Last Week in PhillyCocoa Slack

This post is a weekly review of PhillyCocoa Slack for those who want a quick recap of what’s happening in the community. (Please send feedback if you find this type of post useful.)

General topics

@parrots shared a link about app pricing

@blackfrog summarized his feelings: “I think the general point is that you need to charge what’s appropriate to your software within market tolerances.”

@zorn gives some advice on how to build products for an audience: “Other thing to keep in mind is: it’s way easier to convince 5 people to buy your software than 10 or 20 people — don’t go generic, build a very opinionated product that solves real problems, find people who like your opinion and will pay for it ..”

@blackfrog asks about recommendations for time tracking / invoicing software

@ismashpahone recommended actiTIME @cdstamper recommended Billings @ismashphone also recommended Marketcircle Billings @parrots and @wild37 recommended Harvest

@ismashphone shared a link to WatchAware (, with interactive previews of upcoming watch apps and general news about Apple Watch.

@zorn shared a link to iOS Coaching at thoughtbot

@needanadult: “I don’t suppose you have a good android emulator for iOS?”

Code Help topics

@needanadult shared a link about Swift crash tracking

Several developers had a long discussion of asynchronous calls, threading, and which threads should handle certain requests. It’s all too much to summarize here, but if you’re interested in the issue, check out the code-help channel for good dialogue.

@benss started a discussion of Cocoapods + Swift. Must use the latest Cocoapods version with Swift support (0.36.x).

Off-topic, um, topics

@zorn, @bendi, and @tompiarulli <3 React.js, or at least in theory…

@parrots asked for web host recommendations for someone wanting something between managed and VPS, with little to no sysadmin responsibilities.

@andrew uses Digital Ocean with Docker to help with snapshots. Also recommends GitHub pages.

@tompiarulli recommends Forge for static hosting.

@andrew shared a stealth post by @tompiarulli (not really):

@ismashphone shared an article about how Slack got popular:

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Watchware is a site that hows off what cool new apps are coming to Apple Watch.

Philly is represented pretty nicely with Slopes , Exact Fitness Timer Pro, and Fitness Spade. You got a Apple Watch app coming? Let us knows via twitter.

(We’re on Page 2 as of this post)


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Apple announces media event for March 9

If you plan to develop on this device…start saving now.

Apple announces media event for March 9

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Designing for Humans

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Meeting Videos

We now record our talks. Here are the February Talks. Enjoy!

Marketing Brain Storm for Your App - Armen Papshev (2/12/2015) from Philly CocoaHeads on Vimeo.

Watchkit Communication - Curtis Herbert (2/12/2015) from Philly CocoaHeads on Vimeo.

Watchkit Setup & UI - Kotaro Fujita (2/12/2015) from Philly CocoaHeads on Vimeo.

Let us know if you’re interested in doing a talk yourself. I find it to be a great way to improve my communication skills and understanding of the material I was presenting.

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The Shape of Things to Come

A very interesting (and long!) piece about Jony Ive and his design studio within Apple. Unbelievable access from a traditionally very secretive company.

The Shape of Things to Come

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Meeting Notes - February

Group Business:

  • General Introduction about CocoaHeads, and the Philly Chapter.

    • There’s no inciting incident for this, but Mike Zornek has drafted a “Code of Conduct” he’d like to have the group adopt. You can review and comment on it here:

    • Thanks to Twilio for sponsoring the pizza (for a year!).

    • Apple extends welcome, offers their assistance as Business Partners.

  • Auto Layout Bootcamp Workshop is announced, will be presented by Curtis Herbert. Registration is open on and seating is limited.

  • Philly Cocoa Slack org has been made generally available, very successful so far.

  • “PhillyDevs” Slack org has also been created, not focused on Cocoa specifically, but great way to interact with the Philly Tech community. (

  • Raffle for books from Big Nerd Ranch (congrats and thanks to Mike Zornek!), as well as a ticket to CocoaConf in DC. Stephen Tolton won the ticket to CocoaConf. We’ll be looking forward to a full report from Stephen after the conference.

  • Xcode 6.3 Beta released, including a big update for Swift to v1.2

  • Apple Watch will land in April.

  • NSNorth 2015 and CocoaConf DC are coming up, you should consider going.

  • Joe Ceplinski is organizing a conference in October called Release Notes (, we’re promised it will not be the same weekend as CocoaLove. Plan to attend both!

“Marketing Brain Storm”, presented by Armen (

  • If you start your marketing on Launch Day, you’re already behind.

  • 83% of apps do not get into “Top Lists” on the App Store, become “Zombie Apps.”

  • At the end of the day, being technically good isn’t enough, we need to “Sell Stuff” if we want to make a living.

  • Success on the App Store is all about download numbers. Keyword placement has a direct correlation with download numbers.

  • Marketing is VERY HARD. (Emphasis Armen’s)

  • Actually, “Marketing is VERY HARD (without a budget).”

  • App Store marketing strategies have evolved rapidly over time. None have stood the test of time.

  • Look at how other people market, copy what works.

  • Become a go-to expert in an App Category.

  • Analyze what your competition is doing.

  • Short Term Marketing Tactics:

    • Contact bloggers and newspapers with your story.

    • Tell people in the PhillyCocoa Slack about what you’re working on.

    • Effective marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Viral videos, articles, infographics all can work, and are very cheap to produce.

    • Newspaper writers are always looking for stories. Contacting local papers gives you an edge because the story can be related to Philly.

  • Longer-Term Strategies:

    • Work with bloggers and provide them stories over time.

    • Build an email subscriber list that you can use to announce your latest widget.

    • Integrate with high visibility APIs. Many “name-brand” APIs will feature your app on their site if you do a good integration.

    • Build up followers on Social Media. Choose social media platforms that you understand. Don’t burn time on platforms that don’t make sense.

    • Ads are HARD to optimize, this takes months and evolves like everything else.

    • Harness latest technologies (for example, WatchKit), “Ride the hype train.”

    • Don’t be afraid to fail, but make failing as cheap as possible.

Demo of FLEX (Open Sourced by Flipboard) by Amit Rao:

  • FLEX is a powerful runtime inspector for iOS that allows you to look many aspects of the running state of an iOS app.

  • Look at the heap.

  • System Logs

  • Move and edit UI elements dynamically.

  • Tons of other features.

  • DO NOT ship it in your production app!

UI/UX for Apple Watch presented by Kotaro Fujita (

  • An Apple Watch App experience should be: “Personal, Lightweight, and Holistic.”

  • UI should be focused on quick interactions, and should not be intrusive or distracting, the Apple Watch is on your arm, and viewing distance is close, make your experience engaging, but not “In your face.”

  • There are three types of Apple Watch Interfaces:

    • Glances: Immediate information, one screen.

    • Notifications: one, scrolling, screen, extended information with a long-press

    • Apps: Multiple screens allowing basic “navigation”

  • Reconsider icons. The Apple Watch has a very small screen, the icons are round. Consider reducing the visual complexity of your icon and making sure that the motif of the icon on the Apple Watch conveys “simplicity.”

  • Kotaro apparently has small wrists.

  • Color and typography can be used to enhance brand.

  • The Apple Watch bezel IS your padding, the UI itself does not need to provide this padding. For this reason, the background of most apps should probably be black.

  • There’s an app called “Bezel”, which can show the Apple Watch simulator with a bezel, setting your mind at ease about the visual aesthetic of your app.

  • UI layouts are basically just stacked cells (vertical by default, horizontal with grouping), and harken back to a kinder, gentler time, when HTML tables were the norm.

  • There are effectively three ways to present App UI:

    • “Table view”

    • “Paginated view”

    • “Modal view”

  • Context Menus are available with multiple standard system actions, but can be customized as needed.

  • Standard UI Controls:

    • Labels

    • Switches

    • Sliders

    • Dates & Timers

    • Map Views

    • NO WEBVIEWS! (Emphasis Kotaro’s).

  • A number of interesting app designs were published by Fast Company - They showcased what can really be done on the device, these were not pie-in-the-sky impossible designs.

  • Kotaro’s final advice: “Focus on providing good experiences. Don’t just build a ‘me too’ extension for the Apple Watch.”

WatchKit Communication, presented by Curtis Herbert (

  • There are three main components of a WatchKit experience:

    • Parent App (this is the App we’ve been shipping forever)

    • Watchkit “App”: One storyboard and image catalog(s) that are “installed” on the Apple Watch. No code runs on the watch.

    • WatchKit Extension: An additional Target that ships with your app, this is the logic that runs your WatchKit UI, brokers messages between the Watchkit “App” and the Parent App.

  • WatchKit is constrained by design, you cannot do any custom drawing on the Apple Watch (yet).

  • There is never direct communication between the WatchKit App and the Parent App, the WatchKit Extension accepts and acts on UI Events, sends UI updates to the watch. The extension does not have access to “inspect” the state of the UI on Apple Watch.

  • Changes are transmitted between iPhone and Apple Watch using Bluetooth Low Energy, which is low bandwidth and somewhat higher latency connection. WatchKit throttles, and potentially drops messages between the devices.

  • The extension is started when the user lifts the Apple Watch to view it.

  • WatchKit can request data from the Parent App, but the Parent App cannot query the WatchKit Extension.

  • The UI lifecycle is much simpler in WatchKit, “init”, “awakeWithContext:”, “willActivate”, “didDeactivate” are called, and that’s about it.

  • WatchKit extensions that request data from the parent app can cause it to be started (if it’s not running with a background service like GPS), however, as soon as the WatchKit request is satisfied, the app will be quit (if it wasn’t running/in the foreground). This method can also cause parts of the Parent App UI to be loaded, which *may* be a bug.

  • Using “App Groups”, a shared filesystem sandbox between the Parent App and a WatchKit extension, allowing data to be shared through the filesystem. This method requires that you migrate your Parent App’s data out of its own sandbox and into the shared sandbox.

  • NSUserDefaults can be used to share very small bits of data.

  • If you use App Groups, you can leverage the Darwin Notification Center to have your apps notified when data on the file system changes. Curtis (as usual) recommends a CocoaPod that makes this much more pleasant: MMWormhole (

Curtis provided a demo of the WatchKit integration he’s working on for Slopes (, looks pretty neat!

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February Meeting Agenda

The next Philly CocoaHeads meeting will be Thursday, February 12th from 6:30pm - 9pm at the Apple Store on 16th and Walnut. After meeting drinks will commence at a local bar to be named later.

Please RSVP via Meetup:

When you arrive at the Apple Store let one of the store employees know you are there for CocoaHeads and they will let you into the back where you can come up to the second floor briefing room space.

For folks who drive in and need parking one lot recommend by the store is from Patriot Parking on Chancellor Street.

Meeting Agenda

Group Business

  • Upcoming “Side Project Saturday” events:
    • Philly, Saturday Feb 28th at IndyHall
    • King of Prussia, Saturday March 21st at KoP Apple Store
  • Next Workshop: Auto Layout Bootcamp Sat, March 14th. Registration available soon via Meetup.
  • CocoaConf DC Ticket Contest

Industry News

  • Xcode 6.3 beta (w/ Swift 1.2)
  • Apple Watch coming out in April
  • NSNorth 2015: April 10-12
  • CocoaConf DC: April 10–11
  • More conference dates:


We continue to welcome Twilio who is our current long term sponsor of Philly CocoaHeads. Their support helps us provide pizza and refreshments at our main meetings.

Twilio is a software and cloud-based communications platform that enables the rapid build and deploy of powerful, flexible business communications solutions.

For more info check out their website and if you have any question please contact Brent Schooley


Marketing Brain Storm for Your App, Armen

We cannot solve app marketing problem in a 15 min talk but we can certainly explore short term and long term marketing ideas.

Exploring WatchKit, Kotaro and Curtis

The official Apple Watch release is just around the corner. The SDK is falling into place and now is the perfect time to get started! In this tag-team double length presentation Kotaro and Curtis will cover topics from beginner to advanced, including setup and UI concerns surrounding WatchKit as well as deep data communication needs your app will need to implement. This is a can’t be missed presentation!

About CocoaHeads

PhillyCocoa is the Philadelphia area Mac and iPhone programming group, a chapter of the worldwide CocoaHeads. All skill levels are welcome. The only requirement is an interest in Apple-related technologies and moderate tolerance for geeking out.

The main CocoaHeads presentation-style meeting is the second Thursday of every month. We also hold a Side Project Saturday events the last Saturday of the month. For more on our events see our Meetup page:

We are always looking for feedback and suggestions on what topics to discuss at our meetings. Please reach out if you have any comments.

Group website:

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Swift 1.2 and Xcode 6.3 is out in beta

Swift is improving at a very rapid pace.

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NSNorth 2015

Dan Byers and Philippe Casgrain have recently launched tickets for NSNorth 2015, their third annual event. Dan has helped us out behind the scenes for CocoaLove and Phil attended. They have both been wonderfully supportive of the CocoaHeads community at large…and I still haven’t heard some of Phil’s legendary stories.

Here are the important points about the conference. Notice the prices are in affordable CA dollars :-)

It will run from April 10-12th.

They are trying something different for 2015: a weekend in a five-star resort hotel. It will be held between Ottawa and Montreal at the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. It is a wonderful place and it is a perfect setting to meet new people and learn from our talented speakers.

This year’s theme will focus on « Evolution ». As developers and designers we are forced to keep up with the tremendous pace of our industry. It has changed our businesses and our personal lives. NSNorth is going to help us reflect on that and see where we might be headed.

They have a great mix of speakers: Jim Dalrymple from The Loop, Georgia Dow from iMore, Chris Liscio from SuperMegaUltraGroovy, and Christa Mrgan from Rogue Amoeba to name but a few.

Tickets are $699CAD / $559USD, hotel starts at 179CAD / 143USD. They also have companion tickets if you would like to bring your significant other or friend. These include all food and drink and access to after-hour activities.

Awesome conference and a great networking event!

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