79p for an app? You must be joking! What a rip-off!!

After many months of simply “not getting around to it”, I finally submitted an update for my MakeMeAPass app. After I completed the submission, I decided to take a look at the reviews.

The app is sitting with a 3 star average, which isn’t bad. What surprised me was the fact that this average came from 5 star and 1 star reviews.

The 5 star reviews were positive, basically conveyed the sentiments of “good start, more to do”. Which is true. Very true.

The 1 star reviews were, as you can imagine, very negative. I came to conclusion that the negativity comes from people feeling cheated. They seem to think that 79p should get them an all-singing, all-dancing app, that’s updated every day for the rest of time.

I should have been a little clearer in the app’s description and indicated that it only supported one vendor, but, in my defence, I thought that was clear from the  screenshot I provided. Lesson learned.

Here are some of the 1star reviews, presented with a response, should the author come across them:

“0.79 for just one app. No further development. Dev’s like this are starting to give the App Store a bad name. To the dev, what is stopping you providing the ability to add all store cards & loyalty cards?”Apps take a *long* time to create and 79p represents a bargain, believe it or not.   Development was stalled for personal reasons, so please don’t criticize me for not providing updates when you’ve paid less than a cup of coffee. Please try to understand the effort that goes into something and remember that Apple take 30%, so I see 49p from each download. 49p!!  I’m one person, not a large company. I hold down a day job and tried to help people get the most out of Passbook with a simple app. I charge money to pay the hosting costs for the website.

“It says that it costs £0.79 but it took £3.16 out of my credit and the pass doesn’t work at all I WANT A REFUND!!!”Nothing to do with me. I set the price at 79p, but Apple charge you. If you want a refund, please contact them directly.

A truly awful app. Only one vendor supported and even that did not work A complete waste of money It wouldn’t let me put no stars !! – A bit harsh, but if it didn’t work, I can understand the frustration. An email would have been helpful to tell me what was wrong.

“£0.79 for one pass is a rip off!” – What gave you the impression there was more than one pass supported at launch? Why is 79p a rip-off for one pass? It took me weeks to understand the Passbook mechanism, write all the code and publish an app. For 79p, it’s actually a bargain.

“I want my money back. £0.79 just for one pass?!?!?”Same answer as above.

Apple have completely skewed people’s perceptions of software and how much it should cost. MakeMeAPass took about me about 12 hours from start to finish. I won’t mention all the work that went into the original website and the months of work that went into building PassVerse. I’ll also skip over the 15 years of experience I have in building software.

I don’t mind people feeling they aren’t getting value for money. That’s fine. It’s very personal. What I don’t like is this attitude that people have towards apps. They don’t magically come into existence. They take time, energy and perseverance to create. So the next time you’re about to rate an app with 1 star, please think about the human behind it. Get in touch with that person. Communicate your feelings towards their app. Give them a chance to respond.

And if you must slap the developer with a 1star review because you think 79p was a rip-off, please don’t do it from your £500 smartphone, whilst you’re sipping a £3 latte from Starbucks.

Apple Pay with iPhone 5 and Apple Watch

Now that Apple Pay is live in the UK, I thought it was time to try it out. Initially I thought Apple Pay was limited to the iPhone 6 and that I’d be left out in the cold (until they release a new 4″ version of the iPhone), but I was informed it works with the Apple Watch on its own.

This isn’t the most obvious thing and the option to set it up isn’t the most obvious either! I’ve taken a few screenshots to show you how far I got. Which, sadly, wasn’t very far.

I’m running iOS 9, beta 3 and Watch OS 2, beta 2.

First, open the Watch app on your iPhone.


Navigate to the Wallet app (or Passbook in iOS 8)


You should now see an option to Add Credit or Debit Card. When I clicked it, I simply got an error. Probably due to the fact I’m running beta software.

IMG_3250If you get it working, please let me know. I’m tempted to switch bank just to avail of this platform. Barclays, it seems, are pushing their own bPay technology. I suspect they’ll keep that for a few months and then support Apple Pay anyway.

Roomr now allows you to import room information

A common request I receive for Roomr is to add an ability to import room information without needing to use Exchange Room Lists. Room Lists aren’t the greatest of Exchange’s features. They are, as the name suggests, simply lists of Rooms. Whilst you can have multiple lists, you can’t nest them or organise them into a hierarchy of any kind. Further more, there is no UI available to create or maintain them. It’s all accomplished via PowerShell. This makes them even harder to use.

Enter the roomrconfig file. This file allows you to specify a list of rooms and folders, in a nested fashion, that you can import into Roomr. A sample file looks like this:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<configuration version=”1.0.0″>
<folder name=”10, Any Street Building”>
<folder name=”First Floor”>
<room name=”Conference Room” email=”as-1-conference@company.com” />
<folder name=”Second Floor”>
<room name=”Conference Room” email=”as-2-conference@company.com” />

As you can hopefully make out, there is a folder called “10, Any Street Building”, which is broken down into two floors, each with one room. It looks something like this on an iPhone.

iOS Simulator Screen Shot 29 Jun 2015 16.05.51 iOS Simulator Screen Shot 29 Jun 2015 16.05.54 iOS Simulator Screen Shot 29 Jun 2015 16.06.00

This is a pretty simple case, but common for larger companies that are spread over multiple floors and potentially multiple buildings. This sort of nesting also makes it very easy to search based on context. The information can then be imported into Roomr, so it’s readily available from your iPhone at any time.

The config file can be deployed as an email attachment or accessed via a link. This version of Roomr, 2.9, is currently awaiting Apple to approve for Beta testing. If you’re interested in being part of the Beta program for Roomr, please get in touch!

As always, feedback is welcome!

Using Bluetooth to find Meeting Rooms

As part of my on going work with Roomr, I’ve recently released the beta of the new Roomr for iPad. This product is designed to be used as a meeting room status indicator and gives an “at-a-glance” status of a meeting room.


Having an iPad represent a room actually opens up some interesting possibilities. This afternoon, I started experimenting with Bluetooth and iBeacons to see how I might enhance the iPhone version of Roomr. After about three hours, I came up with this:


The iPhone performs a scan for iBeacons and retrieves the information about nearby rooms. Pretty cool. From here it’s possible to do all the usual stuff, checking the calendar, making a booking etc.

It’s all just prototyping and won’t end up in Roomr anytime soon, but it’s always good to explore the possibilities.

On a sidenote, if you’d like to be part of the Roomr for iPad beta program, please get in touch (tomas@coldbear.co.uk) and I’ll arrange access!

Roomr for Android – Rebooting

Now that Roomr for iOS is nice and stable (Full AutoDiscovery implementation, full support for global timezones), my attention is now returned to Roomr for Android.

Since I released Roomr for Android back in 2013, I’ve learned plenty by developing a client app, Call My, and by tinkering on my apps Job Tracker and Job Hunter (not related!).

Working in the new Android Studio helps, but I have a long way to go with the UI :)


device-2015-05-31-121018Update (12th July) Roomr for Android is back in the Google Play store. You can get the free version here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tomasmcguinness.roomrfree and the Pro version here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tomasmcguinness.roomr

Feedback, as always, is welcomed!

Creating appointments using DayView Control

I’ve been experimenting with the DayView control I created for Roomr and Peopler and today I added the ability the add an appointment with touch. This mimics the behaviour of the native iOS calendar app.

You hold your find on the calendar for a second or two and an appointment appears. You can then drag up and down to position the appointment. This is a very early demo, but it seems to work pretty well.

Peopler – Future availability

Whilst Peopler isn’t exactly being downloaded in the millions, I’ve received *actual* feedback from users, which shows they are a) using the app and b) interested enough to email me!

One feature, which I’ve wanted to add for a while, is the ability to view the future availability of your favourites. It’s all fine being able to see a person’s availability today, but what about tomorrow or the day after? To sort this, I’ve started building a Day Picker into Peopler. iOS Simulator Screen Shot 29 May 2015 12.12.03This was an early mockup I did,  so I could see how a horizontal date picker would work. I’ve seen this horizontal pickers and like the look of them. After some coding, I ended up with something like this.

iOS Simulator Screen Shot 29 May 2015 17.22.56

You can see five days in advance, scrolling right will show you up to thirty days. This is an iPhone 5 screen size and I suspect the iPhone 6 will probably show 6 or 7 days. I need to experiment with this a little to ensure the auto layout works. Anyway…I digress. You can see that I’m free for the Remainder of the day. When I select a day in the future, it goes a bit wrong :)

iOS Simulator Screen Shot 29 May 2015 16.59.49

My “availability” algorithm works off the current time and isn’t factoring in the fact that we’re dealing days in the future. This was actually a good thing as it made me realise that showing availability in this way is pointless for any date in the future. My initial feeling is that availability might be better expressed in number of appointments and actual free time.

I need to think on this a little as working hours will factor into this too. No point in telling you that somebody have seven hours free if that time is beween 5pm and midnight!

For the next release, version 1.2.0, I might just add the day picker into the schedule view. If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them!