Category: Design

SmartOthello

My Othello app is now available in the App Store — check it out at smartothello.com. Even if you’re not interested in Othello/Reversi, it will give you an idea of the future direction of my Go apps. And next time you play Go and somebody asks whether that’s Othello, at least now you have an app you can recommend.

SmartOthello is 100% Swift: it was a perfect way to learn Swift while building up code I can reuse for my Go apps. It’s also my first app to support Game Center, including achievements and leaderboards. My experience with Swift has been really good; my experience with Game Center less so.

SmartOthello is also a reboot in terms of user interface. The clean design that Scott Jensen came up with for Othello will definitely influence the Swift version of SmartGo. For example, the games list sliding in from the left leaves more room for the board on the iPad; the ability to turn off the status bar again provides more room and less distraction.

The tutorial in SmartGo Player uses Go Books under the hood, so the Swift version of Go Books is up next. Yes, this conversion is taking a while, but I’m planning to live with these apps for many more years. After launching my first Swift app, I’m more convinced than ever that the investment is worth it.

Read at Night

Go Books on iOS now includes dark gray and black backgrounds for better reading at night. That was not a feature I saw a need for myself, but I started getting a number of requests for this, and it’s clearly a significant issue for many. Whenever you want to read Go books, I want to encourage that, whether it’s day or night.

Blog night mode

Please let me know how this new night mode works for you. So far, I have not changed the diagrams — do you also need the board to be darker?

Bonus feature: You can now choose three-column layout on the iPad. Probably not that useful, which is why I had not enabled it before, but I think you’re going to love three or even four columns on the upcoming iPad Pro. (The Mac version of Go Books already supports four-column layout.)

Quick Actions and Side Matching

SmartGo Kifu now supports split view on the newest iPads running iOS 9, so you can run it next to Safari, Notes, or even Go Books. And in addition to numerous UI refinements, there are two new features.

Quick Actions

On an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus, deep press on the app icon to see two Quick Actions:

Blog quick actions

  • Empty Board: Creates a new game in My Games. You can then quickly enter a position or analyze joseki, for example.
  • Random Game: Goes to a random game in the library of 84,000 pro games. Just one more click and you’re watching a pro game on auto-replay while waiting in line.

Side Matching

Joseki matching has been extended with the ability to match a whole side of the board.

Blog side matching

This lets you match popular openings like the low Chinese opening or the sanrensei. It also gives you more context to see how pros handle a joseki in relation to another corner.

As with joseki matching, tap on the matching stats to see a list of the games matching that position, then explore how those games typically develop from that position.

Side matching is also supported in the Mac version.

Kifu 3.4: More Games, App Icon

SmartGo Kifu 3.4 includes the newest GoGoD collection of 81,000 games. As always, this is a free update for existing customers – if you like the app, please tell your friends about it, or leave a rating or review. (Note that Apple by default only shows the ratings and reviews for the newest version, so it helps to submit it again when the app gets updated.)

This update also includes some refinements to the app icon by Scott Jensen, losing the handle of the magnifying glass to make it more abstract and reveal more of the famous Go position. Thanks to @dahanbn for inspiring this change.

 Smartgo kifu icon jensen

Smartgo kifu icon large

Notes in Go Books

The most requested feature for SmartGo Books: bookmarks and/or notes. I had planned to tackle that later this year, but when Scott Jensen came up with an exquisite update for the app icon, I had no choice.

Go books ios icon

To add your own notes to any paragraph or diagram, just tap and hold on a paragraph (or diagram), then choose Add Note. To find your notes and navigate between them, tap on the move number at the bottom of the page, tap the bookmark icon on the right, then use the slider to go from note to note.

Page select full resolution

The user interface is very minimal at this point. I anticipate adding more support for notes in future versions, once I know better how you actually use them. Please let me know what you’re missing. Notes are not yet synced between devices, that’s definitely on the list.

This version of Go Books also adds four new books and several translations, for a total of 91 books, including books in German, French, Spanish, and Japanese.

SmartGo Pro for iPhone

SmartGo Pro is back as the iPhone-only version of SmartGo Kifu. I took it off the App Store 18 months ago, trimming down to three easily distinguished universal apps. So why bring it back now?

  • It gives new iPhone users a chance to get the capabilities of SmartGo Kifu at a lower price. $12 for SmartGo Pro is still a premium price point, but it’s not quite the $20 sticker shock of SmartGo Kifu.
  • It gives current SmartGo Pro users a huge free upgrade, tripling the game collection to 78,000 pro games, and adding amazing features like joseki matching and tree view as well as 18 months worth of incremental improvements.

Both of these should lead to additional satisfied users. My business model is simple: You buy the app, you use it, you love it, then you tell your Go-playing friends about it. Real value for the price of a Go book; no in-app gimmicks.

Current trends in the App Store favor in-app purchases. But trends are fickle, and Go is a niche market. My bet is that people continue to recognize and appreciate quality apps, and are willing to pay a fair price for them.

Smartgo pro icon jensen

SmartGo Pro gets its own updated icon to match the new SmartGo Kifu icon.

New App Icon for SmartGo Kifu

The next update of SmartGo Kifu will feature a new icon designed by Scott Jensen, building on the previous one by Darran Morris of app-bits.com:

Smartgo kifu icon morris
Smartgo kifu icon jensen

The new icon is slightly more flat to fit in better with iOS 7, brings the color scheme in line with the colors currently used in the app, and adds the magnifying glass to allude to both searching in the game collection as well as magnification during move entry. Seasoned Go players will recognize the position and move from Shusaku’s famous ear-reddening game.

And by the way: Scott has designed four more icons that will be unveiled at the appropriate time. I better get working on those apps…