Helping share the love of the northern lights!

Author: Ronnie Page 1 of 4

Working on 11.2.1

I’ve been watching the Android errors and have noticed that the webview component is causing steady crashes. Whether or not that is a problem, I don’t know. I have not received any feedback regarding Android crashes and I, myself, have not had any crashes on my tablet in testing. However, it is enough for me to want to move away from the webview component and begin to develop the app using JSON files. This will also help reduce loads on the database and server.

I don’t have a timeline for 11.2.1 to be released. Chances are, since it is already April, work will continue throughout the summer months. My ultimate goal is to have it ready for next season. Keep an eye out here for updates and I will try to keep you all updated on the progress!

11.1.0 Update

Version 11.1.0 is making its way through the review process and should be out very soon. This update fixes the custom location setting. It is supposed to save when you select a location or toggle the switch. However, this was not occurring. It has been corrected and will fully function appropriately in 11.1.0.

If you encounter any issues, go to the About screen and use one of the many contact options to pass it along!

Version 11 is Going LIVE!

I am excited to announce that version 11 has completed testing and I believe we have cleaned up all of the bugs. Version 11 brings back the subscription model (read about it here) to help keep the servers and development humming along. I know, I know, free is better. And, while I agree, it costs a lot to keep this app available for everyone to use. The subscription model is the best way to go. You will unlock all of the features in the app for a minimal amount. The goal is to keep the price as low as I can and I promise I will announce any changes here well in advance if the price needs to increase.

This is a HUGE step forward for Amazing Aurora and will allow me to continue hosting and developing the app. I was able to craft version 11 on my own and now have full control over all of the code and publishing for the app. This means I can make changes quickly and effectively, knowing when things need to be updated and what was updated. That is a big plus in this world of mobile app development.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the fresh, speedy new rebuild! It was a lot of fun to create and I am very pleased with the outcome! Than you for all of your support for Amazing Aurora!

Development Platform Switch?

I have been working feverishly on learning to code apps on my own, free of any platform constraints. If you have been around for a while, you know that the app launched as a free, ad-supported version in the beginning. I then moved to a subscription-supported model to help offset the costs of maintaining and running the app. Then, something broke…and it was out of my control. I had to make the hard decision to turn off subscriptions and make everything available for everyone; mainly, because I could not take anything away from the people who paid.

Today, I made progress in my learning of the Flutter development environment. I am working on taking a 39-hour course on how to use it. And, I am happy to say, progress is certainly being made. While I am not ready to proclaim my independence from the constraints of the platform I was using, I am getting closer to that freedom. When I was presented with the task of creating an app, I found the easiest way I could get from point A to B. And, with the help of the great folks at Thunkable, my dream of creating this app became a reality! However, I cannot detract from the fact that I am a coder at heart. And, while Thunkable takes a lot of the coding headache out of the process, coding is my art. I love it. While I can continue to code my web pages while still using the Thunkable platform, there was just something missing.

I am very happy that I finally took the initiative to learn Flutter. When I first stumbled upon it, it felt overwhelming. It had been years, 22 to be exact since I delved into something other than HTML and PHP. Now that I am on the learning path, Flutter feels less daunting and more freeing to me. And that has me excited! Keep your eyes out for Verison 11 of the Amazing Aurora app. It will likely be my first-ever self-coded mobile application. Exciting times for sure!

Ad-Free Version Coming!

After contemplating for a while, the decision was made to release an ad-free version of the app. To be honest, I can’t stand ads either. However, given the platform that I have developed the app on, I just could not get the subscription services to play nicely with Google and Apple’s requirements. That’s why I had to discontinue subscriptions. I just do not have the bandwidth to constantly work on a broken app. Without subscriptions, it works great!

The ad-free version is in review by both Google and Apple as of this writing. I hope to see it live in the app stores in the next few days. It will carry a $14.99 pricetag for the life of the app. That’s right. One payment to help support the app. Hopefully, that will keep the app running for years to come!

Backend App Tweaks

I am making some changes to the backend scripting of the app. This should not affect the app’s usability; at least, that is the idea. I am starting to clean up the code to make data calls more efficient in the app and make maintenance of the code portion of the app easier to follow. Users should not notice much of a difference, if any, while this process is ongoing.

I am also going to work on adding the OVATION percentage to aurora reports. Why is this important? I see a lot of people reference another app’s “percent chance” of seeing aurora activity. From a scientific perspective, I want to show people that a high percentage of the “other app’s” chance of seeing the aurora is a false hope. You do not need a high percentage chance of seeing the aurora to see activity. That percentage is the chance that you would look directly overhead and see it. Thus, I want to collect this statistic as a way to improve the app’s recommendations. It will take a little time, but I think it will add value to the app.

Keep an eye out for the changes throughout the season. I am also going to work on version 10 to fix a few bugs that have been noted. I will try to get that published by the end of the year, time warranting of course!

Moving Back to Astronomical Events!

When I made the decision to move away from the subscription model with the app, I moved away from anything I was paying extra for, including the astronomical data. As I have tried to mimic the accuracy of the notifications with regards to twilight and darkness, it is apparent it would be so much easier to keep the astronomical data in place and continue to use that to create alerts. Thus, I am working on making that happen. I have reenabled the data pull, so it will take a couple of days for all of the astronomical data to update across the board, but it is happening as I type this!

My overall goal is to keep Amazing Aurora as THE best and most favored app for aurora chasing on the market. I feel like this is the best decision moving forward and I think you will agree! Now, let’s just hope we get more nights of clear skies over the winter!

It’s Time to Kill Subscriptions

If you subscribed to the app, please use the link at the bottom of the settings screen to go to your subscriptions page and cancel your subscription. The link takes you to your respective App Store subscriptions page.

First of all, to those who supported the development of the Amazing Aurora app through the purchase of a subscription, thank you! You all are awesome and I am glad you are as excited about aurora activity as I am!

As the title says, it is time to kill the subscription portion of the Amazing Aurora app. Why, you might ask? I am a solo hobbyist who came up with a way to tell, for myself, when aurora activity was most likely to happen; and, I created an app to share it. The costs of weather and astronomical data was running about $100 per month and, well, it did not really add much to the app. My goal with subscriptions was to spread that cost out among all of the users who wanted it and, with some of the extra special features (that took a lot of programming), to help get something back for the work put in. At this point, it is getting too intensive to keep up with as the app is currently set up.

When Google and Apple make changes, things in the app have to change as well. Since I am a solo, hobbyist app developer with a full-time job, I have to find time to keep things running smoothly. The in-app purchase ability, which is what ran the subscription portion of the app, has been finicky and, as a lover of good quality, I cannot have an app that is crashing or causing problems across the board. So, with version 9, I have trimmed all of the subscription stuff out and just went back to the basic, good ol’ reliable app that Amazing Aurora started out as. Yes, there is an ad. It helps, a little.

Thank you for using Amazing Aurora! Again, if you subscribed to the app, please use the link at the bottom of the settings screen to go to your subscriptions page and cancel your subscription. I will put a donation page together to track my annual needs to run the app and track any donations paid to help me keep the app running. I am just so grateful that so many people have taken to the app and interact when the solar wind gets crazy. You all are awesome!

Version 7 is LIVE!

I am excited to announce that he latest iteration of the Amazing Aurora app is live on both the Google Play and Apple App Stores! This version cleans up the inner workings of the app a bit, adds an alert when updated versions are available, and adds an HPI notification for subscribers. Also, based on feedback, loading screens are utilized to reduce/eliminate white screens while loading and reloading pages.

Give it a shot and provide feedback! It is amazing to see how far this app has grown thanks to user feedback!

Recovery Complete

As I was working on the app, I noticed the server was running quite strangely. The app started not responding, and I began seeing several database errors on the server. And then, I could not connect to the database. After an unsuccessful attempt to reinstall the database, restoring the entire server from a backup was made. I lost all data from approximately 8:00am AKDT to just after midnight. However, I am happy to report that everything has been restored and appears to be functioning fine. Thank goodness for backups.

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