Saturday, January 17, 2009

First iPhone App - GPSpy

I just completed the process of listing my first iPhone app for sale at the iTunes App Store. I've been working on a time and distance tracking tool for self-employed professionals. That application isn't finished yet, and I didn't want to use it as my first App Store experiment. Instead, I put together a simpler tool that I knew I wouldn't mind if it got messed up during the App Store listing.

I have called this first application GPSpy (pronounced "GPS Spy"). While it is very simple, it is also very useful. Basically, it makes all the internal GPS data from the iPhone available in an uncluttered interface. Previously, if you tried to use your iPhone for GeoCaching, mapping, orienteering or such, you'd have been frustrated because there was no way to get your actual GPS coordinates from the phone. GPSpy makes all of this available - nice and simply. You can check it out at the App Store.

If you'd like to download and try it out, it's only 99 cents. And if you do download it, please leave a review. Those are important for anything to be successful at the store.

The Experience

It wasn't hard to write, but like all software efforts, it took at least as much time to polish up the details as it did to write the core application. Then it took another chunk of hours to figure out the iTunes App Store and to get my software listed.

The good news is that I finally got it sorted out, and the next time I list an application it will be much easier.

Lessons Learned
  1. You need a tax number from the IRS - even if you don't live in the USA. It's easy to get, but I'm not sure if I need to file US tax forms now.
  2. Apple only pays you after you've earned $250 per "region" (Canada, US, Europe, etc). I don't know what happens if you have an unsuccessful application and you never get to $250.
  3. Apple only accepts wire-transfer details for payments. If you are at a Canadian bank, this can be complicated and expensive. Some Canadian banks require US Wire Transfer to make three or four hops through other institutions. That seems like a great opportunity for your money to get lost. I wish they'd just issue and mail a check.
  4. You can start selling your application without providing Apple with full bank information. You just can't get paid.
  5. My simple application was approved in about four days. I know others have said it takes much longer - but mine was really quick.
  6. I received an Email from Apple that my application was "Ready For Sale" nearly a full week after the application was ready and people had already started downloading it. You might want to keep a close eye on iTunes Connect instead of relying on Email notifications.
  7. Getting your certificates and signing profiles configured correctly for Store deployment is complex. It was made even worse by a bug in Apple's Keychain Utility: it was creating new keystores for me without a private key, so I couldn't import the resulting certificates from Apple. Had to restart to fix that.
  8. I was surprised that Apple's store only allows you to upload screenshots as JPG files and not PNG. Given that PNG is the native format for screenshots on MacOS this is weird.
Now that I have the whole process behind me it doesn't seem so bad. If you have any questions or you are looking for help in getting started, feel free to drop a comment to this post and I'll see if I can offer assistance.

1 comment:

Rich McCue said...

Very cool Cliff. I suspect that we can thank 9-11 for all the hoops you had to jump through as a Canadian trying to get paid by an American corporation.

I've purchased the app and will let you know what I think after I've had a chance to play with it.

Take Care.

Rich