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Sunday
Sep152013

iOS 7 and Attendance2/Attendance

I spent a number of days this summer working on iOS 7 updates for Attendance2. The main work was to make a copy of the entire user interface storyboard and update it for iOS 7 so it looks like iOS 7 (i.e., buttons do not have borders, etc.) and to better support multiple screen resolutions (in case Apple releases a new device with a different screen aspect ratio and/or size). Version 3.4 of Attendance2 that Apple approved a few days ago (September 12th or 13th) has all these changes and I've been testing it on an old phone and my 3rd gen iPad throughout the summer with the various iOS 7 betas including the gold master seed (which should be what is released to the public on Wednesday September 18th). Previous versions of Attendance2 may have saw UI quirks on iOS 7 so I recommend you update to version 3.4. The only minor bug I am aware of is that if you turn on one of the person fields for the reports but manually added a student (i.e., not by importing from a CSV file) and didn't set that field  (that you turned on in the report) to some value, generating a report may crash (this happens on iOS 6 or iOS 7). I'll submit a bug fix update in the next week or so that will fix this (prevent the crash and report will be generated correctly) after I make certain there aren't any other minor issues that people have. So the summary is if you use Attendance2 and plan to update to iOS 7 this week, just make certain you've updated to the latest version of Attendance2 in the App Store.

As far as Attendance, I have no plans to update it since there aren't any bugs I'm aware of (and certainly no significant ones since I haven't heard from any one about them). Since January 2012, the description of Attendance has said I was working on Attendance2 and it was released in July 2012. I stated I would support Attendance through iOS 6. I've encouraged people to buy the new app as I think it's better and the only one I have plans to update. It would be a huge amount of work to update Attendance for the larger iPhone 5 screen and still maintain compatibility with iOS 4 so I've left Attendance in the store in case people are still using old devices, but discouraged its purchase. It does still typically sell one or two copies a day but I have no idea if those are people with old devices or newer devices. 

I have not done extensive testing (as I did with Attendance2) of Attendance on iOS 7, but it does still run without crashing for basic operations such as adding dates, taking attendance, generating reports, etc. so I suspect it will continue to run ok on iOS 7. Since I did not update it, it still looks the same rather than having a new iOS 7 style look. The one thing that will not work on iOS 7 is the TextExpander support (separate app available from Smile Inc.). TextExpander provided an SDK other app developers could use in their apps and it made use of a share copy/paste pasteboard. Apple removed the ability to use a shared pasteboard from iOS 7 so TextExpander is now using a completed "Reminders" item to store the TextExpander data and apps can request access to the Reminders. The app does not crash - the snippets just don't expand. Apple did add their own text snippet functionality (not quite as powerful as TextExpander), but will work for most uses. In summary, based on my limited testing, I expect Attendance will work on iOS 7 (other than TextExpander). I will certainly update this blog post if I hear from people with issues. Please do email me - my email address is in the Instructions/Help of both apps - if you run into bugs with Attendance on iOS 7.

While I do not want to force people to upgrade to Attendance2, it is way too much work for so little income to maintain the 5 year old code base of Attendance that was originally written for iOS 2. I can't justify spending my limited time on it. So I stand by what I said a year ago -- that I would support it through iOS 6, but not make any promises after that. As I said it does still seem to run on iOS 7 so feel free to continue using it but I will not be updating it. Attendance2 has not sold nearly as well as Attendance (there were no competitors to Attendance for a while when it was first released, but there are other apps out there now) so it's difficult to justify spending lots of time on the app, but I do use it every day at my teaching job so I do plan to continue to maintain it. I realize these are relatively niche apps so I'm not expecting to make lots of money, but I do need to make enough to justify the cost of the web site, Apple's annual developer fees, and a few other expenses plus spending my free time supporting the app. 

Based on reviews and email feedback, most people seem to think Attendance2 is a significant improvement over Attendance but there is a small learning curve to use it and it does not import data from Attendance since the internal file formats are completely different. I recommend making the switch to Attendance2 at the beginning of a new term/semester. I was hopeful that the QR functionality would bring in a decent number of users, but so far it seems only a handful of people are using that functionality.

 

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