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Android and Burning Wheel Thoughts


Mar 032012

The Geometric Shapes Live Wallpaper app that I have put in the market has now been updated to the latest version. The changes from the log are as follows:

v1.2.0 all shapes now available for free and paid users, but free users have text overlay for most, 4 new shapes added, extra rotation axis added (for paid version), background colour selection (paid version), ability to have shape pause movement on screen touch (paid version)

I’m very pleased with this update, and look forward to seeing it’s effect on downloads.

Incidentally, the market downloads listed in my last post were not entirely accurate – I listed only the google market downloads as I didn’t expect there would be any on SlideMe or Amazon yet, but when I checked I was rather surprised. The figures now are:

Google Market: 114 (of which 3 are paid, one then refunded)
Amazon: 3 (all free)
SlideMe: 197 (all free)

So total downloads are actually 314. I’m rather shocked at how many more are on SlideMe than on the Google Market, particularly given that I spent $50 on Admob trying to get downloads from the Google Market.

Updates may take a little while to appear – they will need to go through the approval process on SlideMe and Amazon.

Mar 012012

Some time ago, I thought it might be nice to get into app development, to have a little income on top of my wage and to learn interesting programming stuff. Suffice it to say, it’s not really happened as yet, but I’m determined to change that.

Up until the start of this year, I’d done a few things towards it. I’ve registered as self employed, so I’ll be able to declare all the lovely dosh that I will soon be making. I’ve set up a development environment using Eclipse and Dropbox, so I can do it on whatever PC I happen to be using. I’ve even planned a few simple apps.

I’ve made a bit more progress this year though. I discovered Buzztouch and had a play around with it. I don’t think I’ll use it personally, but it’s a great idea, and I did figure out how to compile the apps made with it. I’ve been looking at alternate methods of creating income, so have set up Fiverr and Fivesquids gigs that offer to compile Buzztouch apps, or host apps on the marketplace. I’ve also (thanks to the fiverr gig) had a little job helping someone get a slightly more complex app ready for the market – for which he very generously paid me $50.

I’ve also obtained permission to use the Driving Standards Authority official theory test revision questions in an app. They get some of the revenue, but that’s fine – if I can make a decent app (or two) that should be a bit of an earner. The app is still in the planning stages, but it’s starting to take shape, and it’s pushing me to learn more and more about Android.

Also, Blackberry had a bit of a promotion whereby if you submitted an app to their marketplace for the Playbook by 13th Feb, you could get a free Playbook. Opensudoku is one of my favourite apps (and available under GNU GPL v3), so I took the source code and repackaged for the Blackberry and submitted (as a free app). I’m still waiting to see if it’s accepted. The submission process was a bit long-winded, but converting from Android to Blackberry wasn’t that tough – I’ll definitely have to consider doing it for future apps.

Finally, on the 20th I got my Geometric Shapes live wallpaper to the point where I’m happy to release it. It still needs a bit of refining, but I’m relatively happy with it. There are two versions – one free and one paid. They both let you choose a shape, size, colour and speed of rotation but the paid version has a lot more options. The free one also has a single ad and a link to the full version on the options page. I’ll be releasing an update to this within the next couple of days that allows all of the shapes on the free version but adds text to all but the cube, dice and tetrahedron. It also enables rotation in two directions instead of just one, adds a few extra shapes and has a couple of other little tweaks.

I tried to drum up some interest in the live wallpaper with Admob – I put down $50, at $0.01 per ad, so figured I’d get 5000 people looking at it, and if just half of them installed the free app, and only 2% upgraded, then I’d make my money back. So far, I’ve apparently had 5000 clicks, which seems to have led to about 60 installs of the free version. Oh well, lesson learned I guess.

By sheer fluke, I managed to win some money on a scratchcard on Monday, and I’m planning to put it towards a new laptop. Ideally I’d like some flavour of Unix (to encourage me to program and not play games) and a decent hardware spec, for not much money – anyone have any ideas?

Revenue to end of February 2012:

  • Adsense: £80.51 (this is mostly ads from the google plus inviter, and includes all ad impressions back to last August – it only reached payout level this month)
  • Paypal (app work less fees): $47.75 = £29.37
  • Fiverr: ($48 sales, less paypal fees of approx $2) $46 = £28.32
  • Amazon affiliate referrals: £29.82 (this includes £25 from previous months)
  • App sales (Android Market): £1.38

Total: £170.27

Costs to end of February 2012

  • Fiverr gigs bought (app icons, names, etc – thought it was worth a try): $15 = £9.11
  • Android app store dev account: $25 = £15.38
  • Admob advertising: $50 = £32.58

Total: £57.07

Net position: £110.95

Apps in the Market (downloads):

The live wallpapers are on SlideMe and Amazon as well, but have been there for only a few days so I’m not going to bother putting their download stats on here this time. I’ll put them on next month’s report.

Other apps (in progress):

  • OpenSudoku for Blackberry (submitted to market, waiting for approval)
  • Driving Theory Test – Free (limited number of questions, ad supported)
  • Driving Theory Test – paid (no ads, all questions)

Revenue this month was over £100, but the vast majority of it was made either through the Google plus inviter ads (which have fallen to a trickle now) or fairly unique app work, which I can’t rely on in future. I think a sensible target for next month is £50. That said, I’ve never been that sensible, so I’m going to aim for £100 🙂

Feb 212012

Finally got to spend some time on app development at the weekend, and managed to get this to where I was relatively happy with it.

It’s a live wallpaper based on geometrical shapes (the Platonic Solids in fact). There’s a free version that gives you cube and icosahedron, and a paid version that gives tetrahedron, octahedron and dodecahedron as well.

You can choose the colour, size and speed of rotation of the shape (with more options on the paid version than the free).

Check it out:

As mentioned, I’m new at this, so any feedback is greatly appreciated. Please do let me know if there is anything that can be done to improve it – just be gentle 🙂

Feb 152012

How to get more free space on Dropbox

I’ve been using Dropbox as a handy place to store my Eclipse install and my Android and Blackberry SDKs, so I can work on them from any of my computers, but the free account only comes with 2GB of storage, which is a little small for my needs. I don’t really want to pay $10 a month to go to a paid account, so I decided to look into ways of getting more space – and it turns out there are quite a few of them!

So far today I’ve gained 1.1GB extra space, taking me to 3.9GB (I already had a little bit extra), and I’ll be getting another 4.5GB when I get home tonight. How?

First step: install Dropbox.
If you don’t have a dropbox account, you can get one here – joining through a referral link (like this one) earns you and the referrer both an extra 250MB – space now: 2.25GB (I missed out on this, as I didn’t join through a referral link)

2nd step: Complete the get started list
This is worth an extra 250MB – space now: 2.5GB

3rd step: complete the free activities
This does require you to have a Twitter and Facebook account, but there’s nothing stopping you creating one for the purposes of this. This step earns you 640MB – space now: 3.14GB

4th step: if you have an android phone, download the experimental forum build of the Android app and upload one photo. If you don’t have an android phone, download the experimental forum build of the desktop application and use it to sync with your phone/camera and upload one photo.
This will earn you 500MB – space now: 3.64GB

5th step: Upload more photos and videos from your phone/camera as in (4) above.
In theory, once you’ve uploaded a total of 4.51GB, you should have a total of 5GB more space (which is the limit), so an increase of 4.5GB from this step – space now: 8.14GB

6th step: Invite your friends.
Use the referrals page to invite your friends. For each one that signs up, you’ll earn 250MB. This doubles if you’re a student (confirm by using a .edu email address here) and doubles again if you’re a pro user (i.e. paying). I think that the maximum that you can earn from referrals is 8GB (16 for a paid user).

This takes you to somewhere between 8.14GB and 16.14GB (depending on how many friends sign up), on a free account. You can also keep an eye out on the official blog and twitter feed, as they often have special competitions on there.

I was running out of space this morning – now I have plenty!

Nov 232011

So, with the google plus invites no longer being needed (but still being downloaded – we’re at almost 14,000 downloads now according to google’s developer console) I thought it might be worth building a new app.

Regarding the G+ inviter, all it does now is point people to this page. Funnily enough, it’s made me nearly £30 in adsense clicks, so I’m inclined to leave it there for now.

So – a new app. But what to build? I thought about the sort of apps that might be useful to me. I don’t want to charge people money – my app-writing skills are not yet to the point where I think that’s fair – but I wanted to build something that people might find useful.

I was looking around some of the sites I frequent, when I realised that HUKD has an API for developer calls. I wondered if I could use this, so applied for a key.

I had to fold the results in a little php and reformat them for AI (still using AI, as I’m too lazy/pressed for time to learn Java properly) and I wound up with an app that could get the most recent hot deals.

Today, I added some search functionality and put it up on the market.

It looks rather poor, and I do need to do something with the visuals, but it works and hopefully will prove useful to some people. And if anyone happens to click on the links on the front page and spends lots of money, I might make a few pennies.

I’ll add the link to let people download the app from the market as soon as it’s listed – I hit publish about 20 minutes ago, but it takes a while to update the servers.

Edited to add: The download link is at https://market.android.com/details?id=appinventor.ai_zelazny.hukd_app – give it a try!

Aug 042011

I promised an update today, so here it is!

Installs/Invites sent
The app continues to go from strength to strength. Google market reports 3,045 installs at last count, and I’ve had a total of 4342 invite requests so far, so we’re looking at an average of 1.43 invites requested per install. A lot of this will be caused by people who are in a hurry and request an invite more than once, but I’m sure there have been a few people who have requested more than one invite from a single installation.

I’ve been tracking the invites requested since the 27th, and so far the overall average number of invites per hour has been 19. The slowest time was between 11am and 3pm on the 30th, at about 10.5 invites per hour. The app seems to be getting more and more hits, as the fastest time has been updated several times over the last day. Currently, the peak was in the last two hours, at over 67 invites per hour.

There are 62 ratings for the app, 59 of which have rated it 5 stars, 2 at 4 stars and 1 and 1 star. There are also 31 comments, all positive. You can get the app from the following links: Download *Google Plus* Inviter for Android from Appbrain Download *Google Plus* Inviter for Android from the Android Market

I removed the adsense ads, as they were getting no clicks. With over 400 impressions yesterday I had literally zero clicks, so that’s clearly not worthwhile. I’ve not yet had any money donated through paypal – so far my only income is from the 11 people who purchased the app at £1 each (google take 30%, so I get 70p per purchase – for a total of £7.70). I reckon that I’ve spent somewhere between 9 and 15 hours putting together the app and sending the invites, and that works out at under £1 per hour. Given that the minimum wage is more like £6, and that my normal work pays more like £15 per hour, I’m not overly happy with this, and not sure that I can afford to keep going for much longer, simply from the point of view that I need to pay my rent, so I need to do a certain amount of work that pays, and time spent on this is thus keeping me from paying my rent.

Interesting numbers
Paypal takes £0.20 from each donation, as well as 3.4% of the total, but if everyone who’d got an invite had donated £0.23 (so I’d receive 2p after paypal’s cut) then I’d have made more than minimum wage. If instead one person in 60 donated just £1, I’d have made more than minimum wage.

So far I’ve had no donations whatsoever, and all of the income comes from the few paid invites that were purchased. I’m going to keep going to at least 5000 invites, then I’ll see how we’re going. It may be that I simply can’t keep up as it is, or that I have to put things back onto a paid basis, although I’d rather not do so.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon. Just after posting this, I checked my email and have received a donation of $2! That being the case, my faith in humanity is now restored :p I’ll keep going until at least 6000.

Aug 032011

We’re over 3500 invites sent now, and I’ve got a bit of a system going so it’s a little faster.

That said, there’s been little to no money coming in – my revenue is still at £7.70 total, and that was from the 11 paid downloads. As I can’t keep doing this for free, I have added a paypal button on the confirmation page and some ads from adsense – will see if they make any difference. I’ve tried to make them relatively unobtrusive, and you don’t have to donate or click any ads to get the invite.

If you’re interested, you can download the app from the following link: Download *Google Plus* Inviter for Android

I’ll put some more stats up tomorrow.

Jul 282011

Ish. I have had over 1000 requests for invites to google plus now – some of those are duplicated though, so it’s actually a little under 1000 unique emails to which invites have been sent.

The android market seems to update rather slowly, as it’s showing 563 installs, but even granted that some people will have requested more than one invite with a single installation I’d expect the true figure to be somewhat higher.

Jul 272011

Slightly long story here, please feel free to ignore – the important bit is that you can get a G+ invite if you download the Google Plus Inviter app.

The longer story:
I was lucky enough to snag a G+ invite from a good friend a couple of weeks ago. I joined, had a little look around and that was that. I never use facebook, never used myspace, rarely use twitter and don’t generally have a lot of time for that kind of thing.

G+ is a little different though. Firstly, it integrates into gmail rather well. I get notifications when I’m on gmail of important things happening on G+, which makes it so much easier to use. I don’t have to log into G+ just for the sake of logging into G+, but can get on with my life and get told when something has happened that I might be interested in, which is nice.

So I figured, why not share the love? I put together a really simple app in App Inventor (which does unfortunately make it rather large for what it does, but I’m still working on figuring out Java and all that) that just asks for an email address, then emails that address to me so that I can send an invite when I get time. I stuck a simple logo on it and put it in the market.

8 hours later, I had something like 400 requests for invites. There’s no way I could keep up with that, so I figured a good way to limit it would be to add a price. I took down the free app and replaced it with a £1 one, and labelled it clearly as a temporary measure while I dealt with the backlog. I also figured it might be nice to have some sort of payment for spending hours sending invites.

Over the next 3 days I dealt with the backlog. In all that time, a grand total of 17 people decided the app was worth paying for, and of those 6 promptly returned it for a refund. I made a little under £8, which works out to about half an hour’s work at my current rate. At about this time, Google suspended the app, claiming that it broke their rules. I emailed them requesting clarification of how it broke the rules – was it because people had to pay, or because it was sending invites? Neither of which were against the rules as far as I can see, but I figured it had to be one of them, as there was nothing else that it did. Google replied with a canned response that didn’t actually answer my email, instead saying “We appreciate the opportunity to review your appeal regarding the suspension of “Google Plus Invite (urgent)” from Android Market. After an
investigation, we affirm our initial decision and will not be reinstating your application at this time.”

Never mind. Deciding that it was safest to not antagonise them, I didn’t put the free version of the app back up right away, but have decided to do so now. I put it back on the market last night, and have sent nearly 150 invites this morning.

So anyone wanting an invite, go download it!

Apr 052011

Currently, according to the Google Developer Console, there are 101 people with the Android Offers (UK) app installed on their phone. In this post I’ll take a look at who exactly has it installed, based on what Google tell me:

The first thing they give me is a little chart saying how many installs I had on each day. There seem to have been a couple of periods of rapid uptake, as we went from 10 on the 17th of March to 32 on the 19th, then increased slower to 47th on the 31st, then we’ve increased all of a sudden to 69 on the 1st of April, 80 on the 2nd and 92 on the 3rd (with 101 on the 4th).

54% of people using the app have android 2.2. 33% have android 2.1, 5.4% each have android 1.5 and 1.6 and the remaining 2% or so is split between 2.3 and 2.3.3 (which I’d not heard of, but assume is some variant of 2.3).

The device type seems fairly well spread out. The top 2 devices are the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire HD, with about 15% each. The HTC Desire is next at 14%, then the Xperia X10 (X10i) with 11% followed by the Samsung Galaxy tab with 9%. Below that are the Samsung Galaxy 3 (4%), SEMC Xperia X10 (SonyEricssonX10i) (3%), SEMC Xperia X8 (3%), HTC Hero (3%), LG Optimus One (2%) with “others” having a healthy 20%.

Installations by country are interesting. As the app only shows offers for UK based retailers (or the UK arms of international retailers) we’d hope to see most of them in the UK. The Developer Console reports that 77% of people with the app installed are in the UK. That’s probably a little below what I’d expect, but seems reasonable. 6.5% are in the US, 3% in Germany, 2% in Saudi Arabia, then 1% each in a whole bunch of other places, including France, Morocco, Bahrain, Russia, Greece and Argentina.

The last piece of data that we have is language. As we’d expect, they largely tally up with the countries, with 77% being English (UK), 5% English (US), 4% German, 2% Arabic, 2% French, 2% Spanish (United States), then the rest at 1% including Greek, Russian, Spanish (Spain), Swedish.

I’ll probably look at the stats in another month or so and see what’s changed 🙂