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Lion meets our consumer apps

By Company

WWDC, Apple’s big developer conference,  is wrapping up today. We sent a team of our developers to this years conference, as we have done for the last few years…

What’s the deal with Lion?

We’ve been doing extensive testing with 10.7 since the first developer previews were announced earlier this year and were able to chat to Apple developers at WWDC about certain details we’re still looking into. We’ll need to release some minor updates for a few apps, but on the whole, we’re pleased to report that most equinux consumer apps are already in pretty good shape for Lion.

Scroll bars

As demonstrated in the WWDC keynote, Apple has changed the default look of scroll bars in Lion – they now look like the familiar iOS scroll bars. We currently use custom scrollbars in nearly all of our apps (swapping the default candy-blue aqua scroll bars for a slightly darker look), so we’ll be updating a few apps (notably iSale) to support the new default iOS-style scroll bars.

Here’s what the scroll bars look like today in Snow Leopard and Lion. As you can see, the scroll bars don’t show up at all in Lion, not even if you scroll with your track pad or mouse (by default they are invisible unless you’re scrolling). That’ll be fixed with one of the next free iSale updates.

WebKit

Lion also comes with a new version of Webkit, the browsing engine that powers Safari and web views in third-party apps. We use the webkit engine in quite a few apps, including Mail Designer, iSale, CoverScout and SongGenie. We’ll need to tweak iSale and Mail Designer a bit to reflect the changes in Webkit’s HTML output, but overall there’s not too much that needs to be changed.

As you can see, stationery mails still work great with Lion – but we need to tweak Mail Designer’s HTML output a bit with the free update that we’ll be releasing soon.

Almost there…

It is our goal to have all equinux consumer apps Lion-ready by the time Lion is officially released in July.

If you’re an early adopter and are already running the latest developer previews, feel free to let us know if you run into any issues and expect to see a few updates in the near future. We’ll have more information about our pro apps, once we’ve had a chance to test them more thoroughly.

The making of Mail Designer

By Company, Mail Designer

Mail Designer is the first app of its kind. There are a bunch of great Mail clients that let you read emails on your Mac, but there isn’t a single one that can create a HTML email design from scratch.

We’d like to share the story of how and why we decided to make Mail Designer – it all started in 2007…

Beginnings: Stationery Pack

When Apple first unveiled stationery in Mail for Mac OS X Leopard, we were excited by the possibilities it opened up: finally here was this way to send cool emails that didn’t look boring and dull. We got to work right away and were the first to offer additional stationery for Mail with our Stationery Pack line of products. People loved Stationery Pack and we received lots of requests for additional template categories and designs.

The trouble with templates

One of the most popular requests was for business templates – something that could be customized with a logo and signature to be used for everyday business emails. So in 2010 we started work on Stationery Business Edition. Because Mail only allows the text and images in a stationery message to be customized, we included all sorts of different layouts and looks for each of the designs we created. This gave users a certain degree of flexibility, but the designs were still not fully customizable.

Also, because Apple Mail can’t save a copy of a stationery email once you’ve customized it with your own text and images, you have to basically start from scratch every time you wanted to send a message and couldn’t easily reuse messages you had already sent.

Stationery Editor: A new hope

So we also started work on another project, which had the working title “Stationery Editor”. Our initial idea was that we would create a companion app that would allow users to tweak their stationery and save it as a template to re-use again and again.

Our development team created an incredible editing tool, which not only allowed you to customise text and images, but also included a full set of tools to remix and mash up stationery templates. It was much more powerful than the basic editor we had initially envisioned and opened up whole new possibilities.

However, the original stationery designs hadn’t been created with that kind of flexibility in mind. So while the new app was great for adjusting text and images in our stationery pack templates, the more advanced background and layout editing features couldn’t really be applied to most existing stationery designs.

Project rebooted

And so Mail Designer was born. We kept the original capabilities for stationery editing of course, but we added a whole host of new creation tools, including dynamic layout blocks, graphics and background textures and an advanced editing interface that any Keynote or Pages user should feel right at home in.

If you’re more of a creative type, you can start with a blank slate and create an entirely new design from scratch. Those of us that need a bit of inspiration can choose one of the Design Ideas as a starting point and to kick-start their own ideas.

We also added graphics and additional background textures that can be used to give your designs a more professional touch.

A lot of time was spent testing the app and we put it through its paces by re-creating the look of email newsletters and other messages that landed in our inboxes. We wanted to make sure the new app would be able to tackle any design challenge that our users might throw at it.

Our own graphics department has also been using Mail Designer exclusively now for a few months to create the equinux newsletters we occasionally send out (some of you may have noticed that we’ve started playing with a number of new looks in our mailings).

Finally, we took all the excellent feedback we’ve received from our stationery and Business Pack customers and tweaked and adjusted the app to ensure Mail Designer is a perfect fit for their needs — I think it’s safe to say that Mail Designer is going to be an essential tool for them as well.

So please download a copy of Mail Designer and let us know what you think!

Happy emailing!

equinux at the iPad 2 launch

By Company, iPad Apps, tizi

Last Friday, we were following the european iPad 2 launch on twitter and saw lots of tweets from people waiting in line outside the Munich Apple Store. Some of them had been waiting overnight, so we thought we would go and reward them with a few freebies and demonstrate tizi for everyone waiting in line.

In total we gave away four boxes of freebies, everyone in line got a chance to play with tizi on the iPad (and to answer the most popular question, yes – tizi works beautifully with iPad 2 as well) and had a lot of fun hanging out with everyone at the big launch.

Check out the video:

Mac App Store: Questions & Answers

By Company

The Mac App Store is here – hooray! We’ve received a few questions about equinux apps on the Mac App Store and thought we’d share them with you…

Question: Will you sell equinux apps through the Mac App Store?

Answer: Yes! We already offer CoverScout, SongGenie, iSale and iSale express on the Mac App Store.

Question: Can I update equinux apps through the Mac App Store?

Answer: That depends on how you bought your software. Any apps purchased on the Mac App Store can be updated using the update feature built-in to the Mac App Store. If you purchased your software elsewhere (e.g. in the equinux Online Store), you can update using the built-in update feature found in all equinux software.

Or see ifiboughtyourappalreadycaniupdateitthroughthemacappstore.com for details 🙂

Question: Why does my software not show up as “installed” in the Mac App Store?

The Mac App Store will recognize any applications you have installed on your Mac and will mark them as already installed. But if the currently installed version is different than the version being offered in the Mac App Store, it won’t be recognized correctly and you will see a “buy” button instead.

Question: Is there a difference between equinux software bought in the Mac App Store and software bought in the equinux Online Store?

Answer: No. Our products in the Mac App Store offer the same features and functionality as our software purchased anywhere else. There are some Mac App Store specific changes related to update functionality and purchasing options, but the apps are otherwise identical.

For technical reasons, the version numbers of our App Store apps are currently different than the non-app-store versions (e.g. the Mac App Store version of CoverScout is 3.4, the non-App-Store version is currently at 3.3.2) , but there’s no difference between the two.

Question: Can you swap my equinux software for the Mac App Store version?

Answer: Unfortunately Apple doesn’t offer a way to swap existing software for the corresponding Mac App Store software. But there’s no difference in functionality and we’ll continue to offer updates for both versions of our software.

That’s all for now – if anything else comes up, we’ll let you know here or on twitter. Have fun on the Mac App Store!

About risks, opportunities and the potential success of the Mac App Store.

By Company

Today Apple will launch its Mac App Store. We’re happy to be part of the party with our popular consumer Apps: SongGenie, CoverScout, iSale and iSale express. Till Schadde, founder and CEO of equinux, answers some questions concerning risks, opportunities and the potential success of the Mac App Store.

Do you think the Mac App Store is an opportunity for developers?

Till: “Currently developers don’t really have access to all the customers that join the Mac platform every day. This target group, usually referred to as a ‘switcher’, is already familiar with the Microsoft Office package and would get VMWare from their resellers when buying to use Windows. A lot of these people actually don’t know where to buy Mac software even though it is available. These customers are apparently untapped to us. The potential will be enormous now that everything is centralized.

For longtime Mac users, the simplicity of buying software from a central platform like the App Store creates a big opportunity to increase sales incentives. Download an app quickly and try it – the threshold is simply reduced.”

What about the risks?

“There are of course some risks for software developers. Firstly, Apple is not a pure reseller, but a kind of co-publisher with its own tastes and whims. That doesn’t make life easier but more complex and, at worst, it gets confusing when you have to spend a lot of time in discussions.

Secondly, as a software developer you almost completely lose contact with the end user. It’s prohibited to ask for user registration details in your software. I fear that in the future the customer support will shift to the App Store as with iPhone Apps where developers won’t have a chance to respond. In this respect Apple has to be active because Mac applications are often more complex than small iPhone apps.

Thirdly, some apps are not adjustable because they simply need to use kernel extensions, etc. The big challenge is that Apple has too many technical guidelines in place that many apps won’t meet. This might lead to a flood of non-sense apps, as we’ve seen with the iPhone and iPad.”

What do you think Apple has to do to successfully launch the Mac App Store?

Till: “We hope that Apple doesn’t repeat the mistakes they made with the launch of the App Store for the iPhone. They were trying times when you had to wait three months for an approval and no one at Apple could give any information on what the status was.”

Some developer’s complained about the guidelines for approval in the Mac App Store. What’s your opinion?

Till: “To us it’s not a big deal, because there is another space beside the App Store. Therefore the rules are fine for us. Those who accept Apple’s rules can start developing their software for the App Store, those who disagree with it can distribute their software conventionally. Everyone has the freedom to choose, Apple is not forcing us yet. It could be problematic, however, if the App Store is the first step to stop the free distribution of Apps in Lion.”

Say hello to tizi

By Company, iPad Apps, iPhone Apps

Product release day is always an exciting time at equinux. Today is no different. Today’s release of tizi is not just a groundbreaking iPhone and iPad release, it’s the start of a new era of hardware products for the company.

tizi is the perfect complement to your iPad or iPhone. As Europe’s first TV mobile hotspot, tizi broadcasts high quality DVB-T television to your iOS device over its own WiFi network. No cables, no adapters.

At just 2.5 ounces and smaller than the iPhone, tizi was designed to be carried around in your pocket or bag. Turn on, tune in and start watching. With its glossy housing and silver bezel, it’ll fit snugly next to your iPad or iPhone, all the while casting envious looks from all around. Users can watch TV on the go for up to 3.5 hours thanks to the replaceable Li-Ion High Performance Battery and be recharged via USB.

tizi is just the start of a move into the iPhone and iPad hardware accessory arena. We have a long standing interest in consumer and enterprise software, as well as Mac hardware in TubeStick, and of course iPhone and iPad apps. tizi marks the start of a new era of iPhone and iPad hardware accessories, so you can get even more from your iOS devices.

So sit back, relax and watch the action unfold. With tizi, it’s easy.

Chopsticks at the ready

By Company, Grillmeister, iPad Apps, iPhone Apps

Have you ever wondered how they use chop sticks to eat ribs in Japan?

During his frequent trips to Asia, equinux CEO Till often wonders how equinux apps might fare in the Japanese market. As a company based in Germany and the US and with little experience of Japanese culture, we knew our best chance of success would be to find a Japanese native speaker. With a new team member on board, we started work on preparing Barbecue for the iPhone and iPad, Japanese style! 日本語の記事はこちら(^_-)-☆

Teething problems

It quickly became clear that the concept of a barbecue was very different in Japan compared to our own experiences. Whereas barbecuing is often a weekly or monthly affair in Europe or the US during the summer, Japanese families might only barbecue every couple of years when camping. Alternatively, they would head to a restaurant and enjoy Korean style barbecue food. After reading our product descriptions for the apps, our Japanese colleague started asking the sort of seemingly obvious questions that actually make you stop and think:

“Why do you flame grill food?”

“Doesn’t it go black and burnt?”

“Is ‘the grill’ the metal shelf, or the entire contraption?”

Questions unsatisfyingly answered, our Japanese colleague went away and localized the app for a Japanese audience. Like any localization, a simple translation was not enough. Indeed, why would a Japanese iPhone user want to use a knife and fork? We need chopsticks!

Suck it and see

Together with our art director, we found the right chopsticks for the sort of barbecue a family would enjoy on a Japanese riverside. Localizing an app in Japanese was a voyage into the unknown for the team. We had no idea how long sentences would be, or how fonts would appear in the app and on our website. Writing strings also takes a lot of consideration. Where in English there is one level of formality, there are two in German and at least three in Japanese.

Barbecue in Japanese went live a week after submitting to Apple. Having never marketed in the land of the rising sun before, we looked to create a list of journalists and bloggers active in the country. In addition, we tweeted a message in Japanese, as well as a targeted update for our Facebook fans based there. Updates like these can be a great way of testing the water for marketing an app.

Just a starter?

We’ve been fascinated by the localization process, and have found it to be a reasonably smooth process. It’s always however fascinating to look at your own culture from an outsider’s perspective. We believe we have a lot more we to offer in the Japanese market, so stay tuned…

Barbecue is available now for the iPhone and iPad

日本語を、どうぞ。

By Company, Grillmeister, iPad Apps, iPhone Apps

Is your Japanese a bit rusty? Read the story of Barbecue in English.

equinuxは日本語を始めました(^_^)!

弊社の第一弾としてiPhoneとiPad上でバーベキューが焼けるアップを発売しました。キャンプ場に頻繁に行けないあなたや、焼肉店に毎日行けないあなたにも、心を込めて旨い肉を焼くあの優雅なひと時を提供します。アップはその名も「Barbecue(バーベキュー, iPhone用)」「Barbecue HD(バーベキュー エイチディー, iPad用)」(^-^) そして今日はアップ作成の裏話をご紹介 (^_-)-☆

バーベキューとドイツ人

驚く事に、統計では70%以上のドイツ人家庭はバーベキューをするためのグリルを保有しています。どうしてドイツ人はこんなにバーベキューが好きなんでしょう??

ドイツの夏は日本の秋の気候に近く、肌寒くて雨もよく降り晴れた日は数えるほどしかありません。なので、暖かく晴れた日は裏庭のグリルを囲んで友達とワイワイ騒ぎます。もちろんビール片手に (^○^) 日本で言うと冬の鍋パーティでしょうか?旨いものを食べながら友達のネットワークを広げる夏の風物詩、それがバーベキューです。弊社CEOのティル・シャデも例に漏れず大のバーベキュー好き!この為我が社はこのアップを作ってしまいました (*_*)

作成はすべてドイツ語で行われ、アップが完成してから日本語版に翻訳しようとしたのですが、、、、日本の「焼肉文化」とドイツの「バーベキュー文化」の違いから単なる翻訳な~んてもんじゃない開発者の苦労がありました (ToT) では例を2つご紹介!

裏話その1

Cutlery(カットラリー)って何??ナイフやフォークなど、食べる為の器具を総称してカットラリーと呼ぶのですが、伝統的にお箸が唯一の器具だった日本語としてはそんなカテゴリーの名前なんてありません!これを4文字以内に翻訳!さ~てどうやって訳したでしょうか?アップでご確認ください。

裏話その2

2つ目はテーブルマナー。日本版に合わせてアップは箸の選択肢を含んでいます。箸をテーブルに置くときの作法って、お皿と食べる人の間に水平に置きますよね?でもナイフとフォークは両サイドに離して垂直に置きます。お皿や器具の配置を設計したのは勿論ドイツ人チームなので、日本の作法通りに箸を置くスペースはなく、、、解決策はアップのスクリーンショットをご覧下さい!

そんなこんなでミュンヘン初のアップが日本上陸!ただいまiTunes App StoreにてiPhone用のBarbecueiPad用のBarbecue HDを好評発売中!割引のプロモコードも順次お送りさせていただいております!

もっと詳しい制作現場の裏話はこちらからご覧いただけます。equinuxは今後も日本語版をどんどん発売していきま〜す (^_-)-☆

iTunes 10 Tip: Artwork with Music Controls

By Company, CoverScout

iTunes 10 introduced a useful, slightly hidden new way to control your music that we think you might enjoy…

Start playing a song and make sure the cover artwork view is open in the lower left corner of the iTunes window.

Now click the cover artwork to open a larger artwork window:

If you move your mouse over the artwork window, iTunes 10 will give you full music controls:

Now you can enjoy your cover artwork and control music playback right from your desktop!

P.S. If you happen to be missing any album covers, we’ve got another tip you might enjoy

equinux@IFA

By Company, iPad Apps, iPhone Apps, The Tube, TubeStick

Unterhaltungselektronik, die begeistert – vom 3. bis 8. September 2010 öffnet die IFA in Berlin wieder ihre Pforten. Auch dieses Jahr ist das Team von equinux mit innovativen TV-Lösungen für iPhone und iPad dabei.

Erleben Sie am Stand unseres OEM-Partners Hauppauge mit The Tube Fernsehen 2.0 live.

Besuchen Sie uns in Halle 17, Stand 107.