We’re heading to SXSW 2012!

It’s that time of year again: We’re all packed up and heading to Austin, Texas for this year’s South by Southwest Interactive.

It’s not often enough that we have the chance to meet Alfred users face to face so, while we’re looking forward to the SXSW panels and parties, we’re most excited to meet you.

If you’re also attending, look out for us. We’ll be wearing purple Alfred tshirts, occasionally bowler hats and will be carrying very special Alfred stickers and goodies.

We’ll be tweeting throughout the week, so keep an eye out on the @alfredapp account for updates and do come say hi. :)

Happy 2nd Birthday Alfred: 10% discount on the Powerpack this week!

This week, Alfred celebrates his second birthday. And he likes to do it in style!

Hot on the heels of two big releases, we’re offering a 10% discount on the Powerpack so if you haven’t yet adopted the powerful add-on to Alfred’s free version yet, this is your chance. With more useful features than a Swiss Army knife, you’re bound to love this addition to your everyday Mac workflow.

If you’re already a Powerpack user, be sure to tell your friends to take advantage of this week’s birthday discount code while it lasts! You have until Saturday 3rd March to grab a single or family license at 10% discount.

Also, feel free to bake Alfred a birthday cake, cupcakes or cookies. We lo… ahem, I mean, he loves those very much.

Alfred 1.0: Big statues, awards and the next release

On November 29th, we released version 1.0 of Alfred. We were so excited to finally make this milestone release available to everyone, yet we couldn’t have predicted how much better you would all make December and January for us.

Macworld Editor's Choice Award - Running with Crayons' Alfred

Since the release, Alfred received numerous accolades, including the revered Macworld Editor’s Choice Award. As a Mac user since the late 80′s, I remember thumbing through my grandfather’s Macworld magazines so being recognised as an “exceptional Mac product” by this mainstay of the Mac industry is an honour. Plus, it comes with a gigantic statue. Who doesn’t love a giant statue?

Additionally, a few other publications awarded Alfred recognition as they looked back at 2011:

In addition, at the end of the year, screencaster extraordinaire Don McAllister produced two excellent videos on Alfred’s core and Powerpack features. If you’re trying to convince a friend to switch to Alfred, this video will walk them through in superbly useful detail.

With these being the cherry on top of our 2011, Christmas was spent sitting on cloud nine and feeling that we truly do have the best community in the world.

Since 2012 started, Alfred also received a mention on Forbes and a PCMag Editor’s Choice review. As they say, start the year as you mean to go on! We’ve saved as many of the mentions as possible in our Delicious account, so have a browse if you’re curious. And of course, thanks to everyone who wrote these wonderful pieces.

What now?

Did you really think that now that Alfred has hit 1.0, we’d stop improving this app we love so much? Of course not – you know us too well! :)

Andrew has nearly finished working on version 1.1. As he explains on his Tumblr, it originally was intended to be a 1.0.1 maintenance release, with a few tiny fixes, but it has grown into a full blown release with shiny new features. Expect to see improvements to Contacts integration and Extensions, and see the change log for the full list of changes. As it went into development release today, we hope to roll it out to everyone within the next few weeks.

We also can’t wait to unveil the other ideas we’ve been working on, which we hope to share with you over the course of the year. Until then, keep an eye on Twitter for sneak previews over the coming months!

Cheers,
Vero

Wishing You a Wonderful Christmas!

2011 - How was it for you? For us, it was… epic, in the truest sense. It was a long adventure, filled with fantastic twists and turns and a glorious ending.

Not only have we made tons of new friends, learned loads more about business, but we have been awarded incredible recognition; We were graced with a Macworld’s Editor’s Choice Award, as TUAW’s Best Mac Utility of 2011, one of MacLife’s Top 10 Must-Have Apps of 2011, one of Mashable’s 10 Best Mac Apps of 2011 and have been nominated for MacStories and Cult of Mac‘s awards, to be announced soon.

To each and every one of you, thank you for the support you’ve given us. Even if all you’ve done is told one friend about Alfred, you’ve helped one more person become more efficient when using their Mac. Thank you for the supportive tweets, the hilarious cat and cheeseburger pictures you’ve emailed us and the sock-blowingly brilliant extensions you’ve taken the time to create.

We wish you a relaxing, fun-filled Christmas, complete with great friends and great food. It’s a chance to take a break from the everyday, look back onto last year and look forward to the new year ahead.

2011 rocked and we’re coming back for seconds. Roll on 2012!

Cheers,

Andrew & Vero

Giving to Cancer Research

Lavender ribbon - cancer awarenessOver the course of December, we’ve been giving away all sorts of tips and goodies for you to enjoy as part of our Christmas Calendar. Today, we’ve decided to give differently.

The greatest thing we all have to be grateful for is our health, which gives us the freedom to do what we want and live the life we want. We can now live longer and healthier than ever before. However, cancer is a vicious illness which can affect our loved ones much too easily. My cousin suffered from leukaemia in her teens but came out healthy and strong, and MacStories‘ Viticci is fighting his own battle, as he shared recently.

Unfortunately, there is still much we don’t understand about cancer and some, like Steve Jobs, don’t necessarily win their fight.

We will be donating £1000 to Cancer Research UK this Christmas, hoping that together we can make a difference.

Alfred Powerpack and the Mac App Store (or not)

Note: Before I start, this only affects software obtained through the Mac App Store. Any software purchased outside of the Mac App Store isn’t affected by this and continues as before.

The Mac App Store and Sandboxing

The Mac App Store is currently in transition. From March 2012 (update: Apple delayed it until June 2012), all new submissions / updates need to be sandboxed.

Sandboxing is a way of protecting users from malicious or naughty software by severely restricting the access an application has to underlying resources. It also makes the app approval process easier for Apple as sandboxed apps simply cannot do things outside their own resources. While this works remarkably well on iOS (I am personally happy to be in the “walled garden” on my phone), it really changes the landscape for OS X applications.

As you know, Alfred isn’t a self-contained application like a game, graphics package or todo list. Many of the things Alfred does are to do with OS X itself… he searches, navigates and opens files and apps on your Mac, he runs AppleScript to interact with other applications, he even allows you to create and run lower-level shell or AppleScript extensions… he is basically your quick interface into the heart of OS X. This is where Alfred starts to throw his toys out of the [sand]box.

I would LOVE Alfred’s Powerpack in the Mac App Store

Having the Powerpack in the Mac App Store would not only bring me more revenue, but it’s also a trusted discovery channel for new users – I *know* Alfred would have significantly more Powerpack users by selling through this channel.

Alfred has always used safe, public APIs and been extremely well behaved. Nevertheless, sandboxing means that many of the “OS X allowed” Powerpack features mentioned above would need to be limited or removed if I wanted to continue selling through the Mac App Store from and after March 2012.

Therefore, the Powerpack won’t be going in the Mac App Store [quite yet]

Alfred’s users are most important in this decision. I want to do the best thing for users rather than maximising the money I could get from the Powerpack. As such, I will be keeping the Powerpack out of the Mac App Store until the shortcomings of sandboxing are fully understood and I can make a full evaluation of wether this suits Alfred or not.

ULTIMATELY: The scenario I want to avoid…

If the Powerpack went into the Mac App Store for v1.0 at the end of this month (which I could very well do) and then in March 2012, the Mac App Store sandboxing policy is strongly enforced, I would be unable to provide further updates through the Mac App Store without significantly changing or removing features which do not comply with the sandboxing policy.

I *WOULD NOT* want to provide an update to users that removes features which people are already using and enjoying just to get the latest version into the Mac App Store. This is a problem which may plague current apps in the Mac App Store as well as Alfred, and it wouldn’t be fair on anybody.

But what if you want the Powerpack?

Just remember, the Mac App Store is one of many ways to buy software for your Mac, and the sandbox restrictions only affect software sold / bought through the Mac App Store. Your freedom as a consumer still remains!

To make things easier for Alfred users, I have recently changed Alfred Powerpack’s payment process to use our own bespoke system based on the excellent Foxycart. You no longer need to sign up for Google Checkout to buy the Powerpack as we now accept Credit / Debit cards and PayPal directly. Foxycart is also heavily PCI and Safe Harbor compliant and we do not store credit card information, which means you can buy with the utmost confidence.

I do hope that the sandboxing guidelines are relaxed or that at least Apple provides further mechanisms to interact with OS X before March as I would love to use the Mac App Store as another way to bring the Powerpack to Alfred’s users.

Version 1.0 is just around the corner

This being said, Alfred is just about to hit 1.0, an extremely exciting time for me! He is better than ever and this is just the start of great things to come for him. Take a look at the change log to see what’s coming or, for the more adventurous, why not download the development version to have a play and help us test it :D

Also remember that buying the Powerpack now will save you some dosh as he is only £12 until v1.0 is released!

Cheers,
Andrew