My First Month in University

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I started university a little more than a month ago and I thought it would be nice to share my experience. I had many discussions with other student developers about the pros and cons of studying computer science. I won’t go into the details if you should or should not go to university (or college or whatever you prefer). The goal of this post is to share my experience at USI (Università della Svizzera italiana) which is located in Lugano. My experience could highly differ from any other university which is nice if you want to compare it to your own experience.

I will try to focus a little more on my university program and not on the general case because each university has a different method of teaching and different programs. USI is a small university compared to basically every other school and the number of bachelor students in Informatics is 52. I really like the small number of students because a special connection with professors and teaching assistants is made.

All the classes are thaught in english (not a really common thing in non-english countries during bachelor) and so the english level is improved by just following a lecture. Many students obviously speak italian and during group projects we often end up speaking italian for simplicity and speed of communication.

Unlike other computer science programs, math is just a small part of the curriculum. One of the reasons why I chose this university over bigger and more popular universities was the focus on the practical skills.
One of the courses during the first semester is called Programming Fundamentals and is teaching Racket, a functional programming language. It is really interesting to get to know the basics of logics while having fun.
Another course is called Computer Architecture in which we learn the basics at a hardware level.
Maybe the most interesting course is Software Tools Atelier which is teaching the basic of Informatics in many different areas. In the first month an introduction was given about the Shell, LaTex, HTML and CSS.

There are many group projects which already started the first week. The goal is to teach team work which obviously is a very important thing in the industry. Homeworks are usually to be handed in in pairs so that’s a nice way to share opinions and skills.

There is a special course called Privatissimum which takes just one hour every week. All the students were split into small groups of 5-6 people and assigned to a professor. Every week we get together to talk about university problems and tips and trick to improve our daily student life. This goes to show how much the school cares about us.

I’m really enjoying my time in university so far. I couldn’t hope for a better start.

My first midterm is scheduled for next week, wish me luck! 

How to ask for App Store reviews

In this post I want to explain how easy it is to get positive reviews for your App Store app. The method I started using with my customers brought my app more positive reviews than before so I am confident that other developers could find this explanation useful.

Let’s first say that there is (still) not a way to contact users who leave a review on the App Store. Most of the times, users download an app and they expect it to work immediately and perfectly. If this is the case (and we all hope it is), then users will enjoy the app. The problem is that very few people will remember to go back in the App Store and write a nice review.

There are many ways to ask users for a review which are for example showing an alert to the user after the app was opened 10 times or sending a push notification. I find none of this methods appropriate and I started experimenting a few weeks ago how I could get a nice reviews for my app Notes for Watch.

When I shipped the first version, a bug occurred when users were using both the Apple Watch and the iPhone at the same time. This resulted in a really low rating as you can see.

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Please note the last review: “if it worked as advertised it would get 6 stars”. I fixed the issue in the next version and no, I never received 6 stars.

To avoid receiving more negative reviews, I made sure to add more support options in the app. The FAQ section is easily reachable in the settings view (it’s just one tap away from the main view) and the contact button offers support via email or via Twitter. This is how the settings view looks like in Notes for Watch.

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Notes for Watch started getting more and more users which translated into more support emails. When I’m not asleep, I usually have a pretty fast replying time (sometimes I’m even able to reply to a customer support request in less than 15 minutes). This is positive for customers which are always surprised by the quick response and they immediately thank me for the fast reply. Here there are a few examples.

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Awesome, now customers know that there is a real person behind the app and it’s actively supported and improved. When users have issues or they simply want to send feedback about future features, it’s good to reply as soon as possible. When the problem is fixed and I’m sure that users are enjoying the app, I add a post scriptum to my email like this:

P.s: If you’re enjoying the app, please take a very short moment to leave a quick review in the App Store. It helps continuing the development of the app :)

In this moment, users are happy because they know the app is working properly, they quickly received support and they can trust the developer for other issues in the future. They are most likely in spending a few minutes of their day in writing a positive review for your app now. The results are positive and as you can see, I’ve received three 5 stars reviews since I added the previous sentence to my last support email I send to customers.

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If I didn’t explicitly ask for a review, I would’t have received those 3 positive reviews.

Let me know your opinion on Twitter. Thanks for reading.

Thanks to Max Bäumle for proofreading this post.

Apple Watch Thoughts and Improvemements

I am an owner of an Apple Watch Sport 42mm with a white band since a week and I decided to write my thoughts and what I would like to see improved in the next software updates from an user perspective.

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