Emerald Blog

Notes from the developers at Emerald Sequoia LLC

iPhone 4 support

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We’re about to release a new version of Emerald Chronometer with high-resolution graphics for the Retina display.  iPhone 3 users won’t see much difference but iPhone 4 users will finally get the full benefit of their new screens.  It makes a huge difference, especially on all our small text:

Tricks with Miami

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There are a couple of tricks with Emerald Chronometer’s Miami front-side watch face that might not be obvious, so I thought I’d throw them out here:

Moon Phase

The first is that you can tell the approximate phase of the moon with this display, by noting the relationship between Moon rise/set and Sun rise/set. From day to day, moonrise (and moonset) are later by about an hour, and thus the inner violet moon ring (see below) rotates (clockwise!) around the face of the watch. When the Moon ring is completely aligned with the gray “Sun is up section”, it means they are rising and setting at the same time and thus the moon is new:

If the Sun and Moon indicators are opposite each other, it means the moon is full:

And you can judge approximately any other phase by noting how far around the Moon ring has rotated from complete alignment with the Sun. For example, in the following image, the Moon has passed full and is approximately at “third quarter”:

Position of planets in the sky

This one is a bit more hand-wavy and subjective. But it does work, at least in mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere. If you rotate the watch face so that a particular planet’s ring is centered at the top, with its rise on the left and its set on the right, and face south, then the 24-hour hand will point approximately at the position along the ecliptic in the sky that the given planet can be found. This works because in this configuration the rise point on the watch face corresponds to left, meaning east when facing south, and the set point corresponds to right, meaning west. In the southern hemisphere mid-latitudes you would have to mirror the result around South. Here’s an example, where we want to see where Saturn is approximately; the 24-hour hand points to its approximate position along the visible portion of the ecliptic:

Of course it’s a lot easier to flip the watch around and use the other side to get the answer precisely 🙂 :

OK, first feedback question:  What’s your favorite watch in Emerald Chronometer?  Submit your answer via the comments (click on the Comments link to the upper right of this post; you’ll have to register the first time you comment but it’s free).

My personal favorite tends to change depending on what I’m working on.  For a while my favorite was Miami, because, odd as it is, the front side can tell you a lot of stuff about what’s going on in the sky (it might be worth a separate posting at some point; you can use it to find planets in the sky and even quickly estimate the phase of the moon).  But Geneva, because of its zillion complications, will probably always be the one I keep coming back to.

– Steve

Current projects

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Just a quick note to update you on what we’re doing at this moment:

  • Our iPad app Emerald Observatory squeaked in under the wire (with 35 minutes to spare!) to make it into the store by iPad launch day (April 3).  That consumed most of our attention for the months of February and March.
  • We’ve been putting the finishing touches on a “world time” watch for Emerald Chronometer, which has a 24-city ring on the front and four 12-hour subdials on the back.  You can customize each of the 28 city locations via the Settings panel (much more quickly than sending it back to the factory for repainting!)

– Steve

EC 3.1 world time watch


Why we code


Emerald Sequoia LLC is the outgrowth of my 20-year friendship with Bill, the other half of the company, and a similarly-long appreciation for Apple products (Bill had one of the first Macs in 1984, and I joined that train in 1989).  When Apple announced the iPhone development kits in early 2008, we decided to have some fun and write an app for it (that was Emerald Chronometer, released the day the App Store opened in July 2008).

In case there was any doubt, we’re not getting rich doing this.  The difficulty of turning an iPhone app into a revenue stream when there are over 150,000 apps competing for users’ attention is well documented elsewhere.  Even on its best day ever Emerald Sequoia made me less money than my average daily income over the past five years from my “real” job (and a more typical day earns the company about $40 before tax, which we split).

So this is a hobby, let’s be clear.  But we’re trying to run it like a company, with professional customer support, solid testing, good development practices, etc., etc.  We have 55 years of development experience between us, and we try to apply all that we’ve learned.  And we’ve put in the hours, as well; typically about 20 hours a week for me over the past 2 years.

And the end result is that it’s been the most satisfying development project I’ve ever worked on, because we’ve gotten to work on a product we use ourselves on a daily basis, and we’ve gotten to control all aspects of that product development ourselves.  And most importantly for me, we’ve gotten to interact directly via email with customers who love the product.  I guess this is something all small business owners are familiar with, but it’s a refreshing change for someone like me who’s previously been at least one level removed from the customer (although, truth be told, that has, at times, been a good thing…).

So thanks for making it all worthwhile. 🙂

– Steve

Welcome to the blog


Thanks for looking in on us.

We’ve created this blog so that we can communicate to our customers; Apple does not provide us with any customer email addresses, so this is the best mechanism we have come up with.

We’re not sure what the volume will be until we get going.  But there will be occasional, perhaps weekly or monthly, posts that

  • let you know what the developers have been doing lately
  • possibly ask for feature or design feedback
  • announce new products or new versions of products

and more sporadically

  • expound philosophically on the experience of being an iPad/iPhone/iPad touch developer.

We welcome feedback of all kinds.  Well, maybe not all kinds; please keep it civil.  🙂

Thanks for participating.

– Steve