Corona Labs announced a completely free version of Corona SDK for developing and publishing mobile apps and games. This is great news for anyone who wants to create apps without paying a single cent. Students, indie developers and hobbyists would benefit most from this announcement.
What’s the catch? Well, there really isn’t one, except the new Starter version does everything the Pro version did, minus these three features: In-app purchases, analytics, and access to daily builds. Corona Labs doesn’t even require their splash screen to be displayed like some other “free” SDKs. A developer can use the Starter version to make apps and earn money by either charging up-front, using ads, or other means.
You’re probably thinking why would Corona Labs make this move. The reason is simple: Attract more developers to their platform (SDK and Corona Cloud). If developers feel the need for the three features and upcoming “pro” features, they would upgrade to the Pro version. Some pro features Corona Labs mentioned they’re working on include: new graphic features using OpenGL 2.0, plugins, device access through native code (maybe, but not full-blown like the Enterprise edition).
For existing developers with Indie subscription, they’re now automatically upgraded to the Pro version. For Pro subscribers, they get two extra months of subscription. For Enterprise subscribers, there’s no change.
There is, however, a price increase for the Pro version starting May 1st, 2013 from $349 to $599 per year. For pro subscribers, as long as their subscriptions are not expired by April 30th, they can upgrade twice at the old price of $349. For anyone who wants to take advantage of the lower price (for the next two years), subscribe by April 30th! More info at their pricing page and the conversation with their COO.
As a side note, Corona Cloud is an exciting server solution for any developer (not just Corona developers) who needs features such as User accounts & authentication, Leaderboards & Achievements, Multiplayer, Push Notifications, Social Connect, Cloud Sync, Chat, News, and Analytics. This simplifies greatly dealing with the server from a developer’s point-of-view.
For those who are interested, Walter Luh (CEO of Corona Labs), will be coming to FITC Toronto this month. His presentation is Building Native Apps: A Digital Canvas for Coders and Designers.
Off to making apps that people love…
Tablets are becoming productive tools and not just for media consumption. Back in the days of the Amiga, I had a Wacom tablet; it worked well but the drawing programs were quite primitive. Today, with tablets and many decent drawing and painting apps, artists can be creative wherever they go.
Procreate is an amazing painting app for the iPad, with features found in professional software, and costs only $4.99. This may seem expensive to some, considering many apps are free. However, this is probably the best $4.99 I’ve spent on apps. Today, version 1.7 is released, and it adds at least two new features that I was hoping for: full-screen mode and 4K resolution. Together with the Sensu brush, even my parents feel comfortable painting on the iPad.
The Sensu brush looks like a traditional artist brush, with special brush hair on one end that works with capacitive touch screens, and a rubber tip on the other as a regular stylus. It feels balanced, comfortable, and at the right length.
Another similar but simpler app I like is Paper. It’s for drawing or writing notes, and is free. In the free version, there is only a single pen tool and a limited number of colors. With in-app purchases, additional tools and a color mixer can be added for about $9, which is a little high for a simple app like this. But then, it’s the simplicity that’s the beauty of this app. With Paper and the lighter iPad mini, I can see this combination as an everyday notepad for jotting down ideas and sketches.
Last but not least, the Pogo Connect is a much talked-about pressure sensitive Bluetooth stylus. Both Procreate and Paper support it. I have yet to try it as the cost ($80) is higher than the other pens, especially for casual drawing.
Using the iPad as a creative tool for artists is becoming a reality with these apps and styluses (styli). As we’re moving away from the PC era, tablets already fulfill the needs of most people. As a new media software developer, working on a computer with a real keyboard is still the only choice. I can’t wait to see what the next generation of software development tools will be like. And no, I don’t think Siri is the answer.