These are exciting times for Palm and our developer community. The Hot Apps promotion that we kicked off back in February is about to end with over 400 developers receiving a share of a million dollars. We recently launched the Summer Half Off promotion—a 50% discount for nearly every app in our U.S. catalog, funded by Palm. And we’re just getting started.
In July, we’re launching the new PDK Hot Apps promotion-another million dollars to developers, this time focused on the C/C++ apps that were excluded from the original Hot Apps promotion.
And we have one more program change that will benefit all developers. When we launched the developer program, we introduced a $50 per app fee to submit apps to our catalog. Effective immediately, we’re waiving this fee and refunding to all developers any $50 fees collected in the past. If you’re one such developer, you will see a credit in your PayPal account in the near future.
Thank you for being part of the webOS community. We’re excited to continue to evolve the Developer Program as together we build an incredible application catalog for customers.
We have been thrilled by the response to our Summer Half Off sale in the App Catalog, and hope you have been too. We’ve seen significant increases in downloads of both paid and free apps, and many first-time purchasers are sampling what you’ve created for webOS.
We’re so happy with the response that we’ve decided to extend the sale for an additional two weeks. Not only will this give customers more time to explore the catalog and get great deals on your apps, it will give you more time to generate sales and revenue.
If you currently have marketing in place to take advantage of this sale, get ready to extend it to July 23rd. If you don’t have an app in the catalog yet, it’s time to submit one and take advantage of this great promotion!
With the 50% off sale starting last Friday, app sales have seen quite a boost and that’s had an effect on Hot Apps. The 1K bracket is seeing a lot of turnover. Even the 10K bracket is seeing some movement, including World Cup 2010 moving up 4 spots to #17.
There’s only six days left in the competition. I had planned to say that it’s too late to get into the 1K bracket with a brand new app, but this week an app came along to prove me wrong. FlightTrack went from nothing to entering the 1K bracket in about four days! It’s now at 194#. How did it do it? By offering an experience that no other flight tracking app has matched: beautiful interactive maps with real time updates. It just goes to show that a good app can do very well.
In Fast Movers the four vuvuzela apps (1,2,3,4) have done well, proving that the world doesn’t have enough noise making ability. And if vuvuzela’s aren’t enough for you there’s always Fast Mover A1 Horn Blaster 2010.
Another app zooming up the charts is Solitaire Collection, which has six classic solitaire variations including my personal favorite: free cell.
That’s it for This Week in Hot Apps. I’ll see you soon as our competition comes to an exciting finish.
My gaming preferences on my phone lean towards casual games — the kind of thing you can pop into for a few minutes while waiting for something else to happen. I’m a fan of things like Solitaire and Sudoku but I’m always looking for different ways to entertain myself during these waiting times.
One game that I’ve been happily wasting time with recently is ColorPhyll (get it here). The concept is simple: the board is created using blocks in six colors, plus black. Your job is to clear the board in a certain number of steps by choosing a color. Any sets of blocks that touch the black blocks are cleared from the board.
What attracts me to this game? Simple game play for one, and there’s no complicated learning curve to get going in it so it’s really good for this kind of casual “in and out” type of game usage. I happen to really like the fact that there’s no timer, no leaderboard, no top score or “score to beat” — it’s not really a competition style game, it’s really a form of solitaire that isn’t card based. It doesn’t matter if you put the app in the background for a few minutes or come back to it hours later.
It’s also a nice game in that you have to think through your strategy, but it isn’t a game that forces you to focus on it or concentrate — like a card-based solitaire, it’s easy to pop in and play part of a game, pop back out and do something else, then pop back in again later and pick it up where you left off. Not all games lend themselves to that.
The strategy isn’t overly complex, but the proper move is many times not the obvious one. The levels are designed so that you are likely going to finish one or two moves before the deadline — or one or two after.
This probably isn’t a good game if you’re a seriously competitive, “gotta do this in fewer moves, gotta beat the clock” type, but if you’re looking for a nice, well-thought out casual game to spend some time with, I think you’ll really like it. It’s challenging enough to keep you interested, but doesn’t require you to sit down and focus on it.
The implementation is clean and the graphics are simple but everything works well together. The only weakness to the game is that the levels are all manually designed and baked into the game, so over time you’ll get familiar with them — but there’s plenty of game play for the price, and hopefully the developer will update the game with new levels over time.
This week’s fast mover is another great creation from Inglorious Apps, FlickrCam. What does it do? Very simple: it uploads photos to Flickr in the background in a constant stream as you take them.
I really like this app because it’s simple and useful. Many times I want to take a bunch of photos and only upload the good ones. Other times, however, I want to document an event as it is happening. Imagine you are at a developer conference watching Mini Kiss rock out on stage and you want to share it with your Flickr friends immediately. (Yes, this actually happened to me). You want to spend your time taking cool shots, not worrying about saving and uploading them. With this simple app you can.
Thanks to the multitasking nature of webOS you could use this at a party to take a constant stream of pics while also texting or tweeting. My only complaint about FlickrCam is that it only uploads to Flickr. I wish it would post to Twitter or TwitPic as well, so I could share photos live over multiple accounts, not just Flickr.
This is another gem of an app from Inglorious Apps. Be sure to check out some of their other apps like Crushed, MediaVault, and Notes.
There’s nearly two weeks left in the Hot Apps competition, which is still enough time to get on the leader board. Apps have done it in less than a week, so keep those apps coming!
About a month ago the Palm Developer Relations team had a vision of a tool for discovering great apps. The HotApps website is pretty good, but we wanted something actually on your phone with a focus on finding just the really great apps. Since then three engineers from the team, Ben, Kevin, and Josh, joined forces with Chris, a talented graphic designer, to build a brand new tool that we call Featured Apps.
When we set out to build Featured Apps we knew it had to look great, be extremely responsive, and always keep itself up to date. To do this we spent most of our time in a few crucial areas, and built some reusable code along the way that we’d like to share with you. Over the next we weeks we will publish a series of blogs describing how we built:
an aggressive image cache that prefetches images from Palm’s CDN
a modified image viewer with smooth scrolling, drop shadow effects, and a full screen view
a modal menu panel in the header, similar to the Facebook app
anonymous hooks into Google Analytics to see which parts of the catalog are most popular
a scaleable webservice based JSON with background notifications.
We kick into the new podcast talking about a panel that we were involved in discussing Flash and Canvas. After talking about gaming and platforms, we get to the meat of the podcast…. showing you details of the Facebook application that our developer relations team has been spending time on.
If you want to see what it takes to build functionality as we have in the Facebook app, follow us as we go through a variety features and walk through the code to show you how it all comes together.
We took on the development of the Facebook application a few months back. If you want to see what it takes to build functionality as we have in the Facebook app, follow us as we go through a variety features and walk through the code to show you how it all comes together.
Editor’s note: When we saw the salesforce.com application written by CustomWare, we wrote to them and asked if they would write up their experience. The article below is written by them (and not Palm). If you would like to talk about your webOS development experience, please let us know!
I have been asked to complete a guest post on the experiences and technologies used to create the first webOS Salesforce.com app.
CustomWare made the decision to build a new webOS app that aligns with our mantra of Integration and Collaboration. There was a need for a Salesforce.com presence within webOS, and so CustomWare decided to develop a proof of concept around this necessity.
The proof of concept began with an initial prototype. This involved investigating the Salesforce.com Ajax APIs, and whether there was a need to create a Visualforce page that would interact with the app, as a number of existing mobile components inside Salesforce are developed in this manner. Fortunately, there was an existing library we could take advantage of, and this did job of communicating with Salesforce. After some basic scene creation we had a webOS app querying and displaying Salesforce data.
This proved that the integration between the two parties was possible, so the prototype then became the basis for the real app. However, we saw a requirement for something functional, this is when we started looking at what could be done with the data we were extracting from Salesforce.com. At the same time, we needed to consider what needed to be improved in our prototype, including an improved interface, improved use of native webOS widgets and controls, better error handling and data persistence.
The team had a brain-storming session on the functional points behind the app, and assessed what the aim of the app was and what we were trying to achieve here. While it wasn’t our intention to create a fully fledged Salesforce utility straight off the bat, we were aiming for something practical inside the scope of the mobile world. This meant asking ourselves, ‘Do we really want just another interface to Salesforce? What would you use your CRM data for in the context of mobile (on the run, perhaps without immediate access to your computer)?’ It was decided that we should take advantage of the services offered by Mojo, and allow users to perform tasks like emailing a lead, or show the location of an account if you are on your way to a meeting.
In terms of feature set, there were a number of examples of Salesforce apps on other mobile platforms, but given webOS’ homogeneous nature with the web, it was in our interest to utilise the capabilities of the web. Two of the major web tools we utilized were Google Maps and Google Charts. At first it was considered that we could integrate a complete Google Maps feature inside the app, however this came back to our notion of functionality and practicality, and there was no need for an interactive map when the Maps application is loaded onto a webOS device out of the box. This lead us to the use of Google Static Maps which meant we could easily feed an address into the maps API, and have a map displayed along with the account information, users can then tap the map to launch the Maps app. We also looked at implementing a dashboard interface upon login, this lead us to query Salesforce and retrieve aggregate data about Opportunities and Leads and feed this data into the Google Chart Tools for professional looking graphs. We then hooked up event handlers to the appropriate data in each category. For example, a tap of an email would launch the email app with the address populated, or a tap of a phone number would launch the phone app populated. These tasks aligned with our intention of a functional app. We also made the decision to strip back the amount of data displayed to the user on our first release, as there potentially could be an endless number of custom fields and information available to the user. The amount of data available will be increased with future releases, and as we receive more feedback on the necessity of certain information.
This is our first release, so we haven’t implemented all of the great features that we have in our heads. An obvious next step is editing abilities (especially since the webOS user has a nice keyboard!), but we also aim to include Synergy integration with Salesforce contacts, conference call capabilities, support for custom fields and many more items on the road map.
We learned a few things along the way, some of which may help if you are new to webOS:
Always develop a prototype or mockup. This is important because mobile widgets and general user intuition needs to be tested. What works great on your website, might not always been functional on a mobile app.
Take advantage of the symbiotic nature between webOS and the web. Anything that is possible on the web is most likely possible on webOS.
I’d like to thank the Palm Developer Relations team for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences with you. If you have any comments or feedback regarding CustomWare’s development processes, the integration and collaboration work we do, or feedback for the Connector for Salesforce.com, please jump over to the CustomWare website or our GetSatisfaction community.
I’ll leave you with the screencast we created for the connector, so you can get a walk through without even installing the application: