It’s been 2 whole weeks since the last update – an eternity for us! Version 2.50 has been live since Monday but here is the twist – again: only the premium application has been updated by Apple so far, the Lite V2.50 is still awaiting approval.

New Features

Looks: thanks go to Faizul Abdullah who wrote to us that we have a great product … with a lousy UI! Faizal added that a friend of his chose a less able application just because he liked their UI better: revealing … we know UI matters a lot but usually it acts at the subconscious level to thwart the left side of our brain in going after eye candy rather than utilitarian considerations. Well, we are not done improving the UI but we have a revamped splash page, with clear icons for each part of the application: calendar reminders (‘My Reminders’), card folders (‘My Cards’), Import Image (from any photo album) and Take New Photo.

Export to Excel: you can now export selected cards in a given folder to an Excel CSV file. Cards are written according to the sort order in effect for that folder. We currently don’t provide a way to select which columns to include or in what order – we will do that as soon as three customers ask for it … This can be a useful feature for exporting contacts into a CRM backend like Salesforce.com or just to email the list to conference attendees.

Performance of card folders: on my iPhone with about 120 cards in one folder, it was taking a full 5 seconds to just view the list of folders, then another 5 seconds to open that folder. With V2.5 it takes … 0.2 seconds. The nice thing about doing something stupid (forgetting a database index in this case) is that you can then appear smart when you fix it.

Bug fixes: we’ve spent significant time fixing small but frequent OCR errors such as ‘i’ mistaken for ‘j’, spaces where none should appear. The usual stuff. We also fixed a bug in the parsing of international domains where we would truncate any .com.xx domain after the .com. A special thanks to our Australian customers who endured this flaw thus far (and a stern admonishment for not reporting it earlier :-)).

Moving cards from a Lite installation to a Premium installation

There is no easy or perfect way to do this (yet) but here is one option:

  • Open the iPhone settings application, look for ScanBizCardsLite under the Application group
  • Set “Send Full-size Image” to ON
  • Run ScanBizCards Lite
  • Open each card you care about, do “Send To Friend” and email yourself the image
  • Run the mail application, open each email, touch the attached image, save it
  • Run ScanBizCards (premium – the one without the Lite caption)
  • Touch Import Image, import the images you just saved, they are all in Camera Roll (or Saved Images on the iPod)

This is not a perfect process: in particular, the restored cards don’t have any information attached to them and you would need to rescan them to get that. We will provide a better way to get it done in the future.

Mea Culpa

In the previous update, I expressed some concerns that Apple may not have put sufficient efforts behind improving its rating system. In particular, it seems to follow a “no good deed goes unpunished” approach to updates, swiftly resetting an application rating to its historical average until 5 or more ratings are posted for the new update, as if the average iPhone developer works hard to provide updates that regress back in time. Doing nothing would be better (i.e. showing the previous version rating). A 16 year old intern could implement “nothing” in 1 minute or else a weighted average (with greater weights assigned to recent versions) in 30 minutes flat. I had unjustly hinted that Apple may have been less than helpful to its legion of app developers by not allocating budget to hire such an intern. Recent findings have led me to revise that rash judgment: it appears that a user who once posted a written review (and not just a rating) is simply not allowed to then just rate an update, and the system insists that he provide a written review, raking his mind to find something new to say. Of course, the workaround is, you guessed it – to uninstall the application, which then makes you the kind of user Apple seems to want to rate apps the most, and so you get to just tap a star without writing a review – voila (you just lost all your application data in the process however).

So I have to apologize: it appears that Apple does in fact employs a large team to tweak its rating system, it’s just that this team has been given the goal of making sure that only Albert Einstein’s direct descendants are able to penetrate the system’s defense mechanism to rate an app as they wish.

Heads Up

We have just posted a special V2.55 update to the App Store, with a single fix improving our scanning time by 30-40% (!).

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