making the roaming future

Headlines 1.4 released

mr -

I’m happy to announce that after months of tweaks, real-world testing and foot-dragging, version 1.4 of Headlines is finally up on the App Store. Thanks to a coworker and a friend of mine that happens to be an awesome UX and UI designer as well, I’m extremely happy with app’s updated look.

For comparison, take a look at before and after of the main screen and the list of articles (Hi Marco Arment!).

I didn’t get to blog on what happened between 1.1 and 1.4, actually. In short, a lot. The highlights include:

  • Background updating - works very well for me every day. Before doing any throttling the app would be triggered to update even every few minutes, which was quite a surprise given Apple’s strict background execution policies.
  • Added more options for OPML import.
  • Added Spotlight indexing. That made me feel an itch to implement search inside the app, though. Probably coming soon.
  • Added useful pull-to-action gestures to some screens for easier navigation. They are an addition to the basic interactions as I believe there should be at most two ways of performing the same task in an app - an obvious one for beginners, and one for experts that’s faster, probably gesture-based and thus less discoverable.
  • Added support for displaying Snippets popularized by Manton Reece among others.
  • Removed “All Stories” section as it didn’t make any sense given app’s nature, to be honest.
  • Not-quite-sophisticated heuristics added to show a probable header image for an article. This is enabled for 4.7-inch and larger devices.
  • I’m still experimenting with automatic tilt-scrolling. Current implementation is pretty conservative and tries to get out of the way (e.g. when the phone is put flat on the table), but is still prone to trigger incorrectly in some circumstances.

Initially the price of the app was outrageous. The main reason was that I didn’t feel like the app was ready for public consumption. Seems strange to publish an app to App Store and not wanting for people to download it, doesn’t it? Well, yeah, I’m here for the journey. Kidding aside, I wanted the 1.0 published to get feedback on the direction I should take. Also, I perhaps wanted to gather an insane customer base of people ready to pay $4,99 for a simple and not-that-distinctive product in a highly competitive market. Apart from closest family and friends, sane people are a vast majority.

Currently, even though I still haven’t solved the one main feature I wanted to add, i.e. Dropbox sync (yeah, I know who Brent Simmons is), I’m a lot happier with app’s current iteration.

I wanted to give it a sustainable price, but I’ve been hearing for the last few years that the App Store is no longer sustainable, especially for non-hit-upfront-paid apps. After some consideration, I dropped the price to the ~1,99 $/€ tier to see what happens. I’m mulling over going free with in-app Overcast-style patronage model, which could move the needle a bit, but first I’ll see if download numbers change for current price.

Happy reading!

tags: headlines ux