Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sketches 1 and 2: Two Products in the App Store

As some of you might already know Sketches 2 is available on the App Store. Also, the original Sketches is still available as a different product.

When Sketches was created, it was a simple drawing application. It had no menus, no color or line width selection, or anything else. You were able to draw using a red line of fixed width. When the application was closed, it stored the document. When the device was shaked, the drawing was erased. With each new update, thousands of downloads occurred, a clear indication that there was interest for such a product.

In version 0.3 of this jailbroken world, we added several options to choose color and make some simple geometric shapes using the multitouch capabilities of the iPhone. This version was a big push, and made Sketches even more popular.

When Apple announced the SDK, along with the App Store, Pedro and myself seriously considered the idea of making this our way life. For several months we worked in making Sketches a more complete product, while converting it to the official SDK.

On July 10th 2008, Sketches was among the initial group of apps to make it into the store. It was also featured on Ars Technica and promoted by Apple in the European Union. For us, it was a big success. We made $150,000 during the first three weeks of sales.

During the next months we worked on adding the features we had originally designed for version one, while resolving any bugs that appeared. We added text shape creation, tooltips, additional stamps, web sharing, improved image flattening, fixed memory issues, fixed map rendering issues on certain locations, improved mail sending of drawings, added ink opacity options, added corkboard rearrangement, improved zoom, improved saving performance, etc.

At the same time, we received many different requests to make Sketches a more professional product, featuring an advanced color picker, transparency, brushes, more zoom and so on. As we designed these features, we realized that the existing UI was not able to hold them. In addition, we would need to change the way things are done to fit this new functionality (for example, a progressive zoom that worked like in the photo album would need the shape placing mechanism to be changed). Finally, we were taking little advantage of the new 3.0 SDK functionalities. It was time to move onto version 2.

When we designed Sketches 2, we decided to make it 3.0+ only, and to change the menu system, looking to achieve 2 things:

  • 1. Be able to work while having the menus open, so you could change the ink color or other options without having to reopen the menu every time.

  • 2. Keep the original simplicity, while adding the advanced options


(example of Skeches UI evolution)

Once the product was almost ready, we saw that the changes were many, and made it a different product, with different usage. So, for the time being, Sketches 1 and 2 are going to be living together in the App Store. We probably could have called them something like "Sketches" and "Sketches Pro" or "Sketches Classic" and "Sketches Advanced", but we liked "Sketches" and "Sketches 2" better.

We did not want, however, to forget those users who welcome change and are looking for the new Sketches 2 features. So, for a few more hours, we are still promoting Sketches 2. The promotional price is just $1.99. Take advantage of it!

For us, it is time to get Sketches 2 onto the iPad!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

LateNiteSoft Contribution to Haiti Relief

Unfortunately, it seems that only through big tragedies we are able to gain perspective on our lifes, and are reminded how extremely lucky we are that our families are healthy and safe.

As we were talking about this during lunch, our twitter stream showed a couple of great help initiatives from the Mac and iPhone communities. The guys at OmniGroup are donating more than $45,000; Mike Piatek-Jimenez will donate all proceeds from Seasonality for the rest of the month; Daniel Jalkut and others are calling for action on an initiative being put together by Justin Williams. We decided to adhere to Justin's idea, but we thought we'd also like to do something by ourselves.

Although we are not able to provide such a substantial up-front help as OmniGroup's, we thought we could just keep half of our income from the sales of Sketches (versions 1 and 2) during one week, and donate the other half to a non-profit aid organization. If you like our products and would like to help us on this, please consider buying Sketches or Sketches 2 now.

On a personal note - since we created LateNiteSoft, I have frequently considered how lucky I am to enjoy the best job I could ever dream of. However, I also get anxious or sad about work issues or personal situations, and those feelings sometimes obscure the rest. I will try to approach the future with a better scale, to be permanently aware -and not just during a crisis- of how mundane and small my problems really are. I hope this resolution, my only one for 2010, will make life a bit easier for those around me.

Update: We finally donated $1510 to Save the Children. Thanks very much everyone for helping us with this!