Highway Racer is #1 on Ovi Store

I would like to share our success so far on Nokia’s Ovi Store with our Flash Lite based game Highway Racer. You can read my previous post for our initial experience of publishing.

We are really happy with our experience so far. Highway Racer reached #1 spot in Sports category, and #3 spot in overall Games category on Ovi Store in just four days after published on Ovi Store for Pakistan region.

Now it’s 29th day on Ovi Store, it’s been jumping up ‘n down in top 30 games. Highway Racer have been downloaded 175000+ times and counting, on it’s way to million downloads. It’s current rating is 4 stars with 149 reviews.

Highway Racer is also reviewed by two popular mobile technology blogs, SenseApplied and TechProlonged.

This is quite a big achievement for our team at Orison Technologies.

Highway Racer - Promo 3

As of yesterday, Highway Racer is one of the featured applications on Ovi Store, and also it’s on #1 spot for Games and Sports sections. Thanks to Nokia team for the help on this :)

We have decided to keep Highway Racer free for more time as we work on an updated version. So, if you haven’t downloaded Highway Racer yet, just visit Ovi Store now!

// chall3ng3r //

Updated SVG2Go and PlayBook Icon Maker now live!

Finally I got some time to do the most requested updates to our online icon makers, SVG2Go for Symbian devices and PlayBook Icon Maker.

They are really helping a lot of developers and we have been receiving many suggestions and appreciation from around the world. And we thank you all.

We have so far 1800+ SVG-Tiny icons created for Symbian apps, and they include icon for games like Angry Birds Free version as well. And 2700+ icon for the PlayBook apps.

There are two major new things in this update.

  1. Option to enable a background fill color. This is also useful when you are dealing with a transparent icon which is hard to see on that checker-box in the preview area.
  2. Icon selection box and loaded image is opened centered by default. We have noticed many users confused that the selection box doesn’t move from the top-right corner. Well, it does and user can use Arrow Keys to fine tune the selection.

Click the screenshots below to start SVG2Go for Symbian or Icon Maker for PlayBook.

iconmaker-svg2go

iconmaker-playbook

Do let us know what you think about these new updates and any more suggestion you may have for future updates. Also, we’d be glad to hear for which of your apps you used our icon makers.

// chall3ng3r //

Installing Symbian Anna on N8, E7, C7 and C6

You might have already read about the recent announcement by Nokia that Symbian Anna is now being pushed to all the Symbian ^3 capable devices, like Nokia N8, E7, C7 and C6-01. To read more visit the official announcement on Nokia Conversations blog here.

In this post, I will give you some pointers, if you are unable to install Symbian Anna on your device.

The first thing you need to do is find out if the update is pushed for your region or not. Start SW Update app on your device, and wait for it to refresh the list of available updates. Once the list is refreshed, it will show you if the device update is available.

On my brother’s Nokia C7, the update was offered as OTA (Over The Air) 28mb update. Once updated, the SW Update now shows two more updates named as Symbian Anna 1/2 and Symbian Anna 2/2. Both updates are about 30mb each. I did not continue with the updates yet because the battery was not fully charged. So, will update it later.

Update for Nokia C7: Okay, I continued the updates on my brother’s C7, and both of the updates installed fine. Remember, that after update 1/2 is installed, it will ask you to restart device, DO NOT restart, as update 2/2 is already being in installing process. Just wait till the updates are installed (about 20 mins).

Then I checked for the update on my Nokia E7 development device, SW Update app showed me the update on device, but it asked me to install the update via Ovi Suite or Nokia Software Updater.

When checked via Ovi Suite, it always showed update for Here and Now app, but not the device update. So, after many tries in 2 hours, I downloaded Nokia Software Updater.

SymbianAnna-install

The Nokia Software Updater reminded me that I’m using the device without a SIM, so I have to put a SIM to make the updater work. So, remember developers, you need to put any SIM in device before trying update, otherwise the update will fail. Maybe Ovi Suite was also failing because of no SIM.

For my E7, the update size is 325mb, and it’s still downloading. I will update this post with my success, and might write another post to review the new things in Symbian Anna update.

Update 1

Okay, after the download and installation of Device Update for my Nokia E7 via Nokia Software Updater, I got quite a bit of Symbian Anna feeling. The icons and browser have new look.

Just after few hours, I checked for updates via SW Update app, and to my surprise, there were two more updates, like I seen on my brother’s Nokia C7. I checked and started the updates. The interesting thing to note is, the first 325mb update was only available via PC, and these two updates are OTA.

WP_000035

They took about 30 minutes to install. During the installation, I was asked two time for EULA for MS Communicator and JoikuSpot. I think these later updates are new version of built-in apps like Mail for Exchange and couple of new apps.

For me, both of these updates went fine on the first go. It restarted my E7, and everything seems to be working alright.

Important note, that after update 1/2 is installed, DO NOT restart your device manually. Just wait for the 2nd update to be installed as well.

Thanks to Nokia for this much needed update.

// challn3g3r //

Highway Racer – Now On Nokia Ovi Store

I am excited to announce our first entry into Nokia Ovi Store with our first Adobe Flash Lite based game, Highway Racer. It’s a simple arcade style racing game, to take a fun break in your busy life.

Click the banner below to head over to Ovi Store and get it FREE now. It’s a limited time offer ;)

Here are some screenshots before I get to details and our experience so far in publishing to Ovi Store.

1-Splashscreen 2-MainMenu

5-InGame 3-About 

Game Development Experience

Highway Racer is a Flash Lite 3 based game developed using Adobe Flash CS5.5. The development experience is best you can get. We used traditional timeline for animations and scripts on frames for interactivity. Most of the resources are small components and reused to keep the runtime memory footprint small.

flash-cs55-highway-racer

Highway Racer runs on all Symbian 5th Edition (Nokia 5800XM, N97, etc.) devices as well, but the performance is not as good because these devices have slower processor.

For best experience, we recommend playing Highway Racer on any latest Symbian ^3 device like Nokia N8, E7, C7, X7 etc.

Packaging and Distribution

For Highway Racer, we used SWF2Go Pro 2.6 to compile a SIS file to post on Ovi Store for QA. SWF2Go is our most popular development toolkit used by tons of developers in more than 50 countries around the world.

Since SWF2Go allowed us to get past the SIS making process in less than 10 minutes, we were then quickly on the phase to make graphics for Ovi Store submission.

Ovi Publisher portal is now really easy to use, I must say. The submission wizard is easy follow, and it was like just 4 steps. And you are done.

The QA process took 2 days only, which was quite a surprise for us, we were not even quite ready :D

There’s one small complaint/ issue, which I like to point out. On the Distribution “€œ> Language tab, there should clear note, if content is in English, select Works With All Languages / Publish To All Languages. We selected English (US) on first QA round, and later discovered that our game was only visible in US / Latin America. Ovi Store team, please add this note.

The After Shocks

It’s a complete surprise to us that Highway Racer is on #1 position in Sports category and #3 position in overall Games category for Pakistan region, just in 4 days!

We are very proud, and excited, as we have just stepped into Ovi Store, and finding such success in few days. It’s a big milestone for us.

We have already plans for follow up versions of Highway Racer as well as couple of cool new game ideas we are working on to publish on Ovi Store in coming months.

Download Highway Racer now from Ovi Store, and let us know your feedback and suggestions. And keep visiting Ovi Store for more of our exclusive games and apps to come ;)

BTW, Highway Racer is also our entry for Nokia and P@SHA MakeMyApp 2011 Challenge. Wish us luck!

// chall3ng3r //

Android Player for BlackBerry PlayBook – Virtual Keys

You might already know Android Player for BlackBerry PlayBook was leaked recently. It looks like pretty much intentional leak just to keep in the news while they work as slow as they can to complete it.

Anyway, I found the required files on CrackBerry forums and gave it a try. At first couple of attempts, after waiting for minutes I got some JAVA socket exception errors, but on third try, it went all fine.

The first thing I did was setup my email account so I can finally use PlayBook for some professional use, rather than just watching movies in spare time.

I was able to sync my Google Apps email, calendar and contacts easily using Android Player for PlayBook. However, there are not buttons to navigate. There’s a left to right swipe gesture on bottom bezel which works as Back command and swipe down for Options command on Android.

later, I explored the sys.android.bar and found there are actually "Virtual Keys" as PNG files for portrait and landscape orientations. So, I took a screenshot of Browser running in Android Player and Photoshop-ed the Virtual Keys PNG image on the the PlayBook screen just to get the idea how it’s gonna look. See for your self in bellow screenshot.

playbook-android-player-keys

playbook-android-player

Looks nice, and it will be quite easy to navigate within Android Player with these standard Android buttons.

I think this is a great idea to allow Android apps run on PlayBook, as we have already seen how slow RIM is coming up with native email client, which gives us the idea how future updates going to come.

Just couple of days ago I was asking from a local mobile gadgets shop to exchange my PlayBook with a Samsung Galaxy Tab. Good that I didn’t went all the way to exchange it :D

// chall3ng3r //

PayPal Why You Do This To Me?

The story begins in mid 2008 when I was on a 1 year contract position, working as Mobile Specialist in Germany. I opened up my first ever PayPal account and happily linked it to my German bank account. Everything was working flawlessly.

I made few purchases using PayPal, and also I managed to sell my Nokia N96 to get Nokia 5800XM (Nokia’s first touch input device) using eBay, and received payment of it in my PayPal.

When my contract was over, I started to roll my stuff, and found out from my German bank (Dresdner bank at that time which was in-transition to merged with Commerzbank) that I can keep my account open and use it from overseas via internet banking. I was really happy, that I can still use PayPal and my future European clients can pay to my German account easily.

I headed back to my homeland Pakistan in May 2009, and kept using PayPal for small payments for our web hosting services and domain name renewals. My same PayPal account is also used to accept payments from 99designs.com where my younger brother Najam has won some logo design competitions.

As some of my fellows in Flash and mobile developer communities know that we have recently published couple of apps for BlackBerry PlayBook, and we got quite a success from them so far. The payments of App World are also sent to my PayPal as it’s the only option for App World developers.

In last week of June 2011, I received an email from PayPal that my yearly money receiving limit is reaching (2500 euros) I was at 1800 euros from (August 2010). They asked my proof of identity and proof of address. I sent them a copy of my Passport and my recent German bank statement which shows my current address.

The address didn’t match the address in PayPal profile, as I never updated it in PayPal because Pakistan is not in countries list. So, I tried to add the address in PayPal profile and sent them the statement again. I called the PayPal (Ireland) support as well, as they deal with German PayPal accounts. They told me that I should wait for reply via email.

Now, I got a reply, that says:

After reviewing your PayPal account, we’ve determined there to be excessive
risk involved and would like to begin parting ways in a manner that is
least disruptive to your business.

I logged in to my PayPal account and found one additional note:

This limitation cannot be appealed.

Googled it and found that this is it. I cannot use PayPal anymore. Even I have a German bank account which legally allows me to use it from anywhere, and I am providing my proof of ID and correct address, PayPal don’t want to use my account anymore. There were no complaints filed against my account in past. It’s a clean PayPal account with limited number of transactions.

We recently planned that we exclusively target PlayBook device for our current development as there’s really lack of quality and good looking apps and games. Making our chances more than double compared to already filled iPad and Android markets.

We have been forced to stop here. It’s an unfortunate situation. PayPal for some reason does not support Pakistan, while they support many other Asian and African countries which are almost equal to or even worse than Pakistan’s political or stability situation.

I would have never used PayPal more if App World allowed to directly send funds to my local bank account. For now, I am thinking of asking a German friend who can accept my payments from App World for a month or two, then we are going to pull back from App World until they start paying directly to bank account.

I think it’s time that I start finding a job overseas again :/

Update “€œ Aug 2011

Okay, my PayPal account is now permanently blocked. PayPal opened it for 3 days again to let me withdraw my remaining fund to my linked German bank account. Now I’m done with PayPal.

I got the good news from RIM as well, as they agreed to offer me direct transfer of funds to my bank account. They sent me a contract, and it’s currently in progress of being activated.

We are now back on AppWorld development, and have couple of apps under development to the PlayBook. Thanks for RIM for listening to us.

// chall3ng3r //

Fixed: Ovi Store not working after Hard Reset

I have seen many users complaining Ovi Store app not working at all after they Hard Rest their Symbian^3 device, such as Nokia N8, E7, C7 etc.

Ovi Store app is developed using Qt and it requires the Qt runtime on device to work properly. When a user Hard Rests his device, the runtime is gone. And unfortunately, Nokia is unable to tackle this issue so far when installing Ovi Store again on device.

I have to reset my Nokia N8 once, and I got hit by the same issue. I knew what was missing, so I just installed the Qt runtime (4.6.3) SIS from the Qt SDK 1.0 folder to my N8 and it started working just fine.

Normal users don’t have Qt SDK, which is ~1.3GB download. So, I thought it would be a good idea to put the Qt runtime SIS files on my server and let the users having issues with Ovi Store, download and install the Qt runtime without downloading the Qt SDK.

ovi_store_fixed

I created a special mobile friendly page on our SWF2Go website, where any user can just go directly using his mobile and download and install the Qt runtime.

Direct Download Qt Runtime: http://www.swf2go.com/downloads/qt/

I uploaded Qt 4.6.3 as well as Qt 4.7.3 runtimes. You just need only one of them. I’d recommend the later as the most of the new apps such as LinkedIn for Symbian is based on it.

Update: Based on feedback I have also added Qt Mobility 1.1.3 SIS along Qt runtime. Some users have reported Ovi Store app uses Qt Mobility as well. I guess this will fix Ovi Store always loading issue after installing Qt.

Update 2: I have now added Qt Notifications APIs SIS on the download link above. The new version of Ovi Store uses these new APIs as well.

Update 3 “€œ Recommended for Symbian ^3: Nokia team has finally made available a standalone download of the Ovi Store client app. Just visit the following link to download the latest version. Read more about this at official blog.

Direct Download Ovi Store App: http://lr.ovi.mobi/store/client-symbian-3/

Update 4 (26 Oct 2011): Download new Qt QML based beta Nokia Store app. 18mb download contains Qt runtime and the client. No need to install Qt. Get it from here.

My suggestion to Nokia / Qt Team: There should be similar Qt runtime download page optimized for mobile devices, for end users. Who disparately search on internet when Ovi Store stops working.

Update 5 (Sep-2015):
Nokia Store for Symbian is no longer available. Most of the apps are moved to Opera at http://apps.opera.com. Visit this website for Opera Store installation on your Symbian OS phone.

Have fun downloading great apps from Ovi Store!

// chall3ng3r //

Icon Maker for BlackBerry PlayBook is now live!

If you are following my recent tweets, you might have noticed that I am working on some applications for upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. So far, I am having fun developing for PlayBook using AIR SDK.

I noticed that the icon requirement for BlackBerry PlayBook AIR SDK are a little complicated. Developer have to make an icon of 86×86 pixels PNG, but he must not fill the entire area with graphics. Developer have to keep his graphical contents inside 77×77 rectangle so it could look similar in size to other application icons on PlayBook.

BTW, 77×77 is an odd size for 86×86 icon. As on the two sides (top-left) the transparent buffer is 5 pixels, and on remaining two sides (right-bottom) it becomes 4 pixels. Out of center by one pixel.

So, I thought we tweak our SVG Icon Maker tool for Symbian applications, to make icons for BlackBerry PlayBook as well. And of course, we did take care of that odd 77×77 size by using 76×76 selection rectangle.

Now you can create great looking icons for your BlackBerry PlayBook tablet games and applications right from your web browser!

Start using Icon Maker at: http://www.orison.biz/apps/playbook-icon-maker/

And as usual, below are couple of screenshots of the Icon Maker in action.

icon-maker-screenshot

icon-maker-screenshot2

Do let us know you feedback or suggestions so we can keep improving it in future.

// chall3ng3r //

Quick Workaround: AS3 gotoAndStop Nasty Bug

Okay, I admit it. I am old-school. I use Flash Pro CS5 as my only Flash development tool. I do all my coding on timelines and I like it that way.

I have been working with AS3 for few months now, and I have to say, I have to write twice the code to actually do what I was able to do using AS2. I miss those good old days.

Anyway, I’ve been developing an AIR Mobile application and hit by this nasty gotoAndStop bug. If you are feeling lazy to click the link and see detailed explanation, here’s a excerpt from the post:


Leading to following error:

TypeError: Error #1009: Cannot access a property or method of a null object reference.

To clarify: in this context, result_txt is the name of a TextField that exists on the stage, and only exists on the frame with the label "FINISHED_SCREEN". If you haven’t previously displayed this frame, and you run the code above, then sometimes you will find that the result_txt TextField object hasn’t been properly instantiated by Flash yet when the second line is run – therefore myMC.result_txt will resolve to null, and you’ll get the error above.

I tried and found many kind of solutions, but they were more like adding a lot more code and changing the way my jumping from frame to frame works.

So, experimented a little, and ended up with my own solution. It’s kind of dirty one ;)

First you need to Export for ActionScript your problematic MovieClip from Library. Make sure you add text Class at the end of export ID/class name. i.e. my original Library item was named "mcCircle", so I Export it as "mcCircleClass".

Now, on the keyframe where you are getting that null reference error. Initialize your MovieClip as follows:

After this you can access mcCircle as before. You might have to set it’s properties (x/y etc.) again, as we just created a new instance which doesn’t have values from previous instance. In my case, I just had to set it’s X and Y to position it back where it belonged.

It’s not as optimistic as other solutions, but it does the job when you need to quickly get through it.

I am quite disappointed by Adobe since Timelines are the basics of Flash from the very core. This bug is around since Flash 9 days, and Adobe still haven’t fixed it. Come on Adobe, you can do better!

Update: Some other references to the problem:

// chall3ng3r //

Thoughts on Nokia + Microsoft

I believe this is the biggest mobile technology news since announcement of Apple iPhone back in 2007. And to be honest, I am all excited as one Apple fanboy would have, on such big news!

nokia-microsoft-valentine

There are reasons why I am so much excited, but first let me start with the fact that many developers showing concern that Nokia made a mistake for selecting Microsoft Windows Phone 7 as it’s primary mobile OS.

I have been reading lots of news, reviews, analysis and comments around this partnership, positive and negative. I gone through official Forum Nokia’s blog post "Letter to Developers about Today’s News" and in comments I see many developers not so happy.

I would like share some of the facts and personal experience about Symbian OS.

Symbian for End-Users

This is the base fact that everyone, including Nokia also admits that Symbian’s UX is ugly. I have been using Nokia smartphones since 2004, and my first one was second-hand Nokia 7650, and I have witnessed that Symbian was doing great in terms of UI until iPhone. After that, I haven’t heard anyone praising Symbian’s UI.

Symbian for touch enabled devices, proved to be complete nightmare for Nokia. Since it’s introduction to date, they are still trying to tweak it to work better for touch input, sadly without any luck.

Honestly, tell me any 10 great looking native Symbian applications, which provide smooth, beautiful, and animated user experience. Oh, I know one, Gravity and my big applause to the guys who did it. Other than this, I have not seen any Symbian application which impressed me with such great UX compared to iPhone, Android or WP7 apps.

Other than this, I was quite disappointed from Nokia from the end-users’ perspective, as they’ve been selling Symbian devices by showing cool animated UI transitions, but in reality, the actual device, when rotated from portrait orientation, taking more than 7 seconds to show up the UI in landscape (personal experience). Yes, I’m talking about Nokia N97 and other Symbian 5th Edition devices. Lets take a look at this video.

Cool, isn’t it. But if anyone who have used one of these devices must know what I’m talking about.

All this Symbian ^3 hype is waste of money and resources. I have a Nokia N8, and I was not able to compose new or reply to an email until I upgraded to firmware PR1.1, which was released few days ago after months of delay, using my primary account of Mail for Exchange (I use Google Apps). And there were also many other users who were have same issue.

I was making jokes on this”¦ "Nokia – Connecting People NOT", and imagine Borat saying it, you’re gonna laugh "automagically" :D

Nokia N8 is really a fast device as compared to Nokia 5800XM I own. But the UI still lacks all the richness, smooth transitions, and usability I find on iPhone, somewhat on Android and now on WP7 devices. Even Nokia wasn’t able to deliver what they showed in an imaginative video demoed back in 2007. Lets take a look, and pay close attention to animations and transitions.

Symbian was the main reason of Nokia’s failing all this time. They have tried to tweak its UI to make it work on touch enabled devices, but unfortunately it didn’t worked out until now.

Last thing to add here is, Nokia’s official end-user support forums are filled with so many complaints, most of them are related to Symbian OS.

Symbian for Developers

I started learning Symbian back in 2006. My aim was to develop a compiler, which would allow Adobe Flash Lite developers to easily package and distribute their games and application on Symbian platform. I successfully delivered SWF2Go in March 2007 after 8 months of R’nD, and it’s been quite a success so far.

During my journey on Symbian OS, I learned how hard and time consuming it is to develop. Setting up it’s SDKs was quite big task for anyone new to Symbian, but who have worked on other mobile platforms. Other than my work on SWF2Go, I never developed any native Symbian C++ application.

Just in 2010, Nokia’s investments in Qt started to show up. Even though Qt it easy and fun to develop with and its been here for so long and already gone through embedded platforms, but still not ready for real mobile applications. When developer needs to do some real work, he ends up with same old dirty Symbian C++.

Qt Mobility 1.0 is released but it has some quirks. For example, there’s no native Qt APIs of dealing with device orientation. The new Qt Creator project wizard now adds that dirty Symbian C++ code for you.

Nokia could have at least replaced the UI shell of the Symbian ^3 using Qt with all it’s cool transitions and effects. Like HTC replaced Windows Mobile’s UI (almost same as Symbian) with HTC Sense UX. And they actually did a pretty good job on that.

So, Symbian is an outdated legacy OS, which have completed its life long ago. Its making Nokia, developers and the whole ecosystem around it completely slow.

Now stop being angry and join, celebrate with me ;)

Why I Am So Excited?

Microsoft really knows software. They also make mistakes, like everyone does, but they are pretty good. For example .Net, Xbox, Windows 7, Silverlight.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is developed from experiences of Windows Mobile. It is targeted specifically for next generation hardware and touch input. It is user friendly, stable and it works. Go checkout some cool reviews to find out for yourself.

Microsoft is the king of developer tools, specifically Visual Studio 2010. If you have never used it before, this tool will teach you, help you and make you expert within weeks. It’s code editing features are one of the best available today.

With tons of online resources already available, so you will never get stuck with any issue. There’s a vibrant developer community as well, from where we can learn more and share back expertise.

Microsoft offers a complete set of tools for development of Windows Phone 7 games and applications. And best thing about them is, all of these tools including VS2010, Expression Blend and XNA Game Studio are completely free. Installation experience is really smooth as well.

Once you are aboard, you’re gonna love it. You can take my word on that ;)

I also found some users and developers asking Nokia, why they didn’t selected Android? Well, other than what Mr. Elop already said about it, I would like to add, haven’t you guys already seen enough Android devices?

Everyone is making them, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG just to name a few. Now even those Chinese companies also started making them in masses. You will be getting a lot of them in coming days.

Don’t you guys want to see something new, something different, a competition, using new technology, developing for it, innovating with it, having a choice? I mean come on”¦ Guys!

Nokia + Microsoft = A Wining Combination

I believe that this partnership is a great opportunity for developers on Nokia platform to get back into fast lane, and rapidly develop and compete against other platforms. Provide best of the best games, applications and user experiences to the end-users. A winning combination for everyone.

/// chall3ng3r //