It is hard to believe that the last post on our blog was on the 30th of September when we announced our latest app on Windows 8, mtiks Dashboard. Since then we have been quietly working hard in the background on improving our existing apps, moving to a new host for our web site, some new apps to be launched this year and some other stuff that we can’t talk about yet. Of all the work we have been doing we have got two updates to existing apps and one (technically) new app that we released last month, and we thought it was about time we detailed them here.
You can develop an app using your best code with a great design, but that does not make it the best app. Without listening to the feedback from users/consumers the app will only ever be the best app to the developer. So of course one of the key things we do for all our apps is listen to feedback from the people who are using our apps everyday, both positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback lets you know what you are doing right and negative lets you know what you are doing wrong.
While the official WPDownUnder app has been receiving outstanding reviews and ratings in both the Windows and Windows Phone stores, our Music Alarm and WoW – Companion apps have been getting lower ratings than we had hoped and the reviews had all sorts of negative feedback about the apps, so we did what any good developer would do, we updated them with improvements based on user feedback.
With Music Alarm the majority of the feedback we had was around the confusion over why the app wasn’t triggering alarms at the right time and that the user interface was confusing. After engaging several users we found that the feedback about the alarm not going off was actually due to people getting out of the app and turning their phone off. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much we could do about that as it is a limitation of the operating system, apps can only start music playing when they are running either in the foreground or under the lock screen.
So we took a different approach, while we were improving the user interface to make it less confusing, we made a few changes to make it a bit more obvious that the alarm wouldn’t sound unless the app was running. We added a message when the user tries to press the back button to leave the app warning them that the alarm wont sound, we added more specific text warning about it at the bottom of the main page and we added the ability for the app to show what power source the phone was using.
The main change is this update was almost a complete over haul of the user interface to make it easier to follow. Now when setting an alarm (or a sleep timer) it is broken into steps. First select the alarm time, then the music to be played as the alarm, and finally select other options like repeat and shuffle. While it is set out in steps, we ensured that none of the steps were disabled to ensure the user could skip steps (such as the time if they were using the default time).
We also had some feedback about the app displaying ads, but we need to have some money coming in to help fund new projects (and our weekly beer o’clock) so we decided to go down another path. We created a paid version of the app which costs $0.99AUD which removes all ads from the app. The paid version also has a trial available which has no restrictions except that it shows ads. The paid version will also get updates a week before the free and trial version.
We are currently working on another update to Music Alarm which will address some feedback we have received since this new version was released, notably an issue with vibration and some UI fixes.
WoW – Companion
WoW – Companion was the first app we released on Windows Phone back in October 2011 and we continued to update it over the last year and a half whenever Blizzard made changes to their API. Unfortunately Blizzard tend to update their API with little to no warning to the developers who use it and the first we know about it is the app crashing and an influx of emails from users who are unhappy with not being able to use the app. So we started working on an update that would at least allow Blizzard to change their API in their usual manner without making the app crash. However while working on this update Blizzard did a major update to their API in preparation for the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists Of Pandaria. So we re-wrote the entire app keeping only some code from the original and while doing so we collated all the feedback we had received and ensured that as much of it as possible was addressed.
Along with ensuring the app didn’t crash each time Blizzard updated their API features, we also simplified the home page to make it easier to use and more informative, we improved the UI to further take on the metro style, we added new features such as mounts and pets lists for Characters and we updated the realms status screen to show more than just the status of the server.
We are still in the process of developing the next update to the app that will improve the Character search and favourites system and allow users to easily report any issues searching for or adding characters to their favourites.
Updates Currently In Development
We are still working on updates to the apps below based on feedback we are receiving daily, so look out for these in the coming weeks.
More Still To Come
We have a lot more still to come in the next few weeks. So to stay on top of things, download the Handiware Hub app from the Windows Store here and the Windows Phone Store here, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and don’t forget to sign up for our Beta Program for early access to some new apps and updates coming soon.