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App

Meditime 1.1: The Siri Update

I am happy today to announce the release of the first major update to Meditime!

There are two major changes in this, and I’m going to start with the one that isn’t mentioned in the title: animations! After some tinkering, the opening/closing circle with the start/stop of the timer is now much smoother, and I went ahead and reused it in the transition to and from the new Settings page, as well.

The second new animation plays behind the timer as it runs, a slow up-and-down motion to help you focus on your breathing.

(A video would’ve been more clear here, but frankly, I don’t feel like embedding videos on this site is worth the effort.)

It’s a five-second inhale, five-second exhale cycle, giving you a total of 6 breaths per minute, which is a nice, calming rate. Not a huge addition, but one I am very proud of.

The other big change is the new Settings page; rather than just the privacy policy, I wanted a place to hide a bit more of the complexity that adding new features requires.

Starting from the bottom, I’ve added the ability to change the granularity of timer adjustments, and switched the default from 1 second to 5 seconds. If you really do need that timer running for 33 seconds precisely, you still have the ability to set that, but if you prefer round numbers and didn’t enjoy trying to swipe just right to make that happen, the new 5 second or 30 second increment options make that a lot easier.

Finally, the big change: Siri support!

The obvious parts are the new ‘Add to Siri’ buttons there, to start the stopwatch and end the current session. It’s pretty handy — thanks to Siri’s integration with the HomePod or AirPods, you can now make your interactions with the app an entirely hands-free experience.

Less obvious is the fact that the app is also linked into the Siri Shortcuts system. Every time you start a timer or stopwatch, and every time you end the session, that’s fed to the system as a potential suggestion for Siri to show you. And it links in with the Shortcuts app, as well, so you can add meditation to your “good night” Shortcut routine. (Or “good morning,” or anything else you’d like!)

Every time you set and run a timer, that gets handed to the Shortcuts system, and you can pick those up via the Shortcuts App or through the Settings > Siri & Search, where you can set custom Siri Shortcuts. They work just as well as the two provided in the app’s settings page, but provide a larger range of customization, for the power users out there.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the new update! If you don’t have the app, not to pressure you or anything, but you’ve already read this far, it’s only $0.99, and I’d quite appreciate your patronage.

Categories
App

Fluidics 1.3: the Subscription Update

I was originally going to call this one “the widget update,” but that felt a bit dishonest, because that’s not the biggest user-facing change of the update.
As somebody who wants to have a nice, long career making software for people to use, I’m rather invested in the idea that it should be possible to make a living by… making software for people to use. The original business model for the App Store, then, was a bit iffy: the user buys your app and then they have it indefinitely. Good for them, except with the developer no longer making money, they no longer have any incentive to maintain the app.1 Bad news for the user, as the app is no longer getting new features, or even maintained to stay functional on the latest versions of the operating system.
Which is why I’m rather a fan of the subscription mechanic that Apple started giving developers recently. Ongoing revenue means ongoing support; that’s why, for example, I jumped at the chance to support my favorite writing app when they shifted to a subscription model.
With this update, I’m adding a subscription to Fluidics. Thus, the title of the update; it’s definitely not a hidden thing I’m doing here.
I’m also not taking any features away; everything that was available for free in 1.2 remains free.2 The subscription is titled ‘Pro,’ and the goal is for it to provide access to a variety of new features. Initially, there are two: with a Pro subscription, you can apply your own multiplier to your daily goal, from 0.5 to 1.5; and there’s now a second widget option, displaying your progress towards your goal and a single Quick Add button that can cycle through all of your Quick Adds with a tap.
I also want it to be pretty cheap, so it’s about as low as it can go: a dollar a year.
These aren’t the only Pro features I have planned — I’d like to add a few more things that I think will be quite handy. There will be new features for the free version of the app, too; in this update I’ve added a new ‘Goal’ card (in the Settings screen) that shows how the app is calculating your goal. It’s color-coded, I’m quite proud of it.
So that’s the long and short of it: in order to fund ongoing development of the app, there’s a new $1/year subscription that’ll get you some ‘Pro’ features; the core functionality is still free, but if you want a bit more power, it’s there at a very reasonable price.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll download Fluidics; it’s free on the App Store.


  1. For a while, this worked out okay, thanks to the explosive growth of the iPhone; the growing customer base of the App Store meant there was functionally infinite growth of your target market. Now that some absurd proportion of the world population owns a smartphone, though, that growth has slowed down. 
  2. I am, admittedly, kicking myself a little about not keeping the “different units per Quick Add” as a ‘pro’ feature, but oh well, I decided I wasn’t going to take anything away from anyone. 
Categories
App

Fluidics 1.2: the Settings Update

I’m happy to announce the release of Fluidics 1.2! This update focused on the settings of the app and customizability; the quickest summary I can give is to include one of the new App Store images:

The first thing to notice is the new cards; they come up from the bottom of the screen, which is a much nicer experience on really tall devices like the iPhone X, and offer a more customizable interface than iOS built-in popup stuff.1
There’s some uses of the cards that I’m not showing here — I rebuilt the onboarding process, that initial setup you go through the first time you open the app, using this card style, and the result looks a lot nicer. There’s also some informational stuff — a new ‘about’ card, the weight/Health connection stuff, and so on — but the biggest things are the two cards in that screenshot. The first is, in my opinion, the more interesting: each Quick Add now has its own unit. If you’re content with the old system, all of them using the same unit, nothing’s changed; the text of the buttons is a bit bigger, but there’s no additional use of space. If you, like me, use a mix of units,2 you’ve now got the option to do that in one place, without needing to go over to the Settings page to switch back and forth all the time. These mixed-unit quick adds, as always, work both from within the app and from the widget.3
Next up is the new Display Settings card; this brings in features I’ve been wanting to have for a while now. Some of the original settings are still there — you can, as before, show or hide the help as you need it, and the ability to select the global display unit has been expanded to include liters as well as mililiters.4 There’s some new settings in there, too: you can choose which page of the app will come up when you first open it — useful if you’ve got your Quick Add values set just right to always work with the widget, and you only need to get into the app to add the occasional weird amount via the Custom Add page. You’ve also got the option to hide the goal display — you’ll still get the nice filling-up of the background, but without the actual number right there, it’s a lower-pressure environment.5 Finally, you can disable the animation of the background; though I spent quite a while making sure it’d work, I know that some people don’t actually want lots of animations going on.6
I also put a bit of polish on the way the Health connection works, so now it’s a single button in Settings that opens up a different card depending on the context — if you haven’t done all the connecting to Health, it’ll give you the option to do that, or leave things as they are; if it is connected to Health, but you haven’t got your weight logged there, you can continue using Fluidics’ built-in weight handling stuff. That’s been improved, as well, and now lets you pick units yourself, instead of going with the default for your region.7
Not mentioned in the release notes, but something I feel like mentioning here, is that I’ve done a bit more groundwork to prepare the app for eventual internationalization. There’s still a lot more ground to cover in that regard, though, so probably I won’t be adding additional languages for another couple versions.8
All that said, I’m pretty happy with where this version is, and I’m also excited to start work on the next big update; the feature list I’m aiming for is pretty neat. Fluidics remains free on the App Store, so please, give it a download.


  1. The specific implementation I’m using is this open-source project; I liked the way the API worked, though the documentation is a bit out of date. 
  2. Because ‘Murica. 
  3. Unfortunately, I had to reset the quick add settings as a result of this transition; the new way they’re stored is thoroughly incompatible with the old way. If you were just using the default ones, you won’t notice any change, but I wasn’t able to come up with a good way to transfer over customized settings. The issue is people like me, who used fluid ounces sometimes and milliliters other times; there’s no good way to combine eight possible options into four spaces without messing something up for someone. 
  4. I also tweaked the way amounts are displayed, so using mixed unit stuff doesn’t result in a downright stupid amount of decimal digits; I don’t think it really matters to anyone that you’ve had 101.327 fluid ounces to drink today, probably you’re alright with just 101.3. 
  5. There’s probably a joke in there about hydraulic pressure, but I’m too lazy to come up with it. 
  6. By default, it’s on, unless you have ‘reduce motion’ enabled on your phone, in which case it’ll default to having the animation disabled. That said, if you’re like me and have ‘reduce motion’ on just to get rid of the somewhat-nauseating parallax effect on iOS’ home screen, you can turn Fluidics’ animation back on while still leaving the global ‘reduce motion’ setting on. Nitpicky details, woo! 
  7. Shoutout to the UK, who can now use pounds, kilograms, or stone for weights; I may mock the US for our weird use of mixed units, but I think the UK is even worse about that. 
  8. At that point, it’ll probably be Spanish and German, since those are the ones I can manage without hiring a translator, but if anyone really vehemently wants a different language, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do. 
Categories
App Portfolio Technology

Fluidics 1.1: The Animation Update

The first major update to Fluidics is now available on the App Store!1 In all honesty, it was largely a ‘bug fixes and performance improvements’ update, but I’ve always hated when app updates list that, so I made sure to include a couple user-facing features so there’d be something fun to talk about, at least.
In this case, those features were animations. The most notable is the background – rather than being drawn once, the ‘water’ in the background is now animated, which I think makes the visual effect much nicer overall. Swiping between the three main pages of the app is also much smoother now; instead of a single ‘swipe’ animation being triggered by any swipe, it directly responds to your swipe, so you can change your mind about which direction to swipe halfway through, and it feels more like you’re moving things around, rather than switching pages.2
The big changes, though, are largely invisible; a whole lot of work on the internals to allow for future features I’m planning.3 The gist of it is that a lot of the internals of the app are now a separate library, which means I can share code between the widget and the main app without needing to copy-and-paste all the changes I make in one place to the other.
Past that, there were a couple little tweaks — the algorithm that calculates the water goal is a bit less aggressive with the way it handles workout time, and there’s now a little “this isn’t a doctor” disclaimer in the Settings page that I put there because the lawyer I don’t have advised that I do that.
And, the bit that turned into more of a project than I thought: VoiceOver support. VoiceOver, for those that don’t know, is one of the core accessibility features of iOS; when enabled, it basically reads the contents of the screen to the user, making it possible for visually-impaired people to use iOS. By default, any app built on UIKit has some support for VoiceOver, but the further you go from the default controls, the more broken that’ll get. The way Fluidics works, it was super broken; technically useable, but downright painful to do. After a day or two of vigorous swearing and arguing with the Accessibility framework, I’m proud to say that Fluidics is now VoiceOver-compatible.
If you’ve already got Fluidics on your phone, it’s a free update from the App Store.4 If not, the whole app is a free download from the App Store, and I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy using it. Leave a review or whatever; I’m trying not to be pushy about that.
Oh, and I’m in the process of updating the app’s website; I got such a good URL for it that I want it to look good to match.


  1. There was a bugfix update earlier, version 1.0.1, but that’s not at all exciting, so I didn’t bother writing anything about it. 
  2. If you’re curious, this involved rebuilding the entire interface, from three separate pages that’re transitioned between to a single page that’s embedded in a scroll view. 
  3. And no, I won’t be telling anybody what those are just yet; I don’t want to promise anything before I know for sure it’ll be possible. 
  4. In fact, it may have already been automatically updated — the easiest way to tell is to open the app and see if the water is moving or not.