A long overdue update on upcoming development plans:
iOS 4 Updates
The release of iOS 4 by Apple has created some interesting new options for the You Have Words iPhone App. The recent update to FlashItalian was a quick release with two purposes. The first was to make the app look good on iPhone 4 retinal displays through the use of high resolution images and icons. The second was to make the app play nice with the new multi-tasking capabilities of iOS 4.
Up to now the model for the application has been to provide a limited sample of the full dictionary and include an In-App purchase option to upgrade to the full version. This allowed users to try the app for as long as they wanted before purchase. The full version also includes Apple Push Notifications to remind you when you have words to review. The problem with Apple Push Notifications is that they require an external server which imposes a cost to the service. For this reason the notification feature was restricted to the paid version of the app.
With iOS 4 there is now the possibility to use local notifications that do not require an external server or internet connection to work. This makes it easier to include this feature in all versions of the app which is something I wanted to do from day one. Once you get beyond the initial learning phase it can be several days or even weeks before you need to review words. The notification feature ensures that you do not forget when you need to spend some time reviewing some words.
Ad Supported Applications
A further new feature in iOS 4 that has received a lot of press attention is iAds which is Apple’s attempt to break into the mobile advertising business. As of writing the iOS 4 service has only just gone live and the ads are only presented to US users of the app. However it is clear that as this service rolls out globally it presents developers with an opportunity to move to free Ad supported apps.
I have been playing with iAds for a few weeks and it does seem that Apple has done a good job of allowing developers to add Ads to an app without annoying the user (time will tell if this is the case). As a result I have decided that with the next upcoming release we will move to a completely free, iAd supported app that includes the full dictionary and local notifications.
The ads will be placed on the home learning screen just above the tab bar so that they do not distract from the learning experience. Users that have already upgraded to the full version will not see the iAds and it is possible we will include an In-App purchase option to disable the Ads for those that want it. I welcome feedback from users on this but I think it represents the best way to give everybody access to the functionality of the app. I expect this version of the app to be submitted to Apple in the next week so look out for it in the App Store in the near future.
The other big development in the Apple world has been the iPad. A version of the application is already up and running on the iPad but it still needs some final tweaks before release. As a result development priority has been going to getting the new iOS 4 versions of the app ready. The next release will be the free iAd supported version with full dictionary access and local notifications. Once that is out of the way the work on iPad support will continue and whilst I cannot give dates should be released a few weeks later.
Finally once all these updates are completed work will continue on improving and extending the dictionaries. The release of the Spanish version of You Have Words is still in the pipeline and hopefully should be out over the summer.