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TapJoy, the makers of TapDefense, have introduced a truly innovative iPhone and Android app monetization platform.  The platform consists of two parts.  The first, is an ad-network aggregator similar to AdWhirl (now a part of AdMob) and MobClix.  Using the TapJoy SDK, developers can sign up for multiple ad networks to guarantee maximum fill rates for ads.  TapJoy optimizes the delivery so developers can earn more money than if they integrated only a single ad network.

The second, more exciting part of the TapJoy platform is the unique virtual goods store.  Developers who integrate this part of the TapJoy platform can offer users virtual goods in exchange for downloading a free or paid app in the TapJoy network.  For each one of these downloads, the developer gets $0.25.  This is a great alternative/addition to the official in-app purchase system which has had disappointing results for some developers.

To see an example of TapJoy’s virtual goods store in action, download their free app TapDefense and tap “Add Towers and Maps”.  Notice that several of the apps are free allowing developers make money from virtual goods without actually dipping into the user’s pocket.

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App Sketchbook

App Sketchbook is an iPhone App designer’s best friend.  The sketchbook contains 50 standard size 8.5″ x 11″ double-sided pages; each side has three actual size iPhone templates and a notes section.  App sketchbook has perforated and non-perforated versions, each available for $12.99 plus shipping ($3 in the continental U.S.).

Alternatives:  NotePod

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Kukapp is web service that tracks the rank, downloads, and popularity ratings of iPhone apps.  Developers can upload iTunes connect reports or have Kukapp automatically retrieve the reports daily in order the track downloads.  The best part about Kukapp is that it’s tracking your app rank right now even if you don’t use the service.  When I uploaded one of my daily reports, Kukapp displayed the daily rank information of my apps back to September.  Developers can track rank, popularity rating, and downloads across multiple categories.  It also tracks key events like updated versions.  Kukapp currently doesn’t offer revenue tracking like the similar service AppFigures, but as the iTunes Connect data is already in their system it’s foreseeable that this feature could be added in the future.

Kukapp is currently a free service in beta.  There are no specific statements of plans to charge in the future, but the site does mention “We transmit all credit card and payment information to our payment provider over SSL” implying that there will be a fee for some portion of the service in the future.

Alternatives:  AppFigures

Special thanks to Walter for sending us the tip about Kukapp.

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Although it may sound like an app pirating tool, Appirator is actually an open source Objective-C class that helps developers get fair App Store reviews.  The current App Store review process only asks users if they would like to review an app when the app is deleted.  This creates an unfair bias towards negative reviews.  By inserting Appirator into their code, developers can remind frequent users to rate an app leading to more favorable reviews.  Appirator is free and easily implemented in a single line of code.

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Localytics is a multi-platform mobile analytics service for iPhone, Blackberry, and Android.  It has all the features developers have come to expect from an analytics service including location, device type, version number, and event tracking.  A nice-looking, intuitive interface is provided to analyze data.  There are also a few features which really set Localytics apart from other analytics companies:

  • Real-Time Analytics – View and react to events as they happen.
  • Control Upload – Control when an app uploads data to the server.
  • Open Source SDK – An open source SDK gives developers the option of complete customization of analytics gathering and reporting.

Localytics is a free service.

Alternatives:  Pinch MediaMotally, Flurry

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Briefs is a Cocoa Touch framework designed to make iPhone user interface development quick and easy.  Using Briefs, developers get a shortcut to easily arrange interactive user interface designs and test them on an actual device without the need full blown development.  Briefs is a free open source framework currently available on GitHub.

No Comments is a directory of iPhone app URLs which allow iPhone apps to interact with websites or other apps.  Check out scores of app URLs that you can use to add functionality to your app or webpage by opening apps like Google Earth, Twitterfon, Facebook, Duo, and more.  If you’re interested in enabling your own app with a custom URL scheme, check out this helpful article at

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Notepod is an iPhone shaped notepad perfect for sketching out app ideas.  The 60×110mm pad is shaped like an iPhone with a 52×77mm screen providing an almost exact 1:1 scale sketchpad for developers to record UI concepts.  The backside of each page is printed with gridlines for easy note-taking.  You can get a three pack of NotePods shipped anywhere in the world for $17.95 USD.

Photo courtesy of NotePod

Thanks to David Yeiser of Design Intellection for the tip about NotePod.

Alternatives:  App Sketchbook

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Facebook Custom URL Scheme

Wouldn’t it be great if you could open the Facebook iPhone app from your app or webpage?  Turns out you can.  I did a little hacking and discovered a portion of the Facebook custom URL scheme.  iPhone developers can open different parts of the Facebook iPhone app by via the following code:

NSURL *theURL = [NSURL URLWithString:@"fb://<insert function here>"];

[[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:theURL];

Web developers can send iPhone users to the Facebook app as well with the URLs.  As far as I know this hasn’t been documented anywhere.  Here’s what I’ve found:

  • fb://profile – Open Facebook app to the user’s profile
  • fb://friends – Open Facebook app to the friends list
  • fb://notifications – Open Facebook app to the notifications list (NOTE:  there appears to be a bug with this URL.  The Notifications page opens.  However, it’s not possible to navigate to anywhere else in the Facebook app)
  • fb://feed – Open Facebook app to the News Feed
  • fb://events – Open Facebook app to the Events page
  • fb://requests – Open Facebook app to the Requests list
  • fb://notes- Open Facebook app to the Notes page
  • fb://albums – - Open Facebook app to Photo Albums list

As you can see there is a least one bug.  Perhaps Joe Hewitt hasn’t released information on the URL scheme because it’s not ready yet, so use at your own risk.  For now, the above functions work and that’s probably just scratching the surface.  There’s loads of potential for more functionality.  I would love a custom URL scheme that would allow the user to become a fan of my app on Facebook by opening the Facebook app with one click rather than asking them to login via Facebook Connect.  We’ll see what the future holds.  Want to see a Facebook app URL action?  If you’re browsing on your iPhone OS device, click here.

9 Comments allows anyone to track App Store rankings.  Developers can get the rankings for their own apps or check competitors.  Every app in the App Store has it’s own chart showing it’s rank since TopAppCharts began it’s service on August 1, 2009.  Mobclix has a similar service on their website, but seems to track paid and free app charts, whereas MobClix only tracks overall charts in each category.  TopAppCharts is free for anyone to use.

Alternatives:  Mobclix