Storm Spotter 3.1

Storm Spotter 3.1 has been approved by Apple and will appearing in your update queue in the App Store soon.

The biggest feature of the update is support for dual-polarimetric radar products. These products are only available on radars that have been upgraded to support dual polarization. These products could be useful on a day like today, where there is a moderate risk in a area surrounded by dual-pol radars (eastern Kansas). Here is a good guide by the National Weather Service on how to use the new products.

Here are the rest of the changed from 3.1

  • Small improvements to the radar color tables.
  • Data button only turns red if there is an active warning within 100 miles of your current location. Before it would turn red if there were any active warnings in the entire country (iPhone only).
  • Improved the behavior of the location button.
  • Text shadows a bit more subtile.
  • Map popover view is larger and the text is bigger (iPhone only)
  • Removed a couple more unnecessary settings.
  • Reinforced black outline on the warning polygons to make them stand out more over the radar image (especially helps if the radar image is a similar color to the warning).
  • Launches slightly faster.

The release schedule is going to slow down a little bit compared to the last couple of weeks, but there are still a few features that will be coming soon. The most notable of these coming features will be support for AllisonHouse data from within the app.

Fresh vs. Familiar – How Aggressively to Redesign →

Jakob Neilsen:

Users hate change, so it’s usually best to stay with a familiar design and evolve it gradually. In the long run, however, incrementalism eventually destroys cohesiveness, calling for a new UI architecture.

This is a concept that I fought with a lot when designing the interface for the latest version of Storm Spotter. Last summer I designed and implemented a completely custom looking UI that I really liked, but I ended up scrapping it because it was too much of a break from the current interface.

I am very proud of what I ended up with though. I have a design that is a natural progression from the 2.x versions that functions much better and satisfies my need to ship something that looks a little different that it did before.

Storm Spotter 3

Storm Spotter 3 was released today. This is the biggest update that I have ever shipped for the app. The two biggest features are high-resolution Level 3 data and much better support for warnings.

Also check out this review by Jeremy Gibbs, who has been beta testing it for the last few weeks. Below, check out the full change log for the update.

It is available right now on the App Store for only $6.99.

Change Log

  • Support for Retina display on the new iPad.

Radar Data

  • Switched to Level 3 data for the radar images. It is higher resolution faster to download. Storm Spotter is the only app to combine Level 3 data and Google Maps.
  • Moved from having 21 levels of data to 256.
  • Reflectivity and velocity data now provide four tilts of data instead of just the lowest tilt.
  • Added new radar in Langley Hill, Washington (KLGX).


  • Better warning server provided by AllisonHouse. It is faster and more reliable.
  • Warning polygons now have a black outline around them to make them stand out more on a map.
  • Warning polygons no longer disappear from the map when panning and zooming.
  • Warning polygons now have a button on them that allows the you to bring up the text directly from the map.

Main Interface

  • Simplified main UI. All the buttons are at the bottom for easy access.
  • Map is bigger on the screen (especially evident on the iPhone version).
  • Data button turns red on the iPhone to indicate if there are any active warnings.
  • The radar list is presented in a gird instead of a long list. Makes jumping between products much faster.
  • Simplified the settings. Removed a bunch of unused options.
  • Full screen is now accessed by tapping and holding on the screen.

Data List

  • The labels on the main data list are colored to make the active warnings stand out more.
  • The radar list looks better and the favorites list is more intuitive.
  • Warnings are no longer listed by state. They are listed by either time, distance from radar, or distance from user.
  • The warning list also shows more information about the warnings.


  • Faster updates. And fixed the bug where the radar would stop updating at times.
  • Requires iOS 5.0

Coming Soon

  • Full AllisonHouse integration.
  • Dual-Pol Radar Products


Stephen Hackett of released his first book yesterday. Bartending: Memoirs of an Apple Genius is simply a collection of short stories about the time he spent as one of the Geniuses at an Apple Store. It provides some insight to how it is working on the retail side of everyone’s favorite tech company.

The book is not very long (I read it in one sitting), but it is fun and enjoyable. It is available as an ePub for iBooks or for your Kindle.

If you enjoy the book, you should also also consider supporting his writing by becoming a member of his site. It’s only $2 per month and you get cool things like early access to books about being an Apple Genius. And if that is not enough, the first payment you make will be donated directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (which is awesome).

YouVersion Plus

The YouVersion Bible app was updated today to version 4.0 with a much better interface and retina iPad support. The iPad version now supports parallel reading and the iPhone supports a full screen reading mode. I think that YouVersion is overall the best Bible app on the platform, but it is still missing some features that a power user would need.

That being said, I don’t think that YouVersion is looking for that user. With the way it is now, it is a great, simple app with a ton of different translations that they give away for free to anyone who wants it. It has great sync features that work across all their platforms (including the web). You can have a set of notes in the cloud and it offers daily readying and devotional plans. YouVersion seems to me like it is more focused on getting the Gospel to as many people as possible with a clean interface and with features that encourage them to actually read it. Which is great!

I think any Bible app that is trying to compete with YouVersion on those grounds is wasting their time. YouVersion has the casual Bible app market locked up and I don’t think they will be giving it up anytime soon (especially since they still seem to be actively working on new features and ideas, as shown by the 4.0 update).

However, I do still think there is a hole in the Bible app market that needs to be filled. I see the Bible app space to be a lot like the Twitter app space. For casual tweeters, there is a pretty good free app that is developed by Twitter. It does everything that they need it to do, which is mainly just checking their timeline and replies. It even throws in push notifications for measure.

However for someone who uses Twitter a little more heavily will find the standard Twitter apps a little lacking. So there is a market for these more powerful apps that the third party has done a great job of filling. My favorite example is Tweetbot. It delivers the standard Twitter experience, but it adds things like TweetMarker, better list support, more notification options, and a ton of other things. After using Tweetbot for the last year or so, I could not imagine going back to the standard app.

I think there is a market opportunity for an app that offers a basic Bible reading interface like YouVersion, but also offers features to expand on it. Thinks like Strong’s references, greek tools, and commentaries that flow alongside the text you are reading can give the reader a much better understand of the context of the original text.

There are apps that are attempting to fill that hole now (currently I am using Accordance). While there are apps that do a good job of offering the specific features that I would want in a Bible app, none of them are designed well enough to be as enjoyable to use as YouVersion is.

Lately, the App Store market has shown that is it not always the idea behind an app that makes it successful, but instead the implementation of that idea. The best examples are Clear and Paper. They both took simple ideas (a to-do list and a notebook) and implemented them in a creative way that people enjoy using.

I think that there is a large market for an app that takes the good design of YouVersion and integrates some of the powerful features from an app like Accordance. If another developer does not figure this out and build it relatively soon, this may become my next project after graduation.


Carcassonne, my favorite iOS game, just got updated to version 2.50. The new version supports the Retina display on the new iPad. The development team pointed out that the game tiles are now sharper than the original board game.

If you want to play a game against me, let me know.