Serving Sizer recipe converter--the Visual Design Process

We put a lot of thought into the aesthetics for our iPhone app, Serving Sizer recipe converter. We wanted the app to follow Apple's Human Interface Guidelines, but also set itself apart by polishing the basics to an appealing, graphically designed user interface. Let me take a little time to give insight into our design process in this post.

Serving Sizer Recipe Converter Reviewed by The iPhone Mom

We're thrilled that the The iPhone Mom recently reviewed Serving Sizer and she loves it: "...I must say that it is a TERRRIFIC tool for moms." She cites that she found it "extremely easy to use" and it eliminates the need to worry about frustrating fractions. "For me converting recipes usually involves fractions and counting on my fingers and lots of frustration. I am thrilled to have an app that’s smarter than me and is going to eliminate that frustration."

Full review is here.

Thanks iPhone Mom!

Tips for New iPhone Developers #1 - Five Ratings Minimum to Get an Average

When you are new to a platform, sometimes things take some time to learn. I find out a lot of things via Twitter (I follow a lot of iPhone and other mobile devs), plus by reading developer blogs and following recommended links. Today I learned something very valuable and rather than "tweet" about it, I decided to start adding short "tips" to our blog, so there's an easier way to find and record them for future reference.

So without further ado, today's tip covers reviews:

We Can Always Go Back to the Old Way of Distributing Software

Yes, the AppStore review system is archaic and out of our control. Yes, the discoverability is frustrating and when the store breaks, we're out of luck. But would you really want to go back to the 'old way' of distributing mobile software? Let's look at what the AppStore fixed in terms of mobile software distribution.

Your AppStore is Broken--Can You Please Fix It? We're Trying to Run a Business Here!

Getting one new app noticed in a sea of 100,000 apps is impossible. However, each app gets one (guaranteed?) opportunity to gain a certain sales momentum through exposure on the by Release Date (aka new releases) list. If you're in a competitive category, your app may get a few days on the front page, or perhaps your app gets nearly a week. Either way, without this jumpstart, your app is destined to only garner a few sales. However, the Release Date lists are now broken--many apps appearing on the list have 2008 release dates (some are outdated releases for 2.0 only--not even updated for 3.0 software update for the iPhone and iPod Touch). If this problem is not fixed soon, ALL apps released in this current timeframe will be DOA. Our Serving Sizer Recipe Converter app falls under this predicament! Our first day of sales can be counted on one hand, instead of 10x that amount for a partial first day of sales.

Serving Sizer Recipe Converter Now on AppStore

We're pleased to announce that our Serving Sizer Recipe Converter app is now available on the AppStore! Serving Sizer

With Serving Sizer you can convert any recipe ingredient from one serving size to another. Great for scaling for crowds, or down-sizing for 1-2 person meals. Units are both in Imperial and Metric, so you can convert from European to US recipes in a snap as well!

More details in our previous post. Enjoy!

Designing an iPhone App's "About" Page Using HTML

During design of our Date Wheel and Serving Sizer iPhone apps, we wanted to include an "about" page with information and links for contacting us, sharing our apps, and upselling. We considered several options, but found using html to this end was the best solution for us. Since it worked well, we thought we'd share the method. This post will describe the steps necessary to create an html "about" page.

To make an html "about" page with Interface Builder, you need to:

Add a View Controller for the "about" page to your project. Then, change the class name from UIViewController to something like AboutPageViewController. Next, add a Web View to the View Controller:

web view screenshot

Serving Sizer Recipe Converter Submitted to AppStore

Serving Sizer recipe converter has been 'ported to iPhone. We recently submitted it to the AppStore for approval.

Serving Sizer scales recipes by serving size--enter recipe's serving size and the new number of servings and this cooking calculator will handle all the fraction math for you. Some examples:

  • Your favorite recipe serves 4, but you have a family of 5--use Serving Sizer to convert ingredients to your needs.
  • Holiday dinners are around the corner and the guest list is for 14. You want to make your favorite corn pudding, but the serving size is 6. This app will do the math so you make enough for everyone.
  • Dinner for 1 tonight, but you don't want 3 days of leftovers. Convert that 4 serving recipe to a 1-person meal.
  • You're catering a big event for 100. You have an 8 serving recipe to increase for a crowd. The app will help calculate the right amounts to buy and make.
  • Sure, anyone can double a recipe from 4 to 8 servings, but what if you have 10 people coming and don't want to run out of meat? Serving Sizer will tell you how many pounds of meat to buy for your dinner party.
  • Got a cookbook you bought in Europe, but the recipes are all in metric? Serving Sizer can help here too--all calculations are displayed in both Imperial and Metric units. Converting to and from metric and imperial units requires no additional steps. Just tap on "original" serving size and you'll see amounts in both ml and cups.

Here's some screenshot teasers for you:

Serving Sizer main screenServing Sizer measurement entry

Date Wheel 1.1.0 Update Available on the AppStore

Date Wheel 1.1.0 update is now live on the AppStore today. The update increases the number of calculations you can save, adds accessibility for visually impaired, plus includes optimization.

Date Wheel screenshot

Earning a Living as an Independent Mobile Software Developer

Developing for mobile platforms such as iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, is hot right now. The choices have exploded in recent years. For micro ISV's (independent software vendors) like ours, Creative Algorithms, many positive things have been happening in the mobile space. Barriers to entry have lowered on some platforms, so getting personal with carriers is unnecessary; on-device application stores have become standard (with lower commission rates, increased customer awareness of apps, and ease of installation and purchase); upfront fees or memberships have become reasonable, and the market size for smartphones has been increasing. These improvements, however, have made it more difficult to choose which platform is the best fit, or which has the greatest potential for supporting oneself. To make the choice more difficult, the numbers keep changing. For example, the numbers have already changed since the start of research for this post--sales volumes for Android handsets have increased, 30 new Windows Mobile phones are now predicted, and 20k more apps have entered the Apple AppStore.

An important part of the decision is the numbers, but each mobile platform also has their negatives--Apple's submission practices, increasingly difficult discovery in the AppStore, and penny-candy pricing for apps. Android has few released phones with its platform, which means low volumes, plus its Market can be difficult to find on its phones. The new Palm Pre (webOS) has very low initial volume (as compared to its competitors) and has only just now opened its online store for submission of paid applications. Blackberry World must be installed on the device before use and the installation of apps isn't streamlined. Windows Mobile's look and feel is outdated, and its new new app catalog, Windows Mobile Marketplace, is not open, just currently taking submissions. Symbian is downright confusing--too many options, too many phones, and entry pricing is complicated and expensive. The Ovi store is promising, but consumer awareness for apps needs more promoting.

Each platform also has varying developing environments, but that is not the focus of this post. What business-side information can help small developers determine which path to strike? Is it possible to earn a living as a mobile software developer and on which platform is this goal easiest to achieve? This post will provide a valuable platform comparison and a foundation on which to determine the path for reaching self-employment goals as an independent mobile software developer.

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