I received a request a few days ago for a feature that I never even thought of. I don’t use Bluetooth, so I often forget about it, but this user wanted the option to toggle Auto Respond when the phone connects to a Bluetooth device.
I thought it was a great idea, so I tried it out. It was actually extremely easy to implement, and now I’m working on building in some extra options for it, similar to the options for docking the phone. It might be a bit before it’s done though.
I am going to be releasing this feature and its options as beta first, play around with them for a while to ensure that they work, and then release it. If you would like to help test this new feature, you only need to do a couple things:
- join my Google Plus community (this is required from Google, not by me)
- Sign up to receive beta builds
As always, please let me know if you have any issues. If you run into a crash bug (even though I don’t expect you to) make sure to hit the “report” button so that I can get detailed information about where the bug occurred in my code.
If you want to opt out of the beta builds at any time, for any reason, go to that same link and you can opt out. These links have been posted to my community as well. If you are running a beta build and want to return to a production build after opting out you will need to uninstall the app and reinstall it, or wait until a new production build is released. This also is true of any Android app and is a limitation posed by Google, not me.
I pushed some new releases of Auto Respond over the past week or so.
One of them was a fix for the incompatibility between Auto Respond and Google Hangouts when SMS is enabled in Hangouts. The SMS message was never getting to Auto Respond when Hangouts was enabled. Once I figured out how to get the message to Auto Respond properly, the messages were displaying in the wrong order (reply was displayed before the original received message) so I had to figure that out as well.
The other update was to change the look of the “Preset Messages” screen. I noticed that the way that that list of messages works is completely different than the way that the list of schedules works. The messages have a press to set, and a long-press to get to the options. The schedules had buttons for all of it. So I changed the messages screen to resemble the schedules screen.
I also updated the screenshots in the store listing. A lot of the previous shots were from my phone, which is rooted and ROMed, so there were things in the screenshot that are not possible to have on a stock ROM of any sort. I used an emulator in the SDK to take new screenshots that were from a stock system.
Also, as you may have noticed, I changed the look of the blog a lot. During November I had the purple theme for epilepsy, prior to that I had a generic theme that I had modified slightly. I have changed the layout to reflect my latest logo, which is displayed at the top.
I am still doing a lot of work in the background, so unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of time to work on existing products. I am working with a friend of mine to get some really cool stuff done, and I can’t wait to be able to share some specifics with all of you; Unfortunately, it will probably be at least a few more months before I can really get into details. I am hoping to have a launch date around summer time, but that will depend on how much free time my friend and I have to work on all of this as well as how quickly some of the other necessary paperwork can be processed.
What would help immensely is some financial help. There is a link on the bottom right of the page to make a donation via paypal. If you have Auto Respond Free it would help if you would purchase the Pro version. Not only will it help my financial burden, but you will get some really nice extra features as well. All of this money (donations and purchases) will go to supporting development and paying for some other costs that I am incurring right now for the project that I am working on. Also, word of mouth is the best advertising for anything. Please tell your friends about my apps, as I’m sure that a lot of people will like them, and leave some positive feedback in the Play Store listing. More positive feedback = more visibility and more downloads.
I hope that you are all enjoying the holiday season, and I will continue to post updates as often as I can.
TL;DR: a few Auto Respond updates, lots of behind the scenes work, need some funds for future projects.
This blog has been turned purple for epilepsy awareness month.
This year for Epilepsy Awareness month I will once again be donating all proceeds from Auto Respond Pro purchases to the Epilepsy Foundation.
The Auto Respond notification icon (and anywhere else that I could change it programmatically) will automatically turn purple starting tomorrow (November 1st) and will remain purple until the end of November. On December 1st, if you would like to keep the purple icon you can do so by enabling it in the options, otherwise the icon will return to its normal green. The option to change the icon color will be disabled during November.
As many of you know from reading my blogs in the past, I was born with epilepsy. The epilepsy foundation has helped me a lot throughout life, and they continue to help me and others through hardships. If you would like more detail on that, check out my personal blog which is linked at the top of this page.
Last year I posted one fact about epilepsy, on all of my social media sites, every day in November. I have been extremely busy lately, officially turning Fifteen 15 Studios into a business, changing jobs, and doing many other things, so I won’t have time this year to research more facts to post (or to setup the automatic posting of those facts like I did last year.) I may however post the facts that I posted last year. I have them all in a word document, and will likely post them somewhere before the end of November.
If you would like to make your own donation to the epilepsy foundation, you can give to the national chapter at this website:
Or you can give to my local chapter here:
Auto Respond can be found in the Play Store here:
Any additional donations are much appreciated!
You can also find a list of facts about epilepsy (that I posted to my social media profiles last November) here:
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, so here’s some updates.
I released an update a few weeks back to Auto Respond Pro which allows you to respond to numbers which are not in your contact list. I still haven’t built this into AR Free, but it will be there.
I’m working on theming AR purple for epilepsy awareness month in November. For those of you who were around last year, you will probably remember that I changed the icon to purple last year, and donated all November proceeds to the Epilepsy Foundation. I am planning on doing the same this year, but I also want to theme the ENTIRE app in purple. It’s a lot of work so I don’t know if it’ll be done in time, but I’m doing my best. I’m also working on changing the icon programmatically, so that I don’t have to put out an update to change the launcher icon. If you have any experience with theming apps, feel free to reach out to me. I can use all the help I can get.
Today Auto Respond Pro got its 100th download! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot compared to other apps, but it’s something that I’m proud of anyway. The free version has over 2,000 downloads, so there’s a little perspective of free vs. paid.
Super Secret Project
Some of you may recall that I’m working on a secret project, and have been for a while. A lot is happening with that too. I can’t provide any specifics yet, but here’s some generic updates.
It officially has a name now, which is not in use by any other tech companies or software companies that I came across. I’ve got some friends working on design work (an icon, logo, etc.) based on the current name. I did some database work, which is going to make the app REALLY flexible and easily updated without having to update the whole app. I’ve got the basic UI designed and we have a list of features that we want to include in the initial release, as well as a list of LOTS of ideas for future additions.
I’ve got someone working on a website for me, which will likely be a huge focus of this project. The website will be where people go for a lot of setup and some more functionality, but the app will be an essential part of making it all come together successfully. I’m supposed to have a meeting before the end of the week to discuss what exactly needs to be done with the website, and hopefully see some initial progress and design work.
This project has been my main focus over the past few months. I’m learning a lot in this process, and I’ve got a LOT of things planned for it. I can’t wait to get the name legally set in stone, and get a base product setup so that it doesn’t have to be kept so secretive. (I’m holding back all details because I don’t want someone stealing my idea or my name.)
I’ve got a plan for monetizing the project, so that part is taken care of as well. I think the idea is unique enough, functional enough, and desirable enough that I can bring in some good clients once the idea is presented. The app and website will be 100% free for users, and money will be made from other clients. I’m sure that not knowing the premise behind the app this all sounds very vague, but there is a plan and it includes no cost to the end user.
I have decided to officially re-brand as “Fifteen 15 Studios” instead of “1515 Studios”. My design guys are working on some new designs for that as well. (If you would like to try your hand at designing a logo for me, it would be much appreciated. I want to get a bunch of designs to choose from.) I’m going to do some DBA paperwork to officially turn Fifteen 15 Studios into a company. I’ve got some legal documents written up (a non-compete and non-disclosure agreement) for anyone who joins in on the current project, but I need an official company name to associate with those documents.
The new name will be official once I decide on a logo design that I like, and obviously will be legally official once the DBA paperwork is completed. I have most of the logistics of the switch worked out already, and just need to put some of the technical aspects into place.
All-in-all, despite my lack of blog updates, there is a lot going on behind the scenes with me, my apps, and my soon to be company. I’m excited for things to come, and I hope that all of you are as well.
I will be “Out of the office” so to speak for the next week, so hopefully no bugs spring up in Auto Respond.
I’ve released a couple of updates this week, and so far I have not gotten any crashes or other bug reports from the latest version.
I will have no access to internet for most of the week, no access to a computer, and extremely limited access to cell service and/or text messaging. Therefore, I cannot make any changes/updates to my apps for the next week.
If you have problems with an app, please email me and I will respond ASAP when I return.
For more details on what I will be doing for the following week, check out this post on my personal blog:
- Google has added an item to the support library to allow the “action bar” in apps running on Android 2.2+. So I plan on adding that to Auto Respond for Android 2.2 and 2.3.x.
- I want to get a solid foundation set for Google Games in Tic Tac Toe. I don’t know if I can get it working completely in one day, but I want to at least get a good start.
- I want to get some actual working features built into my top secret app project
- Right now there’s only a design and some basic navigation, I want to create some REAL functionality this weekend.
- I spent some time yesterday making some changes so that it’s more flexible, and can hopefully have changes made to content in the app without releasing a new version of the app. Instead, it will download the new content from an outside source, and I think I can do this directly through the Play Store.
Apparently Auto Respond has become popular enough for people to start pirating it. I know this partly because they’re pirating an old, buggy version.
The version that is being pirated was released back in late February, and was replaced less than 2 weeks later with a much more stable version. Even though that version is 5 months old now, it’s still topping the charts on my list of what version people are using on Google Analytics. Yet, there are 0 copies of it still out there according to my developer console. There’s only 1 explanation for that… pirates!
Some of these pirates even have enough balls to click the “needs improvement” link in the app (which sends me an email with information about the app version they are running, the Android version they are running, and their phone make and model) and then tell me that my app is crashing, or has other problems. My response to that from now on (to users running this version) will be “buy my app instead of stealing it and you won’t have any issues!”
All of that being said, I’ve gone on a hunt to find the source of this illegally distributed file. So far my hunt has been fruitless, but if you find my pro app out there in the deep dark corners of the interwebs being offered for free PLEASE LET ME KNOW! It might just be called “Auto Respond” and not “Auto Respond Pro” as it is now, but if it doesn’t specifically state “Auto Respond Free” it’s the pro app.
I don’t make a lot of money from my apps, and I don’t think I’m asking an unreasonable amount for the app (in fact, until recently it was as low as I could possibly go… $.99) so please help me find and stop this.
I was just thinking about things… and I came to realize a few things.
To start, I want to give you a background on me.
In the Beginning
I first used a computer when I was about 8 years old. My mom brought home a computer from work, which was DOS based. She taught me some basic commands, and suddenly I was able to navigate my way around DOS… sort of.
Then she brought home a pile of floppy disks and said something like “someone at work gave me these disks and said they have games on them. Plug them in and see what’s on there.” So I did… and to my disappointment, most of the disks were password protected. But that didn’t stop me. I spent some time guessing passwords. They were educated guesses, but guesses. Don’t ask me what my exact process was… I was 8, and I don’t remember those details. Eventually I figured out one of the passwords, and was able to play the games on that disk. So I tried the password on all the other protected disks, and it worked on roughly half of them.
That day I fell in love with computers. I knew that I wanted to do something with computers “when I grew up”. As time progressed I got more and more into video games, both console and PC, and wanted to be a programmer. Specifically, a game programmer (like so many other kids in my generation.)
There wasn’t much in the way of Computer Science classes in my high school… we had a Visual Basic class and a C++ class, but most of the time they never happened because not enough people signed up for them. One of those years though, I took the C++ class. Unfortunately, it did nothing for me because my teacher was “learning as we were” and I spent most of my time copying code from “the smart kid”.
So I went to community college and started as a CS major. I took “Introduction to Object Oriented Programming using Java” – the first programming class in the major – and I hated it. Again, a big part was my teacher. She could barely speak English, she actually spent 1 entire class writing Visual Basic code on the board, just to erase it and tell us “Oh, forget all of that, that was the wrong programming language.” I failed that class and retook the class the next semester with a different teacher. That second semester, I also took Calculus 2. I still hated Java, and I got a 22 on my first calc 2 test… so I switched majors to Computer Technology – a hardware major. (The highest level math required for CT was calc 1, so I didn’t have to pass that calc 2 class for the new major.)
I stuck with that major until the end of MCC, and transferred to RIT. The major there was Computer Engineering Technology – still a hardware major, but we did out fair share of software too. At RIT I finally started to grasp the concept of Object Oriented Programming, because I finally had a good teacher. It was C++ that finally got me to understand, but I was only doing command line (DOS) programs. I took some of those programs above and beyond, as I finally understood what I was doing (one project eventually turned into my tic-tac-toe game for android.)
After doing tic-tac-toe, I decided to really challenge myself and make a Euchre game. For those who don’t know the game of Euchre, it’s a card game with a TON of logic involved. The game was 1 human player and 3 computer players (Euchre is most often played as a 4-player game, although variations exist for anywhere from 3 to 7 players.) I got Euchre working as a playable game, and started adding more options to it – like some of the regional rules or “house rules” that exist in variations of the game.
After college, I decided to make Euchre into a Windows program instead of a DOS program. Doing my first GUI was interesting. There was definitely a learning curve, especially considering I was learning from the internet and sample code. I decided to use C# instead of C++ because it seemed to have a lot more options for GUI programming. This meant that some of my code needed to be changed slightly for the new language. Since C# is based on C++, most of the changes were minor. The hard part was converting the command line output to a GUI. I played with a few other programs for a while, nothing else really got too far.
Then I got into Android. I got my first Android phone in 2010, and got REALLY into the modding community – rooting, ROMs – and basically everything Android. I paid for Tasker, and eventually made some profiles in there for responding to text messages while my phone was in a car dock. (I was taking an hour and a half drive to Buffalo once a week for work, so it helped for that trip.) Then Tasker released App Factory, which allowed you to use “scenes”, which were basically GUI elements, together with profiles to create an actual app and an apk file which other people could install on their phones. This is where the first ever version of Auto Respond came from.
After realizing the visual limitations of the “scenes” created in Tasker, I decided to learn to write actual code and recreate this “app” that I created in Tasker with my own code. About a year later, Auto Respond is what it is now. Plus I’ve created tic-tac-toe, started to convert Euchre to Android, started on a countdown widget app, and have begun work on a super-secret project – which is going to be HUGE when it’s finally released. (I’ve told a few of my close friends and family about this project, and they all LOVE the idea.)
So today I was thinking about this journey… from computer enthusiast, to wanna-be game designer, to failure of a programmer, to writing basic command line programs, to learning on my own, to semi-successful Android developer, and hopefully in the future to successful entrepreneur and app developer.
And through all of this, I’ve been working as an IT professional for 10 years… and I’m glad. I wouldn’t want to code all day every day. I enjoy it too much. A lot of people out there say that you should never turn a hobby into a job, because you’ll end up not enjoying it as much – I agree with them.
I LOVE programming, but I would hate it if I did it 40 hours a week. Plus, if I did programming as a job, I wouldn’t want to come home and program my own stuff later. I want to program what I decide to program, not what someone tells me to program. And that’s exactly what I do right now.
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking… “Well if this idea of yours does become big, then won’t you be programming for a living?” …Yes and no. Yes, I will most likely be doing a lot of programming to keep this whole thing going. But I will still be doing what I want to do, not what someone else wants me to do. I’ve always dreamed of being my own boss, and I hope that one day that dream will come true.
Like most people that I talk to, I do a lot of thinking while in the shower and driving. (Obviously, not both at once…) and this morning, before getting into the shower, I was thinking about some code in the latest update.
My mind went through this kind of process… ” I put this there, and that there, and…. wait a second… that means that if the user edits the schedule, without opening the custom response list, the list could potentially be overwritten with blank data.”
So I tried it. I opened a test schedule that I had setup, edited the list to contain a name, hit “OK” to save the schedule, then edited the schedule again, without opening the custom response settings, clicked “OK” again, and when I edited the schedule for the third and final time, my list was gone.
A few cuts and pastes of code later… the issue is fixed. And all because my mind often wanders off into my code.
So if you have setup a Do Not Respond list or a Custom Response list inside of a schedule, update the app to the latest version first, then check your lists to see if they are still there. If they’re not there, recreate them and they should be safe from here on out. (As long as you update first.)
Sorry for the bug, but I figure I caught it early enough that it probably didn’t effect too many people.
(As per usual, it may be an hour or so before the update is live in the Play Store.)
It has been published. Auto Respond 1.3.5 is being pushed to the Play Store right now. Not as a beta, as a release version.
Here’s the full change log:
- Fixed a crash when changing promote message
- Added custom response list to schedules
- Added do not respond list to individual schedules
- Trim leading and trailing spaces before joining messages in custom responses
- Change Screen title from “New Schedule” to “Edit Schedule” when editing a schedule
- Fixed a bug toggling promotion message in Android 4.0+
- Fixed rare crash due to notification system
- Fixed potential crash when responding to phone calls
- Fixed multiple issues in the dock menu
- Added Data backup/restore to Google Account
- Change Screen title from “New Message” to “Edit Message” when editing a message
- Removed some unused code
Yeah, that’s a lot. Lots of bugs fixed, a few additions for both free and pro users, some small aesthetic changes… a little bit of everything.
The update should be available in a couple hours via the Play Store.