Bed and Breakfast App Released

Tiny Shiny Apps has created the B&B Hotels app for Bed and Breakfast. The app is available for both the iPhone and iPad and is free to download on the App Store.

Bed and breakfasts app Menu Screen Bed and breakfasts app List Screen

The app is part of revamp of the Bed and Breakfast site and sister sites.

The app was quickly prototyped against their existing web services and then refined to its final design. The app uses CoreLocation and Google Places API. It also includes Google Analytics to provide feedback to the client for future versions of the app.



Un Hueman App Rejection

The Hueman app got rejected by Apple. Does this mean its a bad app or just too close to a direction Apple is hoping to move into?


In some ways it could be a blessing that Hueman isn’t about to be gazumped by the next release of features in iOS. Or replaced in the new product category that will probably be the iWatch.

The TUAW article on Hueman rejection highlights that the app certainly isn’t lacking in functionality and in a week that is seeing a ridiculous number of Flappy Bird clones, this much should be obvious.

As the quantified self becomes more prevalent, this will become the future of apps and their research and development in the area will not be wasted. It just may not see the light in the form of Hueman.

Government Mobile Strategy

Interesting presentation on the Government’s digital first strategy, which doesn’t go as far as mobile first, but still gives it a priority.

Summary of position:

  • government’s position is that native and hybrid apps are rarely justified
  • make sure your service meets the Digital by Default Service Standard and it will work well on mobile devices (responsive HTML5)
  • make your data and/or API available for re-use and you will stimulate the market if there is demand for native apps



Creating an Interactive Children’s Storybook

Creating an interactive children’s storybook is easy. There are only two steps:

  1. Find an awesome illustrator who draws pictures for book.
  2. Find an awesome developer who creates the app.

Maybe not that simple, but that’s how it’s felt for Goldilocks. Even though the route to Goldilocks for me started over a year ago.

Seb Lee-Delisle did a great live demo at UpdateConf in Sep 2011 in Brighton. He created an Angry Birds clone in 30 mins, in front us. He was able to do this because of the power of Corona. Since then, I’ve been looking for a suitable project to use Corona.

When PlayFuel contacted me about the Golidlocks app, I knew it would be a great fit. I just didn’t appreciate how great a fit it would be!

The Golidlocks app is an interactive storybook with gorgeous illustrations, animations, interactivity, narration and sound effects.

Corona allows scene building to put together all these components. The real power and timesaver came from using Kwik2. This Photoshop plugin allows you to work with Photoshop layers as objects within Kwik2, completely hiding any coding in Corona. This made it simple to combine layers as an animation and trigger them from an interaction.

Because Corona is a cross platform development tool it allows you to export the project in iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle Fire formats. This makes it one of the few true “create once, build anywhere” tools. This is perfect for a client as it massively reduces the barriers to entry in a new marketplace.

Read more on the Goldilocks App Blog and Goldilocks App Facebook page.


Downloads Lowdown

The recent increase in app downloads has prompted a quick review of progress so far.

App Downloads – Sept 2012

PictoBento 4,151

TV Soap Quiz 3,463

Chopin Liszt 690

Total apps downloaded: 8,304

App Breakdown

PictoBento is my portfolio app with lots of hours allocated. Launched in November 2011, it was a paid app at Price Tier 1. Listed in the Photo and Video category, total downloads were just over 100 through to July 2012.  The first promotional price drop over 4 days at the end of July resulted in over 1000 downloads. It is currently a free app on version 1.2, with approx 250 downloads a week.

TV Soap Quiz is an ad supported free app experiment. So far, only iAds have been used. Listed in the Entertainment category with approx 200 downloads a week. Currently on version 1.1.

Chopin Liszt was a benchmarking experiment in a lowest common denominator app with basic functionality. A simple todo list app with a silly name. Listed in the Utilities category with one download a day.



App Store SEO

The App Store is the only way to sell an iOS app. For that reason, it is important that you get your App Store listing correct, or even optimised. When searching the App Store for my chosen keyword “Instagram”, PictoBento does not appear.


Other apps which do appear on the App Store for the term “Instagram” include:

InstaPad – Instagram Gallery for iPad

InstaMatch – The Instagram Game

Instamap – real-time Instagram browser

Instagallery – browse Instagram photos

Note that all these apps feature the word Instagram in the app title which is separate to the app name.


Conversely, PictoBento is listed when searching for “dribbble”. It’s listed alongside:

Balllin – a Dribbble client


Dribbbits for iPad

Dribbble Flow

Pick ‘n’ Roll


Plus two other random apps which appear unrelated to the term “dribbble”. Only one of the above apps includes dribbble in its app title.


Where there is low competition, the keywords can take effect. Where there is high competition, the app title wins out over an app with only keywords.


I’ve now changed the title of the app to “PictoBento – Instagram, dribbble and PicPlz Gallery”. The app title is descriptive and accurate. It also better informs an App Store user of the purpose of the app. This coincides with a previous decision to change the secondary category of the app from Utilities to Social Networking to better reflect the nature of Instagram, dribbble and PicPlz and the addition of Twitter sharing in PictoBento 1.2.

Next Steps

Review your App Store listing. Optimise your listing to include keywords in the app title as well as the app description. Your competitors are doing this so you need to.

Update: The initial text was rejected because of the amount of keywords used. A further submission was made, which took another week to be reviewed, but was accepted. The title for the app is now “PictoBento – Instagram and dribbble Gallery”. As soon as the app was listed in the App Store, it appeared alongside all other “Instagram” iPad apps. Result!

Bad Review Fixes App

The Bad Review

It’s pretty disheartening when the first review of an app on the App Store is a one star review which then goes on to slate the app in a neat one liner.

Stupid – Bad scrolling!! you can only look at the popular pages and not your own feed!

“Bad scrolling” is a pretty damning comment on an app whose main feature is a smooth scrolling view of a beautiful images in a coverflow.

But it’s even worse that it strikes a chord as being accurate. In testing the latest version which I was about to upload to the App Store I had noticed that scrolling had become slightly erratic. I’d thought it was just an issue with the Simulator.

The Fix

I discovered that on the device, when used in portrait orientation, that the master view menu appeared on a right swipe. A bit of research on Stack Overflow brings up the details of a change introduced by Apple in iOS 5.1 for master table applications using swipe gestures.

This change in behaviour allows the master view menu which would normally be displayed from a toolbar button to be swiped into and out of view. It was the swiping out behaviour that was interrupting the scrolling in the app. This was only when swiping to the right i.e. moving backwards through the coverflow, where most use tends to be swiping forwards. By disabling the master view menu from appearing on swipe, the scrolling has returned to its previous working state. When the master view menu is displayed from the toolbar button it can still be dismissed with a swipe, therefore not completely removing the new behaviour.

Thanks AppAnnie

AppAnnie first alerted me to the review. It’s been really useful as a way to monitor sales and updates. With the additional use of tracking new reviews (and the defects they mention!) it’s proven invaluable.

Tiny Shiny Apps will be proud to release PictoBento 1.2 with sharing via Twitter and a fix for scrolling/swiping.