Free TTC Mobile iPhone app @ bit.ly/ttcmobile (Support)

TTC Mobile v1.1 Now in App Store!

December 29th, 2009

So I’m happy to say that after the holiday break, Apple quickly approved the v1.1 update that had been submitted mid-December. (Download here in iTunes) You might not notice anything different, though the loading times should be at least twice as fast as before. With iTunes Connect (Apple’s backend) back online after holiday maintenance, I was able to get stats of the past two weeks’ downloads. So I figured now’s as good a time as any to look back on the app’s successes and failures, while talking about future plans.

Chart of 36 ratings on the app store

Of 36 ratings on the app store, 12 are “great,” 3 are “good,” 7 are “ok,” 4 are “don’t like it,” and 10 are “hate it,” – I really wish those who “hated it” would say why, as the feedback I’ve gotten so far is largely positive:

  • “Awesome! This app is more reliable than the TTC!” – smushins (4 stars, v1.1)
  • “Finally :) Viva/YRT PLEASE!!” – far_gone (5 stars, v1.0)
  • Anonymous email: The scrolling picture that happens when it’s loading only serves to make me feel dizzy looking at it. : (
  • striatic in Flickr, on using his photo: “great idea to use it as a loading screen – i wish it was higher quality. … hey it looks cool in the app! though you don’t need to make my attribution nearly that prominent. i’d just remove it”
  • “I just downloaded your TTC iPhone app and it’s fantastic! I love how it saves my favourite bus routes and the audio file of the latest 680 News traffic report is genius! Great job!” – Suzie
  • “I love it so much even though I live in markham and rarely use ttc. But if you could incorporate viva and yrt UD MAKE MY LIFE SO MUCH EASIER lol — Please change the icon too!” – Farhan
  • “Great app” – Qayyum
  • “good job with this app” – Vince
  • “Just wanted to congratulate you on this amazing app!!! Great stuff and I get 680 news on top of that!!!” – Lucas
  • “Excellent” – Sundernath
  • @mjangda: Hey @4lou, just took a look at your TTC iPhone app and it is beyond amazing! Nice work!
  • @InSeansOpinion: I just downloaded the TTC Mobile app and after a quick look I like it a lot!
  • @derekpokora: check out TTC Mobile, a new free app featuring @ttcu_community

And any further feedback is appreciated! Let me know in the comments here or send me an email using the included Feedback button.

Speaking of the Feedback button, I’m torn between feeling both good and bad when I see the following email in my inbox:

From: John Appleseed
Subject:
(No Subject)

Sent from my iPhone.

On the one hand, it means that person is using my app, but on the other, it means people might feel like V. did:

From: V.
Subject: Mistake!!

I tapped the wrong button and it sent an email which is no email at all by mistake. I appologize for that!
Sincerly, V.

Sent from my iPhone

So I’ve changed my app in v1.1 to add a subject line that might wake some people up to how this screen functions — it sends an email with your feedback about the app. I also changed the toolbar at the top from black to the default blue, hoping people would realise they’re not in the app but at a Compose window. The default blue colour also makes the Cancel button on the left more prominent. But then earlier today, I get:

From: N.
Subject: TTC Mobile v1.1 App Feedback

Sent from N’s iPhone

Sadly, while the above email happily informed me (when I couldn’t see it myself) that v1.1 was in the App Store, also told me how nothing might fix this short of burying the Feedback link under a Settings screen, and mayhap not even then. So far I’ve had 36 such emails, averaging 2-3 per day, often 5 or 6 under v1.0 at least. And while it’s great to see so many people using the app to its fullest, it’s disappointing because I feel I’ve failed as a designer when so many people click Feedback and perhaps expect something other than an email compose window. And thank’s to Apple’s SDK limitations, it’s incredibly hard to insert an “Are You Sure?” message before the email is sent — creating the button is out of my hands, I can only customize the email fields. I might submit this as a bug for Apple to look at, though it’s just as easy for me to simply bury the Feedback link a bit.

Below I’ve 3 thumbnails (click for full images) of:

  1. How TTC Mobile is 11th (!) in the Canadian Top Free Navigation Apps list, with only 2 weeks on the charts.
  2. A table listing the number of downloads of the app by day and by country, with totals
  3. A chart of the table’s data, showing steady, yet growing, download numbers, but mainly from Canada as expected.

So, feel free to let me know what you think of the app or this post. I’ve a feeling it’s only interesting to me, as the App’s developer, but who knows.

As to the future, I’m definitely keeping what’s in place now as free forever, an ad-free option even in future versions. But to support YRT, or offline TTC data, I’ll be inserting ads in the free versions, or asking for what are essentially “donations” of 99 cents to remove the ads from each upgrade option. So you can have it all for free, with ads (I’m hoping Google will approve me for their AdSense program, since they have ads I like already in other apps.) or you can pay 99 cents per feature package and have that section without ads. (E.g. YRT, TTC offline, GPS mapping for TTC, etc.) I will try to make the ads as unobtrusive as possible, since I know the app comes before the ads.

In addition to all this iPhone-specific stuff, I’ve been investigating porting the app to other platforms. For now, it all hinges on collecting the proper data from ttc.ca since all other platforms will be offline-only, with updates, except perhaps Android. What I’m doing here, now, as JavaScript-injection, requires both a good website to build on (like ttc.ca’s new redesign) and a great browser (like the iPhone’s Safari), so it won’t work as nicely with other systems like YRT, or with other browsers like BlackBerry’s or even Opera Mini.

As for a timeline, I’m hoping to have it done sooner rather than later, since any app revenue depends on it — and I know how many people don’t have a data plan with their iPhone (my Dad, for instance) or have an iPod Touch (like my brother) or other phones like BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian (most of the cellphone market and people I know) — so it’s something I want to do for them until everyone wakes up and buys an iPhone :p


3 Comments, Yay! »
  • Louis

    Here's the first negative feedback I've received beyond 1-star ratings:

    “This sucks.
    Back to the drawing board folks,”

    Now how is that helpful? And why do people either like it a lot or hate it terribly? What are they looking for in a free app that reformats ttc.ca webpages, kinda like enhanced bookmarks? Is it offline support? UI?GPS? GTA-wide routes?

    Or am I too concerned about trolls?

  • Louis

    I wonder if the 1stars are from iPod Touch owners complaining of it being offline only? I mean, I just got yet another positive email: “Amazing app. Super helpful, not kidding”

    I guess I'll ignore the naysayers entirely and focus on what I can improve based on practical suggestions. Sorry for putting this out in the open, I've a tendency to use writing as a way of thinking out ideas and making decisions.

  • Louis

    I wonder if the 1stars are from iPod Touch owners complaining of it being offline only? I mean, I just got yet another positive email: “Amazing app. Super helpful, not kidding”

    I guess I'll ignore the naysayers entirely and focus on what I can improve based on practical suggestions. Sorry for putting this out in the open, I've a tendency to use writing as a way of thinking out ideas and making decisions.