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Archive for the ‘Clipboard History’ Category

How to cross the chasm in the Mac App Store

We launched a few apps with the Mac App Store’s opening. One of them, Social Clipboard, was clipboard history app which also allowed you to post your clippings to FaceBook, Twitter/Twitpic or DropBox. We sent press releases, and contacted every possible blog and review site (we already knew the value of this, see our post: “What happens when the media pays attention“). The combination of the lack of diffusion we got, Apple’s poor ranking system (which gives everything to the top and nothing to the rest) and perhaps our inability to explain a complex value from one icon and a name (we tried several icons, as a matter of fact) gave it very poor sales results.

We still believed in the idea, so we cut a lot of functionality and made a simpler application from that one removing the social/networking components: Clipboard History. The message was now clear, and the functionality too. After the 2+ weeks Apple takes to review apps, it was launched at $0.99, the lowest possible price.

We got a few days of dubious results (26 downloads the first day, 21 the second, 33 the third and 18 the fourth), and starting to loose the only boost the App Store gives (the visibility of being a new app just because they are ordered by date) we decided that it was time to try something drastic. So we went free (at least for a while). That was two days ago.

The first day we got 1775 downloads (100 times the downloads we had the day before at $0.99). The second day we got 5358 downloads, and Clipboard History climbing to Top 1 in the charts around the world (in some countries to number 1 in Productivity as I write or even as overall number 1 Free App).

Where does this path lead to? Without in-app purchases to be able to charge for some extra functionality, or iAds to make some ad money, we still don’t know. But we have a few ideas. We have some time to figure this out. We will share with you our findings in this blog.

At least now we have crossed for the first time the hardest gap in the ecosystem Apple created: putting our software in the hands of the people.

-Rula.

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How to emulate anti-aliasing in OpenGL ES 1.1

So, you are building a 3D game. Everything looks somehow fine while things are moving, but then you take a screenshot to upload it to iTunes and: the horror! You realize the awful truth. Some texture borders seems crappy and pixelated.

Oh, you forgot to turn on the anti-aliasing. That’s easy to solve. Except that… wait, there is no anti-aliasing in OpenGL ES 1.1!  Damn!

Well, we’ve been there too. While we were porting Cube X Words to the iPad, the 3D dice that looked awesome in Mac OS, looked just like a BMP drawn in MS Paint in the iPad. So we did what every self-respecting developer does first: we googled for an answer, but alas!, we found none…

How to solve that? The hard way: mess with everything you’ve done in order to draw a 4X image and then scale it down. But, but… stretching a texture to 4X and then down looks bad, I have to re-do all my textures!  It sometimes works, it sometimes doesn’t, it surely hurts the performance and may end up looking like crap again…

By accident, we found an easier way. It involves a bit of modification to the textures and another bit to the code.

We found out that if you leave a couple of transparent pixels outside of your texture, when the projection is blended, it kind of anti-aliases the texture borders (since whenever OpenGL calculates the pixel’s color value, it mixes the color with the transparent part). So, voila! We just had to give our textures a bigger canvas, and make the sprites bigger accordingly. Just like this:

It worked like a charm. You can check it out in this screenshot. See that the rotated E’s border looks just fine.

Well, I hope this helps you too.

– Rula.

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