Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Gmail Player For The Masses

The reviews from SmoothReviews are slowly starting to trickle in, and most of them are quite positive. I think I've had 7 or 8 so far, most of them 4's and 5's with just one 3 and nothing below 3. Apparently I need to get 5 reviews in a given country for a given version of the app to get a ranking for that particular country's App Store, so this SmoothReviews thing is going to take a bit of time.

A new version of Reader+ for Gmail (1.12) was released a few days ago, with these changes:

April 27, 2015
1. Added blue circle to the left of each email in the email table view to indicate if it is an unread message (i.e. unread using a fully capable Gmail client application). 
2. Added settings option to read only "unread" emails (i.e. emails that have not yet been read by a fully capable Gmail client application). 
3. Re-built using iOS 8.3.

The full revision history can be found here:

This past week an awesome new feature was added to make the app kick ass even more: 


Now there will be a simple text input field and search button to allow you to search through ALL of your Gmail messages in just a few seconds. The Gmail API and the SPEED of Google Search are really quite impressive. So if you need to review that epic 10 page email that your boss sent to you a few weeks back, now you can just search for it, click on the result, and start listening!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


For the past week I've been testing and reviewing apps from other developers. Am I doing this out of the goodness of my heart? Not at all! I'm expecting other developers to provide reviews for Reader+ for Gmail in return. There is a website called SmoothReviews: that allows you to upload a link to your own app, and provides you with a number of apps to review. For each app that you review, someone else will eventually review your app. No guarantees that they will like it or give it a good review, but I'm interested to find out if any sort of reviews at all will increase my downloads / visibility in the App Store. So far I've reviewed 4 apps, and have not received any reviews for Reader+ for Gmail yet... :-(

Wait a sec, I just clicked around the SmoothReviews website and discovered that my app link wasn't properly uploaded! That explains the lack of reviews so far I guess :-P. Apparently there is more than one way to specify an App Store link to an app, and SmoothReviews requires a certain format with a country code and the app name in the link. Took about 20 minutes to figure that one out, so hopefully now the reviews will start trickling in!

If you happen to go to SmoothReviews, click this link:

Apparently this referral will snag me an extra app upload slot, which might come in handy someday.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Version 1.11

Version 1.11 of Reader+ for Gmail was approved today, Yay! Knock on wood, but my last 3 or 4 submissions to the App Store have been successful. OK, now I've jinxed my next submission for sure.

This version has the following new changes:

1. Next track, previous track, and play/pause buttons are now responsive on the lockscreen.

2. On settings window, can dismiss the keypad for changing the number of emails to download by clicking on empty space. 

3. On the main window, if an email is being read, there is a button in the top right corner called "Current Email" to take you to the playback window for the email currently being read.

4. On the main window, if an email is being read, the "Start Reading Gmail" button changes to a "Stop Reading Gmail" button.

The complete version history can be found on my website here:

To download / update the app, the App Store link is still:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Downloads Returning to Normal and What to do for New Emails?

On April 11, the downloads peeked at a little over 100, but yesterday they were back down to 20, and now today I expect they will be back at a normal level, probably 5 to 10. I'm guessing that Apple must have "featured" Reader+ for Gmail for a limited amount of time, to see how it would perform with the new changes. Not well enough I guess! During the past few days I got 180 downloads and one in-app purchase; nothing that a trillion dollar company would care greatly about.

Today I finished the changes for displaying and reading just new Gmail messages, if the user chooses that option. But I'm unsure what to do about marking a message as "read" after it has been listened to. Typically any message that I listen to with Reader+ for Gmail, I would not want that message to be marked as "read" since I prefer to handle that task (and a more careful read of important messages) on my computer using the real Gmail interface in Google Chrome. Also, if I were to provide a user option for marking "listened" messages in Reader+ for Gmail as "read", then I think I would need to include write access in the list of permissions that the user sees when they first log in with the app. Personally, I think the fact that the permissions are currently set to be "read-only" would be comforting to users, because it provides them with some security that the app won't do anything stupid, like accidentally delete one of their email messages.

I'd be interested to know what other users think though... if anyone is out there and has an opinion, and actually reads this, please feel free to leave a comment below! :-)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

New Version = More Downloads?

A couple of days ago version 1.10 of Reader+ for Gmail got approved. As far as revisions go, this one was fairly minor, just a new icon and a re-compilation of all the code for iOS 8.2. I was hoping that this would improve the number of downloads which has recently been suffering at something like about 3 to 6 per day.

This morning the results from the first full day of 1.10 came in: 65 downloads! I had read somewhere that the AppStore promotes apps more that use the most recent versions of iOS... possibly this is true, or possibly not, but I figured it was worth a shot. Although the new app icon is definitely better, I have a hard time believing that it would be solely responsible for a 10x increase in the download rate, so I think definitely using iOS 8.2 (rather than the previous iOS 7.1) has increased the AppStore ranking of Reader+ for Gmail.

We'll see what happens in the next few days as far as downloads go...

In actual development work, today I started adding an option for only reading out "new" Gmail messages, and indicating the new messages with a blue circle icon, similar to what some other mail apps use.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Weekend Developments / Twitter Advertising Results

I was able to work on some nice improvements to Reader+ for Gmail this weekend:

1. Can now "click off" the keyboard in the settings window if you click in the "number of emails" to download text edit field and then decide you want to do something else (like change the reading speed) instead.

2. Added a "Current Email" bar button item in the top right corner of the main window if there is in fact an email currently being played. Clicking on this button brings you back to the playback window.

3. Changed the "Start Reading Gmail" button to be a "Stop Reading Gmail" button in the main window, if there is an email currently being read.

4. Started working on making the "next track", "previous track", and "play / pause" buttons responsive in the lockscreen of the app. To date, these buttons have appeared in the lockscreen (along with a volume slider), but only the volume slider did anything. I think the buttons appear automatically whenever there is audio playing in the background.

My Twitter advertising results so far have not been overly impressive, but at least I'm not shelling out a bunch of money either. The results after 5 days are as follows:

Money Spent: $1.48
Impressions: 2585
Tweet Engagements (defined as someone clicking on the ad, which takes them to iTunes, re-tweeting the ad, or favouriting the ad): 62
Engagement Rate: 62/2585*100% = 2.40%

Twitter also provides breakdowns of gender and country; I chose to advertise in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, and the impressions and engagements were relatively equal between those countries. Also, the male / female stats were relatively equal, which is interesting to know.

Additional software (I'm guessing a plugin of some sort in the app) is required to track actual downloads. I only received 3 Reader for Gmail downloads yesterday, but had 11 Tweet engagements on that day, so I'm guessing that only a smallish percentage of engagements results in actual downloads.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

iAd Workbench Results

OK, so here are the results of my 8.5 day, $68  iAd experiment. Sorry about the awful formatting of the table, but it's late at night and I'm too tired to fix it.

Spend (USD)
Avg. CPM (USD)
TTR (%)
Avg. CPC (USD)
Conversion Rate (%)
Avg. CPA (USD)
Content Views
Content Views/Visit
Video Impressions

This ad campaign turned out to be about an order of magnitude more effective than Google Adwords or Facebook advertising, but in terms of the economics for Reader for Gmail it still doesn't cut it. Although my in-app purchase is less than a month old, the evidence to date seems to suggest that for about every 40 downloads, I get about 1 in-app purchase, i.e. only about 2.5 percent of downloads result in someone paying to get rid of ads between Gmail messages. Since my cut of an in-app purchase is about $1.40, this means that I should not be spending more than $0.03 per download. As you can see from the above table, on my best day, I got 19 downloads through my iAd banner, at an average cost of $0.34 per download. So even that is an order of magnitude worse than where I need to be. The average price per banner ad click is only something like $0.02, so I'm guessing that the vast majority of these clicks must be accidental. Perhaps even a lot of the downloads are accidental too. Drunk people playing around with their phones late at night? I don't know. 

So now I've decided to try out advertising through Twitter. I'm not sure how the bidding with Twitter will work out... if my lowball, cheapo bids actually get shown to people, I think I might stand a reasonable chance of getting some downloads at a good price. Results to follow in 4 or 5 days...