September 12th, 2010 by Kevin
After more than a year of waiting and countless attempts to contact Apple, we believe that a new initiative by Apple may be a step in the right direction. The right direction for our native VoiceCentral app, sure, but more importantly the right direction for developer relations as a whole. It seems like Apple is really making an effort here and we applaud them.
There were many articles last week dissecting Apple’s new guidelines and their new App Review Board, but we received our own first hand evidence on Friday.
Since being removed from the store over a year ago, we resubmitted VoiceCentral and spent the entire time in “In Review” purgatory. Then late on Friday, out of the blue, we received a rejection notice from Apple!
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August 12th, 2010 by Dave
I recently had the good fortune to work with our extremely talented lead app developer on upgrading some UI elements for users that weren’t having the best possible experience with our app on the Retina Display. Having researched some different blog posts on the matter and surveying our image collection, I quickly realized that I would be creating a lot of the images from scratch. In order to reduce the work-effort necessary for any future display changes, I would re-create all the new icons in vector format (something that we should have done in the first place, but team time constraints tend to have those effects).
Let the games begin!
One might assume that this endeavor would be rather straightforward.
- Open up Illustrator
- Create the required images in vector format
- Find the size of the existing image and multiply the height and width by 2
- ‘Save As’
- Go grab a beverage and call it a day
Unfortunately, as with many things in life, this wasn’t as straightforward as initially believed. It is true that if we had developed a native application, we could have created the new images and placed a ‘@2x’ within the image name (e.g. fooBar.png would become fooBar@2x.png – Apple has a nice little paragraph here on automating image replacement with naming conventions). But our reasons for creating a web application are well documented, and the ‘extra’ work required to get the new hi-res images in place was well worth the effort considering the freedom we achieved by not dealing with the App Store. After the jump, I’ll attempt to walk you through our process and highlight some findings to hopefully save other developers some time.
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June 28th, 2010 by Kevin
Hot on the heels of Google announcing that Google Voice is now open for everyone we have just released a new version of VoiceCentral Black Swan. The latest release is version 1.2.0 and has a bunch of features and fixes included.
Here are some of the new features to look out for:
- Premium feature: Mark a phone number as SPAM
- Premium feature: Block a phone number
- Premium feature: Ability to forward an SMS message (tap and hold)
- Direct Outbound dialing for iPhone users (user optional)
- Voicemail transcription preview
- Launch directly to Favorites
- Auto-update of SMS conversation list
- Setting to toggle SMS auto-correction
- Toggle Favorite status from call/voicemail details
- Allow users to hide status messages
- User-selectable date format
- Select callback number per call
We have also incorporated many fixes and performance improvements. Many of these come from our wonderful users so keep up all the feedback!
While we look forward to adding even more new features in the near future, we hope you enjoy this new release!
Side note: It is so very nice to have a managed release on our schedule and not the whim of a faceless App Store review team. Wish they would fix that aspect of the App Store!
May 21st, 2010 by Kevin
We are seeing an issue playing voicemails in Black Swan for certain users. It seems that Google changed the access parameters. We are working on a fix and will have it updated as soon as possible.
Stay tuned for more…
May 14th, 2010 by Kevin
Many of you already know this but a couple of weeks ago we released a significant update to Black Swan. The user response over the last two weeks has been tremendous and we’d like to spread the word on the improvements to those who hadn’t heard. Along with several performance improvements and general fixes we have added some additional features:
- iPad Compatibility. This will be an ongoing effort to make the experience on the iPad completely unique and better able to leverage the screen real estate but for this release our immediate goal was to have feature parity with the iPhone version.
- Many improvements for people with long contact lists
- Management of both callback numbers and forwarding numbers.
- Support for multiple Google Voice accounts (this was a much requested feature)
- Copy/Paste support in the keypad
- Inbox Search
- Option to enter a default area code
- Optional Default Startup screen
- Option to disable the “Please answer the call” prompt
- Prowl/Growl support for SMS push notification compatibility
We are constantly working on improvements to the platform, so keep your great ideas coming. And if you haven’t already go check out the new release of VoiceCentral Black Swan. See the differences between free and premium here.
March 8th, 2010 by Chris
The beta period is over and VoiceCentral is now available to the general public. We planned to release it Friday, but there was an issue on the web server that caused us to delay until today. Everyone that registered to be notified of the public release will be receiving an activation e-mail to the address they provided during sign up. But for anyone who hasn’t previously registered, feel free to register now!
We would love to give everyone free and unlimited access to VoiceCentral Black Swan, but unfortunately we have significant costs in providing this service. Aside from R&D costs, Google bills us monthly for the amount of data our users access above a certain threshold. In order to still provide a “free” alternative, we have released two versions of Black Swan: a Free (ad-supported) version and a Premium Subscription.
The free version provides all of the core features for the casual user. It allows you to import contacts from your Google account, search your contacts within VoiceCentral, and dial those contacts using Google Voice or your iPhone. It provides you with easy access your 20 most recent voicemails, calls, and SMS conversations. You can listen to voicemails as well as read their transcriptions. The SMS functionality lets you create messages or reply to existing conversations. It has advertisements so we can keep control of our costs and we appreciate your support on that front!
If the Free version can do all that, why did we create a Premium version? A Premium Subscription removes the ads and allows access to additional features:
- Unlimited number of voicemails, calls, and SMS conversations
- Contact Photos
- Billing History
- Do Not Disturb
- And one of our most requested features: a custom Favorites list providing fast, simple access to the contacts you choose.
To learn more about both versions, please visit the features page. Regardless of the version you choose, we look forward to your feedback and hope you enjoy VoiceCentral Black Swan.
March 8th, 2010 by Chris
Some of you have noticed that the VoiceCentral site is down for maintenance. This should not take long—a couple of hours tops—and you’re sure to like what you see when it comes back online.
March 2nd, 2010 by Brian
Didn’t fully try to debug his one, so I’ll tell you what I know. My iPhone was running hot for a couple of days and wouldn’t hold a charge. Rebooting and restoring had no effect. I noticed that my iPhone Exchange account showed extra messages that didn’t appear in Apple Mail. The “extra” messages on my iPhone were messages that a client had tried to recall (I’m still amazed when people try to recall messages. For some reason, it brings back memories of cc:Mail.)
I deleted my Exchange account from my phone and setup again. My iPhone Exchange inbox still had the recalled messages, so I deleted the recalled messages. Things look good now. Not sure what did the trick, but I think it was simply deleting the recalled messages.
January 14th, 2010 by Stuart
The guys from the App Show had Kevin on for another interview. Check it out.
Kevin talks about the development and rationale behind the Black Swan edition of VoiceCentral, and where we are going in the future.
December 31st, 2009 by Stuart
While we continue to slowly open the VoiceCentral Black Swan beta to more and more people, we ask for your patience and understanding.
With all the awesome suggestions for the final name of the app, and the great press, it’s no wonder we’ve received many emails that say:
When in God’s name can I get hold of that awesome Apple Killing App? I’ve been looking for a way to stick it to them since the [wonderful people at Apple] unilaterally pulled those Google Voice apps from the Store. You should be suing [them] for the cost of supporting customers that they left stranded. The web app should send an email to [the guy who looks like Noah Wyle] on each install that says “Another one bites the dust,” and one to [The guy who personally approves each and every app], if he is real. Oh, and that tard [don't be nasty]. What a tool.
Please note that the only response you’re likely to see is:
Thank you for your interest in VoiceCentral Black Swan. The beta program is limited to a private (mostly internal) set of users at this stage. We will be opening it up to more and more users throughout January and February. Be on the lookout for an activation e-mail at the address you provided with your registration when your account is ready to use.
Just be patient, and remember how long it took Google to process your Google Voice request.