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Podcast #32 – “WWDC Notably Absent”

Episode 32, recorded April 8th 2012

Does Radar need to be fixed or not? Apple increases developer share for iAds. And we are on tenterhooks waiting for WWDC tickets to become available.

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iAd Developer Share Raised

Apple raises revenue share going to developers from iAd to 70%, up from 60%. In a move that probably aimed at making iAd banners more attractive Apple raised the share to the same percentage developers are already getting for app sales and in-app purchases. The problem that people are still having with iAds is less the percentage they are getting, it’s the fill rate.

Because of this they are mediation networks like the one from Google or a component like my DTBannerManger which combines iAds, AdMob and MobFox to get 100% fill rate with the highest paying ads prioritized higher. Nevertheless we appreciate the gesture, personally I feel it’s a bit more rounded that Apple gets 30% share in everything.

Having a different percentage for a single service felt odd, not smooth, unlike Apple. At least they ironed this out for whatever reasons.

Miscellaneous Announcements

Apple has made new material available on the App Store Resource Center which you can use to promote your app with Apple’s blessing. On this page you can find the official “Available on the App Store” badge with instructions how you may and may not modify and use this. There are also official high resolution images for iOS devices which you can use in photo montages showing your app running on a device. The announcement mentioned new localized versions of the badge in Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese.

There where several great links in this week’s installment of the iOS Dev Weekly newsletter. I got the WWDC ticket availability stats post from there as well as the next two items:

There’s a cool guide on TheIconmaster.com that explains how to make a shortcut to new Photostream images in your Finder. This enables you to see new screenshots pop up right away on your Mac after you made them on your iOS devices. The advantage here is that you don’t have to have iPhoto running and iCloud sync working over peer-to-peer when your devices are on the same WiFi network. There is a smart search feature in Finder that automatically updates when new files appear. By combining this with a search for PNG files and the photo stream sync folder you’re set.

There is an extensive code style guide on NearTheSpeedOfLight.com. It describes in great detail how you should style your code. From naming conventions to tips on how to structure your APIs. This joins the ZDS Code Style Guide by Marcus Zarra and the Google Objective-C Style Guide in trying to bring order to our chaotic code. While the contained details in all three guides might remind you a bit of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) there are nevertheless many good reasons for why it makes sense to do certain things a certain way. If not following it slavishly it might do wonders on your own code style and code readability if you pick up a couple of pointers when skimming through these guides.

App Review Weather Report: New Apps 97% chance of being approved in 5 days, Updates 99%.

This week was somewhat uneventful, probably because I was on vacation. Could it be that Apple is aware that many developers are taking the week off leading up to the Easter holidays? I mean, if they would have announced the 2012 Worldwide Developer Conference in this week then they would have annoyed all those vacationing people. I for one was glad that they didn’t because it saved me from having to deal with somebody else buying a ticket for me while I am incommunicado.

WWDC 2012, … NOT!

Somebody – whose name I forgot – did a linear regression on previous announcement dates and ended up seeing April 18th as the most likely date that tickets could go on sale. Scott McAlister compiled a complete list of when tickets went on sale in relation to the conference dates for the last 8 years. Before the iPhone there were around 4 months lead time. For the past 4 years there were between 40 and 88 days lead time, that equates to around 2 months.

If we take the speculative date of 11th of June then that means we are today just over 2 months way. By the way, the dates 11th through 15th of June are the only guess we have based on the Moscone West event calendar which has a “Corporate Meeting” by an unnamed company. Any day now….

Apple has no rush, its not that the event will not sell out in under 10 hours. To allow developers to be notified when tickets become available there is WWDCalerts.com which announced that they have 9000 subscribers so far. Mind you all these are competing for about 5000 tickets. Well that REALLY scares me.

I talked to John Geylense – head of developer evangelism at Apple – at last years Apple tech Tour in London. When I suggested to him that Apple should do one regional WWDC per continent he responded that he thought that this would be too expensive and that they couldn’t ship around all the engineers to the events. Then I pointed out that maybe 3 events – evenly distributed around the globe – would probably cost less than the 10 road show events combined because of all the flights and hotel rooms they would have had to book for the road show.

Though I fear that this suggestion – which probably many other developers have given as well – has fallen on deaf ears. If I were a betting man then I would still put my money on a single WWDC in June, followed by a 10 city road show later this year. Oh wait … I AM betting on this, because I already purchased a flight and hotel for 2 weeks in June. And apparently many others as well, because I found that the hotel room costs twice the normal rate during the rumored week of WWDC.

Either way Apple should announce the event at least 3 weeks beforehand simply for the reason that peoples who will fly to the USA for the event will have to register for Electronic System for Travel Authorization if their country is part of the Visa Waiver system. If I am not mistaken you’ll have to do that at least 3 weeks before traveling.

Some creative developers have begun filing Radars to express their frustration with not being able to buy a ticket or even knowing the official date. Unfortunately that seems to be the only way to communicate with Apple when we are dissatisfied with them. Just as unfortunately you cannot ever hope to get a useful response for these kinds of non-technical bug reports.

The other creative way I found how some people deal with the fear of missing out is to form Dub-Dub-Buddy-Teams. Thereby two developers both agree to buy an extra ticket for each other, just in case. This way there is a higher chance that both will get a ticket and if there are any left over it would be easy to find a buyer for that.

Radar, To Fix or Not To Fix

Speaking of Radar. The number of people who have registered their Radar-fixing Radar at Fix Radar or GTFO is holding at 329 which is a sad and low number. I would have thought that this cause should have been able to unite more than 300 developers. The goal of this initiative is to inspire Apple to improve their bug tracking and feature requesting system. I inquired why many more developers are taking objection to the goal of the initiative or the tone it is written in.

Some developers are afraid that they might anger somebody at Apple. And that this would cause Apple engineers to delay fixing the actual bugs they filed. While I can understand this fear, I refuse to believe that Apple engineers are vengeful and I refuse that this sort of egotistical thinking would be the norm.

Oleg Andreev even goes as far as calling the initiative “nonsense“. He wrote:

Developers do not need a radar. Apple needs it. And they make it good enough for themselves, not for 3rd party developers. If the UI sucks and they get 10 times less bugs than people would love to file, it must be something they are okay with.

I’m interested in your opinion. Did you file your duplicate Radar mentioning the one from the site? Or did you write a lengthy blog post explaining why this is futile? Or if you did neither, what is your reason for your inactivity? Could not be bothered? Leave me a voicemail under (415) 860-4324.

Peter Steinberger caught a glimpse of Apple’s internal Radar.app and tweeted:

The funny thing is, now that I’ve seen Radar.app, I totally understand why Apple never gonna release that. ^^

So it might be simple embarrassment why Apple does not let us have the Radar app so far.

I have my doubts that Apple will every open the issue tracking system even a tiny crack. So that’s why you should also post a copy of your bug report to the OpenRadar site hosted on Google Apps. Every now and then when I trip on a bug I found – when googling for it – that either somebody asked about this bug on Stack Overflow or there is an Open Radar entry for it. If you then file your own Radar you can mention the other Radar for reference. That probably makes the Apple engineer’s live easier to categorize the bug report as well as gives us some peace of mind that we can be reasonably sure that it is not our code that has a fault.

Xcode Jobs

In the previous episode I told you about this new hobby project I started and called XcodeJobs.com. The idea here is basically that through all the Twittering that I do I see many iOS developers and development companies looking to hire iOS developers for fixed staff positions. Now it is my believe that regular job adverts just don’t cut it any more to capture the attention of experienced developers. You need to be a bit more creative than simply list all the skills you are looking for. Why should this iOS expert be interested in working for you when can just as well can have his own small business doing contract work?

XcodeJobs.com is set up such that if you sign in you immediately have the rights to create a blog post with a creative description of what you do and why candidates should closer look at your company. The best example I’ve ever seen for a creative iOS job advert was by Polarbear Farms. They sort of a billboard that looked a bit like a blue print. This brilliantly examplifies how to create an advert that is both memorable and intriguing. The link to the one iOS Jobs rundown I did a while back on my blog is also in the show notes.

The blog goes together with a Twitter account by the same name which I’m now using to retweet all the job offers that come before my eyes. Though I’m filtering a bit there as well, I have a bad feeling about retweeting job tweets that have a #jobs hash tag or that lead to websites that are obviously commercial recruiting agencies. That’s another thing that you definitely shouldn’t use if you are looking to prove your originality to your next iOS developer employee.

So – long story short – if you’re ever looking for somebody, then please do a creative ad at XcodeJobs.com or if you couldn’t be bothered then at least tweet a link to a job offer on your own company website so that I can retweet it.

Feedback

I love to hear from you, you can email me at oliver@cocoanetics.com or tweet me @cocoanetics. If you want to give me audio feedback or have some interesting comment for me to play on the show please call my Google Voice mailbox:  (415) 860-4324

 


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