Hot Apps Fast Mover: Photo Effects Plus

2 BY Lisa Brewster

Finally, a photo editor for webOS?  Finally, indeed!  As a photographer myself, one of the features I appreciate the most about the Palm Pre is the extraordinary camera quality.  For the past year I’ve marveled at all the shots with perfect exposure and white balance that would have come from my SLR only after several rounds of test shots and fiddling.  But an automatic system can’t calculate a photographer’s creative vision, and now with Photo Effects we’ve got some tools at our disposal.

This application comes in two flavors:  the free Photo Effects gives users access to filters such as black and white and sepia, and Photo Effects Plus adds cropping and resizing functionality for only $0.99.  This is something that Photo Effects definitely does right: having a limited free version is a great way to build consumer confidence that your app delivers the functionality they’re looking for.

Photo Effects free makes a modest plug to promote the paid app with an application menu item, but as someone who looks at an awful lot of apps, I think it’s totally appropriate to toot your own pro version horn — especially to an eager and currently underserved market like photographers.  These folks have no shame dropping hundreds of dollars for a new lens…go ahead, be bold and use an occasional splash screen to tell them about the extra features they’ll get for less than the price for a latte!

So let’s take a look at what makes this app awesome.  Following the app’s directions to tap the folder icon to select a photo presents the user with the standard webOS photo picker.  I’m going to work on a picture I took in Mexico last year where the colors came out a little dull. I still like the composition, however, so I’d like to see how it looks in black and white.

Now here’s where this app really gets interesting.  Currently, webOS can load a photo into the canvas for editing, but doesn’t have a way to save the resulting image. Some apps get around this by directing the user to manually take a screenshot, but Photo Effects came up with a great workaround by uploading the photo to their server for processing, then sending it back down to the phone and saving it. Here’s the end result.

 

After downloading the edited version, the user can set it as wallpaper, or send it via SMS or email.  The whole process is very quick and seamless; I’d have no idea that the photo was processed on a different server if the app didn’t say so.

This method is admittedly more complicated to implement, but by combining great functionality with a better user experience now, this app has a head start growing a user base that will put them ahead of the competition when we make improvements to this functionality in the future.

What features have you run into in an application that gave you an “ah ha” moment? If you have either run into this in a webOS application, or of course if you have written this yourself, let us know! If you’re close to submitting your app, do it now! You can still benefit from our Hot Apps promo; Fast Movers have shown that you can get in the money within a week!

Topics  Hot Apps

This Week in Hot Apps

0 BY devrel

Plumber’s Nightmare has smoked up the charts this week. Coming from nowhere the lite version has reached 256 and the paid version has hit #76! With 60 levels of pipe connecting fun the guys at Invasive Bamboo have created a great game. Also check out one of their earlier games, Virus Defense.

Near the top of the leaderboard GolfPinFinder and FlashCards have continued to move up, now hitting #8 and #9 respectively. Also in golf, Golf Caddie has moved up two spots to #17 and FreeCaddie Pro has moved up three spots to #27. It must be the great weather getting people outside with their webOS devices.

Following up on last week, Photo Effects has continued to rise, hitting #73. It’s advanced twin, Photo Effects Plus recently joined the catalog with the addition of resizing and cropping. This version has gone from nothing to #107 in less than a week!

That’s it for Hot Apps this week. There’s still over a month left in the competition, so get your apps in the game.

Topics  Hot Apps

Using the webOS dashboard for great experiences: Jot It! and Weather

7 BY devrel

When developers first come to a new platform, they tend to think about building applications as they have done so in the past. Over time, they learn the “platform-isms” and that is when the experience begins to shine.

One of the unique features of webOS is the notification system which consists of banners, pop-up, and dashboard panels.

We have started to see very interesting uses of dashboards, and we wanted to highlight a couple of applications that showcase the usage.

Jot It!

Jot It! is an application for folks who are really into keeping and accessing notes on their device. There is the built-in memos app, and other great solutions such as Evernote, but what is interesting about Jot It! is their use of a dashboard panel.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the dashboard has been skinned to feel like a launch pad for notes.

When you launch the application, the main screen actually disappears leaving solely the dashboard to create a new note, of give into old ones.

Weather Dashboard

The Weather Dashboard app (lite version) does just what you would think. It is a prime example of an “app” that can live its life purely as a dashboard. Tap through to various days of weather info, and the only time a full card is launched is for tweaking settings.

With dashboards being full HTML windows, remember that you can pack a lot into those little areas. How could your application benefit from dashboards?

Topics  Hot Apps

Palm Developer Podcast Series: Episode Three – New APIs coming in future webOS SDKs

0 BY devrel

In this episode Ben and Dion discuss the recent Palm Developer Day event. They discuss the content of the event and then deep dive into the technology and announcements that were made. Want to learn about JavaScript Services and how you will be able to write to the other side of the service bus? Or the upcoming db8 native JSON store? Or, the other great features and technology planned for developers. Also, make sure to keep watching for a surprise sales pitch at the end!

There are a bunch of ways to stay in touch:

Topics  Podcasts

Hot Apps Fastest Mover: Moon Info

4 BY cyikeda

There’s something mysterious about the moon. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of the few natural wonders that can be witnessed from anywhere in the world, or that its appearance is constantly shifting. Whatever the reason, I have a feeling some of you feel the same as I do, because Moon Info is one of the Fastest Movers in Palm Hot Apps this week.

If you’ve ever looked up at the sky and wondered when the next full moon would be, or what phase the moon is in currently, you should check this app out. There is a visual depiction of the moon phases, all of the data is presented in a clean way, and the interface provides multiple ways to input the date of the moon phase in question.  The interface also displays useful information, such as illumination, age, and distance of the current moon. Along the side of the interface, relevant moon cycles like the last new moon and first quarter moon are provided as well.

I like that the developer included separate buttons for timeline traversal, one set to go between days and another that iterates by hours.  There is also a consolidated view that appears for the current state of the moon if the main view is tapped.  The application can be configured to display distance in miles or kilometers, so nobody’s left out.

What features have you run into in an application that gave you an “ah ha” moment? If you have either run into this in a webOS application, or of course if you have written this yourself, let us know! If you’re close to submitting your app, do it now! You can still benefit from our Hot Apps promo; Fast Movers have shown that you can get in the money within a week

This Week in Hot Apps

1 BY devrel

Another week and more exciting action in the Hot Apps competition.

First, near the top of the leaderboard, MyQ For Netflix and GolfPinFinder have both moved up a couple of spots to 10 and 12 respectively. Puzzler Bubbles! free moved up another spot to #7. TweetMe has continued to rise, now hitting the #37 spot. Incredible for an app that debuted only a couple of weeks ago. Another surprise hit, the free game Chain Reaction has hit #70. It entered the competition only in late april, and has seen an amazing run up to the top half of the 1k bracket. A personal favorite of mine, Notes by Inglorious Apps, has made a similar rise, now hitting the #79 mark after starting in mid April. I especially appreciate that the guys at Inglorious has continued to update the app with new features. That’s how you build up a dedicated fan base.

Now let’s get to Fast Movers: the apps that are coming up fast and may soon in be in the 1k bracket. Photo Effects dominated the free category for most of the week thanks to it’s clever use of server side technology to build advanced image editing; finally reaching the #101 spot. Today it was replaced by Rainy Mood, a beautiful and simple app with soothing sounds. In the free category Stay Lit Flashlight has zoomed up the charts to #423 in just a few days. With so many flashlight apps already in the store you wouldn’t think people would want to buy a new one, but Stay Lit’s killer feature of staying on without interaction have helped it to stand out from the crowd.

One to watch: Poker Drops is the newest release from Gobico Games. Gobico is the brains behind Wobble Words a long time hit in the webOS app catalog, currently sitting at #50 and, if you can believe it, still rising eight spots in the last week and a half. We are expecting good things from Poker Drop as well.

For developers out there, you’ve still got more than 40 days left to get your app into the competition. It’s still anyone’s game. See ya next week!

Topics  Hot Apps

preDevCamp Baltimore — June 5, 2010

2 BY devrel

webOS developers in the Baltimore and Washington DC areas should mark off June 5 on their calendar. Alice Carback is organizing a preDevCamp for that day in Annapolis. These are great places to get together and network with the local developers and learn more about the platform.

If you’re interested in attending, you should sign up for the event while there’s still room. If you want more information or are interested in volunteering, contact Alice on Twitter.

Topics  Announcements

Interesting Apps – Absolute Fitness

2 BY Fred Patton

Here at Palm, we’re always on the lookout for interesting apps. That’s one of the reasons we started the Hot Apps contest! We love to see apps that are functional, well thought out, and well designed. One of my personal favorites is “Absolute Fitness” by Aqua Eagle, currently near the top of the Hot Apps competition. I’d like to take you through some of the features that really get my attention.

1) Non-default, but tasteful color scheme

Customizing your app’s color scheme is great way to make it stand out from the crowd. Absolute Fitness makes use of a subtle, dark blue background that contrasts well with its other graphics and white text. The screen is easy to read, and the graphics really pop out. They’ve skinned the headers and drop down selectors, and designed  appealing buttons. The overall effect is very tasteful and friendly.

Food entry

Food entry

Nutritional info

Nutritional info

Exercise entry

Exercise entry

I especially like how the “Nutrition Facts” display (in this particular case, customized to my favorite morning beverage), looks just like the equivalent label on the store package. I can instantly relate to the data on this display, because I recognize it from somewhere else. The designer could have made use of standard text, or made some graphic to show how it fits with the day’s requirements, but instead chose an easily recognizable meme. Good job.

2) Correct selection of the opening scene

The main scene should be immediately functional. After all, when you open a mobile app, it’s because you want to do something right now. Absolute Fitness’s default opening scene is the day’s consumption list. Although this scene isn’t as colorful as the daily percentages, it is the scene you’ll need if you’re entering what you just ate. Consequently, it’s likely to be the one you’ll want when you first start up the app. For example, say you’re in a restaurant and have just finished your meal. You’ll want quick access to the “add” button. And if you happen to want access to the other scenes, they’re just a button tap away.

Absolute Fitness Main

Absolute Fitness main scene

3) Quick, intuitive access to all available data

Absolute fitness provides a command button bar at the bottom of the screen that gives quick access to the day’s food diary, weight information, daily percentage tracking, and progress charts. The icons are clean and intuitive, with nice shading to make the button bar stand out without being obtrusive.

Weight entry

Weight entry

The day's percentages

The day's percentages

Fat intake graph

Fat intake graph

4) Easter eggs

No, not the chocolate kind – we’re trying to lose weight. But I love an app that has more levels than are immediately obvious. For example, tap on the “Calories” percentage bar, and you’ll get a breakdown of where all those calories came from today. It took me a while to discover that, but it was a great surprise when I did.

There is also a place to enter how much sleep I got the night before, what my blood pressure is, and how many glasses of water I’ve drunk. All components of overall fitness, but not immediately obvious. Note that these are a bit hidden – they’re part of the weight entry screen shown above, but you have to scroll down to get to them. This is okay, because they’re not essential. The essential component, entry of your weight, is on top where it belongs.

Fat details

Fat details

Sleep entry

Sleep entry

5) Efficient, focused design

When you are working with such a small screen area, uncluttered design that gets the meaning of displayed data across, and allows for easy entry of that data, is paramount. You can’t afford any wasted pixels. However, there’s a compromise to be had with user interaction, in that buttons and fields that are too small will be unusable. You have to find clever ways of presenting data. Look at the percentages screens below. At a glance, you can see where you’re doing okay, and where you’re in trouble for the day – with no need to squint! And as noted before, if you want a breakdown of where the fat and calories came from, a quick tap on the progress bar will display the breakdown. That’s a great use of color and space.

The day's percentages

The day's percentages

More percentages

Oops! Went overboard!

6) Do one thing, beautifully

In addition to the UI, focused design also ensures that no functionality is wasted. Mobile apps should concentrate on doing one task, but doing it really well. Absolute Fitness doesn’t, for example, help you with your grocery shopping. It might be tempting for the developer to add that kind of functionality, but it doesn’t really enhance the app’s primary purpose. (And once feature creep starts to set in, it’s hard to know when to stop!)

Absolute Fitness is a fun, well-designed app, that I’m really enjoying using, and I think you will too. If you are developing mobile apps, it offers a lot of great lessons on good mobile app design. That fits my criteria for an interesting app.

Check out the Palm Hot Apps competition for more interesting apps!

Developing Mobile Apps (Stanford Lecture series #6)

0 BY Fred Patton

Hot on the heels of Lecture 5, Lecture 6 in Stanford’s Developing Mobile Apps class is now available on YouTube. This lecture is taught by our own Justin Tulloss, and covers multi-stage apps, dashboards, popups, and re-launching of apps. The lecture is also available on iTunes U.

Lecture 6

The slides from the class are posted on Slideshare:

Enjoy!

Palm Developer Portal now fully online

0 BY devrel

We have finished our back end maintenance and have enabled all functionality of the developer portal. You may now submit your apps for publication again and use the portal without restriction.

Chuq Von Rospach
Palm Developer Community Manager

Topics  Announcements
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