Textastic for iPad

The beauty of an App Store is that you sometime stumble upon neat little gems and Textastic (iTunes Store link) certainly is one for me. Despite the hard to pronounce name, the app is amazing if you are a programmer that wants to edit text files either locally or on remote servers. The app supports FTP, FTPS and SFTP connections, with a password or a private key.

It also supports Dropbox and it does syntax highlighting for a ton of different file types and programming languages. The app is well done, well designed and, in my opinion, well worth the 10$ price tag.

WWDC Sold Out in 10 Hours

Apple today announced the date for this year’s WWDC, their WorldWide Developers Conference and offered tickets to would-be attendees for 1499$ US. Last year, it took 8 days before it sold out. This year? 10 hours. Erica Sadun on TUAW summed it up best:

Listen, Apple, if your event sells out in 10 hours, you’re oversubscribed and under-serving your community

While the popularity of the event is great news to Apple and no doubt reflects the insane momentum both iOS and OS X are enjoying right now, selling out in less than 12 hours is crazy. If you were in a meeting all day, you’re done.

It’s too bad too because this is the best Mac & iOS developer event of the year. I knew I couldn’t attend anyway this year so this doesn’t impact me, but it’ll be interested to see what happens next year. I certainly plan on being there but I wonder how quick you’ll have to be next year to snatch a ticket.

My prediction? Apple at some point will split the conference in two, one for iOS and one for Mac OS X but that’s not an ideal solution at all. My guess is that more and more developers are interested in both, but with so many people interested in the platform these days, there’s no convention center big enough to welcome everyone.

First Launch Experience

The Color debacle continues. This weekend I tweeted that their homepage was badly written, a post that prompted a reply from the founder. Hopefully they will be able to fix that soon since it’s not exactly a good first impression. Today though, I want to talk about another aspect of the app that didn’t quite work out : the experience you get the first time you launch the app.

The problem Color has is that the first time you launch it you get an empty page. The app presents you with photos taken by people around you and chances are there will be none when you first launch it unless the app becomes very popular. This is clearly a flaw in their product and the UX designer or the interaction designer should have thought of that.

When you design an app it’s important to think not only of the best-case scenario (for Color it’s when there’s a ton of interesting content around you) but also what happens in the worst case scenario. By not thinking about this, the team made a critical error. It meant very negative press by tech enthusiasts and pundits who used it on day one, it gave early adopters a bad experience and the end result is terrible ratings in iTunes and the product became the joke on Twitter.

It also doesn’t help that you can’t use or do anything before you give the app your name and take your photo, but the kicker is when their founder gave an interview saying:

Photo sharing is not our mission. We think it’s cool and we think it’s fun, but we’re a data mining company

So not only is the first-time use of your app terrible, but you don’t even care. Well, I guess that make it Ok.

The Story of two Launches

Today is the international launch date for the iPad 2 and as usual with Apple product launches, there seems to be a lot of demand for the new gadget. It seems every store in the city that had some had lines in front of it with a ton of people hoping to get their preferred model.

I was lucky enough to be in the US 2 weeks ago to get mine. I ended up visiting a Best Buy in Vermont to get it on launch day and today I was once again in line, this time buying it as a gift for my parents. The difference between the two is astonishing. This is of course completely anecdotal, but it shows the difference in a well organized store and a disorganized one.

In Vermont, the Best Buy had pre-printed coupons. One coupon per iPad in stock. At around 4PM, they distributed the coupons and it took maybe 20 minutes to get through the line. At the Futureshop downtown here in Montreal, employees had no idea what to do, coupons were distributed using the most complicated way they could find. The wait, which should have been painless ended up taking 3 times as long as it should have.

When people ask me where they should buy their Apple gear on day 1, I always say the Apple Store. The lines are often longer, but Apple knows how to handle popular product launch.

What Users Care About

Robert Scoble on the terrible launch of the 41M$ “Color” app yesterday

Users care about great experiences, they don’t care how much money you collected on Sand Hill Road.

That just about sums it up. This is another Google Buzz situation where the product was tested internally with a group of friends & co-workers all sitting next to each other and meeting each others every day. Once the product was released in the wild, the first time experience in the real world is terrible. It just doesn’t work.

I’ll write more about first-time experience this weekend.