10 new levels for Starbeams

IMG_00000051Starbeams has been updated to version 1.2 in BlackBerry World and the Windows 8 Store. This new version adds 10 new levels and the BlackBerry 10 version also gets a swipe-down menu.

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.IMG_00000052

New in Version 1.2

This versions adds levels 111-120 to the game. Additionally there is now a swipe-down menu that allows you to restart the current level or view the how to play information. Users of the Q10 or Q5 can also restart the current level by using the ‘R’ shortcut key.

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BlackBerry 10’s problem with the swipe-down menu

IMG_00000036The UI that BlackBerry introduced on the PlayBook, and continued on BlackBerry 10 calls for the support of a swipe-down menu where a user can swipe down from the top bezel and gain access to additional options for the app. The design in very good in theory in that it allows a dedicated menu area without consuming any real estate on the screen or requiring a dedicated menu button. However, far too few apps make use of this menu for consumers to expect it to be there.

I have written about this problem before. Over two years ago I noticed this problem on the PlayBook and the issue has only gotten worse since then. The Cascades framework instead encourages the use of an overflow menu, and even less preinstalled apps make use of the swipe-down menu.

Major apps such as the Browser, Facebook, and the search app do not have a swipe-down menu at all. Many other first party apps such as the Pictures app, the Videos app, the Music app, and the File Manager make only trivial use of the swipe down menu offering nothing more than a link to an external help file. (Couldn’t BlackBerry at least open these help menus as a card?) Even more interesting is the Calculator app that had a swipe down menu when BlackBerry 10 first launched, but as of 10.1 no longer has one at all.

IMG_00000049Following BlackBerry’s lead, many developers (including myself) stopped using swipe-down menus. Following the current UI guidelines for Cascades almost every app will have some sort of an action bar making it trivial for developers to just place everything else in the overflow menu where it is much more discoverable by users. At this point I honestly can not recommend that anyone rely on the swipe-down menu as the only way to do anything in their app.

In version 5.1 of my Twinkle app (pictured) I am implementing a swipe-down menu in a Cascades app for the first time. Yet all three of the options there are redundant and are also available through the standard action bar overflow menu. At this time, this is the absolute most support that I am willing to give to the swipe-down menu. If BlackBerry wants this situation to change, they should seriously rethink their UI guidelines and what they are doing with their own apps…

Twinkle updated with a new color, and improved calendar integration.

IMG_00000048Twinkle has been updated in BlackBerry World to version 5.1 for BlackBerry 10 phones and version 4.2 for BBOS phones. These new version now allow you to use pink as a background color for events, and also adds calendar integration and landscape orientation support for BlackBerry 10 phones. You can now export individual events to the device’s calendar, and you can also bulk import existing calendar events.

About Twinkle

Twinkle is an app that allows you to set and keep track of upcoming and past events. Twinkle will tell you how far away an event is, and share it with a friends through social networks. The app includes an number of options for sorting or filtering your views in order to allow you to easily be able to manage a large number of different events.

New in this version of Twinkle

Support has been added to allow this app to work in either portrait or landscape orientation on the BlackBerry Z10. Also pink has been added as a new background color option for a events. Also new in this update is to touch and hold an event to get the option to send an event to the native calendar app. The option page, now also links to an ‘Import from Calendar’ page where you can choose to import all future or past events that you already have stored in the calendar app.

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Predicting BlackBerry’s Q1 sales

Given the popularity of the free game Pixelated I have a healthy data set in order to publish statistics on the BlackBerry ecosystem which I have been lead to believe are fairly accurate. As such I have decided to use this data in order to predict BlackBerry’s sales for Q1 2014 (which ended June 1st and will be reported in the morning on June 28th).

Working on the assumption that there is a correlation between downloads of Pixelated and sales of BlackBerry 10, my model predicts that BlackBerry sold 5.09M BB10 phones in Q1.

As a disclaimer I should point out that there is a possibility that I am spectacularly wrong. Just because I have a mathematical formula doesn’t mean that my assumption are correct. Really the only way to test and verify my model is to publicly post the result and see how it does.

Runaway Trains now at version 2.5

Runaway Trains has been updated to version 2.5 in BlackBerry World, and Google Play. This update adds ten new levels and makes some improvements to the app’s active frame on BlackBerry 10 phones. Additionally a few of the early levels have been redesigned to give an easier start to the game.


About Runaway Trains

Runaway Trains is a colorful strategy game for all ages where you must route the trains to the proper station. Each level progresses in difficulty and presents an unique puzzle which you must solve by finding a way to guide the coloured trains causing a collision or running out of track.

This is done by touching the intersections to toggle the open path of the tracks. If at any time the trains crash or end up at the wrong station, you will have lost and have to try again.

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Android app on Google Play

Stuff I Need gets multiple lists

CampingListCropThe Stuff I Need app gets support for multiple lists in version 2.0 of the app which in now available for download through BlackBerry World. The app also includes other improvements such as the use of more explicit keyboard shortcuts, but the ability to have multiple lists is the biggest change.

About Stuff I Need

Originally conceived as a grocery list app, this minimalistic checklist can be used to keep track of the stuff you need to get, or the stuff that you need to do. Items on the list can be edited (or deleted) by giving them a long press.

Multiple Lists

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 tab. Long pressing on the list name, will allow you to rename a list. Any lists with zero items will be automatically deleted once you exit the app. By default you are limited to just two lists, but you can get unlimited lists with a $1.99 in-app purchase.

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How to link to Facebook and Twitter in Cascades

In cascades it is possible to link directly to a particular Facebook or Twitter profile using the following code.

void MyApp::invokeTwitter()
bb::system::InvokeManager* m_invokeManager;
m_invokeManager = new InvokeManager(this);
InvokeRequest request;

void MyApp::invokeFacebook()
bb::system::InvokeManager* m_invokeManager;
m_invokeManager = new InvokeManager(this);
InvokeRequest request;
QVariantMap payload;
payload["object_type"] = "page";
payload["object_id"] = "152370494833193";

Calling this code will directly open the Twitter and Facebook pages for Ebscer.

Simple Dice updated to version 2.2

IMG_00000047The Simple Dice app has been update to version 2.2 in BlackBerry World. This version adds direct links to my Twitter and Facebook, as well as dynamically posting the price for the in-app purchase that can be used in order to remove the advertising from the app.

About Simple Dice

This free app is exactly what it sounds like, just a virtual die that you can roll to get a random number between one and six. The app can also be downloaded from BlackBerry World for both BlackBerry 10 and older touchscreen BlackBerry phones.

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