Sunday, 12 July 2015

Whats new in Follow Chess v1.7

Follow Chess (Android) is now faster and better! Although its not a very big release; its an important one!

  • New Tourney Notification - The App will now automatically notify you when a new tourney starts, so you don't have to keep checking for your favorite Chess tournaments. The App smartly notifies you of tournaments which may be of interest to you (default Setting). However, you can always change this behavior from the App Settings, and choose to either receive ALL new tourney notifications, or none!

3 settings for new tourney notifications

  • Faster & Better - The older version of the App would sometimes show stale standings or games, till the App was relaunched or till a certain time had elapsed. Now with this new version, the App is equipped to receive real-time updates from the Server. Consequentially, you should get to view the up-to-date Standings, Tourney Status and other important stuff. This should improve the overall experience
  • Enhancements & Bug fixes - There are some other enhancements (orientation handling while watching video and in Analysis board screen etc) under the hood and bug fixes

Already Purchased?

With this release, you now have the ability to convert to the Full version (Pro) by subscribing on a monthly or yearly basis. So you could just turn Pro for the duration of a month when your favorite tournament is in play! However please note the following:
  • All your purchases and subscriptions are available for use on multiple Android devices (linked with the same Google account). You DO NOT have to purchase again on other Android device.
  • If you have already purchased the Pro version (either monthly, yearly or lifetime), the Follow Chess App on your other Android devices should also automatically convert to Pro for that duration (monthly, yearly or lifetime). However, sometimes it takes time for Google to sync this purchase information. If you still see Ads or free version, please restart your device. This helps the App get latest purchase information from Google.
  • The monthly and yearly charges are recurring (Google dictates that!). So if you wish to unsubscribe, you may do so from the Play Store app - My Apps - SUBSCRIPTIONS screen
PS. Follow Chess tries its best to cover as many international tournaments as possible. This in turn means more recurring Server charges. There are also many cool features (past, present, future!) that take a lot of time and effort. This is the reason for the change in the billing model, compared to the previous version of Follow Chess.

Special thanks to Sathish S for his help with this version.

Friday, 26 June 2015

What's new in Analyze This 4.0!

After a long wait, Analyze This 4.0 for Android was released today! Its a big release and I am sure you will all like it. Here is what's new in it!

 Full Automatic Engine Analysis (with verbose commentary!) - BETA
It took me really long time to finish this feature (besides work on other Apps/features), but its finally here! Analyze This is probably the first Android App to feature a full automated analysis with natural language analysis. Yes, not only can it suggest moves, but it can also add verbose comments (in English, for now)
Moreover, the feature has been programmed to not only suggest the mistakes and bad moves, but it also marks good moves and sacrifices! Yes it can add symbols like "!", "?!" , "??" etc
This is only the 1st version of this feature and obviously there will be some rough edges. I plan to keep improving this feature, so please send your suggestions or remarks based on your experience with this feature.
Free users can only choose between 1-5seconds per move. PRO users can choose upto 20seconds per move.

 Stockfish 6
PRO users of the App could manually download and install the latest version of Stockfish 6. Now, its available by default for all users (free and PRO)

 Engine Threads/Cores

Now you can choose the number of Threads/Cores/Processors the Engines can use. See Settings - Engine Options. 
Please note that choosing the max number of threads can improve Engine performance, but at the same time, your device may stall a bit and consume more battery. Use wisely.

 Automatic Opening recognition
The App now automatically tells you the Opening ECO, name in the Notation. The ECO will also be automatically saved when you save a game!

 Undo option in strategic places
From time to time, we all make mistakes! Accidentally deleted the wrong move? Or perhaps you cleared the board in Position setup? Don't worry, UNDO has got you covered!
A major reason and driving force behind this was to improve the overall user experience.
Undo options have been added in multiple strategic places, so even if you make a mistake while using the App, you can undo it! 

Share board image with different arrow/highlight colors!
Now when you share the Board as image, you can choose from 4 preset colors and highlight the Squares or draw arrows with them! Makes it easy to express ideas.
Not only this, you can even directly Share board image from other Chess Apps installed on your device! Choose to export current board as FEN, and choose "Analyze This - Highlight & Share" option from the list of Apps! You are ready to highlight the board and share it!

☆ Option to hide engine arrow
For those of you who did not like the Engine revealing the solution with the arrow on the board, you may now hide the arrow. See Settings - Engine Options

☆ More space for Notation!
Some of you wanted even more space for the Notation view. Now the 2-way toggle next to the player names, can work 3-ways and provide more space for the Notation (and shrink the Board accordingly)

☆ Touch and hold the board for Quick annotation view
This was a nice feature added in the previous version which quickly helped to add annotation Symbols to the game. Earlier you could double tap on the board to view it, but some times that lead to false touches. This is now changed to long-press. So touch and hold the board to view the Quick annotation View.
In this regard, there is an additional feature in the Analysis Menu, to hide the Engine layout. When not needed, you can hide the Engines currently selected, and make more space for the Board/Notation.

☆ Bug fixes and other enhancements

This version has many bug fixes and lots of other visual enhancements and improvements under the hood!

//What could not make into this release
Unfortunately, Critter cannot run on Android 5.0 and above. I am looking for a suitable replacement, and will hopefully add it in a future release.

Meanwhile, please keep sending your bugs/feature suggestions, and I would be happy to consider them.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New version of iChess - Chess puzzles released to Google Play Store!

iChess 4.0.2 has been publicly released (Google Play Store)! Thanks to all who helped with the Testing. Please let me know if you spot anything odd.
I hope you all like it the way I enjoyed adding these new features!
Ofcourse, there is still lot of work to be done and I plan to add new features (Sync, etc!)

In due course of time, I hope to get these changes on Amazon (sooner) and on iOS (couple of months)

Monday, 16 February 2015

iChess 4.0 BETA ready for testing!

iChess 4.0 BETA is ready for Testing!
Its a big release and some things may have been inadvertently broken on some devices. Please help me test the App and report bugs/crashes!

//How to Test:
1. Either join the
MyChessApps G+ community https://plus.google.com/communities/108010145398500180406
or
Google Group https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/my-chess-apps
2. Visit the below link depending on the Free or Pro version of the App you have
Free:-  https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.pereira.ichess
Pro:-  https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.pereira.ichess.paid
3. Click 'BECOME A TESTER'. It should say "You are now a tester"
4. Click 'Download iChess from the Play Store' at the bottom of the page.
5. Test and let me know if you see any bugs/problems!

//What's new
* New material design!
* Mark puzzle as Favorite
* Improved Random puzzle function
* Option to hide Hint button (to remove temptation!)
* Sort puzzle icons by Title or Last Opened
* Auto open last puzzle file
* and more...

Friday, 21 November 2014

Using Analyze This' Instant-position analysis from your Android Chess App

You can use the Instant-position analysis feature of Analyze This from your own Chess App! All you need to do is invoke Analyze This and pass additional Intent extras.

1. Instant-position analysis for current position only
You can send the FEN string of the current position for Instant-position analysis. Note that only the FEN string is sent and not the whole PGN. So users would need to return back to your App in case they wish to analyze some other position.

public static final String PKG_ANALYZE_THIS_FREE = "com.pereira.analysis";
public static final String PKG_ANALYZE_THIS_PAID = "com.pereira.analysis.paid";
public static final String ANALYZE_THIS_ACTIVITY = "com.pereira.analysis.ui.BoardActivity";
public static final String KEY_FEN = "KEY_FEN";

//Since users may have either the Free or the Paid version of Analyze This, you should check using Package Manager

String 
analyzeThisPackageName = PKG_ANALYZE_THIS_FREE; //default to free version, but check below if paid version is installed
if (isInstalled(this, 
PKG_ANALYZE_THIS_PAID)) {
    //paid version is installed, so use it!
    
analyzeThisPackageName = PKG_ANALYZE_THIS_PAID;
}

Intent intent = new Intent();
//set the FEN extra
intent.putExtra(KEY_FEN, fen); //send the "fen" string from your program
//set the component
ComponentName name = new ComponentName(analyzeThisPackageName, ANALYZE_THIS_ACTIVITY);
intent.setComponent(name);

try {
    startActivity(intent);
    } catch (ActivityNotFoundException e) {
    //TODO neither Free nor Paid version of Analyze This is installed, so show message to the user to install the App from the Play store
}

//Method to check if the given package is installed on the device
public static boolean isInstalled(Context context, String packageName) {
    boolean installed = true;
    try {
        PackageInfo pinfo = context.getPackageManager().getPackageInfo(
        packageName, 0);
        } catch (android.content.pm.PackageManager.NameNotFoundException e) {
        installed = false;
    }
    return installed;
}

2. Instant-position analysis with whole PGN
You can also send the whole PGN game to Analyze This and have it immediately start analyzing the position at a given ply number: (new addition in Analyze This v3.1.4). The added advantage of sending the whole PGN text is that users can also move back and forth through the game without having to return back to your App.

public static final String KEY_PLY_NUM = "KEY_PLY_NUM";

Intent shareIntent = new Intent(android.content.Intent.ACTION_SEND);
intent.setType("application/x-chess-pgn");
intent.putExtra(android.content.Intent.EXTRA_TEXT, pgn); //complete pgn text
ComponentName name = new ComponentName(analyzeThisPackageName, 
ANALYZE_THIS_ACTIVITY);intent.putExtra(KEY_PLY_NUM, plyNum); //plyNum (half-move) at which to start analyzing

intent.setComponent(name);

try {
    startActivity(intent);
    } catch (ActivityNotFoundException e) {
    //TODO neither Free nor Paid version of Analyze This is installed, so show message to the user to install the App from the Play store
}

BONUS!
You can even ask Analyze This to flip the board or choose a different board color which suits your application's board color.
intent.putExtra("KEY_COLOR", 0); //Integer value, where 0="Aqua", 1="Blue", 2="Brown", 3="Gray", 4="Green", 5="Fritz", 6="Sky Blue"
intent.putExtra("KEY_FLIPPED", true); //boolean value, where true = turn the board and show white on top, false = do not turn the board

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

My Chess Apps has a new Google Forum!

Dear Friends,

You now have a single place to discuss everything about my Chess apps!
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!members/my-chess-apps

Join the Google forum group and discuss features, suggestions, bugs and stuff with like-minded Chess enthusiasts!


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Analyze This - Understanding the Chess Engine

What is Critter, Stockfish?

Critter & Stockfish are the Top free Chess engines (aka mini Computers) that come pre-installed with Analyze This.
They are like the commercial engines Fritz, Houdini albeit free.
As of May 2013, Critter has an estimated ELO strength of 3175 while Stockfish is rated at 3164! (Carlsen is 2868!)
Newer versions of Critter and Stockfish can be downloaded from their respective sites:
http://www.vlasak.biz/critter/
http://stockfishchess.org/download/

What are the three buttons next to the Engine?

"Start/Stop"
Start or stop the engine.

"+"
Increase the number of "lines" that the engine shows. By default, the engine only shows the first best move it has calculated. You can press "+" to ask the engine to show the 2nd, 3rd etc "best" moves. 1st move is always the best move. More engine lines mean that the engine has to use lot of CPU power and also spend equal time analyzing the other "best" moves that it considers. The quality can degrade with too many lines.

"-"
Decrease the number of lines. Lesser the lines, the efficient is the engine.

What do those numbers and symbols shown by the Engine mean?


+/= (=/+)
Slight advantage: White (Black) has slightly better chances.

+/− (−/+)
Advantage: White (Black) has much better chances. It is also written as ± for White advantage, ∓ for
Black advantage; the other similar symbols can be written in this style as well.

+− (−+)
Decisive advantage: White (Black) has a clear advantage.

(6.31) Centi pawn evaluation
The engine considers the position to be equal to 6.31 pawns (winning). Negative value means the position is losing for that side by those many pawns.
In other words, the evaluation of the position in terms of pawns (where pawn = 1pt)

d=16 (Engine depth)
The half-moves that the engine is currently thinking ahead. Typically means that the engine is thinking 8 moves ahead (8 for White, 8 for Black). As you give more time for the engine to chew on that position, the depth will keep increasing gradually.

For more details, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_annotation_symbols

NOTE: Running more engines simultaneously or with multiple lines can severely drain device battery.