Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Track Runner v. 2.0

I am thrilled to announce that Track Runner’s major update has just been submitted and will be out shortly. AppListWhiteBG

As this is a  significant update both on the content and design front we’re going to give you a proper walkthrough video soon. For now, let’s take a sneak peek at the new look and features you’ll be able to enjoy.

We’ve expanded Track Runner’s statistics, now offering elevation profile, weather data, and a first glance view of your most recent achievements.

We’ve revamped the run screens which now feature a battery saving option as well as the large and small map screens. When pausing the run, an easy to navigate menu offers quick help and access to all the necessary run settings among other features.

Most notable in this context is our coolest new social feature: live tracking. You can send your friends a link via facebook or text message and they can follow your run and even cheer you on while you’re running. Messages are read out to you via voice notifications as you go so it’s a guaranteed motivator. Speaking of motivation: if live cheering doesn’t get you on the track, maybe our new live tile with gentle reminders will do the trick.

Another neat new feature is gear tracking. This allows you to track your mileage on your shoes or other running gear. Once you’ve added your gear, the app will keep track of additional mileage automatically while you watch in amazement how well your favorite running shoes are holding up. 

It wouldn’t be an update without plenty of bug fixes and we want to sincerely thank you for giving us great feedback to keep improving our app. Thanks to your input, we considerably improved handling, language support, stability, and support on low memory devices.

TwitterIconLast but not least, we’ve completely redesigned Track Runner and think we’ve achieved a much sleeker, calmer UI experience. Special thanks goes to Emily Theis for our new app tile and some font guidance. We also thank Arturo Toledo (whom much of our run screen redesign is owed to) for keeping us “on the grid.” :)

I hope you like our new look and are looking forward to exploring the new features as well. For those who aren’t yet using Track Runner there’s even better news: the app is now completely free and still without annoying advertisement or sign up requirements. So, what are you waiting for? GET! IT! NOW! http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=95c6a10c-84a7-4c26-98eb-5d6b9df93698

                                     The App Cauldron Team

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Quantity v Quality in App Stores (Part 1)

Apple, Google and Microsoft all brag about the number of apps in their respective stores. Today, at DVLUP Day New York City in front of a crowd of 250 aspiring WP8 developers, Nokia shared that 400K apps developed by (apparently) 450K developers* made it into the Windows Phone Store to date (see https://twitter.com/dvlup/status/447363457336111104/photo/1). In absolute terms, this does not compare well to Google’s & Apple’s 1 million+ apps, but in relative terms the Windows Phone platform improved from about 20% to about 40% the number of apps available in the iOS Store over the last year. (All numbers from PR releases and Wikipedia).

At first glance, that is good news for both users and developers in the Windows Phone ecosystem: Users benefit from a wider app selection, happy users lead to greater adaption and thus more downloads for developers. So – with such a rich app selection, and virtually every paid app on Windows Phone offering a free trial, we should expect to see a high number of downloads per app? Unfortunately not. In November 2013 (http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/20/windows-phone-now-sees-10m-transactions-and-500-new-apps-daily-has-served-3b-total-downloads/), Microsoft announced 3 billion downloads. That was four months ago, and with 16 million daily downloads today the number should now be at most 5 billion. That equates to less than 12,500 downloads per app, which is less than a quarter of Apple’s & Google Play’s north of 50,000.

Surprised? If you looked at the Windows Phone store recently, you may have noticed that many of the 400.000 apps just aren’t very good. There are some great Windows Phone apps out there, beautifully designed and packed with amazing features. But many others really shouldn’t be there and Microsoft should never have let them into the store. We’re guilty too – we recently published a bunch of apps for the DVLUP NFC challenge. The sole purpose was to test a few app ideas and collect DVLUP XP at the same time. Don’t check them out, they’re of no use without an NFC tag (of limited use even with one) and will be taken offline soon. Many apps on Windows Phone are plainly awful. They are either terribly designed and constantly crashing or the 700th Flappy Bird clone.

Compare this with iOS – from amazing utility apps to awesome games, most apps are great. Well designed, thought through, well developed and tested. Trainyard, Notability, Doodle Jump, Instagram, Snapchat and so on were all initially designed for iOS, and while some of them are now available on WP8, the gems in the making are likely developed on iOS and perhaps Android. That’s a shame, because Windows Phone is a superbly designed OS that runs great on lower cost hardware, is very easy to develop for and for most parts provides excellent documentation and a friendly developer community.

In Part 2 of this post, I’ll look at what attracts quality developers (Hint: paying $100 to each developer publishing an app it is not), why Microsoft’s in-app ad solution is an insult to developers and why we here at the App Cauldron develop for Windows Phone.

(* More developers than apps suggest a few may have registered for different purposes. Perhaps because installing cracked apps via http://www.g***s-wpd.com & co requires a WP developer Account?)

Monday, March 10, 2014


It’s been fairly quiet here I know and that’s because the Cauldron Team is working like busy bees on the complete redesign. Thanks to our beta testers, the content for our next huge update is tested, debugged, improved and ready to run so once we’ve finalized the new look Track Runner is going to be better than ever!

For a sneak peek of what you can expect: Gear tracking! Weather data! Elevation profile!

And there’s more. So much more, we’ll make a short film out of it. ;)

So, thank you for your patience while we’re putting the finishing touches in place and we hope you look forward to the big update.

Cheers! The App Cauldron Team

PS: Upcoming: A MWC recap including Zombies! Stay tuned.