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How to turn great iOS app ideas into something real

Time to find a great programmer.

Time to find a great programmer. Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

My friends, family and even complete strangers are constantly asking me how to get their million-dollar app idea in the App Store.

This is always a shocker for me because, after countless hours of hard work over the past two years, my app is barely breaking even.

But I can offer one solid piece of advice for anybody hoping to turn a clever idea into a world-beating app: Find yourself an amazing developer and hold on tight.

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How App Store reviews can help indie developers

The NASAViz Universal app. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flicker CC

Five-star reviews are great, but there’s another type of App Store review that’s truly stellar. Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flicker CC

Customer reviews on the App Store are good for business. It’s not just that good reviews can improve your app’s ranking. Reviews have also helped me build a better app.

But with all the fake reviews and haters out there, it’s sometimes hard to see the wood from the trees. The trick is to know exactly which reviews to pay attention to — and the secret is all in your stars.

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How App Store optimization can harm indie developers

iOS App Store.

Critical errors can do real damage as you try to rise to the top of the App Store.

I followed the advice of an App Store optimization expert last year in an attempt to promote my iPhone app. Big mistake. It felt wrong at the time, and it did more harm than good. Now I’ve learned to trust my gut instincts instead.

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The problem with Becoming Steve Jobs? Too much Steve Jobs

The world needs more insight into how Apple works, but you won't find that in Becoming Steve Jobs. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The world needs fresh insight into how Apple works, but you won’t find much of that in Becoming Steve Jobs. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

One of Steve Jobs’ favorite recordings was The Beatles working on version after version of “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

The new Jobs biography, Becoming Steve Jobs, is like that recording: It serves up fresh takes on oft-told stories from Apple’s history, this time with more sugarcoating.

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Gold fever makes Apple Watch devs chase the dream

Ladies and gentlemen, the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, which is an aspiration, price-anchor, according to Reddit. Credit: Apple

Are Apple Watch apps an 18-karat opportunity for indie developers? Photo: Apple

With high development costs and uncertain prospects, now is a risky time to build Apple Watch apps. But like many other indie developers, I’m working on one anyway.

The Apple Watch gold rush is about more than money.

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Everything I wanted to know about gold Apple Watches, I learned on reddit

Ladies and gentlemen, the 18-karat gold Appel Watch Edition, which is an aspiration, price-anchor, according to Reddit. Credit: Apple

Ladies and gentlemen, the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, which is an aspirational price anchor, according to reddit’s users. Credit: Apple

We all know that professional industry analysts often say the darndest things, but the Apple Watch has unleashed some truly muddleheaded commentary, especially from people who get paid to know better.

There are the customary and entirely predictable predictions that the Watch will fail — just as the pundits predicted the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad would bomb. This kind of commentary is so knee-jerk and silly, it’s best to just ignore. But then there’s a higher tier of analysis that says the Watch’s success depends on apps (duh, yeah) or the device’s potential for upgrades (completely wrong).

I’m interested in smarter takes on Apple’s strategy, pricing and marketing. Surprisingly, some of the most insightful commentary I’ve seen is on reddit — known generally as a salty hangout for spotty teens and weirdos. Here are some key points outlined by reddit users.

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Why the $10,000 gold Apple Watch really winds me up

"You like me, you really like me!" Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The super-expensive gold Apple Watch Edition is enough to get your knickers in a twist. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

When Steve jobs co-founded Apple, his vision was to democratize technology.

At the time, computers were for governments and rich corporations. Jobs wanted everyone to have their own computer — a crazy idea back in the ’70s. The slogan for the original Macintosh was “the computer for the rest of us.”

For the next 30 years, Jobs worked hard to realize that mission. Although Apple has never made the cheapest computers, in general, the trend has been cheaper and more accessible, from the Mac to the iPhone. For most people, Apple’s products are largely affordable.

This is why the gold Apple Watch Edition — which starts at $10,000 — bugs me. It’s not a watch for the rest of us. It’s a watch for everyone but us. It’s a watch for the one percent.

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Survival of the fittest: Apple Watch versus fitness trackers

Will Apple Watch win the fitness-tracking race? Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr CC

Will Apple Watch win the fitness-tracking race? Photo: Nathan Rupert/Flickr CC

Apple Watch is entering the race to become the leader in wearable tech. And dedicated fitness trackers like the Nike+ FuelBand, Fitbit and Jawbone Up may struggle to keep up with Cupertino’s pace.

Few people remember the MP3 players that iPod left in its wake. Smartphones overtaken by iPhone shared a similar dismal fate. Could fitness wearables be next on the endangered list?

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Tim Cook’s ‘proud to be gay’ essay is important, historic and brave

Photo: Andy Ihnatko/Flickr

When Tim Cook talks, people listen. And that’s a good thing. Photo: Andy Ihnatko/Flickr

Gay rights are the civil rights issue of our time, whether in the marriage chapel, the emergency room or the workplace.

That’s why Apple CEO Tim Cook’s decision to proclaim he is “proud to be gay” in a powerful personal essay is an important and truly historic act.

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Why Apple Pay is the future

Apple Pay. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

About to test Apple Pay at the local Walgreens. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Critics are fond of saying Apple doesn’t innovate any more. But Apple’s new electronic payment system, Apple Pay, is innovation of the highest order. After a relatively smooth rollout this week, I honestly believe Apple Pay is the future of payments.

Even so, Apple Pay must clear some big hurdles if it’s to become the universal standard. For now, it’s limited to Apple’s latest iPhones and a relatively small number of retail partners, but the basic system — using your fingerprint to validate a purchase on your mobile phone — is the way we will pay for goods and services in the future.

Once again, Apple has shown the world how things should be done.

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