Improved iCloud syncing in our apps We’ve completely redone iCloud syncing in our apps to make it faster and more reliable…
A Preview of Delivery Status touch 3.0
An all new interface! Swipe to delete, reorder deliveries directly, and browse your details faster.
When we first ported Delivery Status to the iPhone, it was a bit of a rush job. Apple only gave select developers early access to the iPhone developer’s kit, and we weren’t one of them. We had some experience with Objective-C and Cocoa, but not much. The SDK was also in its early stages—many things are much easier now than when we started out.
It did have its drawbacks though. With 3.0, the goal was to look at every aspect of the app and figure out the best approach, instead of just the fastest or easiest. The whole front of the app is now displayed using Cocoa, which is why we were finally able to add features like swipe to delete, and reordering deliveries directly. We were also able to add some small touches like a subtle animation when a delivery is added.
We also added a new detail view, where you can see your full status text, and open the web page or map view. This new view includes arrow buttons in the top-right corner, similar to Mail, so you can flip through all of your deliveries without jumping back and forth to the main view.
Much faster loading, and your status is saved so you can check your deliveries without a connection.
In older versions, any time you open the app you start with a blank view, while it loads your deliveries one by one. We really only did this to cut down on development time. Since you were probably the most interested in the current status (instead of the previous status) it seemed like a reasonable compromise to get the app out quickly.
In 3.0, all your deliveries will load instantly—within a second or two—when you open the app. If it’s counting down to a delivery date, the countdown is updated immediately as well. It will then sync with Junecloud (if you’ve turned on that option) and then update your deliveries. You can continue interacting with the app while it updates.
One of the best parts is that it will actually save the web page itself when it updates. So if you want to see your full delivery details, but you’ve just lost your internet connection, it’s no problem. Just tap a delivery, then tap “View details online”, and the page will load, minus any images.
Add deliveries from unsupported companies.
We get a huge number of requests to add new services to Delivery Status. I’m amazed how many different shipping services there are in the world. We keep track of what people have requested, and our list currently has over two hundred services on it. Some of those have had many requests each. We do our best to add the most popular ones, but realistically we’ll probably never be able to add all of them. It’s already a big effort to keep supporting the services we do offer.
To help make up for this, I came up with the idea of adding an “Other” option in the list of shipping companies. You can enter any information you have: a name, tracking number, web site, or delivery date. The name and tracking number are for your own reference. If you enter a delivery date, you’ll get a countdown, just like you do with other deliveries. The web site field is where a little magic comes in. Delivery Status will monitor the site, and let you know if that page changes. If it does you’ll see a note about when it changed, and you can view the page right in Delivery Status. This won’t work perfectly with every service, but it can be very useful.
The thing that surprised me about the “Other” option is how much I use it myself. Now whenever I place an order online I can open up Delivery Status and add it immediately. Once the order has been shipped I can enter my tracking number and switch it from “Other” to the correct company.
Greatly improved syncing, including syncing deletions.
One of the biggest complaints with Delivery Status has been syncing. Most of the syncing drawbacks were due to limitations with Dashboard and the current widget design. We’ve completely overhauled the syncing process, and redesigned the widget, to get rid of these limitations. Whether you’d adding, updating, or deleting a delivery, it will now sync automatically. If you edit a delivery and change the company or the tracking number, it will now sync how you expect, instead of adding a duplicate.
We’ve also made it possible to sign up for an account inside the app (and widget) so you only have to leave to verify your email address. When you sign in, all your current deliveries are synced automatically, and the sync settings now make it clear when you’re logged in to Junecloud.
View improved maps, without leaving the app.
When I added the map feature originally, it was meant as sort of a bonus feature—it just seemed like fun, and it was easy to do. In 3.0 it’s actually pretty useful. First, we’ve worked on improving the location detection itself, so it can find your packages more accurately. The map also displays right inside the app now, so it’s quicker to glance at. When you view a shipment with multiple packages, you’ll see the location of all of them, on one map. It also displays your own current location, if possible. If you tap on a pin, you can see the name of the shipment as well as its current status. I’ve found it really useful in estimating when my packages are likely to arrive, for services that don’t include a delivery estimate (or don’t always get it right).
Date and time displays will respect your settings.
Previously the date and time displays were based on your language setting. The worst part was that if you were using English, you’d have to put up with times in AM and PM. This poor behavior was brought over from the Dashboard widget—in Dashboard it’s particularly tricky to display the date and time in the proper format. Now, if you use 24 hour times, that’s what you’ll get, and dates are based on your own settings as well.
Landscape view is now supported.
If you like you can now turn your device sideways on any screen. That means you can use the landscape keyboard to type, see more of your status text at once, or get a wider look at web pages.
Improved VoiceOver support.
We’ve worked hard to improve VoiceOver support in Delivery Status 3.0, based on feedback from some of our blind users. Deleting deliveries it easier now, and we’ve made sure that all of our buttons are labeled correctly. We recommend using Apple’s 3.1 Software Update, as this improves VoiceOver support in Delivery Status as well.
The history now includes product names from Amazon, Apple, and Google.
This one is hard to explain, but it’s a great little detail once you’ve seen it. These three services all include the names of the products in each package. Previously you’d see these product names if you had the delivery open, but you wouldn’t see them in your history. So if you didn’t enter your own item name manually, it was difficult to look up these orders in your history—you’d just see a bunch of order numbers that all look really similar. Now the product names are included, so it’s much easier to find what you need.
Improved results for many services.
In addition to all the interface improvements, we’ve also fixed and improved many services in 3.0, including Hermes, TNT Post Netherlands, GLS, Poste Italiane, Posten Norway, Amazon, Apple, DHL Germany, and Royal Mail. We appreciate everyone’s patience with Hermes and TNT Post Netherlands in particular—we would have fixed them much sooner if we weren’t in the middle of a big update. We’re working on some ways to update services faster in the future.
An all new Dashboard widget for Mac.
On top of everything else here, we’ve also completely redesigned the Delivery Status Dashboard widget for Mac. It has a new all-in-one design that complements the iPhone app beautifully. Like the iPhone app, every aspect has been rethought and most of the code has been rewritten. One of the best improvements is syncing, which is now fully automatic in both directions.
We’ve even improved the icon a bit.
The icon has been subtly tweaked to make the cardboard texture a bit less corrugated and a bit more realistic. We’ve also adjusted every size of the icon to make them more crisp and clear. We wanted to reflect what we’ve done with Delivery Status itself—it’s same great app you love, we’ve just refined it in every way we could.
So when’s it coming?
Well, you can download a beta version of the Dashboard widget today. It’s very close to finished. The iPhone app was sent to Apple for approval last night. Then we found a last minute bug and sent it again today. So, if all goes as usual, it should be available the last week of September. Unfortunately Apple sometimes takes longer to approve an update, and we have no control over this process. Cross your fingers!
These updates are free if you already own the current versions.
But wait… There’s more!
We’re also we’re giving away 18 free copies of Delivery Status touch, for the iPhone and iPod touch. Grab the current version now, and you can update to 3.0 when it’s available. These codes are valid in the US store only. (Note that you can create an account if you don’t have a US credit card. We’d like to offer codes for other countries but Apple doesn’t make them available.) Just open iTunes, go to the iTunes Store, and click the “Redeem” link on the right side of the home page. It’s in the “Quick Links” section. Choose one of the codes below and enter it there.
Please post a comment below after you use a code, so we can cross it off the list!
FLK4PW3MMEFM 3R3PWETM94N9 Y43NYWTJMRTW 47947XMY9ERJ NJXMNYHH3LNA 9PFMYXRMY6AT WK6EY7RNN4KM PAP336WA7969 E4ALNFPE7EW6 9F3AF7TRWRYH A9T6NKMNLK7A EXRNMPA7TJMT NAHKNMXY9H6X WEW6FXKFXRJK XRPFJPTXMWEY XJMLNERJ7KKA EET9XATJ7RMM PKRKY4EAAE3X
Update: Great news—Delivery Status 3.0 was just approved, and should be available in the App Store later today!
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