Category: Design

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

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…

What Happens After the Joseki?

Given a corner or full-board position, SmartGo Kifu will go through its collection of 76,000 games and find all matching positions, and show you what professional players play next. New in SmartGo Kifu 3.2: see the list of matching games so you can explore how those games develop from there. (Just tap on the joseki statistics to see the matching games.)

Also in this version:

  • New mode to match joseki in the corner with the most recent move.
  • The game info button has been removed; just tap on the title (with a little i next to it) to see the game info.
  • Book view has moved to the action menu. (This function has moved around a lot, but I think it has finally found a good home.)

Program help has also been improved, so I recommend actually taking a look at it. You know that you can hold and then drag to correct the most recent move? That you can see a professional player’s biography by tapping on the player name? It’s all in there.

SmartGo Kifu 3.0

Almost five years ago, I started SmartGo on the iPhone because I wanted thousands of pro games and Go problems in my pocket; I figured other Go players would too. It started as SmartGo touch, with just 6,000 pro games, and no computer play. That evolved into SmartGo Pro, then came SmartGo Kifu for the iPad, and last year, SmartGo Kifu became universal, making SmartGo Pro obsolete. The recent additions of joseki analysis and tree view have pushed SmartGo Kifu way beyond what I imagined five years ago.

Today, I’m happy to announce version 3.0 of SmartGo Kifu with two exciting changes:

  • Clean new look and icons: The new modern look was designed by Scott Jensen (@_scottjensen) at Ender Labs. Many of the previous icons were remnants from the Windows version, and it showed. We also took the opportunity to streamline the user interface. This work started before iOS 7 was announced, and there’s more to do for iOS 7, but this takes a big step towards the future.
  • GoGoD game collection: John Fairbairn and T Mark Hall have been building their GoGoD (Go Games on Disk) collection for many years, and SmartGo Kifu now includes that collection of more than 73,000 professional games. An immediate benefit is better player name translations, and there’s more to come.


Kifu1 old



I also plan to offer the GoGoD collection with the Windows version of SmartGo. Unfortunately, SmartGo for Windows will be temporarily unavailable until that work is complete.

Tree View

Tree view is the main new feature in SmartGo Kifu 2.2. It shows you the main line of play as well as any variations you explore. It tells you where you are, and makes it easy to navigate to other points in the game.

However, it can be easy to get lost in an expansive tree view, and it often seems to be a feature that appeals more to programmers than to Go players. (Programmers love tree structures.) So I’ve long resisted adding a tree view to SmartGo, but I think I’ve finally figured out how to do it right.

Tree view

The tree view in SmartGo Kifu breaks new ground by focusing on the essentials:

  • Better overview: It shows you more of the game by compressing regular black-white-black-white move sequences.
  • Clear structure: The structure of the tree is revealed by distinguishing regular move sequences from branch points.
  • Useful move info: Moves with annotations are clearly shown, providing more useful information.

Please let me know what you think and how you use the tree view.

For those waiting to hear news about the Mac version: This feature was actually ported from the Mac to iOS, so yes, there’s some progress.

(Tree view was big item #1 for SmartGo Kifu; at least two more big changes coming before the summer is over.)

New Game

The New Game screens in SmartGo Kifu and Player 2.1 have been restructured to make them easier to use. It was some of the first code I had written for iOS, and the UI was a source of confusion for users, generating a number of support issues.

Before: The top-level split was between using the automatic level adjustment and manually setting up the handicap. Simple enough if you wanted to play against the computer, but it was not obvious that you could play two people against each other by setting the names to anything but ‘SmartGo’.

New game old autoPlayer new game 

After: The main split is between playing against either the computer or a human player. When playing against the computer, you can choose to use the automatic handicap adjustment, or manually set up board size and handicap.

New game new autoNew game new manual 

For recording human games, you can now enter the player rank as well as event and place (no need to go to the Game Info to add that later).

New game new human

I think this is more aligned with the way people think about it. I also added help text in some footers to answer other questions:

  • How do you delete a player?
  • At what level are bigger board sizes unlocked?

And in case you didn’t know yet: Hold down the arrows that swap black and white to get a random nigiri choice.

SmartGo Kifu 2.0

The main new feature in SmartGo Kifu 2.0: Joseki. Match a pattern in a corner or on the whole board, and SmartGo Kifu tells you where professional players played in that position. More details here.

Match joseki kifu

The current implementation is already amazingly useful. However, compared to the Windows version of SmartGo, some features are missing, like the list of matching games. Clearly, there’s more to come.

Many smaller changes streamline the user interface:

  • Combine filters and search: Use the predefined filters for games directly from the list of games by tapping on the right side of the search box.
  • Easy way to create a board: Tap on the + icon in the bottom left of My Games and choose Empty Board to create a board to experiment with, especially for joseki analysis. (To delete a game: Simply swipe across it in the list, then tap on Delete.)
  • Improved book view: Book view is now full screen, and is used for annotated games, tutorial, and program help.
  • Settings: All the settings have been moved from Tools (bottom left) to Settings (top right).
  • Markup: Added tools for Markup (previously only available on the iPad) so you can set up positions as well as mark points with letters or triangles.

Icon kifu 256

This version also features the new app icon by Darran Morris of Seasoned Go players will recognize the board position from Shusaku’s famous ear-reddening game.