Stickyboard 2.0 has been released!

by qrayon 20. May 2010 20:28


This major update includes free-form drawing with the Marker tool, and the ability to email boards as PDF files.

Download it now for FREE from the App Store.

Read more details on the new features in this post.

Thanks for using Stickyboard! We are already hard at work on the next release. Stay tuned.

Apps We Love: Air Video

by qrayon 12. May 2010 00:41


If you have a large library of video on your computer and want to watch them on your iPad at home, you absolutely should get this app! Anyone who’s tried to convert video in iTunes knows that it takes a huge amount of time, and it takes even more time to carefully organize and synchronize them to the iPad.

Air Video promises to do the impossible (if not merely amazing) feat of streaming video files on your computer instantly to your iPad over Wi-Fi. You just need the iPad client, and a small, freely downloadable server that is installed and run on your Mac or PC. Virtually any non-DRM’ed file format is supported (mp4, m4v, mov, avi, wmv, asf, mpg, mpeg, mkv, 3gp, dmf, divx, even Flash flv). mp4 and other iPad-native format files start playing immediately. Non-native formats are converted on the fly, which takes a few seconds at startup, but then play seamlessly. Video quality is great, and doesn’t seem to be affected by the process.

The other benefit of Air Video is that without the need to sync large video files, you may not need more than the base-model 16GB iPad if you don’t travel extensively. Air video also supports experimental streaming over the Internet, though we haven’t had a chance to try that out yet.

There’s a free light version of Air Video you can try out, which supports the first few video files on your computer. At $2.99 for the full version though, it’s a real steal.

Get it here: Air Video (from the App Store)


Apps We Love | iPad

Under the Hood: Insight into App Crashes - It’s all about the Memory

by qrayon 10. May 2010 00:00

In building Stickyboard and Quarter Shuffle, we’ve had to work very hard to optimize dynamic memory (RAM) usage on the iPad. Dynamic memory is not the same as storage memory (i.e. the 16GB, 32GB, 64GB of flash ram), which is analogous to hard drive storage on your laptop computer. All versions of the iPad contain only 256MB of dynamic memory, the same as the iPhone 3GS (the iPhone 3G only has half as much). In comparison, a typical laptop computer has 8 or 16 times that amount of RAM.

Actually, it’s worse than that. The base operating system on the iPad takes up over 100MB of that memory, which leaves around 150MB for services and Apps.

What makes things interesting is that certain built-in apps, namely Safari, Mail, and iTunes, actually run in the background and take up memory even when not active! Here’s a snapshot of one of our test iPad’s memory usage (using the Instruments tool):


Here, those 3 apps take up another 50MB of memory. After subtracting out all the other miscellaneous services (e.g. Bluetooth, DRM, location services, etc.), Apps are only left with around 50MB of memory to use. If an App ever tries to allocate more memory than what is available, it crashes, usually without warning.

The problem is that because background memory usage can vary quite a bit, it’s very hard for App Developers to predict what a safe maximum available memory is. For instance, you can see above that Stickyboard is taking up around 27MB of memory as a baseline. However, this can spike when loading boards, drawing lines, etc. In our testing, we’ve made sure not to exceed around 40MB of memory to leave a safe buffer. But if someone were to have a lot of tabs and complex pages open in Safari, or a large email active, available memory could possibly be lower than what is expected.

Tip: If you ever find your Apps frequently crashing on your iPad, try doing a hard reset. Hold down the Home and Power buttons down simultaneously for around 15 seconds until you see the Apple logo. This should reset background Apps enough to free the maximum RAM available.


Jailbreakers Beware

While we haven’t done any testing on Jailbroken iPads, we know that one of the top features is the ability to run apps in the background. This is going to dramatically reduce available memory for the foreground app! If you are running J/B, be careful about monitoring available memory. While we wish running any app in the background were possible today, it’s pretty clear that the planned multitasking services in iPhone OS 4 are the right way to deal with the very limited memory on the iPad and iPhone.

Let’s hope that the next version of the iPhone and iPad come with much more dynamic memory. Especially if the rumors about higher resolution screens and cameras are true, this will almost certainly require double or quadruple the RAM needed, just in order to deal with higher resolution images.

Books We Love: Thinkertoys

by qrayon 9. May 2010 20:21


One of our all-time favorite books on creative thinking is Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. If you have never read it, you are in for a treat! It’s chock full of the best tools and techniques for thinking and brainstorming that you’ll ever find anywhere.

Among our favorite tools are Idea Box (chapter 11), where you combine different permutations of parameters for an idea or product to come up with new ones, and Ideatoons (chapter 20), which pushes you to draw out written concepts – processing information visually triggers whole different systems in the brain. The author also has an excellent website with tons of bonus tips, techniques, and insight. Very highly recommended.

If you know of a better source of thinking tools, please do let us know!

Stickyboard v2.0 Sneak Peek: Drawing with the new Marker Tool, plus the Case of the Missing Done Button

by qrayon 8. May 2010 19:35


Stickyboard v2.0 is a major new release and is now in final review. If everything goes well, we hope to have it in your hands by next week. We are really excited about the new features, and believe they will take Stickyboard to the next level of usefulness.

The first thing you will probably notice about the new interface is the addition of a toolbar across the top:


There are 3 selectable tools: The Notes Stack (which you already know and love), the marker, and the eraser. When the Notes Stack is selected, tapping on the screen adds a note. You can also pan and zoom in this mode, and active Expose.

Select the Marker Tool to draw free-hand on the board, and select the Eraser to erase them. Pro tip: The Eraser tool erases a larger area when you are zoomed out, so use that to erase faster and zoom in if you need a little finer control.

We’ve found that the Marker adds a whole new dimension to using Stickyboard. It’s great for everything from simple written annotations, to brainstorming:






and even drawing prototype mockups:


We’ve been able to pretty much do anything with Stickyboard that we used to with our regular whiteboards.


Stickyboard also works great with a stylus

We’ve made sure that the marker is very finger friendly, and we’ve also tested it with a variety of styluses. If you are planning on getting a stylus, be careful to get one that has a smooth tip that is suitable for writing, not just tapping. Many earlier styluses sold for the iPhone have rubbery tips that have too much friction to be useful for writing or sketching. We’ve been really happy with the Pogo Sketch, which works great with Stickyboard.

Pogo Sketch

We’ve found that the stylus does make precise writing and drawing straight lines a little easier:

image image image

Building your own stylus

If you are more into DIY, you can try building your own home-made stylus. The iPad has a capacitive touchscreen, which detects the small electrical signal from your finger. This means that whatever you use needs to conduct electricity from your hand to the screen. We’ve built a cheap stylus using a wet cotton swab, tin foil, and ballpoint pen case using the simple instructions here. This works pretty well, but the downside is that you need to wet the cotton swab before you use it (it then works for quite a while though).

An alternative method that does not require regular re-wetting is to use a sock that has silver thread. These guys have apparently built one with pretty decent results.

UI Tweak: Removing the Done button

Remove an existing UI element??! That’s crazy! This was a decision that we debated quite a bit about. The problem with the location of the existing done button is that we’ve found ourselves accidentally hitting the backspace key when trying to tap Done. The iPad’s virtual keyboard appears to have a virtual strike-zone feature that dynamically expands the tap-zone for certain keys based on the input pattern. The zone for backspace seems to be expanded immediately after typing, and can overlap with the toolbar above.

We considered a variety of alternative solutions, including repositioning the toolbar to the top of the screen, or rearranging the buttons to the center. However, we found these alternatives to clutter up the screen too much.

In the end we realized that the iPad keyboard already has a built in Done button! It’s the “hide keyboard key” at the lower right:


This has the exact same effect has hitting the done button, and is much more consistent across different apps. So we decided to simply remove the done button altogether. We left the Font and Color buttons in the same locations because hitting them immediately after typing does not result in mistypes. However, you may still need to wait a (very) short while right after typing for them to register correctly.

This UI change has the potential to confuse existing users (who may not read this blog), so we are a little apprehensive. It also takes a few minutes to get used to hitting the hide-keyboard key instead, but once we did it is now second nature to us.

So, this is quite a risky design decision on our part, but in the end we believe that this will result in a better and more consistent experience.


Stickyboard v2 should be available soon!

We hope that you will enjoy the new features. Please do write to us and let us know what you think and how you are using Stickyboard. Our goal is to produce a tool that you will find useful for your daily work. Let us know if there are any other capabilities that you would find useful and would like to see in a future release.



Quarter Shuffle is the #4 Top Free Simulation Game!

by qrayon 7. May 2010 23:41
Quarter Shuffle top 5 simulation

Thank you everyone who downloaded Quarter Shuffle! Extra thanks to you guys who rated it! Apps live and die by their ratings, so thanks for taking the time to write them. It also means a lot to us personally to hear your feedback. We really love to read them. It’s a really rewarding feeling to know that people enjoy playing it as much as we do!

Stickyboard Sneak Peek: Email PDF

by qrayon 6. May 2010 07:14


This has been a top hotly requested feature by our beta testers since day one. We’re happy to announce that the feature is now ready and will be in the next major update. What do you think of the icon?


We wrestled between choosing to implement different means for sharing Stickyboard content, including file-sharing via iTunes, sending images, and integrating with upload sites like Flickr. Our internal testing found email to be far and away the most convenient method that we chose to use daily. Our iPads are always connected via WiFi, and rarely docked with iTunes. To be honest, we struggled quite a bit to use the file-sharing feature on other Apps. It’s not very easy to find or use on the current version of iTunes.

Emails in contrast are fire-and-forget. Sending them from in the app feels very much like a slightly fancier save-as dialog. Emails are also a very convenient way to archive boards that go through successive changes, like our scheduling boards. They server as an official record of what was agreed upon at a given time.

What file-sharing features do you find you use the most on iPad apps? What has been your experience?

We hope to have this out and in your hands within a couple of weeks (that’s the nature of working with the Apple review and deployment pipeline). We are also working on a couple of other really cool features that will be out soon. Stay tuned!

Quarter Shuffle is now available in the App Store!

by qrayon 4. May 2010 19:35

Quarter Shuffle

We have cleared the final review process, and Quarter Shuffle should be live in the App Store in just a few minutes! Let’s see how long it takes you to get 400 points!

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