The unofficial kick-off to summer is finally upon us. No matter how you choose to celebrate this Independence Day, we’ve created a list of our 10 favorite apps to have fun and stay safe this weekend, and throughout the summer.
Fireworks Artist Pro
What would July 4th be without fireworks? For those of you planning on traveling someplace this weekend without a fireworks show (or for those stranded on the West Side of Manhattan), the “Fireworks Artist Pro” app allows you to create your own. With a variety of backdrops and cityscapes, you don’t have to leave home to watch fireworks around the world.
View on: iTunes | Google Play
Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App
With fun in the sun comes the looming danger of exposure to harmful UV rays.This app helps find a healthy balance of sun-time, by calculating how long your skin can be exposed to the Sun without burning based on your skin type, location, time, and the level of SPF you might be using.
View on: iTunes
GrillTime is the perfect app for anyone playing host this weekend. It advises on cook-time based upon the type of food, thickness and “level of doneness”. The app will also automatically alert you when it’s time to flip, and when the meat (or vegetable) is fully cooked, so you don’t have to neglect your guests in between.
View on: iTunes
Declaration for iPhone and iPod Touch
If you’re feeling inspired and looking to explore the history behind the holiday, be sure to check out the Declaration app. It also provides historical notes, for an in-depth look at the text that started it all.
View on: iTunes
Help Pyro Pete collect his fireworks and get him to the venue on time to set off his fireworks display in this fun, seasonally-appropriate game.
View on: iTunes
America’s National Parks
Your guide to everything the National Parks have to offer. You’ll find information on park activities, as well as park maps and topographic maps for hiking. It also has integrations with Flickr and Google, so you can record your memories. Just make sure the tour for each park is loaded beforehand, so you can use them offline.
View on: Google Play
This free app’s main goal is to educate users on rips and currents, and how to safely avoid the danger of getting caught in them while enjoying the beach. There’s also some helpful information about treating jellyfish and blue bottle stings, and info on sharks.
View on: iTunes
This app is all you need for that epic road trip you’ve been dreaming about. Not only can you plan and sync trip itineraries with your co-pilot, but you can also save places to bucket lists, discover places around you and view details while you are on the road. Wherever you’re headed, this app will ensure you enjoy the ride.
View on: iTunes | Google Play
This app is powered by Surfline for the most current info on surfing conditions. It utilizes GPS to find the breaks nearest you, and allows you to also track the swell, tide, wind, etc. It provides a 2-day forecast, so you know what to expect throughout the weekend, and provides easy access to Surfline’s HD Cam, reports and videos.
View on: iTunes | Google Play
4th of July Coloring
A mobile coloring book for children, this app has everything you need to celebrate with red, white and blue. A fun way to keep kids entertained throughout the long weekend.
View on: Google Play
It’s always great to hear from our members, but when a Middle School teacher told us how her class uses appFigures to track downloads from an app the students built, we were thrilled. Many engineers will confess that they wish they’d started coding earlier, and with more efforts and initiatives than ever before bringing this subject to the forefront, it looks as though the next generation is getting an early start on just that.
We spoke to Karine Boulle Nguyen at St. Anne’s-Belfield School about how this unique project taught her students two languages when they developed an app while strengthening their French comprehension skills:
As a language teacher, I believe the most important skill one can have is to communicate with others, not just through language, but also through admiration and respect of others. Our app project gave my students those skills, and we didn’t know this would be the outcome.
Tell us about the app the class developed
The project started with the idea of teaching others French in a fun and natural way using the 2Lingua approach to languages. I wanted to incorporate the same thinking process that bilingual people use when they speak, where the flow between one language to the other is like a beautiful dance. No grammar rules, no verb conjugations, no translation needed, just context.
Our app includes a story written in English with about 250 French expressions incorporated in it (with beginner and advanced level). This is a non-threatening way of learning a language. You pick up expressions at your own level, at your own speed. No pressure. In the teaching world, we call this “differentiation.” In the end, you still understand what you read because the main story is in English, but you get a wonderful sense of accomplishment. The stories my 8th graders write are performed as a play by the 5th graders, for the 4th graders. Since our 4th graders do not know a word of French, it is important that the French expressions are included in a natural and logical way.
To begin our project, we took a field trip to the French embassy in Washington, D.C. We interviewed a diplomat and toured D.C. In general, teachers take a field trip at the end of their unit to reinforce what they have taught. We did the opposite. We went on our field trip not knowing what we needed to take out of it, which forced my students to take notes and observe as much as they could. Any details they grabbed could be used in their story. When asked what was the best part of the project, some students said coding, others mentioned how much French they learned, but all commented on how special the field trip was! To use their words, they “felt free.”
We then started to work on our app. There were so many components to think about!
- The logo had to reflect the purpose of our app.
- The cover page and the title needed to show the theme of our story.
- Coding: students learned coding for the first time (CSS and HTML) and ended up coding the entire text. We then finished up the app using the Laker Compendium framework, the Baker framework, and custom code from 2Lingua.
- Our text needed to respect copyrights and could not include trademarks. The info boxes needed information provided by sites that allowed us to use their information for commercial use.
- The photo album included our own pictures, which we had to reformat for the app. We also had to make sure any other pictures we used were from Creative Commons (for legal issues).
- Our story needed to include cultural references, humor, interesting combinations of sounds to make the French more catchy, and suspense to make people want to swap pages.
- Spelling and punctuation had to be perfect.
- The recordings had to be perfect (or close to perfect) both for the beginner and the advanced level.
- There was also the “behind the scene” work, such as the description of our app for the app store, as well as which key words we needed to submit so people could find our app during their search.
- Finally, the whole product had to look professional.
What inspired you to teach the kids how to code?
Our kids need to be prepared for their future and as educators it is our responsibility to guide them in the right direction. Education is changing. Just like our world, it doesn’t have boundaries anymore. We cannot teach just history in one class, or just math. We need to combine skills with technology, so our kids can get the global experience they need, in order to live in a world without frontiers. My first goal for making this app is for people to learn a language for free. I also hope our story will inspire other educators in many different ways. Not everybody will make an app, but we hope educators and students will feel inspired to try something new in the classroom, step out of their comfort zone to include new essential skills, such as coding.
How did the kids respond to the coding lesson?
Our coding lesson reinforced the strengths and challenges that my students experience with learning a language (seeing patterns, following rules, attention to details…). Students with great writing skills understood coding right away, but students who are strong orally and struggle with spelling and grammar experienced more difficulties with it. Learning how to code was truly like learning a new language. Because coding was new to all, the whole class’ hierarchy ceased to exist. Quiet students emerged as leaders and ended up helping others. Through coding, my students got to see many other facets of their peers, which made them value each individual more.
The new talk in education is about “Project-based Learning” and “21st century skills.” Our project was both. Such open projects force students to brainstorm, communicate with each other, collaborate, listen to others, and show off their skills. When I asked my students what they got out of the project, the most surprising answer came from Henry D., who answered: friendship. They learned to respect other people’s opinion, verbalize their reasons for disagreeing, compromise, and appreciate other people’s talent.
What do you think other Middle Schools should do to promote Computer Science education from an early age?
Computer Science does not need to be promoted. It simply needs to be incorporated. In the world our kids are growing up in, Computer Science is an essential tool to acquire. In my mind, it is the pencil you need in order to transform your thoughts into words on a paper. I used to think that Computer Science was a completely separate subject, and it might have started as such, but now I realize how intertwined everything is.
What proved to be the biggest challenge in teaching such technical lessons to this age group?
The first year we taught coding, our biggest challenge was to simplify it as much as possible, so it would be accessible to Middle School students who had zero experience in the domain. We then realized that we did not need to simplify the coding process, as long as we explained the role of coding. We used Mozilla Thimble to show how to code and how the commands we gave to the computer changed the text. The program allowed my students to see the results as they were coding the text. Such instant gratification was the key to their success.
How is the app doing so far?
In just a couple of weeks, we had more than 86 downloads from 22 countries. The map from appFigures representing which countries downloaded our app was an effective way to teach geography. That map also made an incredible visual impact when my students presented our project to Middle School parents and teachers. The daily report is extremely valuable, as it shows students that their project is not something they did in class that will be forgotten as soon as the test is over.
Today marks a huge milestone for us. Exactly five years ago we started building appFigures as a weekend project. No business plan, no launch party, just a useful tool we really needed to track our downloads.
It was 2009 and we had just launched our first iOS game. iTunes Connect didn’t have any reports and we had no way to track the game’s success. We agreed to spend a weekend building this report thing and continue to our next project the following week.
We never really got to that other project…
Using data to make more informed decisions
The problem of tracking performance on the web has been solved for quite a while now. When we started building our iPhone game however, there was simply no way to keep track of modern mobile apps. So we created the first service with a simple but powerful goal, to enable informed decisions by making data accessible.
From a single report to a platform
In the beginning it was all about scratching our own itch. It started with a simple chart of our downloads and quickly evolved into something more. Member feedback and our own needs for more reports resulted in better charts, more options, and a slew of new data sets.
No serious platform is complete without an API, so we built one. Several versions later, our API powers a variety of services and is integrated into hundreds of solutions, from dashboards to mobile clients.
Self-funded, growing, and profitable
We had a choice when we started: get some funding and figure out a business model later or figure out the business model now and keep the freedom to focus on our vision. We chose the latter. Five years later, it’s clear we made the right decision. We’re profitable, growing and we can’t be any more proud of our product and our team.
We wouldn’t be here without you
Your constant stream of suggestions, ideas, and feedback has shaped and transformed appFigures over the years. Be it praise or critique, your feedback tends to give us the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you know someone cares. When things go wrong you’ve always had our back. It’s a feeling we’ll never take for granted.
Today is a day we will never forget. We can’t wait for what’s coming next.
Ariel + OzHappy founders
12:24pm est – We’re seeing new reports for the missing days as well as yesterday being imported right now.
Earlier this week we started noticing reports from Google Play were coming in later than usual. Then, on Wednesday, reports stopped coming out altogether. We don’t have a way to confirm, but we believe this delay is affecting most Google Play developers.
If you are missing downloads or sales reports for your Google Play or have incomplete figures this is most likely the reason.
We’ve reached out to Google and will post an update when they reply. We’re also keeping an eye on the situation and will update this post as soon as something changes. In the meantime, check out the Google Play status page for real time updates.
Privacy is central to our philosophy here at appFigures, so when Data Privacy Day became an international day of awareness, we got really excited. If you don’t already know, Data Privacy Day is a global effort to empower people to protect their privacy online. This year we’re happy to be joining a growing list of official DPD Champions to help spread the message.
In honor of DPD, we wanted to offer a privacy tip/reminder:
When linking an app store or ad network account to your appFigures account take a minute or two and create a special sub user for appFigures with a strong password. This way you do not need to share your main credentials with anyone.
You can learn more about DPD and pick up other privacy tips here.
It’s that time of the year again when iTunes Connect goes silent for a week. If you haven’t gotten the official email, here’s the gist:
Between Saturday, 12/21 and Friday, 12/27 iTunes Connect will be down for its official holiday break. Sales reports will be importing normally, but Apple warns that there may be delays. iAd and financial reports will not be syncing at all during the break.
As per tradition, we will be keeping an eye on iTunes Connect during the shut down and will update this post if anything changes.
If you haven’t already linked your iTunes Connect to your appFigures account, or want to link a new account, there is no time like the present.
A few weeks ago Apple made some changes to its network. These changes prevented our ranks aggregation platform from getting hourly ranks consistently for some countries. After a few weeks of intense work and several major updates to our platform we’re happy to say that hourly ranks for iOS and Mac apps are now stable again.
Changing feed formats and locations are things we’ve gotten used to over the years. This time however the modifications needed on our side required changes to our core importing architecture and more scale. Both requiring a considerable amount of time and testing. More time than we normally need.
Now that ranks are stable again we want to thank you for being patient and understanding with us.
Update (3/18 6pm est): It looks like iTunes Connect has been fixed. The spikes have been removed and the downloads now match the raw reports.
Earlier today we started receiving reports about differences in data between iTunes Connect and appFigures. All the reports had the same pattern: iTC is showing more downloads than appFigures, and the data shown in iTC for yesterday (3/18) is significantly higher than expected.
After reviewing multiple reports and comparing raw data from the appFigures archive to raw data in iTC it seems there is no discrepancy at all in the raw numbers. When we then compare these numbers to what’s displayed in our iTC graph, it appears that what Apple’s showing is too high. This makes us think the issue stems from iTC. The raw report Apple provides, which is what we import into your account, just doesn’t match the graphs or tables in the iTC dashboard.
You can double check this by going into your iTC account’s Sales page, downloading the raw reports and adding up the units manually, then comparing to the graphs in the iTC dashboard.
So if you were really excited about today’s spike in sales we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news but it’s probably just a mistake on Apple’s side :(
We believe that the sales data currently in your appFigures account is the correct version, but we can’t know for sure until there’s word from Apple. Either way we’ll make sure that your appFigures account is in sync.
FYI – We reached out to Apple about this issue and will update this post when/if we get a response.
It’s that time of the year again when iTunes Connect goes silent for a week. If you haven’t gotten the official email, here’s a reminder.
The blackout starts Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 and ends Friday, Dec. 28, 2012.
Some things you should know about the shutdown:
- Since iTunes Connect will be unavailable during the shutdown daily and weekly reports may be unavailable. Last year we did get reports for some developers and this year we hope to get reports for everyone, though we won’t be able to know about availability until the shutdown starts in two days.
- While iTunes Connect is down you won’t be able to sync iAds reports.
- If you link an iTunes Connect account to your appFigures account during the shutdown won’t be able to sync it for you. This is due to the fact that we need the account’s vendor id which is only retrievable from iTunes Connect directly.
- Any change you make to your app during the shutdown (new icon, new price, etc.) will result in the app being unavailable for purchase, so let sleeping dogs lie.
12/22 930pm EST: iTunes Connect has started to shut down with most requests resulting in a “Close for the holidays” banner.
Good morning everyone.
Hurricane Sandy blazed through NYC last night and unfortunately the aftermath includes some crucial network infrastructure that’s powering the appFigures platform.
Here’s what’s going on. We’ll keep updating this post with news as we get them:
First things first – Our team has made it safely through the worst parts last night. Winds are still blowing here but we’re told the storm is behind us.
On to business:
- Last night our data center lost power due to flooding in the area. The data center switched to generator power and everything was still up and running.
- 12:00am EST: Several upstream providers started experiencing generator failures which affected traffic from some ISPs. A large number of members were still able to access both the platform.
- 4:00am: We were able to bring the site and API back up with an infrastructure hack using one of the working peers to handle all traffic. The platform should now be accessible to all members.
- 7:00am: Our data center lost connectivity, most likely due to power failure. Because of flooding the operations team hasn’t been allowed back in to restore power.
- 7:45pm: We’ve just been informed that the data center has been re-opened and the operations team is working with the building’s maintenance crews to get the generator back up.
- 10/31 1:45am: We’re still waiting for the data center’s building maintenance crews to bring the main generator up and restore power to the data center.
- 3:10am: Generator power has been restored to our data center and servers are currently in the process of being started.
- 4:30am: All of our servers have been brought up and we’re currently testing their state to ensure they are ready to accept traffic. Stay tuned.
- 5:15am: We have restored service to all web and API nodes. You should now be able to access the site :]
We’re working to bring up background services right now and will be sending out email reports for 10/29 shortly.
We’re investigating the following issues:
– Non working reviews (classic)
– Non working reviews (beta)
– Inability to sync with Google Play
– Inability to sync with Amazon Appstore
- 6:10am: Bad news… It looks like connectivity was lost just now. We’re not sure what’s the cause just yet.
- 6:50am: We have confirmed that the loss of connectivity is due to generator failure. Engineers are on-site and checking the generator. Fingers crossed it’s something simple.
- 12:15pm: We’re being told a generator parts are being rushed down to the data center right now.
- 5:20pm: Power has been restored to the data center. Yay!
We’re bringing up services and should have both the site and API running right now.
Some areas of the site may take a little longer to come up as there are a few services that are still in the process of starting up.
Keep in mind: Utility power still hasn’t been restored to the data center, so the site is literally running on diesel. Hopefully everything will keep going smoothly but we’re not completely out of the woods just yet.
We’re really sorry about this everyone! In this day and age catastrophes like hurricane Sandy, while devastating, should not take a platform like ours down.
We really appreciate all the good words you guys are tweeting and posting to us and want you to know we’re doing the best we can to bring everything back up as soon as possible.