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AlbumMixer 1.2 Now Available - Shuffle those Albums (and playlists and genres)

October 01, 2009 at 08:03 PM | categories: iOS | View Comments

AlbumMixer 1.2 is now available. This update includes features that users have requested: a "next album" button, and the genre-based shuffle, and playlist-based shuffle. The UI is also much nicer, IMO. And the basic album shuffle still works, too.

Besides all that, this update includes a change in the official app name to "AlbumMixer - Shuffle by Album". Just a few minutes after that change went live, app store searches for "album shuffle" began to show AlbumMixer as the third match (finally!). So there's a lesson here for iPhone developers: if your keywords might be confused with an existing app, embed them in your application name.

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AlbumMixer and the search for "album shuffle"

September 28, 2009 at 08:00 PM | categories: iOS | View Comments

Apple finally responded to one of my numerous iTunes Connect inquiries. I keep asking them why AlbumMixer, despite having keywords "album,shuffle" can't be found by searching for "album shuffle" in the app store. Until now I've heard no response whatsoever.

But today there was a reply via email in my inbox: "If you do not see a resolution within 3 business days, please let us know." Apparently they're responding to my most recent inquiry, of 26 September. I wonder if that means all my previous messages were lost? Or ignored? Or are they just being terse?

Today's search for "album shuffle" still doesn't match my app. I'll give them until 2 October, as requested (that's really a full week from my latest report, and close to four weeks since I first reported the problem). In the meantime maybe they'll approve AlbumMixer 1.2: I'm still hoping that changing the app store name to "Album Mixer - Shuffle by Album" will fix the problem. Either way is fine with me: I have this crazy idea that there are lots of iPhone users out there who want album shuffle, and it's frustrating to think that they can't find my app.

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AlbumMixer 1.1

September 22, 2009 at 08:21 PM | categories: iOS | View Comments

AlbumMixer 1.0 has been doing reasonably well - especially considering that Apple still hasn't indexed the keywords, or responded to my inquiries via iTunes Connect. But the feedback from users has been good, and I've fixed a couple of bugs in the new 1.1 release. The release after that, 1.2, will add some fun new features.

Did I mention that the keywords I supplied aren't searchable? The 1.0 keywords were "iPod,album,shuffle,album shuffle,music". But searching for "album shuffle" wouldn't match my app. Searching for "album mixer" would, which implies that Apple is doing some word-splitting on app names - interesting. I was worried about the reference to "iPod", so for 1.1 I changed the keywords to "album,shuffle,random,music". The description isn't supposed to be searchable, but I removed "iPod" from that too. That did something: a few hours after 1.1 went live I was able to find it using "random album".

But searching for "album shuffle" still doesn't work. I suspect that Apple is silently ignoring keywords that match existing app names: there's a "Shuffle" and a "Shuffle!" in the app store. So in 1.2 I'm trying to change the app store name to "Album Mixer - Shuffle by Album", while leaving the display name alone so that it fits on the Springboard icon. I hope that will get the term "shuffle" through the hypothetical keyword filter. We shall see.

Given the lack of app store search keywords, I think most of my traffic so far has been coming from Apple's discussion forums (and Google searches matching those forums). I've been collecting threads there, and posting to them when possible. In no particular order.... I also posted a reply to this question.

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AlbumMixer 1.0

September 12, 2009 at 05:29 PM | categories: iOS | View Comments

AlbumMixer 1.0 is now available, bringing album shuffle to the iPhone. This was my favorite feature from the iPod classic, and I signed up for the iPhone developer program specifically so I could re-implement it (Album Shuffle is interesting, but despite the name it doesn't really shuffle the albums in my music library). I hope it's useful to other iPhone owners: let me know if you run into problems or have ideas for improvements. The application page is here (for now, please report any problems or make suggestions by commenting on this post).

It took Apple almost exactly 14 days to approve the application, just as they predicted, and it was approved on a Saturday. I'm impressed that they're working so hard to keep up with the massive influx of new iPhone apps.

I'm less impressed that searching for "album shuffle" in the iTunes App Store doesn't match AlbumMixer, even though searching for "album mixer" does match. After some digging, I found a FAQ in which Apple states that it can take up to 24 hours for the app store to index new keywords. That's too bad: I could sell them a better solution.

[Follow-up: 6 days later, keyword search still isn't working. I've attempted to contact Apple via iTunes Connect, but so far I haven't even seen an acknowledgment.]

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iPhone Paper-Cuts

August 25, 2009 at 08:47 AM | categories: iOS | View Comments

The 3 GS with iPhone OS 3.0.1 is good, but there are a few paper-cuts that I can't ignore. Naturally I've told Apple about these.

  • Calendar and conference calls: The iPhone doesn't recognize phone numbers in the Location field of calendar events at all. It sort of recognizes numbers in the body of a calendar event, and it does even better if they're formatted like this: tel://800-555-1212p9876 (NB - that looks sort of like RFC-2806 format, but it isn't; the RFC doesn't allow '//' after the scheme). For pauses you can write a comma (',') instead of 'p': that isn't RFC-compliant either, but the iPhone dialer appears to translate 'p' to ',' anyway (look at the call log to see). It seems to be impossible to add '#' at the end: the dialer won't accept the number. Apple's docs are here, but seem to be wrong on most of these points (it doesn't mention the extra '//' after the scheme).
  • Album shuffle: What happened to the album shuffle feature? This was my favorite iPod feature, and for me the iPhone is largely about replacing two devices with one. Apparently the iPhone has always been missing this feature, so I don't think Apple will add it any time soon. Update: I've dealt with this by releasing AlbumMixer - I hope you like it.
  • To-do list: iCal has to-do lists, and they used to sync with my W810i. They don't sync with the iPhone, because... it doesn't have to-do lists built in. You can download a third-party app, but that seems silly and it's not clear that iCal sync would work. For the moment I'm using Notes instead: create a new note in Mail.app, and it syncs to the iPhone's Notes application. That works reasonably well, but hopefully OS X 10.6 and the next rev of iPhone OS will improve this situation.

I'm sure I'll discover more as I work with the device, and maybe I'll find some solutions too. Watch this space.

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