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Development London Bus Pal

What’s been happening?

I haven’t written any posts for a while, but you will notice that there have been some updates to the app. Life started getting really busy from October, but things seem to have stabilised a bit now so that I can try and find a balance between life and my app.

My posts are mainly to try and give people a bit of an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of London Bus Pal. Here’s what you need to know:

  • I have a day job which is not developing a mobile app
  • I work on London Bus Pal in the evenings, mornings before work and weekends (but I have taken long breaks at times when I just get too busy at work)
  • I do not make enough money from the app to not have to work a day job
  • If I could, I would work on the app full-time, because I have so many ideas but just not enough time to implement them

That’s all for now. Always happy to correspond over email!

Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v20.2.2

  • Updated the way the app displays errors when TfL has scheduled maintenance 😡
  • Improved the look of the toggle countdown time displays ⏰
  • Added in some “secret” swipe gestures – you can swipe left or right to get additional information:
    • Swipe the stop name left or right when viewing stops to see the 5 digit stop code. 🚏
    • Swipe the destination of a bus to see the bus registration number 🚌
  • Better handling when the app loses connectivity to the internet 🌐
  • A few small bug fixes 🐞

Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v20.2.1

Next update to make things better.

  • • Added in toggle function to switch between countdown and ETA view ⏰
  • Added in option to show fleet number by default when looking at buses (changed in settings) 🚌
  • Improvements to make the app as small as possible 🗜️
  • Updates to the platform and libraries I use to ensure that the app is as stable as possible. 📚
Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v20.1.1

First update of 2020 – it’s just a small one to make sure everything stays up to date.

Please be sure to review this app if you find it useful – reviews are really helpful for a small, independent developer like myself.

• Updates to the platform and libraries I use to ensure that the app is as stable as possible. 📚

Tip: you can go to settings and choose whether to show the home screen, nearby stops or your favourite stops when the application starts. It’s right at the top! 🏠

Categories
London Bus Pal

It broke and I am not fixing it

Version 19.9.2 of London Bus Pal “Pro” version seems to have broken it and a user had to point this out to me after it had been live for a few days. I checked it and it is definitely broken. The app breaks completely upon start-up, so it is incredible that this got missed – if I had a team working on this, they would have had really stern words from me – this is just unacceptable.

But even by my own fairly high standards, this happened. And poor quality control is only half the story here. Back in January of this year, I mentioned the issue of having a free and paid app (https://www.londonbuspal.co.uk/blog/ideas-on-monetisation/) and that I wanted to kill off the paid app. The only action I really took since then, was to unpublish the app. I wasn’t sure that this was possible, but I could publish updates, but stop selling the application. In a perfect world, I would have loved to have kept the paid app going for another year or two.

The two versions of the app are exactly the same, except that the one shows ads and the other one sometimes shows ads (if you paid a tip, the “free” app won’t show ads either). From a technical stand-point, the apps are the same, I therefore only really thoroughly test either the paid-for or free version. Until fairly recently, it used to be the paid-for app, since it was easy to do and I didn’t have to deal with the ads during testing. A change in the way I did this changed it and the default version I now test is the free version. The latest release went out and I never really checked the paid-for version – I haven’t had issues specific to only one version forever, so not sure why this is any different.

Either way, once the code is written, I actually have to do four builds (free version for iOS, free version for Google stores, free version for non-Google stores and paid version for Google stores). As three of the four builds and the vast majority of users use the free version, it makes sense that I should be testing that version.

Whilst I cannot be sure as I haven’t investigated, the issue could very well just be that the build broke the app, rather than code. The fact of the matter here is that I just don’t have time to check right now! I am working remotely on a tablet and even if I can investigate and find the fix, it will likely be another 36 hours at the very least before I can think of publishing the fix. In all honestly, I would love to just go and revert to a working version, but this also takes effort and time I just don’t have available right now.

Due to this excessive overhead to keep a version of the app going which is used by less than 2% of my users (even though ever user is equally important to me), it just makes sense to finally drop it. The ability to remove ads is available in the free version, so no functionality is lost and at least I know that everyone is using the version I actually tested.

Please don’t believe by any means that dropping support for the paid version is at all a sign for the rest of the app. Dropping support really means I can do a much better job of keeping the free app going.

Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v19.9.2

  • Improvement: you can now choose whether the application is permanently in dark mode, light mode or if it should use the system settings. 🌙
  • Updates to the platform and libraries I use to ensure that the app is as stable as possible (I know this sounds lame, but it’s important!). 📚

Tip: you can go to settings and choose whether to show the home screen, nearby stops or your favourite stops when the application starts. It’s right at the top! 🏠

This is a relatively light update as I updated the Flutter framework to the latest version – 1.9.1. This should generally improve the way things work on the latest versions of iOS and Android.

At the time of writing, it’s not clear if this will be published on iOS or not. My previous two attempts were rejected by Apple as the app was getting stuck on the splash screen in their test environments on iPads. When searching for this, it appears that it’s not an uncommon issue and not only related to Flutter. I do wonder if it is not an issue in their test lab as the app seemed perfectly fine on an iPad I used to test it with. It will take a day or two before I will know if this update will go out.

Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v19.9.1

  • Improvement: improved the look of the home screen and allow users to choose exactly what to show when the app starts. 🏠
  • Improvement: the app will now use the system setting to switch between light mode and dark mode. You can switch on dark mode permanently from the settings screen. 🌙
  • Improvement: small visual improvements throughout.
  • Updates: Library updates to ensure the app is always as fast as possible and using your phone as efficiently as possible. 📚

This version was not published to iOS due to an issue with the way it was loading on an iPad. These updates will be rolled into the next version which should hopefully be published!

Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v19.8.1

  • This is a required update to ensure that the app keeps working after Transport for London (TfL) changes the way in which some of their data feeds work. 📰
  • Updates: Library updates to ensure the app is always as fast as possible and using your phone as efficiently as possible. 📚

Note that I have changed the way in which I version the app now – with the first two parts indicating the year and the month. This is mostly because it became too difficult to determine which version number I should update – it makes more sense to tie it to a date.

Categories
Development London Bus Pal

Connecting to the cloud

I have some grand ideas which need users to be less anonymous than they are now. People need the ability to sign into the app in order to do certain things (I don’t want to give away too much, but it will be personalised to them) – but some things needs them to be identified, especially if they use multiple devices.

Not being able to log in so far has always been fine and it makes things like GDPR compliance a whole lot easier. There are some difficulties however and I have had those suggestions made: being able to transfer settings from one phone to another for example.

So currently the idea is fairly simple – give users the ability to sign into the app and then they will be able to backup their favourites to the cloud and restore them when they wish. Of course, this can be more seamless than described here, but that’s the first pass at connecting the app into the cloud.

As it stands, I have built functionality to allow signing in with Google and Facebook details, as well as signing up for an account with username and password combinations. This all works and I just needs to make sure that everything is also fully GDPR compliant. (This is not yet in version 4.5.0 which is published at the time of writing, but it will probably be in the next version, unless I decide to do some quick bug fixes).

After doing the log in screen, the first bit of functionality I will enable is a simple “backup to cloud” and “restore from cloud” facility. This should make it loads easier for people to continue to use the app on different devices.

I am hoping for the functionality to connect to the app to the cloud to be released in September…

Categories
London Bus Pal

London Bus Pal v4.5.0

  • New: Introduced a new landing page with links to other parts of the app 📰
  • Improved: Moved the loading indicator to be inside the app bar to stop the contents from jumping during loading 📡
  • Improved: Errors are now dismissable 🎾
  • Updates: Library updates to ensure the app is always as fast as possible and using your phone as efficiently as possible. 📚
  • Updates: A few minor bug fixes. 🐛

I have finally made a landing page for the app – this doesn’t generally affect existing users, but for new users, it should mean not being greeted by a blank screen. Working hard in the background for small improvements like these.