The United States v1.1 Released

posted Feb 5, 2015, 11:39 AM by Stephen Houser   [ updated Feb 5, 2015, 11:39 AM ]

September 9, 2014

An updated version of The United States iPad app was released that includes changes to the user interface to make it feel more at home on iOS 7. There were changes to colors and the style of the user interface. Also, corrected a spelling error or two! 

This update still maintains compatibility with iOS 6 devices and should run on all iPad models.

Good Turn v1.0.1 Released

posted Feb 5, 2015, 10:48 AM by Stephen Houser   [ updated Feb 5, 2015, 10:48 AM ]

November 25, 2012

This release brings compatibility with iOS 6. Specifically the maps integration and how turns are submitted to the Good Turn Web. Good turns are no longer identified by a phone's UDID but instead a new privacy enhanced mechanism provided by Apple's SDK.

The United States for iPad v1.0 Released

posted Feb 5, 2015, 10:27 AM by Stephen Houser   [ updated Feb 5, 2015, 10:49 AM ]

April 16th, 2012

Our latest product, The United States for iPad hit the App Store just in time for Patriot's Day (April 16th) 2012! 

The United States is an educational application designed to help K-5 students learn their United States geography. It was originally envisioned by my son after many interruptions from my daughter asking where a particular state was on the map. Developed by me over several months and play tested by my daughter. Now that all our family members are experts at identifying the states of the Union, it's your turn.

There are two main aspects of the application; an interactive map and several games based on state facts. Each has a lot to explore and each was a blast to put together. 

The interactive map allows you to tap on any state and show its name and a small version of the state flag. If you continue further and tap on the name (in a button) the application will reveal a full screen of information about the state. Centered around a web-view of theWikipedia page about the state, this view lets you learn some pertinent and fun state facts.

The games are accessed from a popup menu on the interactive map. Currently there are several games; some of which are easy and others quite difficult. Name the State is the most basic of the games. When you begin, a state flips out of the blank map into the center of the screen. You are given three possible state names and are asked to identify which state is shown. Find the State is the next style of game. In this game you must find the named state on the map by tapping on it. Each of the following games is in one of these two styles but with more difficult state information.

Much of the information for the facts and games were gathered from Wikipedia and other web sites, including those of the states themselves. All the data was combined into attributes in an SVG file, also originally from Wikipedia.

Version 1.0.1 was released on April 30th, 2012 and included a few minor bug fixes. Version 1.0.2 is due out soon with additional bugs squashed.

Good Turn v1.0 in the App Store

posted Feb 22, 2012, 7:07 PM by Stephen Houser   [ updated Feb 5, 2015, 10:49 AM ]

October 14, 2010

Late yesterday afternoon the project I've been working on for much of the summer was made available in Apple's App Store. This was of course, great news!

The Good Turn application is, "...simple yet hi-tech replacement for the age-old good turn coin carried by many scouts to remind them to "Do a good turn daily." It was primarily designed for the iPhone and iPod touch. It works on the iPad in the double-size mode. The fully functional application is free of charge. Additional in-app purchases provide different stylized coins, bronze, silver, and gold, for flipping each time a good turn is done. The cost of these goes towards keeping the web companion site running, future development, and most importantly supporting our local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

The Good Turn Web companion site provides a view from any web browser to the good turns that people are doing all over the world. You can navigate around a dynamic Google Map with markers on recent good turn locations. The site also provides support information for the application.

The Development Process
iOS development is quite fun. The application took much of the summer, from May through late September to complete. Much of this time was me continually refactoring large chunks of code and testing. Due to my own vacations, travel, and other commitments, there were no long periods of time to work on the code, so answering the question of, "how long did it take?" is quite difficult.

What I can answer is how did the app approval process go. It went swimmingly. My first submission on September 30th, 2010 was rejected on October 6th, 2010. I resubmitted a few hours after getting the rejection and the app was available in the store on October 14th, 2010. Columbus Day made for a long weekend in there. The app got rejected the first time due to my mis-use of the in-app purchase for a donation and a flaw in the installation of the coins purchased in-app. Changing the language (removing donation) and minor code fix was all that was needed.

The web companion site was as much a part of the development as the application itself. It is built on the Google App Engine which provides data storage and application hosting. I chose to use Python to implement the web application which turned out very nicely.Google's App Engine service, libraries, and agreement are quite generous and I would highly recommend them for similar small projects.

I've already been brainstorming on improvements to the application and website for version 2.0. And maybe, just maybe, an Android and/or web-based version.

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