PhotoMath

Just downloaded this awesome little app. Just point your phone to a maths equation and the answer (with steps) is shown instantly. Handwriting recognition not supported yet though.

https://photomath.net/en/

Wonder if this will eventually replace the calculator as we know it?

Wasn’t this app designed during an episode of the “Big Bang Theory”?

Yes, I do recall something like that from a past episode.

Yeah, PhotoMath is an awesome app ! Works great and the only thing missing is OCR for handwriting equations.

That said, unbelievable they put it on the AppStore for free.
I really do not understand why devs are giving apps for free. They just destroy the App market for developers.

[quote=177722:@Christoph De Vocht]Yeah, PhotoMath is an awesome app ! Works great and the only thing missing is OCR for handwriting equations.

That said, unbelievable they put it on the AppStore for free.
I really do not understand why devs are giving apps for free. They just destroy the App market for developers.[/quote]

I thought you did not like my remarks about free software killing software price perception ?

The iOS App Store is dying from free software. The Google Play Store too. The Windows market is rotten with free software. The MAS is probably the only place where customers happily pay for software.

Note that the issue is far from new. Back in 1976 a very young Bill Gates who had just founded Micro-Soft (with the dash) wrote an open letter to the Homebrew stating that software should be paid, and that not paying for it was not fair.
http://www.digibarn.com/collections/newsletters/homebrew/V2_01/gatesletter.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Letter_to_Hobbyists

As a developer, especially much less sucessful than mister Gates, I always thought that my honest work merited some reward.

Unfortunately, there are wealthier, maybe more talented people or simply individuals making a living elsewhere who find it justified to give away what we painstakely try to put together and ruin our market. From a university professor who gets well paid for conferences and teaching, who finds it fun to spread freeware, to people like Larry Ellison, the president of Oracle, who from his 54 billion dollars weath can look down on us and promote freeware when he has made a fortune from software, all are assured bread and butter on the table. I find that unfair, and no amount of fallacies will persuade me they are right.

Some people do not like Bill Gates. It is their privilege. But at least, he stood up for developers early on.

IMO there is some business merit to a freemium business model. If you have a product that people want, and it is unique enough you should be able to generate enough interest, and thereby a decent amount of revenue from it. (For the record, I don’t have billions in the bank, and are just as dependent on generating revenue from my work as any other software maker).

The game Clash of Clans is a good example of where the fermium model works well. During 2012 they reported a revenue of $101 million, and during 2013 a revenue of $892 million. If it wasn’t free to start with, many players wouldn’t have started playing the game, and for the game to be successful, they had to attrack a massive community of players. SuperCell found an innovative way to make game play fun for people that don’t want to pay, yet establish a very respectable revenue from people who are willing to pay.

But I concur that when the majority of perceptions in a market is one of “things needs to be free”, it does challenge the software maker to come up with clever business models to supply to such a market, and still remain profitable. But this certainly is not an easy or trivial feat when you compete against the idea that everything needs to be free.

When Jim Button released PC-File back in 1982 as “user supported software”, and in the process invented shareware and try-before-you-buy, there were almost no programs for the PC. There was no Internet, and his archives were distributed mainly through Compuserve, Bix, and some rare BBS based repositories. The user base was confidential but highly educated. It was an instant success because of the rarity of commercial solutions. The few magazines thirsty for news to cover smuthered him with interview, coverage and benchmarks.

I became a member of the then newly formed Association of Shareware Professionals in 1987 and still, shareware was hot on the few networks available, the BBS networks and shareware CDs. Magazines also started to publish shareware Cds. The relative rarity of software started to make it difficult to get decent exposure amongst by then hundreds of developers. The concept of freeware was largely touted, and there were some people cosily paid by their university saying that paying for software was unfair. Yet, shareware was still a nice way to market software without the tremendous hurdles of box distribution.

Today there are millions of free apps, trialware or not. Big companies like Adobe, Apple, Microsoft and others have their own policy of free software. Plus, there are countless places where cracked software is available. Once can be special when there are a few dozen actors. Elbowing amongst millions is mostly futile for YAO (Yet Another One). Even for a very original, very niche application, being able to stand out in the mare nostrum of free software is daunting without the big money to advertise. I am still placing my archives in software repositories, but franky, it really makes me feel today like yet another beggar on a corner street.

Users no longer care to know if the developer is a nice person or if his latest version has features others lack. First and formost, the user has les attention span available than for the occasional spam in his mailbox. When he looks for software, he will go for the three first results on CNet or MacUpdate, which we all know are payed for. He will very, very seldom go a page or two down to see your last baby. It completely defeats the purpose of freemium : either you go big dough and make it a huge marketing operation, or you are just yet another one of these pan handlers around.

I do not think in itself the proposition of try before you buy is irrelevant or evil. It has simply become much too widespread for a honest indie developer’s good.

Free software definitely has an impact on the market, especially for Indie developers.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts on open source Michel?

There are lots of open source and open specifications that adds a lot of value, but also contributes to the idea that things must be free. OpenGL is a good example.

[quote=177991:@Alwyn Bester]Free software definitely has an impact on the market, especially for Indie developers.

I’m curious, what are your thoughts on open source Michel?

There are lots of open source and open specifications that adds a lot of value, but also contributes to the idea that things must be free. OpenGL is a good example.[/quote]

I tried to give an historical perspective, since all too often opinions quickly turn into either or, trying to make payed software evil and freeware angelic, or the other way around. Nothing is intrinsically evil. It is very important not to let oneself be blinded by preconceptions. I am still a shareware author, but I know this way of selling software is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Consumers today have zero or little education, very little regard for boy scout cookies or other “honor system”, and absolutely no loyalty whatsoever. Plus an attention span akin to the proverbial golden fish. The only way to survive is to find the gimmick that will draw attention and sell on big distribution channels like the MAS or the iOS App Store. Long is past the boxed software era when I had to pay thousands CompUSA to get my foot wide space on the shel for a month. Today shelves are virtual, but the ransom is still here : no exposure is ever free in the enchanted world of Internet 3.00.

We all practice open source at one point or another, posting snippets or full classes, or making them available through repositories. We all contribute free software now an then, often when the cycle of a program has ended, but not necessarilly. Open source and free software is just the natural sweat of programmers who need to share what they have found, and which may not necessarily fit in the commercial circuit.

To me, Open Source is very much the equivalent to other scientific research. Fundamental science is open source by nature. Researchers exchange data and concepts freely. Often enough, research is a university thing, and computer open source follows the same rule.

Now where it gets thorny is what you do with Open Soure. At the risk of hearing screams, may I point to Mac OS X and iOS built atop an Open Source Unix foundation ? May I say that the number one OS today called Android sits on open source Linux ? Apple is the most profitable company on earth. When big laboratories produce generic medication based on open research, turn around and rake huge profits, it does not seem to shock much.

To me, Open Source is mainly a geek thing, ingrained in research. As such, it is boon of insipration that most programmers enjoy. But it is impossible to separate it from politics. Some people simply think that commercial software is evil and should simply disappear. That reflects in some of the leonine open source license terms. Not even a penny finds grace in the eyes of the free software ayatollahs. So we end up with open source programs that in practice cannot be used in anything commercial.

Such an attitude IMHO is just another not so bright way of stiffling innovation. Well and good a twisted geek gave birth to a freeware baby and forbid any kind new development based on it if any money is exchanged. I wonder how that guy lives. Actually I don’t. When looking closer, one will quickly find out he got supported by his parents, or paid by the university, so he can afford the luxury of being intransigent about free.

Other people, fortunately, are not so biggoted. A lot of people who placed their code in publicly available repositories, most noticeably on SourceForge or Github, contribute to the general wealth of the software industry. And that is great.

Fact is like any software industry, computer programs as a business are just like music : many candidates, very few make it big. The rest survive on their enthusiasm.

I have made mine a Lao Tzu idiom a while ago : “He who knows he has enough is rich. "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laozi

I never made millions selling my software. But I have made enough to pay the rent for quite a while. And that makes me fortunate.

I cannot recall me saying that. :slight_smile:
In fact they should shoot devs that create great free apps. :slight_smile:

[quote=178010:@Christoph De Vocht]I cannot recall me saying that. :slight_smile:
In fact they should shoot devs that create great free apps. :)[/quote]

I would not go as far. Maybe simply taking their computer away ?

Yes please.

Free software is bound to make innovation slow down and wither, if people like us cannot survive. Most fere software around is either outdated, childishly limited or blatantly bugged. Free software comes with no service whatsoever and “as is” often means junk.

Indie developers, on the contrary, often go out of their way to provide an extraordinary service, to modify ther products to better suit customers wishes, and generally to keep with plaform changes. Confer the numerous posts here about Yosemite 10.10.3.

I just exchanged some 30 support messages with a guy who purchased a $19.95 MICR font lately, and I will probably have to hold his hand a while longer. No free junkware lord would ever do that.