Volitans Software

SMART Utility 2.1.2 is Out

Few bug fixes. Get it here.

– Fixed a crash on 10.4 Intel systems with Growl 1.1.6 installed (related to Growl Framework 1.2)
– Fixed bug where certain drives would only show “calculating…” for short tests
– Improved Estimated Time Remaining for short tests

SMART Utility 2.1.1 is Out

This one’s mostly bug fixes. Get it here.

Full Release Notes:

– Fixed bug where on new installs scans every 50 seconds instead of every hour
– Fixed bug where polling preference time shows unknown time
– Fixed bug where error window would not open on some drives
– Fixed bug where reading health would cause an exception
– Fixed bug where outputting debug message would cause crash in self test log
– Fixed bug where with French localization where main window and tests window would not localize self test error statuses
– Fixed default opening tab for preferences
– Fixed a small memory leak
– Improved debug log information output
– Now Main window saves its position
– Updated help with changes to polling as well as two new FAQs
– Updated eSellerate embedded engine to
– Updated Growl framework to 1.2 (which is 10.5 only but should still work for 10.4 Growl installs)

Update: Apple Gives in to Rogue Amoeba

In an update to this post I made a view days ago (where Apple rejected their already approved app because it used images of Apple computers), Apple has reversed course and now will allow the app. Apple, via Phil Schiller (Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing), has stated that they are changing their policies regarding trademarked images.

Its good to see them backpedal because it was a horrible decision in the first place. It was covered far and wide, and was very bad PR for Apple. On top of that, it hurt the UI of the app- something Apple is supposed to be know for.

However, RA is not jumping back into iPhone development:

The problems of the App Store go well beyond our own relatively minor case. We pushed this update to Airfoil Speakers Touch out because we wanted to restore functionality we had to take away from our users. We’re happy to be able to do that.

That said, the App Store and iPhone platform still have myriad problems, detailed in many places. Among other issues, the potential remains for months of effort to be wasted as an app sits in limbo, or is never even released. As well, the long lead times needed before updates reach users are still in place.

At this time, we don’t believe it makes good business sense for us to commit much in the way of resources to the iPhone. We’ll make sure our existing applications continue to function, of course, but that’s all we have planned for now.

I have to agree. There still are many problems with the App Store, none of which is fixed by this decision. Slow review process, unknown risk as to whether an app will be approved, inconsistant reviewing- these all still exist. And they still don’t see the problem:

Schiller does manage to admit that Apple has made mistakes. Sadly, he doesn’t say it loudly enough. In a Social Networking era when transparency is not only beneficial to a company but almost essential to maintaining a happy customer base, Apple still can’t manage genuine “openness” where it most counts. I’m sure Misters Jobs and Schiller grudgingly decided this interview was a necessary (if bitter-tasting) step in damage-control. But it’s dripping with convoluted and downright unfriendly corporate-speak.

And its not just openness- though that will help tremendously. Its even having a process in the first place. There really needs a second way to get apps on the phone. Apple can still have its App Store with visibility and ease of use (for buying and selling). But for those apps that Apple doesn’t like but users do, iTunes should allow installing any .ipa files.

App Store Full of Buggy Apps

Paul Graham makes a very interesting point in his article about the reasons the App Store is failing:

By breaking software development, Apple gets the opposite of what they intended: the version of an app currently available in the App Store tends to be an old and buggy one. One developer wrote:

I believe that they think their approval process helps users by ensuring quality. In reality, bugs like ours get through all the time and then it can take 4-8 weeks to get that bug fix approved, leaving users to think that iPhone apps sometimes just don’t work. Worse for Apple, these apps work just fine on other platforms that have immediate approval processes.

I had not considered that because Apple takes so long to approve updates, that most apps in the App Store are very buggy since no updates can be approved. Whereas on the Mac, an update can be pushed right away to fix a bug, the APp Store takes an unknown amount of time. So the tendency to roll as many fixes and changes into one update is overwhelmingly strong, because who wants to wait 3 months for 6 updates, and instead to 1 update every 3 months.

Just another reason the approval process is broken.

Another iPhone Developer Quits

Rogue Amoeba has announced they are also leaving iPhone development. In their case, they tried to submit a bug fix release, but Apple complained about them “using Apple’s image” in their app. First off, I don’t understand why Apple wouldn’t want them to use the images. I mean, that provides UI and image consistency across apps and devices. Second, they got the images from APPLE PROVIDED SOURCES. I just don’t understand this.

The situation is getting more dire everyday. I thought this would be a weekly thing, and now its happening daily.

Facebook iPhone App Developer Quits

This hit the net yesterday, and its such a shame. The Facebook application is great, and its sad to see the lead (and only I think) developer leave.

And why did he leave? Apple’s ridiculous App Store policies. I don’t blame him. I have some ideas for iPhone apps, but the enthusiasm to do them just isn’t there. And that’s because I could spend months working my tail off on an app, only to see it delayed or even rejected. That’s no way to run a business.

I hope Apple wakes up and sees just what a mess they have created. As I have said all along, the review process needs to be scrapped. There are too many problems, from the review part, to the update part. There still can be an App Store, but Apple should have a post review- ie if there are problems they can pull it later.

That is the way it should’ve been from the start, and who knows how much better the App Store would be.

SMART Utility is a Mac Gem

Check out the nice review of SMART Utility on macworld.com.

The author does a fair job of reviewing the app, showing the positives and negatives of the app as well as SMART in general.

One note however. At the end he states:

Unfortunately, whereas SMARTReporter can run in the background, with or without a menu-bar icon, SMART Utility is a standard Mac program, which means it appears in the Dock whenever it’s running; I’d have preferred an approach similar to that of SMARTReporter. I’d also like to see additional alert options, similar to those provided by SMARTReporter; for example, e-mail alerts and the capability to launch an application or run an AppleScript. But SMART Utility’s additional drive details could make it more useful than SMARTReporter for many people.

Version 3.0 of SMART Utility (in development now) will have the ability to run in the background as a menu bar icon, and will support additional notifications, such as email and launching an application.

Ridiculous App Store Rejections

Two more ridiculous App Store rejections hit the web the past week.

The first is MacWorld’s iPhone Superguide. It was rejected because it contained the word iPhone and a picture of an iPhone. Come on Apple! ITS RUNNING ON AN IPHONE! Why they can’t use the name or picture boggles me.

The second was rejected because cartoon versions of politicians were included in the app. OH NO! People might recognize their representative! And find information on them! We can’t have that now… My favorite line for the article is:

Hard to believe that anybody could be this stupid and blind. Maybe they just have a monkey doing the approval of their apps, and he throws a dart at a dartboard with “approved” and “rejected” targets on it and whatever it hits is the fate the that app.

This just gets stupider by the day.

Long Time, No See

Its been awhile since I’ve updated this blog. The day job took some of my time, and I’ve also started a masters program. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring my company.

SMART Utility 2.1.1 is due out soon, with some much needed bug fixes. I’ve finished up an iPhone contract, and I’m currently working on an iPhone app. I’m not really sure if I’ll finish it, since Apple is being pretty stubborn with the App Store. So we’ll see what happens there.