Ars Technica Reviews Full Screen Web Browser for iPhone

February 17th, 2009
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“Full Screen Web Browser is a great Safari companion for its cheap 99¢ price.”

Review: Full Screen Web Browser for iPhone - Ars Technica.

ben iPhone App Store, apps, Full Screen Web Browser, reviews, safari

Beware Conversion from Free App to Paid

February 16th, 2009
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Yesterday we ended the free launch special for our latest app, Full Screen Web Browser by setting the price to $0.99. Shortly after the switch I got a report that someone was unable to download the app from the App Store. This happened to us back when we launched Relax which we had up for free for the first day. We were never sure how long it lasted but our guess was somewhere between 8 and 12 hours, partly because of the flood of 1-star reviews that came in once people could actually download Relax as a paid app. I’m not sure how long the outage lasted yesterday for Full Screen.

Today I got the chance to see this same scenario happen for a different app. Tim Haines‘ popular game BurnBall, was switched to free around 2:00pm Mountain time, and was switched back to $1.99 around 8:00pm. However, up until around 10:00pm, I wasn’t able to download the game. The App Store still showed it as free, but the errors I was getting are shown below:


US App Store on iPhone


US App Store in iTunes on OS X

As far as I can tell, BurnBall was unavailable for purchase for 2 hours today in the US. Other countries may have been affected differently.

I would submit this as a bug to Apple, except for the fact that I still cannot log into their bug reporting site:

An error has occurred. Please report the error to Apple Inc. by emailing the error detail to
For more details on the error, click this link
Error Detail

I’ll just have to post it as a Radar instead. Has anyone else ran into this problem? I wonder if the conversion from Paid to Free has the same issue.

ben App Store App Store, Full Screen Web Browser

Full Screen is #2 in Germany!

February 15th, 2009
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After about three days of being free, Full Screen Web Browser has vaulted to the top of the charts in the Germany App Store! Yesterday’s downloads in Germany were 44% higher than those from the US. I am still amazed at this since I really only focused on promoting to english app review web sites in addition to social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Is it the high-contrast app icon which jumps right off the page in iTunes? The icon certainly does seem to fit with the general theme of the featured ads I see in the German iTunes store such as Rammstein and Prodigy. While the US iTunes front page has many pink images for Valentine’s Day, the German store certainly has a much darker feel right now and our app icon fits right in.

Full Screen isn’t doing bad here in the US either. It’s currently sitting at #7 in the free Utility apps section, up from #20 yesterday. 

The sale on this amazingly popular app has just ended as the price has been set to $0.99. You can get a copy from the App Store at the following URL:


Full Screen is #7 Free Utility App in US       Full Screen is #2 Free App in Germany

ben App Store App Store, Full Screen Web Browser, Sopods

Full Screen Web Browser Launched!

February 13th, 2009
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Today our new app Full Screen Web Browser is live on the iTunes app store. While there is already a copy of Safari on every one of the 17 million iPhones out there, there is still much room for improvement in the web browsing experience. Full Screen features more screen real estate with easy access to controls with just a shake of the device.

After I heard the news about these 3rd party web browsers, I immediately went out and grabbed a copy of the 8 that were currently in the App Store. They all sucked. I was excited about one that featured a near-full screen experience, but it wasn’t done very well. I took 20 minutes and threw together a simple browser that only loaded up /a>. Then I decided to make it really useful.

After experimenting with using swipes for navigation, I went back to the idea of using back/forward buttons but hiding the button bar automatically when it wasn’t needed. 

One of the features that I like about truly useful apps like NetNewsWire and Tweetie is their send to Safari feature. Multitasking is smoother on the iPhone when apps cooperate like this. So, I included a “Open in Safari” button. Full Screen also features reverse integration with Safari using a custom bookmarklet which will send the current webpage from Safari to Full Screen. This way, even though Full Screen doesn’t currently feature bookmarks, the Safari bookmarks are only a couple taps away.

To kick things off, we have listed Full Screen Web Browser for FREE for the first day, so make sure you grab a copy before this sale is over! At the same time, all other SOPODS apps are on sale for only $0.99 to celebrate.

Update: After the first day, Full Screen Web Browser is #13 in the US top free Utility apps and #5 in the top free apps overall in Germany! 

ben App Store, iPhone App Store, apps, Full Screen Web Browser, iPhone, Sopods

UIPrerenderedIcon Key Ignored on App Updates

January 27th, 2009
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A tip passed around by @stroughtonsmith reminds iPhone developers to 

Always re-upload your large icon art after you update your binary, or it will ignore your UIPrerenderedIcon key and add gloss

Credit for this finding goes to @polarbearfarm.

ben App Store App Store, Info.plist, iPhone

Connect with iPhone developers on Twitter

January 26th, 2009
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Inside of 4 hours a quickly growing list of iPhone developers who use Twitter has been assembled. Credit for initiating this gathering goes to @timhaines who created a form for submition which populates a Google Docs spreadsheet listing all the developers who volunteered their Twitter IDs.

The original tweet which has been retweeted around the Twittersphere:

iPhone devs: Add yourself to the list of tweeting devs. Form: /hlhv List of devs: /hlhV Pls retweet

To simplify the process of following (currently) 167 individual developers, David Clements has posted a short Ruby script which should save you a fair amount of clicking. Too bad I was most of the way through the list when he posted this.

Update: The list is now at 365. An updated version of the Ruby script has been put up on github which fixes a problem with the regex.

Update: 489 strong. Having trouble running the Ruby script? Matt Drake has posted some easy to follow instructions over on his blog.

ben iPhone github, Google, Ruby, Twitter

New WordPress Theme: iNove

January 24th, 2009
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Switched to a slick WordPress theme today called iNove, created by @mg12.

ben Uncategorized blogging, WordPress

This blog looks better on the iPhone

January 12th, 2009
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I must say that WordPress 2.7 simply rocks. The admin interface has lots of AJAXian slickness that makes it fun and fast to use. The best feature is the absolutely trivial plug-in management. On a vanilla install from my web host (which had some minor tweaks, like enabling WP-Cache), some core plugins were already included. A monstrous plug-in directory is also a click away and they can all be installed through the admin interface! No more downloading files, unzipping, uploading some files to this directory and some to another directory.

Digging around a bit, I found an interesting plug-in called WPTouch which contains a WordPress theme optimized for the iPhone. What’s nice about it (other than looking fantastic) is that the theme only shows when viewed on an iPhone so you don’t have to worry about your content being smashed into a 320 pixel column when viewed on a full-blown computer. 

What this blog looks like on my iPhone.

What this blog looks like on my iPhone.

ben iPhone blogging, iPhone, WordPress

Readable Stack Traces for iPhone development

January 4th, 2009

One of the features I’ve been missing since coming over to the iPhone and Objective-C platform from Java is the wonderfully descriptive stack traces that are printed usually whenever anything goes wrong. Gabriel Hanford posted a great example of using the Google Toolbox for Mac to print human readable stack traces when debugging iPhone projects in Xcode.

However, getting the GTMStackTraceFromException() function working wasn’t quite as simple as the post indicated. The first issue I ran into was that my main.m still wouldn’t compile because it couldn’t find NSDebug.h.

#import <Foundation/NSDebug.h>
Looking at the version of the Foundation framework my project was linking against (iPhoneOS 2.2), there was no such header file included. A quick search using Spotlight revealed that the header was included in the version of the framework for the iPhone Simulator. So, that means it won’t work while debugging on the iPhone device. A quick workaround so that the stack traces are only used on the simulator but your app will actually run on the device is to change all occurences of:   

#ifdef DEBUG



As I’ve been working on an app that uses features not available in the simulator, this workaround wasn’t really any help. Since NSDebug is available in the Foundation framework, I wondered whether the NSDebug.h header file simply wasn’t included in the version for the iPhoneOS. I copied NSDebug.h into my project, added it into Xcode and stopped getting the compiler errors about it. 

Then it turned out that the GTM 1.5.1 zip file doesn’t have the necessary versions of files for the example code. I grabbed the source directly from the svn trunk (current head rev r74) and saw some differences in the project layout. A bit of trial an error revealed that the following files were needed from GTM:

  • GTMDefines.h
  • GTMObjC2Runtime.h
  • GTMObjC2Runtime.m
  • GTMStackTrace.h
  • GTMStackTrace.m

Just copy the files above into your Xcode project and recompile.

Here is my final copy of main.m:


Of course, all this only helps if you’ve got your iPhone plugged into Xcode during the exception or error. If you’re looking to piece together a crash when your device wasn’t plugged in, Konstantin Anoshkin put together a nice post on how to symbolicate a crash log which will make it readable in much the same manner.


ben Objective-C, iPhone Cocoa, debugging, Google, iPhone, Objective-C

Hello world!

January 1st, 2009
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I’ve gone an done it, I’ve actually started a blog for writing. I’ve had a photo blog for over a year now but the subject quickly became my now-12-month old son (he’s very photogenic). I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now but it took a New Year’s resolution to actually get me to take the plunge.

I plan to focus this blog on iPhone app development since that’s what I’m doing these days, but I’m sure I’ll have a few things to say about related (Mac platform fanaticism) and unrelated (Java development, sysadmin stuff) subjects.

Here’s to a great new year!

ben Uncategorized

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