4 months ago I decided to go ahead as a full time iOS developer. I had a simple plan. In order for my apps to be successful enough to pay the bills, they needed some major improvements: a more compelling UI, intuitive new features, attractive for a larger audience. Part 2 of the plan was to invest in app promotion, but only after the first part was successfully and completely finished. There is nothing original about that plan, it's what I learned from following Apple closely all those years. It all starts with great products.

Since PhotoMeta already had a nice UI, I improved it by adding some cool features. The reactions from existing users were very positive. App sales stayed unchanged though. But that's ok, I'm convinced that PhotoMeta is now a unique photo metadata app with real added value for professional and advanced amateur photographers.  

Next in the list is GeoLogTag. The app underwent a real metamorphosis. The UI is completely redesigned, numerous features were added to make it a really versatile geotagging app and it has a new, professionally designed app icon. And last but not least, it's now a universal app.
While I worked on the GeoLogTag iPad app, it became clear to me that no other geotagging app in the App Store is so versatile and above all no other app offers the possibility to geotag iPad photos. On top of that the iPhone and iPad app work seamlessly together.
When I submitted GeoLogTag to Apple 3 weeks ago, I was convinced that it was a valid candidate for the "New & Noteworthy" section in the App Store. Appearing in that section is tremendous promotion. But nothing happened. App sales stayed at the same level as before. But that's ok. GeoLogTag is now a unique solution for anyone interested in geotagging photos.

Currently I'm working on a brand new universal app that will go to beta testers next week. It's also a photography related app with a potentially very large audience.

Next app in the list is Scotty. I'm going to make an iPad version and add some really cool features. 

Part 1 of the plan will be finished around mid-March. Part 2, app promotion, is something I'm preparing right now. If you have experience with app promotion, tips or advice is highly appreciated.

I'll certainly keep you up-to-date in the coming months. Exciting times!


GeoLogTag goes iPad

In my Traveling with an iPad instead of a laptop post a couple of months ago, I already gave a little hint that geotagging iPad photos was on my wish list. And I wasn't alone. Since the day the original iPad was launched, I received numerous requests for this feature.  

Initially (iOS 3 and 4) it was technically not possible for third party apps to create geotagged photos on an iPad, but that changed with the release of iOS 5. As far as I know, GeoLogTag is the first iPad app offering an all-in-one geotagging solution for a broad set of platform/hardware combinations. I'm not going to describe them all, but I few examples will clarify a lot. 

1. A photographer with an iPhone, an iPad and a Camera Connection Kit

Taking an iPad with you on a photo shoot is not always practical. But now that GeoLogTag is a universal app this becomes a no brainer. It's super-easy to record locations with GeoLogTag on your iPhone and use those locations to geotag photos (imported with the CCK) on the iPad after the shoot. Both instances auto detect each other via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and locations are used transparently. 

2. A photographer with an iPad, a Windows PC and a GPS device

Assume it's possible to generate a GPX file containing the locations logged with the GPS device (data logger, Garmin, …). The photos are synced via iTunes from the Windows PC to the iPad. GeoLogTag can import the GPX file and use that information to geotag the photos on the iPad.
Importing the GPX file can be done via Mail, Dropbox or any other file sharing app. 

3. A Google+ user with an iPhone

GeoLogTag offers very straightforward support for Google+ photos. Recording locations is done with the iPhone as well as geotagging of the photos afterwards. Note that this works similarly for an iPad/Google+ combination.


Besides providing a unique geotagging solution for iPad users, I also spent a lot of time polishing and refining the user interface. And I'm proud of the result. 
GeoLogTag is a powerful, versatile app with a subtle, uncluttered UI. I thought it was also time to replace the old icon with a new one that looks fresher and more professional. I hope you like it as much as I do.



The complete set of new 4.0 features:
    ✓ Universal app
    ✓ Import and export of GPX track files via Dropbox
    ✓ Import of GPX track files from Mail app, Dropbox app, …
    ✓ Geotagging of Google+ photos
    ✓ Pause and resume when recording locations
    ✓ All maps have 3 modes: Standard, Satellite, Hybrid 

iPad specific features
    ✓ Seamless use of locations recorded with an iPhone/iPod touch (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi)
    ✓ Geotagging of iPad photos (iOS 5 required, for RAW photos a geotagged JPEG photo is created)
    ✓ Geotag preview for iPad photos



PhotoMeta in-app purchase

A couple of months ago I already blogged about PhotoMeta iAd revenue. Today I want to take a closer look at the in-app purchase.

The PhotoMeta in-app purchase of $2.99 has a dual function:

  1. Detailed metadata values become available
  2. iAds are no longer displayed

From the initial release of the app, I thought it would be interesting to closely follow the ratio in-app purchase / total downloads.

The chart below gives the evolution of that ratio since the PhotoMeta initial release (April 2011). Note that this is a cumulative ratio.

After a slow start, the ratio is leveling around 7%. Given the fact that the app exposes a lot of functionality in its free form, I'm convinced that 7% is a pretty good ratio.

I'm wondering how many of the remaining 93% would have paid $2.99 for the basic/free functionality. Maybe I should change my strategy in the next major PhotoMeta version, making it a paid app without iAds and without an in-app purchase. If anyone has experience with this, feel free to contact me or use the comments.


Geotagging photos on Picasa Web Albums

The first version of GeoLogTag (released in December 2008) could only geotag Flickr photos. In later versions Mac folders and SmugMug were added to the list. Today, with the release of GeoLogTag 3.4, a fourth photo source is added to that list: Picasa Web Albums.

This means that GeoLogTag is now an all-in-one geotagging solution if you own an iPhone and manage your photos with Picasa. No extra hardware or software is required and it doesn't matter what type of digital camera your have. 

The long term goal is to support even more photo sources. I'm going to start pretty soon with the development of the next major GeoLogTag version that will support a fifth photo source.

Suggestions for new photo sources are welcome. Use the comments below or use the Contact form.


Full time

A couple of weeks ago I lost my job. The firm I worked for during 3,5 years went bankrupt. I followed my heart and decided to become a full time iOS app developer.

In my ideal world, the revenue from my own iOS apps is sufficient to live from. In reality, I'm not even close to that ideal situation. So, what's my plan?

  • I'm convinced that my current apps have great potential. Maybe not in their current form, but each app has a pretty long "to do" list. The first app I started working on is GeoLogTag. Version 3.4 will become available pretty soon. I have some great ideas that will make photo geotagging more powerful and at the same time a lot easier. You can expect more GeoLogTag versions in the near future.
  • I also have ideas for new apps, but more apps doesn't automatically mean more revenue. It's important to be very selective when making a new app. There's only so many apps 1 developer can maintain. Until now I never made an app with a large potential user base. Maybe it's time to change that approach. 
  • Since none of my apps has a how-can-I-live-without effect on a large part of the iOS user base, it's important to promote my apps. I've done some promotion in the past, but the effect was always limited and temporary. This aspect will require more attention than it used to have.

In the next months I'll stick to the 3 points above. I'll keep a close eye on how my app revenue evolves and eventually I'll have to decide whether full time app development is a sustainable business for me.