Between welcoming a new recruit and working on various absorbing projects for months, we have not had the opportunity to be bored! And we wanted to share with you a short summary of all the events that have marked the company and that have cheered us up throughout the year.
We started off 2016 by taking part in Apple’s Productivity Bundle in January, which was a great success. Next to Moleskine’s Timepage or Cultured Code’s Things, 3 of ours apps were displayed among that great productivity round-up: both versions of Prizmo (iOS & Mac), our document scanning apps, and Carbo, our handwriting app. We were so proud of that recognition.
Carbo Optimized for Apple Pencil
Speaking of Carbo, we released a major update in May so that the app was further optimized for Apple Pencil and iPad Pro. Carbo 1.3 brought a much refined drawing algorithm and also proposed additional choices for the drawing style: calligraphic or fixed thickness with multiple width options. Moreover, Carbo now offers high-speed sampling for more accurate sketches and predictive sampling for reduced perceived lag while drawing, building on Apple Pencil greatness.
WWDC’16: Introducing iOS 10
Through the different announcements, we couldn’t wait to update our major apps with iOS 10 features. Therefore we added some cool new features to Hydra for iOS: 3D Touch for Peek and Pop on the last taken picture (which lets you execute custom actions), as well as other color fidelity improvement made possible by iOS 10 (True Tone shift decrease).
Brand New Hydra 4 for Mac
2016 was also the year we released a new major version of our high-dynamic-range (HDR) app for Mac, Hydra 4.
Hydra 4 offers a brand new interface and image processing architecture, which is now built on top of Metal and optimized for macOS 10.12 Sierra. Metal is Apple’s new API for modern GPU processing on Mac & iOS. We wanted to modernize our image processing architecture from previous OpenGL / CPU code to use pure Metal instead, with the goal of offering maximum rendering & display performance and also to make it future proof. We learned a lot from working with this great piece of technology!
It was the first time we developed a Metal-based app, so this wasn’t really effortless: it took time and patience, we made a lot of research. In the end, it paid off, the app is behaving great: fast interactions, fullscreen & full-resolution previewing. We were so glad to see that Hydra for Mac became “Editors’ Choice” on the Mac App Store. Our first time for a Mac app! Again, we were (and still are) so proud and thankful for this!
Still on the technical front, 2016 was also the year we moved to Swift for most new developments. We ran some experiments previously with Swift 1 and 2 for parts of our apps which actually shipped (Carbo’s CloudKit backend, Collectarium). But Swift 3 introduced some important changes in 2016, and it looked like it was starting to bring some real benefits. We think Swift can make our code more robust and more maintainable. The situation isn’t perfect yet (developer tools are so slow, static lib support still missing, making hard to build on modular concepts, etc.), but we felt like continuing with Objective-C would probably become a technical debt.
12★apps: Featuring European Indie Devs
At the very end of 2016, we launched a collaborative initiative to promote European developers: 12★apps. It was a great opportunity to bring indie developers together and to promote great apps from all over Europe. We’ll do that again throughout the years.
2016 in Numbers
- Thousands of emails answered within the 24 hours by our support team.
- Over 1,200 cups of coffee and 1000 Cokes drunk.
- Over 300 beta testers.
- Over 100 builds of our apps submitted to App Review.
- Over 60 press reviews of our apps.
- Over 15 Apple devices used for testing.
- 1 new MacBook Pro.
What’s Next for 2017?
2016 wasn’t straightforward but still full of great moments and amazing work. The tools and ecosystem are evolving so fast that it can be a challenge to catch up. Still, we are currently working on new concepts, as well as preparing substantial updates for our existing apps. We’ll continue to focus on apps that are both useful and enjoyable to use, providing great user experience and innovative technology.
And we really can’t wait to show you all the new stuff we’re working on.