Corona SDK Mobile & Devices

Develop and publish mobile apps for free

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…

Visual Design

Painting on iPad (with Procreate and Sensu brush)

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.Procreate

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.

Sensu brush

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. 🙂


Events Mobile & Devices

Screens 2011 = New FITC Mobile Conference

For those who follow this mobile development space, the FITC Mobile conference in Toronto should be familiar. This year, the event is renamed to SCREENS.

It’s two full days of presentations and one optional day of workshop, all focused on mobile development for various devices.

Topics covered include:

Android OS • App Success • BlackBerry Tablet OS • Corona SDK • Designing for Mobile • Mobile Marketing • Digital Home • Grand Central Dispatch and Blocks • iOS • jQuery Mobile • Managing Mobile Projects • Metro • Microsoft Stack • HCI • QNX • Thread Management • UI • UX • Windows Phone

Companies represented include:

Microsoft • Adobe • HP • Wavefront • Indusblue • QNX • Mobicartel • Ludicrous Software • Jam3 Media • Best Buy • WhereCloud Inc. • Almer/Blank • Transcontinental Interactive • Teehan + Lax • Canadian Film Center

And speakers include:

Adam Stanley • Alex Kennberg • Bob Burns • Brad Wing • Brady Gilchrist • Chuck Freedman • Darren Osadchuk • Erik Von Harten • Faisal Abid • Greg Carron • Hod Greeley • James Maynard • Jean-Luc David • Joshua Granick • Joshua Marinacci • Julian Dolce • Kevin Suttle • Marin Alejandro • Martin Dufort • Matt Fisher • Matt Rix • Matthew Patience • Mikko Haapoja • Paul Laberge • Pearl Chen • Peter Nitsch • R Blank • Renaun Erickson • Robert Burdick • Rogers • Ryan Creighton • Sam Mithani • Scott Janousek • Steve Mason • Ted Patrick • Timothy Quinn

November 14-15, 2011 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Thanks to the folks at FITC, here is a 10% off promo code: Quantumwave. The super early bird special ends on August 26, just 3 days away.

See you there!

Corona SDK Mobile & Devices Tutorials

Screen scaling for different devices

In multi-device development, one of the issues to deal with is displaying the same content in different screen resolutions. Corona SDK offers a simple solution by specifying the scaling mode in the config.lua file. The scaling modes include: none, letterbox, zoomEven, zoomStretch. Sometimes it’s easier to understand by seeing the visual difference than reading the docs.

Below are the 4 modes displayed in four different devices (starting top-left clockwise: Galaxy Tab, iPad, iPhone & iPhone 4). The background photo is loaded at the Galaxy Tab screen resolution (1024×600).

To view the original full-size images, click on the images to view at Flickr (then choose Actions -> View all sizes), or use the links at the bottom of this post.



Screen Scaling None




Screen Scaling Letterbox



Screen Scaling ZoomEven



Screen Scaling ZoomStretch


The source files used to create the display can be downloaded here. The four full size images are here: None, Letterbox, ZoomEven, ZoomStretch.

Hope this is useful.


Android iPhone Mobile & Devices Others

Addictive Games

I’m putting together a list of current and previous addictive games for mobile (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Nokia…), desktop, console or other devices.

What I mean by addictive is games that keep pulling the player back, games that keep players up for hours. Here is a quick list to start off with (I’m not including version or edition to keep things simpler):

  • Zynga Poker
  • A Monster Ate My Homework
  • Angry Birds
  • Bejeweled
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Call of Duty
  • Halo
  • Myst
  • Pacman

Why am I putting together this list? First of all, I want to identify the ingredients of successful and addictive games. I’d also like to find out what people are interested in and why? And hopefully this would be a place where other game developers can find inspirations to create more addictive games.

Please add to the comments of games that you feel are truely addictive (max one self-promotion allowed if you think your game qualifies as addictive to other people). Thanks!


FITC Toronto 2011 (with promo code)

Look at this banner. What do you see?

To me, it reminds me how time flies. Has it been 10 years already!?

The memory of the first Flash In The Can (before it was renamed to FITC) is still fresh in my mind. I gave a presentation on Object-Oriented Programming in ActionScript 1.0. The room was packed and people were sitting on the floor in front of me, with more standing outside the door. Because the next session speaker had to cancel and more people wanted to come to my session, I was asked to do another presentation. It was great to see so much interest back then on OOP in Flash. Of couse, things have changed so much since, with ActionScript 2.0 and 3.0, improvements to the language attracted many developers from other domains to Flash.

In the years after that first event, I also presented on Design Patterns, more ActionScript, Flash development, Flash Lite, and mobile development… And now we’re in this “post-PC” era, where mobility and geolocation are reaching the mainstream. With it comes more mobile devices, tablets, and the competition on the mobile space is just getting started.

FITC is the most successful design and technology conference/festival. This year you can get 10% discount using this code: swfoo10

I’m glad to be part of the FITC family from the very beginning. This 10th anniversary event is certainly more exciting than ever. Check out the FITC 2011 Toronto website for more info.



“Keepon is a small creature-like robot designed to interact with children by directing attention and expressing emotion. Keepon’s minimal design makes its behaviors easy to understand, resulting in interactions that are enjoyable and comfortable”

My Keepon is the $40 version of this originally $30,000 experiment.

More info at BeatBot.


Kinect for Creative and Visual Programming

Got interested in the Kinect for the potential creative uses with third-party tools, open source drivers and libraries… and had one delivered today. I’m interested in hooking it up with the computer and experiementing with 3D spacial / object recognition, and creative visual programming. Thanks to the open source community, here are a few notable resources:

OpenKinect and OpenKinect Google Group


Kinect and Processing


Want to see it in action? Head over to YouTube and search for: Kinect open source


Apps that crash my iPhone

I just opened up XCode and had a look at the crash logs of my iPhone. I wonder how many of these apps are written in Objective-C… Oops, looks like the most problematic apps are written by Apple… 😯

And Skype, when are we going to get 3G calling and Push Notification? While you’re at it, please make it more stable too. Thanks.

Flash News

Adobe CEO responds to Steve Jobs’ attack (video)

The Wall Street Journal interviews Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen on Steve Jobs’ open letter on why Flash is not supported on the iPhone & iPad.