https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office

PlaceIt.net

Last year, I wrote a tutorial about creating screenshots for app stores for RayWenderlich.com. In the tutorial, I mentioned using a website called PlaceIt.net because they have a great variety of options and pricing to fit every budget (yes, even Free). Today, I want to take you through step-by-step on how to fully utilize their site to create amazing promotional material for your apps and games.

placeit

PlaceIt.net lets you upload app screenshots, images, URLs, videos, or screen captures (using RecordIt) into beautiful photographs and videos to help advertise and promote your product or brand.

Still Images

You can sort by devices, interactive video, still shots, video, multistage, etc. and then it will list the require resolution needed to fill the stage. You can choose to drag and drop an image, upload it, or even just provide the URL to the image you’d like to insert. If your image doesn’t fit perfectly, you can adjust the cropping to completely fill the area.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office
https://placeit.net/#!/stages/girl-using-iphone-6-and-imac-at-office

Once you’re happy with the result, you can choose to Add Effects or Download. When you click download, you’re given the options for the Small Free Version, the High-Res Commercial, or Super High-Res Extended Commercial versions.

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Depending on your desired use, you’ll have to determine which version you’d like. If you’re unsure of the differences, you can click the “Not sure which license is the best for you?” link and it will explain each license in detail.

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Videos

There is where PlaceIt.net really shines. Sorting by Video, I chose a panning video that would show my children’s book app, Maddie Bear’s Birthday, running on an iPad. I didn’t have a pre-recorded video handy, so I clicked on the Record Your Screen option. This allowed me to download RecordIt, and record the iOS Simulator running on my computer.

https://placeit.net/#!/stages/ipad-on-wooden-kitchen-table?background=192_vi&f_types=video
https://placeit.net/#!/stages/ipad-on-wooden-kitchen-table?background=192_vi&f_types=video

Once complete, the video uploaded and I was able to view and download it. Here you see the free version that I downloaded, which has a watermark on it. Paid downloads do not contain watermarks.

Pricing

Pricing on PlaceIt.net varies depending on the type of media, license, and if you choose a subscription plan or single purchase. Still images range from Free to $59 USD for single purchases and videos range from Free to $189 USD for single purchases. If you you know you’re going to need to download a few pieces of media, it’s worth signing up for a subscription plan. Plans range from $12 a month to $299 a month depending on how many you’re going to need on a monthly basis.

Since they have pricing ranging from free for casual users through $299 a month for corporate users, it really feels like PlaceIt.net is trying to accommodate every user and every budget.

Overview

The sheer number of images, interactive videos, and videos along with flexible pricing, makes PlaceIt.net unparalleled to any other service I’ve tried. In the past, Promotee software was my go-to when I needed a quick promo image of my apps, but it is very limited in the devices you can show, and there’s no option for video. I can’t recommend PlaceIt.net enough for promos and advertising your products.

Tutorial: Android TV App Development

I recently got my Maddie Bear’sSnack Time game published for the Android TV console. Since I was one of (if not the) first person to do this with Corona SDK, they asked me to write a tutorial about it.

mbstTV

Check out the tutorial here: http://coronalabs.com/blog/2015/01/13/tutorial-creating-android-tv-apps/ and you can go through step-by-step with a working example of how to get your app on the Android TV.

Amazon Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition Review

One of my clients, who I’m developing an app version of their children’s book for, sent me a Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition for device testing. I’m going to give a brief overview and review of the device from a consumer, developer, and parent point of view.

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Opening the Box: Inside the box is the Kindle Fire Kid’s Edition, MicroUSB charging cable, wall plug, and rubber case. I was pleasantly surprised to see a MicroUSB cable in there, as my first-generation Kindle Fire didn’t come with one and I’ve had to use one from a Palm Pre for development. I’m pretty sure this is just Amazon’s Fire HD 6″ tablet with a rubber case, an extra 1 year warranty tacked on, and FreeTime pre-installed at an extra $50-$90, depending on their current sales.

Interface: The interface has improved since the first-generation Kindle Fire, which is nice. The graphics are a lot more crisp and the speed is much faster. Just the speed upgrade alone might be worth it if your only other Kindle Fire device is a first-generation like mine.

IMG_1384

Size Comparison: In relation to the first-generation Kindle, the kid’s version is lighter, but also has a smaller screen size. Once you insert it into the rubber case that helps protect it from kids dropping it, it actually ends up a little wider than the first Kindle.

IMG_1383

Software: The main difference between the Kid’s Edition and regular Kindle Fires is FreeTime. This provides your child unlimited access to pre-approved books, games, and TV shows on the device. However, it does feel like the added FreeTime, parental controls, and profiles bog it down a bit. The device often freezes or has issues, which requires a reboot.

Developer Review: In comparison to the first generation Kindle Fire, you need special software to transfer .apk files to this device. Whereas my old Kindle Fire would instantly appear on my MacBook for me to drag and drop files, the Kid’s Edition requires Android software. However, with the Kid’s Edition, you can just close the software and unhook the device from your computer, you no longer have to eject the media. I’m not sure how you get your apps on Amazon’s Pre-Approved FreeTime listings, they may have to contact you if they deem it worthy. I was unable to find any of my children’s books and apps while logged into my daughter’s FreeTime account. Like every device after the first-generation, this one doesn’t have the 20 pixel tall menu bar hardcoded onto the screen, so that’s something to consider when developing apps for it.

Consumer Review: At the time, the Kid’s Edition was $150 USD, but now I see it’s gone up to about $190, which seems pretty steep. As I said, it’s really just a $100 Fire HD with a rubber case, FreeTime, and an extra 1 year added to the warranty. You can get FreeTime on your Fire TV, a rubber case for $3 on eBay, and just try not to break a $100 Fire HD after a year, and essentially save yourself quite a bit of money. Also, the bloatware of having FreeTime slows down the device and causes freezing. It’s much nicer than the first-generation Kindle Fire, but at this day and age, those random $40 Android tablets found in bargain bins are faster than the first Kindle Fires.

Parent Review: My daughter loves the Kid’s Edition Kindle. At only 2 years old, she immediately knew how to navigate the interface, download books and games, watch TV shows, and switch between apps without me showing how to do it. The rubber case makes it easy for her to hold and protects it against drops. The limited access makes it easy for me to hand to her and not have to worry about her downloading or buying something she shouldn’t be. However, while using the device in the car, I tried to switch from my account to my daughter’s and it wouldn’t let me without a wi-fi connection to verify my password. This is a terrible feature that Amazon needs to address.

Overall: At $150 or less, the Kid’s Edition is a great deal for parents. At $190, you’re probably better off with something else or just buying a cheaper tablet and getting a rubber case for it. The software can bog down and the fact that I couldn’t switch accounts without wi-fi is pretty bad. That being said, it’s still a nice device for younger kids and knowing it can be replaced for 2 years if it breaks is nice.

Tutorial: Affinity Designer

I recently recorded a complete video tutorial series on Affinity Designer for Stone River e-Learning. You can check out the entire lesson here. The course teaches everything from illustration, logo design, user interface mock-ups, and exporting for web and mobile devices. However, if you’re just wondering how Affinity Designer can help you mock up mobile user interfaces, here is a tutorial.

You can download the entire step-by-step tutorial and the resource files. You are free to use the artwork provided for personal or commercial use. However you cannot sell or distribute the tutorial.

Download the tutorial here.

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Create a Feeding Fish Frenzy Game in Construct 2

UdemyPromoImage

I’m happy to announce the launch of my new video tutorial series: Create a Feeding Fish Frenzy Game with Construct 2!

The lesson features:

  • Over 3 hours of video content
  • All artwork, sound effects, music, and Construct 2 files used in the tutorial
  • Detecting if the player is on a computer or touchscreen device
  • Changing levels once the player reaches a certain score
  • Randomly generating different size fish on the screen to eat or in which to be eaten
  • Implementing animation

Check it out on Udemy today!

udemy

Affinity Designer Video Tutorial Course

I was recently commissioned by Stone River eLearning to create a video tutorial course teaching Affinity Designer. I’m really impressed by the number of features that the software has to offer for the reasonable one-time fee.

It lets you do photo editing like Photoshop, create vector artwork like Illustrator, and even has built-in tools for slicing artwork for mobile application and website design. I was so impressed with it, I used it to create the artwork for my next Construct 2 video tutorial series, which is currently in production.

If you’re interest in checking out the software, click here and if you’d like to learn how to use all of the features, check out my course here.

Construct 2 Video Tutorial Course

It’s been a very busy week at GP Animations! The www.GPAnimations.com and www.MaddieBearBooks.com were both redesigned for the new year, and I completed a new video tutorial course on Construct 2!

udemy

I’m working with CartoonSmart.com to get it on their site, but you can get early access to it right now through Udemy.com. The course teaches you how to use Construct 2 to create games that you can play on computers and mobile devices. Even if you’re not familiar with game development, you can take the course because you don’t need to learn a programming language.

Check it out, and I hope you enjoy it!