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Adamcode releases “Christmas Gifts List” App to iTunes and Shoppers Quickly Snap It Up, Pushing it to the Top 25 Productivity Apps

Amherst, MA XmasLists1– While economists have (unofficially) declared the US to be slowly creeping out of a recession, many consumers are heading into the holiday shopping season more acutely aware of their personal budgets. In this age of technology however, you’ll find a new tool in the pockets and purses of many shoppers this season – the popular iPhone or iPod Touch.

“Money management is extremely important to consumers right now” said Adam Williams, President of Adamcode.com and creator of the “Christmas Gifts List” application – a unique holiday shopping list application with a built in budgeting feature. “The iPhone, when used with the right applications is the ultimate personal organizer, and can help keep shoppers from spending more than they intended”.

The iPhone, when used with the right applications is the ultimate personal organizer, and can help keep shoppers from spending more than they intended

Come January, as the credit card statements come rolling in, there is probably not one among us who has not felt the pain of Christmas overspending. It starts so innocently, $10 here, $15 there but just like everything else, it adds up quickly. Still, there’s no need to go the way of the Grinch. “I’ll be out early on Black Friday” said Shannon Kiehn, a mother of two and state worker in Sacramento, California. “The tight economy means that sales are that much more important. I’ve got a set amount of money I need to stretch into gifts for quite a few people.”

The Gifts app allows consumers to input the wish lists for everyone on their holiday shopping list, (so that you can remember that your cousin Frank wants Ninja Warrior IV not III) avoiding another painful trip to the mall but each person can be assigned a target budget amount as well. As gifts are purchased and prices stored in the application, the easy to use interface lets you see how much money is left in the budget for each individual. Worried that the wife and kids are going to see what you listed under their names? Turn on the locking feature and your lists are kept secure behind a unique PIN number.

The Gifts app can take some of the stress out of Black Friday and the holiday season, so that the consumer can concentrate on what’s really important, figuring out how to avoid your great aunt Mildred’s fruit cake for the fifth year in a row.
Christmas Gifts List is available for the iPhone or iPod touch for $0.99 and is currently in the top 25 of the productivity section of the iTunes App Store. Christmas Gifts List can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2WAi81

Best iPhone apps at AppStoreHQ

About AdamCode

Adamcode.com was founded in 2008 in Amherst, Massachusetts with the goal of creating beautiful, easy-to-use mobile applications. Spend, a personal budget manager for the iPhone and iPod Touch, was Adamcode.com’s first app and one of the 500 applications available in the iTunes App Store on its opening day. After several months in the Top 100 Paid Apps list and a constant spot in the Top 20 Finance apps, Spend has achieved over 80,000 downloads to date. Adamcode.com’s founder Adam Williams holds a Master’s in Computer Science from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, specializing in artificial intelligence and computer vision applications. www.adamcode.com


As you may have noticed, we have launched the official Appency site.  We’re no longer just a blog.  Hurrah!  Big kudos to Cape Cole for putting up with us and delivering a beautiful website.  Aaron and I are very appreciative of the work they have done, and we highly recommend them.  So if you need any web design – check them out – and ask for Yogi.

Please take a look around our site and let us know what you think.

And we’ve got some great apps for you all to check out – so click here if you want to join our RateMyApp panel.

– Liz


mindtrick

All I hear in my sleep is the roboto voice “Droid…”  and that was my favorite part of the phone.  3 days into my lackluster experience with the Droid, and I couldn’t wait to get a real phone again.  I was really hoping the Droid would be all it promised to be.  But imho, it was just a device that wasn’t really anything.

The phone itself is pretty – but heavy.  The video quality is amazing.  The apps, disappointing.  My phone calls were full of static.  The qwerty keyboard is awkward – the touch screen keyboard was much easier to use.  I had to remove the case to fully access the slide-out keyboard or dock the phone.  When I unlocked the phone, it took me too many steps to figure out if I had a new voicemail or text msg or email.  The biggest disappointment is that it’s not intuitive like the iPhone.  I needed a manual – but it didn’t come with one.  And I overheard a few others saying that in the Verizon store when I made my return.

Probably the most memorable part of this whole experience was at the Verizon customer service desk.  One of the sales guys was using an iPhone and actually handed it over to the customer he was helping so she could make a call.   When I asked him if that was allowed – he said “why wouldn’t it be?”  hhmm – maybe because the company you work for doesn’t support/carry the iPhone?  Call me crazy…

top-ten-star-wars-quotes-5 copy

And so I bid a farewell to the Droid, and a very happy hello to my new iPhone 3Gs.


droidAt 8am this morning, I walked into my local Verizon store and got myself a new phone, Motorola’s Droid.  It was the first time I can remember that I was able to walk into a carrier
store and not have to wait at least a 1/2 hour for service!  Thank you Verizon.  The store was busy, but not a crazy crowd like Verizon was hoping for.  I heard there were six people in line at 7am when the store opened.

First and foremost – goodbye AT&T, hello Verizon.  So happy to be back to the land of full-bars and service that works when I walk around or drive through town.  AT&T – it’s that simple.  Just fix your service – and we’ll all come back.

droiddockNow onto my new phone.  The Droid is slick and cool looking.  It’s a little heavier than my iPhone, but that’s because there’s an actual keyboard, although you can also use a touch screen keyboard if you want.  By the way, there are 2 Droid phones at Verizon to chose from – one is just a touch screen (smaller and lighter) and the other has the added slide-out keyboard.  Lots of fun accessories to choose from, of course I had to check them out. The one I’m still on the fence about – a multi-media dock that hooks up to your computer or nearest plug. When the phone is docked, it turns into a big clock and you can chose to play music, watch photos or video, and check out the weather.  As soon as I can figure out how to load music and video, I’ll let you all know if the $29.99 for the dock was worth it.  I also bought the pink gel cover ($16.99) – which I had to take off to properly fit the phone in the dock.  I like the cover, so if I don’t find the dock to be useful, I will keep the cover and return the dock.  No earbuds included with the Droid, but the ones I already had work, so I didn’t have to spend another $29.99 for earphones.  I almost splurged for the car dock ($29.99), it’s basically a phone holder so you can use the GPS on the phone.  But when I found out it doesn’t also charge the phone, I passed and bought the car charger (you guessed it – $29.99).  Oh wait, I also had to buy screen protector sheets for $12.99.

From what I can tell so far, the Android Apps don’t even compare to the iPhone apps.  There’s 10,000 apps in the andoridlogoAndroid vs. 100,000in iTunes. All the usual stuff is fine – Facebook (I do like the widget!), Opentable, Pandora, etc… but when you get the creative random apps – they don’t seem to be as creative as the iPhone ones.  If you know of any – let me know!!  Purchasing an app is pretty annoying too.  The purchase is done via Google Check-Out, therefore requiring a credit card number. Oh sure, so does iTunes, I know, I know….

The default notification sound is a robot voice that says “Droid” – it’s hilarious & annoying.  The first I heard it,I looked around the room trying to figure out if my tv was on.  Now I leave it because it makes me laugh.
All in all, the Droid is pretty cool.  I’m not sure if I’ll become a convert.  I’ll update after the weekend and let you know!


According to AppFigures, a company specializing in metrics and tracking the ranking of iPhone applications, the iTunes App Store is officially frozen – that is, there has been no change in rankings for any applications in the last 24 hours.

16187

The problem may be older then that however. Over the last week, many of our clients and various posts on message boards have pointed to strange app ranking issues including sudden unexplained jumps or drops in ratings, applications appearing out of nowhere, and other anomalies. Release dates seem to be one of the more effected aspects, with the release date option appearing and disappearing from the developer console.

Personally…. with it happening just after Halloween, we believe that iTunes has been possessed by the ghosts off rejected applications and the issues will continue until a full exorcism of Apple has occurred. That aside, we expect Apples engineers are frantically plugging away on the back end, trying to resolve the problem.

Please comment on any additional issues you notice, and we will continue to monitor and report if we hear of a change.

***RUMOR MILL UPDATE***

According to the founder of Cramzy, who claims to have inside information, one of the problems is because a major change is being made to the system. The gist of the change is this – updating your app will no longer place you at the top of the “Recently Released Apps” queue. If this is true, we believe this is an extremely poor decision by Apple. The marketing uplift given to an app by performing an update can be significant, and this feature as it currently is keeps developers involved in their apps, refreshing them with new content and bug fixes. Removing this will lead to more apps going stale, cluttering up the app store and making it harder for anyone to sell anything.

**RUMOR CONFIRMATION**

One of our clients, Memorize Words, Spanish Edition , had their app update approved today. Its app description only lists it as “Last Updated Nov 6th”, however it does not appear on the recently released apps section in its category. All apps in the recently released are listed as version 1.0’s. No official word from Apple, but all evidance points to this as a new major change in the app store.


Let me start by saying this – one of my hobbies, in my rapidly decreasing free time, is board games. I enjoy getting a group of people together at my house to open a bottle of wine and sit down and play a few games while chatting, laughing and shooting the proverbial shit.

Inevitably, one of the games is made by the German game giant Ravensburger. Their game catalog is extensive and includes games of all shapes and sizes including games with such basic titles as memory game

  • ABC Game
  • Labyrinth
  • Scotland Yard

And of course

  • Memory

One of the most basic, and most replicated game models of all time. As a German company, they have the German trademark on the use of the word Memory, especially as it comes to use with games that involve flipping over two things to see if they match.

A few months ago, on 8/13/09, un-noticed by most, Ravensburger Digital GmbH (a subsidiary of Ravensburger) sent Apple a lenghtly letter informing them of the trademark violation and demanding that Apple remove the offending applications from iTunes.

“You will certainly understand that our company cannot and will not tolerate the unauthorized use by third parties of its trademark Memory®, for designating games and toys as being offered, inter-alia, in your company’s highly popular iTunes store. We therefore kindly invite you to take the appropriate measures to remove from your platform those products offered under the designations which interfere with the trademark rights of our parent company and to confirm that his has been effected in due course.”

(complete letter can be downloaded HERE)

One of the reasons you haven’t heard about it until now is because Apple simply didn’t do anything about it. A few months later with a little more persistance, the lawyers at Ravensburger tried again, this time with slightly stronger wording and a spreadsheet of all the apps they found that were infriging on their German trademark:

“In accordance to German law you are obliged to make sure that products offered on your internet platform are not infringing our rights in the trademark “memory” … You have not complied are you are still not complying with your obligations under German law … As a final attempt to avoid a legal conflict, we hereby ultimately ask you to remove from your platform all applications using our trademark “memory” as listed in the file attached hereto no later than October 22, 2009. Should we still find one of the infringing applications after October 22 on your platform, we do not see any other possibility than to immediately take the appropriate steps.”

Appropriate steps?! Rhut Roh… threaten the Big Apple with a lawsuit and suddenly the gears get turning. A letter was promptly sent out to potential culprits which basically washed their hands of the problems and left it up to the developer to due something or either be removed from the app store, or face legal action from Ravensburger. (Apple’s developer agreement puts any liability for apps in iTunes squarely on the head of the developer).

Okay. Lets stop the insanity for a minute and take a good look at this.

Ravensburger has only trademarked the word in Germany, however because Apple does not provide for country by country changes to apps, they cannot simply pull the memory apps from one country, they are asking anyone who uses ‘memory’ as part of their app name to remove it from the store.

Apples products are in many countries around the world. What happens now that the precedent has been set that this kind of trademark law abuse is allowed? If I register Solitaire in Italy, can I get Apple to pull down other Solitaire games and force my competition out of the game?

I understand when a company like Tetris trademarks their name that they have made popular over the years. Can they trademark the actual game play? Is any game of “falling blocks that you rotate to make complete lines and make them disappear” subject to the same intellectual property laws? It may not matter, because without using the term Tetris, I cant see how anyone would search for a game like this.

The big difference is that “Memory” is a common English word, while Tetris is a made up brand. Even applications that have nothing to do with “flipping over of cards to see if they match each other for removal from the board”  could be subject to this ban. What about a flashcard language app that helps with your Spanish Word Memory? Is it safe in a plural form? Can there be an app about happy memories? Can someone write their memoirs?

Ill leave you with the definition of fair use as it related to trademarks from wikipedia:

Most trademarks are adopted from words or symbols already common to the culture, as Apple Computer is from apple, instead of being invented by the mark owner (such as Kodak). Courts have recognized that ownership in the mark cannot prevent others from using the word or symbol in these other senses, such as if the trademark is a descriptive word or common symbol such as a pine tree. This means that the less distinctive or original the trademark, the less able the trademark owner will be to control how it is used.

A nonowner may also use a trademark nominatively—to refer to the actual trademarked product or its source. In addition to protecting product criticism and analysis, United States law actually encourages nominative usage by competitors in the form of comparative advertising.

The fair use defense in trademark law is not precluded by the possibility of confusion, according to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004.[1] However, courts may consider the possibility of confusion in analyzing whether a use is fair or not. Intent to sow confusion is also relevant; hence, the general rule that no more of the trademark should be used than necessary for the legitimate purpose. For instance, use of a word mark is preferred to a logo, and a word mark in the same style of type as surrounding text is preferred to a word mark in its trademarked distinctive type.”


If there was any city in Europe that an international iPhone conference should be held at – its Amsterdam. No, not because it has an infamous red-light district and liberal policies towards the recreational use of cannabis, but because Amsteram represents some of the same values of free expression that makes the iPhone what it is today. Before the iPhone – mobile development was considered by many too difficult or cumbersome to deal with. Technology was limited, access to carriers for distribution was limited, and most of the deals were done behind closed doors.

While we may still have a ways to go before we reach mobile utopia (many would say that the Android platform is the next step in the right direction), the coming together of developers and thought leaders from around the world in a global conference is a step in the right direction.

iCElogo

Later this month (November 25th – 27th), the iCE Amsterdam conference will open its doors to those same developers and thought leaders to come together and share their knowledge and insights into the most exciting mobile platform on the planet. Some of those people include:

  • Jonathan Wight, Chief Technology Office of Small Society, most notably on app projects like myStarbucks, WholeFoods and Obama 08.
  • Keith Shepherd and Natalia Luckyanova co-founders of Imangi Studios, the team that bought us the popular “Harbor Master”
  • Paran Johar, JumpTap’s head of global marketing activities
  • Dom Sagolla of San Francisco who helped create Twitter in 2006, He is also the founder of DollarApp, and the co-founder and host of iPhoneDevCamp
  • Mike Lee, known by some as “the World’s Toughest Programmer”, has worked on some of the best known titles on the App Store, including Obama ’08 and Tap Tap Revenge.

Just to name a few.

During the Pre-Conference day on Wednesday 25 November the iPhoneDevCamp will part of the program. iPhoneDevCamp is a not-for-profit gathering to develop applications for iPhone and iPod Touch using both the native SDK and web standards. Previous iPhoneDevCamp events have been held at Adobe Systems in San Francisco, July 2007 and August 2008. The last iPhoneDevCamp was at Yahoo in Sunnyvale, August 2009.

The event is actually sponsored by the city of Amsterdam itself, and if my “Convert” app from Polar Bear Farm is correct, cost ranges from $732.45 for one person to $294.46 per person if talk four of your closest friends into going with you.You can register for the conference here.


iphone-chinaAt 8 o’clock in the morning on October 30th, 2009 (read: 5pm tonight, Pacific Apple Time) , the doors of China Unicom’s retail stores opened to the Chinese populate and offered 5 Million new iPhones into the global marketplace. While the launch got mixed reviews, amongst concerns of the disabled Wi-Fi features, a hefty price tag and the fact that rabid iPhone fans already were probably using one of the two million gray market iPhone in the country, the fact remains – the largest wireless market in the world now has open access to the iPhone.

So what does this mean for app developers? While many developers have always traditionally focused on the US as the only major iPhone market that matters, and with that English as the only major language – a major non-English speaking country poses an entirely new set of challenges.

I’ve already seen a number of sites  pop up that would be happy to do a direct translation of your app. I’m sure many of them are quality sites with quality native translators. Make sure you do your homework however – a second rate translation can be spotted by a native speaker of any language a mile away. (Anyone else remember the English to Spanish translation of “Got Milk” that led to billboards that screamed out “Are You Lactating?”). Never try to use a free online translation program to perform your app translations. While they may work for single words, they are not designed to be able to properly navigate grammatical structure.

Translation of your app however, is only the first step. You must also translate your app description page (often providing it in two languages can be benifical) and app name. A potential client last week contacted me from Russia with a checkers based game app that use the Russian work for checkers as part of its title. I see where they are going with this – but the reality is, I would never be able to spell it if I was searching for it.

Oh yes – let us not forget search.

Search is one of the most important functions to getting your application found. Your keywords are of utmost importance to how your app fares in any of the app stores around the world. Unfortunately, doing well in search in other countries is not as easy as taking your English keywords and translating them to another language. Search is about understanding how someone in that country will think – and in understanding how they think, also understanding how they navigate to find a product. What makes a perfectly logical search string for you may not make any sense when translated, and as we know – the app store only recognizes direct keyword matches.

Every market is different, and every country has different needs. Did you know that in China there will be not one, but two app stores? Yup – the one from Apple and the one operated by China Unicom. Did you know that writing in red lettering indicates the writer will die soon? That three (and multiples of three) are considered lucky numbers, but four signifies death? (4! sorry… had to do it). Oh yeah, and white, blue, black, storks, cranes, clocks and handkerchiefs also are associated with death. (Are you dizzy yet?)

Promotion in China will be its own hurdle. PR is handled differently, as are blogs. There are new forums to reach out to as well. Are you ready?

All this to say that Appency is happy to announce we have a partnership on the ground in China and will be happy to assist in your localization into this new market with all of the above. The time is ripe – before the app store gets too crowded – to make your mark in the Far East!


Yeah… we noticed that too.

It seems that while we were playing with our design, our hosting account provide had a bit of an error of which they are currently correcting. It happen to happen right when we had pulled down our design header, and until its fixed, we cant get it back up. Should be back by this evening.

Sorry about that!