Posts tagged iphone
Bus Pal for Tasmanian Buses

We've released a new version of our very popular Bus Pal application for Metro Tasmania timetables. The app has all the timetables and route information for all the buses in Hobart, Launceston, and Burnie. 

This update updates the data to the latest from Metro Tasmania, adds lines to the map showing the bus routes, and includes a Watch App for the Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch App shows the time to the next bus and the route number at the bus stops you've favourited within Bus Pal. In the future we'll be adding a glance for even quicker access (we're trying to figure out the best UI for that at the moment).

You can download Bus Pal on the App Store.

Bus Pal is not endorsed by Metro Tasmania, and neither Secret Lab or Metro Tasmania warrant the completeness or accurateness of the data included. 


/dev/world/2014

We're very excited that one of our favourite conferences, /dev/world, is running for the 7th time this year. Three feature presentations – Marc Edwards of Bjango, Tom Greenaway of Kumobius, and the inimitable Paul Fenwick – have already been announced, and tickets are currently available.

Check it out at http://www.devworld.com.au – it runs in Melbourne, Australia on September 29 and 30 this year.

/dev/world is run by the AUC – a wonderful organisation that gave us an enormous boost when we were getting started. Secret Lab would not exist without them. /dev/world/2014 is open to everyone, and if you're in the iOS or Mac developer community we can't recommend it more highly.

We'll be speaking, as well!


Thoughts on WWDC14

Some quick thoughts from Secret Lab on the mind-blowing collection of WWDC 2014 announcements from Apple.

OS X Yosemite

Pretty! Made simpler. Not super sold on translucency, though.

Handoffs and Continuity is awesome. Will be super useful. Devs get access to this too. Reminds us of the excellent “Send to Chrome” feature in Android. Only really polished.

iOS 8

Not a huge amount of new stuff, visuals wise; however, there are some awesome behind the scenes changes.

Custom Actions, Photo Editing, Sharing Options can all be provided by apps. You can make your app provide services to other apps. This is AWESOME - it’s going to make the app ecosystem quite a bit richer.

Android’s had this for some time, and it’s great to see it in iOS.

The ability to put widgets in the notification center is also great, lots of devs are going to make some great stuff with this.

Being able to share documents between apps without having to copy them is going to be Super Nifty. This has been a real weakness of iOS until now.

Swift

WOW. Apple developed an entire language, wrote all the docs, and wrote all the supporting tools for it, without it leaking. This is really impressive.Can’t wait to use this.

The language is very modern. Its syntax feels like a mashup of Python, Haskell and Ruby.

Interoperation with Obj-C is rather nicely handled. They’ve directly translated ObjC’s arguments-are-embedded-into-method names approach into named parameters. The goal was clearly to make it as painless as possible to work with both languages in a single project.

Something that’s interesting is it’s completely opposed to Objective-C’s way of doing things is that, while ObjC allows sending messages to nil (thereby making it safe to not have to do null checks), Swift instead guarantees that all values that are not Optionals are non-null. Optionals are a very cool feature: in other languages, the concept of “nothing” is usually represented by a special value (for example, Lua’s ‘nil’ value), or by convention (for example, in C, the value 0 means ‘nothing’). This creates its own problems; if you use a special value, comparing it to other objects means you have to do type conversions, and if you instead use the convention of zero meaning null, you have to do checks. Objective-C goes some of the way towards helping with this: it defines ‘nil’ as a special value that’s represented a zero pointer, but calling methods on it is safe because the runtime automatically returns if it notices you’re trying to call methods on nil.

This is nicer than crashing, but it can lead to problems, since if an object you’re trying to work with is unexpectedly nil, you’ll get bugs. Not crashing bugs, but weird behaviour bugs.

The Optionals system is nicer. In Swift, a value is either guaranteed to be a valid one, or else is explicitly known to sometimes be nil.

For example: if you’re converting strings to integers, your code looks like this:

let theString = "123"

let theInt = theString.toInt()

In most languages, the ‘toInt()’ method would return a value that represents ‘not valid’, such as 0. But in Swift, it returns an optional int - that is, a value that MIGHT represent nothing, but if it doesn’t represent nothing, then it’s GUARANTEED to be an integer and nothing else.

This makes things quite a bit safer, since the compiler’s able to do more checking, and is able to reason about your code better.

Swift is filled with this kind of thing. Another example: in C and similar langauges, the assignment operator (=) returns a value, like this:

a = b = 3 // sets both a and b to 3

In Swift, that doesn’t apply. This means that the following is actually a compiler error (it’s just a warning in ObjC):

if x = y {



}

We’re not huge fans of the range operators: a...b means “range from a to b, including b” and a..b means “range from a to b, not including b”. Notice that they only differ by a single period. That’s going to lead to bugs, due to typos.

The mutability of variables depends on whether or not the variable is declared as a constant or not. This is nicer than Objective-C, which has two different classes for each type based on whether it’s mutable or not (ie NSString vs NSMutableString)

This only applies to strings, arrays, dictionaries, and other low-level things. We’re still going to be stuck with NSURL vs NSMutableURL for a while.

Playground is super cool. Reminds us of IPython, in that you can figure out your code without it having to be run inside a larger app. This is going to make development a lot faster.

App Store

Being able to show videos and make app bundles (with discount) is going to be neat. Not a huge game changer for us, but any increase in app store functionality is good.


Books, and training, and conferences! Oh my!

First, books!

We're very pleased to announce that our latest two books are now available! The first, Learning Cocoa with Objective-C Fourth Editionis an update to our previous third edition book, this time co-written with our frequent collaborator and co-conspirator Tim Nugent. It covers everything existing programmers need to skill up with the latest in iPhone, iPad, and Mac development technologies. 

The second new book is the iOS Game Development Cookbook; it provides a huge range of recipes for common things you need to when building a game for iOS (or any other platform, if you're willing to translate the examples out of Cocoa and Objective-C, or even for things that aren't games if you're creative!)

We're really proud of both of these books, and hope you find them useful and enjoyable! Let us know what you think, or if you have any questions. You can find more details, and links to sample code, on our books page.

Second, training!

If you like our books, then why not try our training? Check out our previous blog post to learn more about our upcoming Melbourne iOS developer training.

Finally, conferences!

We're very pleased to be speaking at the (very awesome) O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) again this year – for the fourth time in a row! We'll be presenting our mobile app design workshop “Unfortunately, Design Tutorial Has Stopped”, and Other Ways to Infuriate People With Mobile Apps with frequent collaborator Chris Neugebauer, as well as the session How Do I Game Design?, exploring the basics of game design

Additionally, Tim Nugent (our co-author on the latest Learning Cocoa book) will be presenting the session My Friends Keep Leaving and it is Ruining Board Games Day, which explores the state of augmented and remote board gaming; Chris Neugebauer is also presenting the session Portable Logic/Native UI exploring best practices for building mobile apps that need to run on multiple platforms. It's all sure to be excellent! Do try it.

 


iOS Developer Lab, Melbourne

Just a quick post to announce a Melbourne iOS Developer Lab will be running June 20-22. Our iOS Developer Labs are super popular, and usually fill up fast – we take 3 days of your week and bring you up to speed with iOS 7+ development!

Past participants have enjoyed their time learning how to build iPhone and iPad apps with us:

Secret Lab’s iOS Developer Lab stoked the fire to get back into iOS development for me - I was surprised by some of the things I learned along the way. Often the tangents were some of the best stuff, but the core material was a great curriculum!
— Past participant, Melbourne, December 2012
I think this was the best training course I’ve ever done. Secret Lab blew me away with their approachability and willingness to explain and answer my silly questions! Highly recommended.
— Past participant, Brisbane, February 2014

For the next few days you can sign up at the half price rate of $750 AUD + GST. Please email us if you have any questions, or if you'd like a discount for group signups (3+). We're also happy to hear from you if you're currently unemployed or a student and would like to chat about special prices. You can learn more about us, and check out our work and books on this website.