Tide Watch update

After a period of some neglect, Tide Watch v5.3 is now (or about to be) available in the App Store, with the following changes:

  • Apple Watch support, which was limited to the now-deprecated Watch SDK v1, has been removed, pending a more modern implementation.
  • Moved custom date support (for predictions more than a week into the future) to the main interface, instead of burying it in Settings.
  • Fixed a couple of bugs that may have caused the app to display inaccurate results:
    • On first use of the app, switching from the default location (Damon Point in Massachusetts) to any other location initially displayed the prediction for Damon Point; an embarrassing first impression.
    • Since Watch support was added, the app would ignore updated harmonics data from NOAA and use older data from a previous version. We found no significant variances between old and new data in our testing, but your mileage may have varied. In any case, the app is updated with new data (as of January 2018) and correctly uses it.
  • Various other minor bug fixes.

Other than fixes for significant issues, this is the last release of Tide Watch for a while, as we undertake a re-write.

Tide Watch began as a Mac project; much of the Objective-C code pre-dates even "modern" Objective-C, let alone Swift, the new language of choice for iOS development. In fact, very few of the current "best practices" for iOS development were available when the the first version was completed. Although we have modernized parts of the code base, it is clearly ready for a re-write in Swift, along with a re-design and modern implementation of the UI.

We'll be watching the reviews and our in-box, and will maintain the existing app as necessary.



New Beginnings

Although the word "we" appears a lot on these pages, Selene Associates is a one-person operation. I started it as a way to break into iOS development; although I was already an experienced Mac/Objective-C developer, I was told by recruiters that having an app in the App Store was a prerequisite for even getting an interview for an iOS developer position. So I dusted off some Mac code I had been working on in my own time, created the tide app, and submitted it to the App Store. Coincidentally, I received an iOS development job offer about six hours after the app was released in the Store.

Earlier this year, I retired from full-time employment. Since I very much enjoy writing software for iOS and Mac, this frees me up focus on the apps I care about, as opposed to the apps I'm paid to care about. (That's overly cynical; I loved working for my last employer, Black Pixel.)

So, hopefully there will be a little more action from Selene Associates in the coming months. Stay tuned.


Zombie? So what?

CNBC published a "news" story last week under the title "Apple's 'Zombie Apps' Cloud App Store's Birthday"; other outlets did similar stories.

The angle of the story was that although Apple touts over 900,000 apps available on the iOS App Store, a "study" found that "579,001 apps in a watched database of 888,856 are 'zombies'", where a "zombie" is defined as an app "...not found on the top lists that Apple publishes every day". The implication is that the App Store economy as not as healthy as Apple would like you to believe.

This is misleading in so many ways.

Our two apps almost certainly qualify for "zombie" status; Eye Tide sales are modest (certainly not enough to make a living on), and CompArea downloads are in single digits after a few months. But both have been "successful" on some level for various reasons.

  • Eye Tide's active user base, while very small, is growing, based on anecdotal evidence from friends and family and upgrade activity. User feedback has driven new feature development, and there's lots more we can do to make this app even more useful.
  • The principal motivation for developing and releasing Eye Tide in the App Store was career development. As a professional software developer, I was trying to break into iOS development, because the iOS economy is thriving and I find that working with Objective-C and Cocoa is a real joy. Recruiters advised me that having an App in the Store was generally a requirement even for consideration for a full-time iOS development position. Indeed, although I was able to land a job doing iOS development very shortly (i.e., hours) before Eye Tide appeared in the Store, my experience developing the app made me a credible candidate for the position.
  • The expertise I've gained in working on both apps has made me more proficient in my "day job". Software Development is a career that demands continued learning and self-improvement, much of it on one's own time; so much the better that I can do so with technologies I enjoy working and see some positive feedback as well.
  • Like so many other "zombie" apps, both apps are "niche" apps that are well along the "long tail" of user interest. There may not be all that many people whose daily interest in ocean tides make an iOS app at all necessary or even useful, but for those few, the solutions are there. The availability of solutions for so many niche markets is part of what drives the growth of the mobile device market.
  • The authors of the "study" are not impartial observers of the marketplace. They have a service they want to sell, which relate to analysis of usage patterns and advertising. The underlying intent of the "study" is to suggest to developers that success (i.e., breaking out of zombie-hood) depends on their services.

To be sure, users and serious developers would be well served if it was easier to separate quality apps from serious developers from some of the haphazardly developed junk that has accrued in the App Store.

In the meantime, we'll just keep writing and improving on our software, because there's more value to be had than the bank deposits from Apple.


iOS 7 and Eye Tide 2.0.1

We're pretty excited about iOS 7 and the opportunities it will afford. The short-term downside is that we will have to invest significant effort into updating the appearance of our apps at the expense of new functionality. However, Apple has given us good tools to assist in moving forward, and the new OS will enable even more significant improvements to the user experience than we had already planned.

Those of you still running our apps on iOS 5.x should note that we, like many other developers, will probably be dropping support for iOS 5 in the releases that are enabled for iOS 7. You will be able to run the current versions on iOS 5 indefinitely, but you will be cut off from new features. Since iOS 6 has something like 95% adoption already, we think this is a small price to pay for progress.

We submitted Eye Tide 2.0.1 to the App Store today to fix a problem: when we added map-based station selection to the app, we neglected to update the "Recent Stations" list in the Locations menu.


Eye Tide 2.0 is available in the App Store

We're happy to announce the availability of Eye Tide 2.0, which adds two important capabilities in time for the beach and boating season: map-based search, and weather forecasts. Both features require an Internet connection.

Map-based search allows you to search for a location of interest (say, a beach or harbor), and the nearest tide prediction station to that location. Search is based on the content of Apple's map service, so you may not find a specific beach, but finding a town or even street address is probably sufficient to select a station with prediction values that match (closely enough) your desired location.

Eye Tide also fetches weather forecasts for the selected tide station location from a service provided by the National Weather Service. The relevant forecast information is summarized for each tide event displayed in the tide table; tapping on the tide event displays the complete forecast. Forecast data includes weather alerts, wave height (most releveant to tide levels), wind, precipitation, and, of course, temperature.


Eye Tide is available in the App Store.