March 12th, 2009 § § permalink
Apple has apparently updated the iTunes App Store, specifically with regard to ratings and reviews.
First, you may now rate an application without writing a review. Previously, you had to write something, unless you were using Apple’s “rate on delete” feature. I hope this will restore some balance by making it easier for people in a hurry to provide a positive rating, although it is still up to developers to direct satisfied customers to the app’s review page. ;-)
Second, and I think this is a big deal, reviews are now tagged with the version of the software being reviewed. Average ratings are computed for both the current version and across all versions. Thanks to this change, I was able to compile following table for FatWatch:
(In case you think I’m cooking the books, version 1.2 was never released to the public.)
iTunes reports that FatWatch’s average rating of 3 stars is based on 50 ratings but only 22 reviews. With some algebra I can determine that the remaining 28 reviews have an average of 2.32 stars. If those are all from “rate on delete,” that’s seems pretty good.
I think this paints a more favorable (and honest) picture: FatWatch got off to a rough start, but its grades have been steadily improving. I’m relieved, because two of the negative reviews about version 1.0 were voted as Most Helpful and used to appear on the main page.
I’m happy that Apple has improved the App Store in this way. A lot of developers are quick to criticize them, but I know they aren’t out to get me, and that running a huge operation like the iTunes Store isn’t easy.
Anyway, you’re probably wondering what I’m up to and when the next update to FatWatch will be released. I have been dividing my time between FatWatch and consulting, and lately the divide has not been as even as I’d like. I have several pages of ideas sketched out, however, and I’m eager to work on them. The next update will probably focus on improvements to the Trends feature, specifically on making the calories per day number easier to interpret and apply to your goals.
January 16th, 2009 § § permalink
Wow, that was fast. I submitted FatWatch 1.4 on Wednesday and two days later it is available in the store. Other developers, I’d love to share my secret but I have no idea what I did. I was actually hoping I’d have a few more days to update the website.
Anyway, if you’re curious about what’s changed since FatWatch 1.3, here is a complete list of changes in FatWatch 1.4, minus some under the hood stuff that is only interesting to me.
Big New Feature: Body Mass Index (BMI) Monitoring
To enable, go to the More tab, switch it on, and select your height. Afterward BMI will be displayed in various places around the app, using the following color scheme: red for obese, yellow for overweight, green for normal, and blue for underweight. Classifications are based on the World Health Organization’s guidelines. Think BMI is bunk? Don’t turn it on, and you won’t have to look at it.
- Added a control to toggle between displaying Variance (your scale weight’s distance from the moving average) or your BMI (if enabled).
- Improved drawing of long notes.
- Added a “hint” cell at the top of the table.
- “Go To” screen has larger buttons.
- Visual update, changed background color and tweaked control layout.
- If BMI is enabled, weight picker cells are colored according to BMI zone.
- Note field is larger (easier to tap), supports multiple lines of text, and has sexy rounded corners.
- Added overeating and undereating labels to the energy surplus/deficit field.
- Added total weight gained or lost during trend period.
- Goal weight picker uses whole numbers, regardless of selected scale precision.
- If BMI is enabled, start BMI is displayed, and you can set a goal by selecting a BMI value in addition to selecting a weight.
- Added an info button to explain how start weight is computed (its the moving average, not your scale weight).
- Added a switch to enable BMI monitoring.
- Added a button to open FatWatch’s page in the App Store.
- Removed unnecessary section titles and added a hint referring to the Settings app.
- Now offers several preset zoom levels: Past Month, Past Quarter, Past Year, All Time, and Browse (the original scrollable view).
- If BMI is enabled, chart regions are shaded to indicate BMI zone.
- If database is empty, displays an empty chart (instead of a boring-to-look-at message).
- Browse mode scrolling is linked to Log: start position is determined by current Log position.
- Label text is drawn using Unicode encoding, making better international support.
- Renamed “Scale Increment” to “Scale Precision” — the latter sounds more precise, don’t you think?
- Added a switch to disable Bonjour, in case you don’t want to publish Wi-Fi Import/Export’s web address when you turn it on.
- Shade Weekends is now enabled by default.
- Added “Shade BMI Zones” in case you don’t like so much color in your chart.
- Added a startup image.
- When you quit FatWatch, it remembers which tab you had selected (i.e., Log, Trends, Goal, or More) and returns to it when you next launch the app.
- Setup screen respects existing preferences.
- Added a cancel button to the Set Passcode screen (that never should have been left out in the first place).
- Wi-Fi Import/Export displays device name (“iPhone” vs. “iPod touch”) as appropriate.
I hope you find it worth the wait.
January 9th, 2009 § § permalink
FatWatch 1.4 is almost ready to go. I’m looking for people to beta test it before I submit it to the App Store. If you’re interested, send an email with your device’s UDID to email@example.com. If you don’t know what a UDID is or how to find it, write anyway, I’ll tell you what you need to do.
January 7th, 2009 § § permalink
Although the iPhone picker control allows you to display multiple wheels at a time, FatWatch presents you with a single wheel to enter your weight. I was recently asked, why not use one wheel per digit, like some other apps do?
When you launch FatWatch, most of the time you probably want to quickly enter your weight and then close it immediately, before getting dressed and heading to work. I decided to design the weigh-in screen to be as efficient as possible in this scenario. When considering whether to “split the picker”, there are two considerations that work in the single picker’s favor: scrolling distance and Fitt’s Law.
It is true that scrolling from FatWatch’s default of 200 lbs to your initial weight can be tedious, especially if you’ve selected a scale precision of 0.1 or less. However, from that point on, FatWatch remembers your weight and always defaults to your average weight on the day you select. Since your scale reading will only be a few units away from your average, you won’t have far to scroll.
An example of a split picker.
If each digit is on a separate wheel, the amount of scrolling required varies wildly depending on the numbers involved. For example, changing from 168.5 to 167.5 is easy: adjust the third wheel one unit. But to change from 168.5 to 170.0: adjust the second wheel one unit up, the third wheel eight units down, and the last wheel 5 units down. Got that? It’s not hard to figure out, but it is work that your brain has to do. And it has to do it early in the morning when you’d rather be crawling back into bed.
FatWatch's weight picker.
Now, all that work is worth doing if we don’t know anything about the number you are going to pick. When you set an alarm, for example, you are just as likely to pick 8:25 AM as 11:00 PM, so an alarm clock app is probably saving you work by letting you pick the hour and minute separately. But since FatWatch knows the number you want to enter won’t be far from the default, a single picker makes more sense.
And what about Fitts’s Law? It’s a principle of interface design that states the time to acquire a target is inversely proportional to its size. In other words, it takes more time to tap a small thing than a big thing. By using one wheel, FatWatch gives you a very large target to hit and swipe with your finger. If it was split into three or four wheels, you would have four separate and much narrower targets. So, not only do you have more wheels to adjust, it will take you longer to adjust each one of them.
I hope you enjoyed this explanation of the thinking behind FatWatch’s design. The 1.4 update is almost finished; when it’s done I’ll have more design stuff to write about.