App sales plummeting for the Nook

A little over two years ago when I first began selling Android apps, the Barnes and Noble Nook was a powerful player. While this store did not get the same attention as Google Play and Amazon’s App Store, for many months I had more sales through the Nook Bookstore then the other two combined. This came as a bit of a surprise, but has certainly not lasted.

Once accounting for over 70% of Android app sales for me, the number has been on a long term downward trajectory and has been below 10% for most of 2014. The below chart shows the percentage of Android sales of Ebscer apps through the Nook Bookstore.

NookChart

A few factors have contributed to this. First, the Nook (while often updated) has not kept pace with the other tablets on the market. More importantly Barnes and Noble has mostly given up on their platform, choosing the bundle Google Play on some of their newer devices, and have recently just launched the confusingly named “Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook” as they try to get out of the electronics business altogether.

However, if you are still interested in buying some apps for your Nook visit barnesandnoble.com/s/ebscer.

BBOS distribution unchanged in August

While the market share of OS 7 is up 13.1 percentage points from August 2013, there has been little to no change in the mix of BBOS devices used last month.

StatsAugust2014

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of August 2013 through the end of August 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

Processing .html files as PHP

In the interest of having cleaner URLs (or simply to maintain existing links) it is often desirable for webpages to end in a .html extension even if they need to be processed as PHP. On Apache servers this is very straight forwards and you just add the following lines of code to your .htaccess file

AddType x-mapp-php5 .php .htm .html

On Windows servers this is slightly more complicated (as are most things). You need the following code in your web.config file and the value for the scriptProcessor is based on the install location of your php-cgi.exe file. Finding the location of this file can often be teased out by looking at the results from the phpinfo(); command.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<configuration>
    <system.webServer>
		<handlers>
            <add name="PHP_via_FastCG1" path="*.htm" verb="*" modules="FastCgiModule" scriptProcessor="C:\PHP5.5\php-cgi.exe" resourceType="Either" />
            <add name="PHP_via_FastCG2" path="*.html" verb="*" modules="FastCgiModule" scriptProcessor="C:\PHP5.5\php-cgi.exe" resourceType="Either" />
        </handlers>
    </system.webServer>
</configuration>

BlackBerry 10 device useage

As BlackBerry prepares to launch the Passport, the majority of users are still using the original BlackBerry 10 device, the Z10. The data below represents the 19,238 users who downloaded the Stuff I Need app in the month of August.

Aug2014Devices

All of these statistics are based off of the data collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free check-list app Stuff I Need (which is also available for Windows Phone and Android users).

BlackBerry 10 sees a slight increase in use of newer OS versions

After leveling off in July, August saw a good uptake of newer versions of the operating system. Last month 89.1% of Pixelated users were running the newest version of the OS. Meanwhile 93.7% of Stuff I Need users were running OS 10.2.1 on their phones.

2014Aug-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014Aug-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of August 2013 through the end of August 2014.

New version of Pixelated Shapes

IMG_00000136Pixelated Shapes has been updated to version 1.3 for Android, BlackBerry, and Windows 8. This updated reduces the file size by 7% for the BlackBerry 10 version of the app, while also adding support for the BlackBerry Passport that is due to be released next month. Meanwhile the Windows 8 version of the app got updated in order to better support the variable sized side by side apps supported by Windows 8.1

About Pixelated Shapes

Pixelated Shapes is a twist on the classic version of Pixelated that replaces the familiar squares with triangles and hexagons. The object of the game is to get the screen a single color by slowly growing a blob out of the upper left hand corner by matching it to the colors of the surrounding shapes. This is done repeatedly until either the game is won, or you run out of moves. Under the default settings you must clear the screen in 29 moves or less in order to win. A one time in-app upgrade can allow you to adjust the difficult, switch color schemes, change to different game modes, and get an indicator giving you the number of remaining moves.

Links & Information

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Morse Code app updated for BlackBerry Passport

Q10The BlackBerry 10 Morse Code app has been updated to version 2.2 in BlackBerry AppWorld. This new version of the app includes a number of optimizations and also adds support for the BlackBerry Passport.

About Morse Code

This app will take your text, and translate it back to you in Morse Code. Any text can simply be entered, and then by pressing the “Play Morse Code” button, can be turned into an audible Morse Code signal. The application also allows you to adjust the speed of the playback in words per minute in order to accommodate different skill levels.

Links & Information

App released for the Champlain Canal

IMG_20140817_233813A brand new app has just been released in order to help you navigate the Champlain Canal in upstate New York. The app can be download from BlackBerry World, Google Play, and the Amazon Appstore.

With apps having already been released for the Erie Canal, Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and Oswego Canal there are now apps available for navigating the whole New York State canal system. These apps give you the ability to see the locations of all locks and boat launches along the canals. Additionally the apps also contain a map view to give a visual representation to where everything is.

Links & Information

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Stuff I Need checklist app updated

CampingListCropThe Stuff I Need check list app has been updated to version 2.5 for BlackBerry and Android. For BlackBerry 10 users the app makes a few visual tweaks, support for the BlackBerry Passport, and has also been optimized to give the app a 15% reduction in file size. For Android users the newest version of the app allows you to set a custom text size, which is a feature that was added to the BlackBerry version of the app last summer.

Amazon Appstore

The Android version of the app is also now available in the Amazon Appstore.

About Stuff I Need

Originally conceived as a grocery list app, this minimalistic checklist app can be used to keep track of the stuff you need to get, or the stuff that you need to do. New items can be added to list with the ‘Add’ button on the bottom of the screen. Items on the list can be edited (or deleted) by giving them a long press. Lists can be switched by pulling down on the tab at the top of the screen. This will expose a spinner that shows all of your current lists. New lists can be added by using the “+” button on the right side of the expanded tab. Making use of three or more lists requires the use on a one time in-app purchase. Lists are automatically deleted if you delete all items in a list and restart the app.

Links & Information

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Creating new projects to optimize BlackBerry 10 apps

Since first releasing the BlackBerry 10 SDK in early 2012, BlackBerry has continued to work on improving their tools. I have recently discovered that significant optimizations are made in newly created Cascades projects. I am currently working on an update to my Stuff I Need app, and have been able to get a 17% reduction in the app’s file size simply by recreating the project from scratch in Momentics. In addition to the smaller install size, the app also appears to be launching quicker. This was done with no changes at all to my code. Using all of the same assets, qml, and c++ files, I created a new project, and then copied my existing files in. The new project contains a few changes to the .pro and the bar-descriptor.xml files, but the majority of the changes seem to be taking place behind the scenes. So for anyone that has been writing BlackBerry Cascades apps for a while now, it may be worth it to recreate your apps and get some free optimizations to your code.

Starbeams gets another 10 levels

Z10Starbeams has been updated to version 1.8 for BlackBerry 10 and Windows 8. This update adds an additional ten levels, and also adds support for the soon to be released BlackBerry Passport.

About Starbeams

The object of the game is to assign colors to each star in order to ensure that none of the stars are connected to another star of the same color. The game starts off easy, but quickly gets more complex, adding more colors and seven pointed stars that can not be changed.

Links & Information

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Update released for the Rotary Phone App

Q10-3The Rotary Phone app has just been updated to version 1.1 in BlackBerry World. This app sends your phone back in time, and gives you a classic rotary interface from which to dial out numbers. There is even a setting that allows you to automatically dial out after seven or ten digits have been entered. The new version of the app has an install size that is 14% smaller, and also adds support for the soon to be released BlackBerry Passport.

Video

Links & Information

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Newer versions of BBOS continuing to rise

In the past month there has been a two percentage point increase in the number of users on the traditional BlackBerry OS using OS6+ and OS7+. The growth curve still lags significantly behind that of BlackBerry 10, but there has been some consistent growth for a few months in a row now.

StatsJuly2014

July saw 53.87% of users running BlackBerry OS 7.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of July 2013 through the end of July 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

How to get a TextBox in a Windows 8 app to support auto-capitalization

Unlike with most platforms, TextBox controls in Windows 8 metro apps default to a lowercase keyboard instead of assuming that the first word of a sentence should be capitalized. This can be frustrating for users of virtual keyboards who would rather use less keystrokes and let the OS take care of basic formatting. The fix for this is non-obvious, but fortunately quite simple. The solution consists of making sure that spell check is enabled for the TextBox.

This can be done either in XAML with

<TextBox IsSpellCheckEnabled="True" />

or in C# with

TextBox tb = new TextBox();
tb.IsSpellCheckEnabled = true;

Adoption of BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 starting to level off

While the newest version of the BlackBerry 10 operating system has had very good adoption rates (especially compared to BBOS and Android), the pick-up rate of OS 10.2.1 is starting to level off. In the month of July, Pixelated saw 86% of downloads come from users running the newest version of the OS, while the Stuff I Need app saw 93% of users fully upgraded. These numbers are only up slightly from June.

2014Jul-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014Jul-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

Overall these numbers are still very good, but it looks as if it may take some time until the final 10% of users upgrade their phones.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2013 through the end of June 2014.