Fake: “Mac OS X Web Browser Automation and Webapp Testing Made Simple.”

Version 0.2 just launched, and it be impressive:

>Inspired by Apple’s Automator application, Fake looks like a combination of Safari and Automator and allows you to run (and re-run) “fake” interactions with the web.
>Power Users will love Fake for automating tedious web tasks like filling out lengthy forms and capturing screenshots. Developers can use Fake for graphically configuring automated tests for their webapps, including assertions.

[Like Automator and Safari got married and made the most beautiful baby.][link] This is already The Best Thing.

[link]: “Fake – Mac OS X Web Browser Automation and Webapp Testing Made Simple.”


David Crane’s “2600 Magic” iPhone Application

[Describing the technical workings of the Atari 2600][link], it is not an emulator, or even really a “how to,” but more like a… Documentary App. I love this kind of thing.

It is Volume One in what will become a series, and if you don’t buy this you are an asshole.

[link]: “2600 Magic for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store”


Cfxr, An OSX Port of sfxr

[It’s an 8-bit-style sound effects generator][link], and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Useful for game mock-ups, too. Maybe even production.

[link]: “Third Cog Software – Cfxr”


Shoehorns and fossils

Jesper on [two of the main problems][link] with current implementations of, and discussions surrounding, email clients.

From [Brent Simmons email-init mailing list][brent].

[link]: “Shoehorns and fossils”
[brent]: “Brent Simmons’ blog post, announcing the list”


FapMapper, An Android App For Public Sex Acts

[This is the true future][link] that mobile ubiquity and unfettered app creation brings us. Welcome to Now. Welcome to the Sticky Sidewalk Future.

[link]: “FapMapper”



[A mobile storyboarding application for iPhone][link]. Looks great, and is a prime example of a wide category of iPhone applications: Stuff I want but will never have any practical use for.

[link]: “Hitchcock – Mobile storyboarding for your iphone”


Gmail, Google Apps out of “beta”

[It only took five years][link].

[link]: “Official Gmail Blog: Gmail leaves beta, launches “Back to Beta” Labs feature”



[A Twitter client for C64][link].

[link]: “:: v a n . d e n . b r a n d e ::”


iHeartRate by Endloop

[My friend Ken Seto’s iPhone/iPod Touch app, recently updated to version 1.1][link]. It’s one of the best-looking and friendliest health-related iPhone apps I’ve seen.

[link]: “endloop inc.- fun, elegant iPhone apps and games”


Introducing PNGPress, a PNG Optimizer for Mac OS X

[You can download and read all about PNGPress at it’s homepage][link]. It’s essentially a Applescript front-end for [OptiPNG][opti], the command line application.

*Update:* The download link for PNGPress is now fixed. Whoops.

[link]: “PNGPress”
[opti]: “OptiPNG”


E-Book Reader Eucalyptus Now Available on The App Store

[Apple has made it right with developer James Montgomerie][link]:

>Earlier today I received a phone call from an Apple representative. He was very complimentary about Eucalyptus. We talked about the confusion surrounding its App Store rejections, which I am happy to say is now fully resolved. He invited me to re-build and submit a version of Eucalyptus with no filters for immediate approval, and that full version is now available on the iPhone App Store.

This hasn’t “fixed” any of the serious issues around the approval process, and it took them way too long to do the right thing, but I’m glad for James. Eucalyptus is an application that was obviously crafted with much care. [Previously][prev].

[link]: “Hither Eucalyptus! – Jamie’s Web Log”
[prev]: “Apple Screws The Pooch Again, Rejects E-book Reader “Eucalyptus””


Apple Screws The Pooch Again, Rejects E-book Reader “Eucalyptus”

[It is hard to believe that they’re still getting away with this][link]. Their reason? You can download naughty books on it, like the Kama Sutra. Nobody tell Apple that you can view the same book in Safari for free on Project Gutenberg, or show them the weird porn you can find on Google, because they’ll have to reject their own browser.


[link]: “Whither Eucalyptus? – Jamie’s Web Log”


Email ‘N Walk

[It uses the iPhone camera to show you what is front of you while you walk and tap out an email][link]. This will sell one-million copies.

[link]: “iPhone users to walk and read at same time • The Register”


The App Store Is Fucking Broken Part XXXL

[Apple has now rejected an application that allows users to remotely manage the popular Bittorrent desktop app, Transmission][link]. Why? Because sometimes people use Bittorrent to bootleg things. In Apple’s own words:

>this category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights. We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store.

Which means, “we choose to tell you to go fuck yourself” if you’ve just wasted hours/days/weeks of your life developing an app only to have it shot down on a whim.

[link]: “Apple rejects Bittorrent control app from App Store because it might be used to infringe copyrights”


Everyblock Releases Free iPhone App

[Everyblock is a great project, and this makes it better][link]. I cannot wait for the main Everyblock code to go open source.

[link]: “The EveryBlock iPhone app”


Ego 1.3 Now Uses Official Google Analytics API

[So announced Garrett Murray on twitter][link]. The API was [launched by Google today][api]. Glad to see it.

[link]: “Twitter / Garrett Murray: I guess I can say now that …”
[api]: “Google Analytics API”


O’Reilly’s Round-up of iPhone Application Statistics

[Lots of interesting data][link]. As [a commenter notes][comment], the “ratings” metric should be taken with a grain of salt. Instead of defaulting to “no” stars (and possibly prompting the user to choose a rating if they’ve not done so) the App Store defaults to 1 star. Since it doesn’t require you to select a star, there are a lot of positive-to-middling reviews with 1 star ratings.

[link]: “Waiting for the Billionth Download – O’Reilly Radar”
[comment]: “Commenter”


HTTP Client – Mac Tool for HTTP Debugging

[Found this useful today in my tracking down a problem with la petite url][link].

(via [Shawn Medero][shawn])

[link]: “HTTP Client – Mac Developer Tool for HTTP Debugging”
[shawn]: “Shawn Medero”


Birdhouse — A notepad for Twitter

[Birdhouse][link], co-created by [Adam Lisagor][adam] of [You Look Nice Today][ylnt], is a great example of an application made for a niche audience, with the application’s authors being a part of that niche.

[adam]: “Adam Lisagor / lonelysandwich”
[link]: “Birdhouse — A notepad for Twitter”
[ylnt]: “You Look Nice Today”

Birdhouse is for twitter writing what [MarsEdit][mars] is to blog writing.

[mars]: “MarsEdit”


Presenting Software Features and Understanding User Unrest

Adding features to applications is a constant trade-off between opposing forces. Sometimes adding to or changing software can be a hinderance both to the user and the developer in several ways.

[Ego][ego], Garrett Murray’s excellent iPhone application, was blocked by [Google Analytics][ga] yesterday. Since support for GA is one of Ego’s advertised features, paying users are understandably upset. Garrett is a good developer, and I’ve been using his software for years (his application [xPad][xpad] was one of the first non-Apple bits of Mac software I ever purchased) but I think much of the user reaction to this issue was predictable and preventable.

[xpad]: “xPad”
[ego]: “Ego”
[ga]: “Google Analytics”

Unlike many of the other stat-tracking widgets used in Ego, Google Analytics does not have an official API with which developers can retrieve data for use in applications. This means that to get the data at all, Ego has to use what I’d (not at all disdainfully) classify as a “hack”; Getting at useful information in an unsupported way. The problem with this is that the average user has no reason to suspect that Google Analytics portion of his $2 iPhone application may stop working without any prior warning. This is a case of the classic “stopped working for no reason” that developers hear all the time. There is a reason, and it’s a pretty simple one, but the user has no frame of reference for it. What’s more,*the user has absolutely no reason to know the reason*. It’s not their job. They just saw a feature list and clicked buy.

Here’s a screen shot of the features section of the Ego application page on the iTunes store:


You can see here that the Google Analytics feature is listed right next to services with officially supported APIs, such as [Feedburner][feedburner] and Twitter.

[feedburner]: “Feedburner API”

What this says to the user is “these features are equal, and just as likely to work” which we now know isn’t the case. A lot of applications do things like this, and the intent isn’t malicious- the average user just genuinely doesn’t know and doesn’t need to know what an API is, or what has one and what doesn’t.

Since there is no “official” way to include Google Analytics data, the GA widget is a trade-off between feature set and usability. Unofficial means that it’s more likely to stop working “for no reason.” Unofficial means that Google can change whatever they like whenever they like, and you just have to eat it, like Garrett is doing now.

He’s is obviously a smart guy, and I’m sure he weighed the pros and cons of including support for Google Analytics in the first place, but I’m also pretty sure he’s second guessing that decision at least a little bit today. This isn’t to say that he made the wrong one- I don’t think he did- but that the way in which application features are presented to users create expectations for those features that may have unintended consequences for developers.