that they correctly propogated to both iTunes and iPhone app store in less than 3 hours.
From this I deduced that the problems with app server synchronization were finally over. I then resubmitted my app price change (from $0.99 to $1.99). This change, along with further app description changes, propagated through the system within a couple of hours. So far I have had no customer complaints about being unable to purchase, and Oz Weather app ranking has remained at #2.
Hopefully we’ll eventually hear something from Apple about this. Or on the other hand they might just close the discussion thread about it on the Apple Developer Forums without a word. For the sake of supporting their developers, I’m really hoping it will be the former, of course.
Since my last post about app store re-pricing problems over Christmas, I’ve found evidence that the problem has affected quite a few others too – some publishers losing sales of many thousands of dollars.
There is a thread in the Apple Developer Forums (only accessible via login to registered developers) in which many publishers are venting their frustrations – with one quantifying their losses so far at over $10,000.
As for Oz Weather, the strategy of reverting the app price back to the discounted level seems to have worked. Sales started again almost immediately – purchases were no longer being blocked. Yesterday 415 units were sold, up from the low of 17 units after I attempted to change the price, and the app ranking rose back to #2 paid app in the Australian app store, up from its low of #23. But of course now the app price is stuck at the discounted level – if I want to have any sales at all that is!
Key dates on this graph are as follows.
- 23rd December – ranking #9 – after gradual decline over past week, introduced short-term sale pricing
- 28th December – ranking #2 – short-term sale finished, reverted to normal pricing
- 30th December – ranking #23 – after numerous customer complaints about being unable to purchase, re-introduced sale pricing
- 1st January – ranking #2 – but stuck with sale pricing
It seems likely to me that the reason users were being blocked from buying was due to mismatch between the price cached on the user’s machine/iphone and the price on the purchase server. So when I re-lowered the price, the mismatch no longer occured. It seems that a major de-synchronisation has occured between different components in Apple’s app store system.
Right now, the Oz Weather app description that users are seeing is still the one I had with an Xmas Sale message in it. Once this decription gets updated to the correct, more recent one, I might be willing to risk raising the price again. Also, the number of reviews has been static for about 10 days, despite high sales over Xmas. So watching for when the number of reviews suddenly jumps up with all those missing reviews may be another sign to look for to show that the problem is being resolved.
My advice to other publishers? Don’t make any app changes via iTunes Connect until this problem is resolved – unless it is perhaps to try some harmless subtle text change to your app’s description so that you can test whether or not the update actually filters through the system to the app store.