Introducing Blink 2.3

This is the 12th release of Blink since its debut on March 18, 2015. Version 2.3 is primarily a maintenance release, but it does have a couple of nice additions for power users. First, you can turn off the sound effects in Blink by flipping a new toggle in settings. Working on this feature reminded me of the story behind Blink's sound effects, which is a bit of a tangent, but one I like, so I've added at the bottom of the post for anyone who is interested.

Second, more users have begun to access Blink's extension from the 'Share' contextual menu that pops up when you select text in an app. When you do so, Blink searches the store and returns a list of results. This feature was originally designed to deal with a long-standing bug in the App Store that still hasn't been fixed. When you go to the Updates tab in the App Store app and share an app, it shares the title of the app only. Everywhere else in the App Store app, the share button shares the title and a link to the store.

Blink's solution to the bug is to take the title and run a search. Prior versions of Blink only returned fifteen results because using the title as a search term usually returned the correct app at the top of the list. However, with the addition of the contextual 'Share' button for selected text, you can now use any selected text to search the App Store with Blink's extension and fifteen results are not enough. So with version 2.3, this type of search is no longer limited to fifteen results. Instead, the search will return the same number of results you have selected as your default in settings.

In addition, version 2.3 brings improvements to URL Scheme handling and fixes a handful of other bugs. Check out the release notes for further details.

Blink has been updated 12 times in the past 11 months, but that pace is likely to slow down over the coming months. Version 2.3 is stable and I have some big plans for the app as well as a couple of new things in the pipeline. That is not to say Blink will be ignored. I love Blink too much to do that. There will be bug fixes and improvements as needed, but it's time to take on some bigger challenges that will enhance and extend Blink's utility for everyone. I look forward to sharing more with you soon.

Story Time

The sound effects in Blink were inspired by Letterpress. In 2012, Federico Viticci interviewed Loren Bricter about Letterpress. Loren described how he recorded Letterpress' sound effects:

F: I have also noticed sounds play an important role in the game.

LB: I had some fun making those. It’s mostly me spitting into a microphone.

F: No wait, really?

LB: Haha, yeah. Or doing some other odd contortion with my mouth.

This interview was published well over a year before I started work on Blink, but it stuck with me. When you're one person working on an app, there is a careful balancing act between what you can, and what you should, do yourself. I'm a firm believer in hiring a designer to at least help you with your app icon, but depending on your needs, there are a lot of good tools available to help you do things on your own, all of which are topics I will be covering further in upcoming installments of my column, Ongoing Development, which is published in the Club MacStories weekly newsletter.

The sound effects in Letterpress are simple. As I looked for a way to provide confirmation to customers that they had accomplished sharing a link with Blink, I realized that my sound effect needs were even simpler than Loren's. Sure I could have spent $50-$100 to license a short clip from a stock audio clip site, but why? That's money I could save for my marketing budget or to pay a designer. So I sat at my desk and recorded pop after pop into my podcasting microphone until I had one I liked. I imported the clip into GarageBand, tweaked it, and imported the finished 'pop' into Xcode. Super simple and worth it when you are bootstrapping an app in your spare time.