Coming Soon to Pastebot: Music in the Background

When we first decided to develop Pastebot, the biggest problem was that it could not run in the background. Working in the background is fundamental to a clipboard app. How useful could a clipboard app be if you had to launch it after each copy? We decided to move forward with it because we felt it had enough potential features to still be quite useful. Turned out we made the right choice. However, we also hoped that someday Apple would allow multi-tasking in some form so Pastebot could finally work how we truly intended it to. Being able to run in the background has been the biggest feature request from our customers.

When iOS4 was announced, we were ecstatic. Multitasking was finally coming to the iPhone! But as we listened on, our dreams of an ideal Pastebot were crumbling away as we heard the limitations of this new feature. In the end, Apple had not provided a way to let Pastebot run in the background. We spent weeks replying with bad news to our customers as they emailed us about Pastebot running in the background on iOS4.

But not all was lost. About a week later (after iOS4′s release), Paul came up with an idea that would actually allow Pastebot to run in the background. Yes, you heard that right. It was a bit of a gamble, but it did not use any private API’s. All we want is to make Pastebot work in the way we always intended it to. The idea is to have a silent audio clip play in the background. This would use one of Apple’s backgrounding APIs that allows music to play in the background. Turns out it works flawlessly. You can finally copy from your Mac or on your iPhone without having to open Pastebot after each copy. When you copy from another app, the signature Tapbots copy sound plays to inform you that Pastebot received it. We added options for timing out after inactivity (to preserve battery life even though it doesn’t use much in the first place) as well the option to turn it off completely. It’s a very elegant solution and behaves flawlessly. We tested it for about a month and our beta testers seem to love the feature and have reported no issues with it.

With excitement, we submitted the final build to Apple last week. A week passed by and we finally received a notice about Pastebot. Rejected. It wasn’t what we hoped for, but to be honest it was expected. We aren’t allowed to play a silent audio clip in the background. After reading over the rejection letter a few times, frustration faded away. They have rules to follow to keep the background services from being used in ways they were not intended to. Fair enough. In the rejection letter, Apple gave us two options:

  1. Provide audible content to the user while running in the background
  2. Remove the audio from the background

We thought about it for a bit more. We want to provide this invaluable feature to our customers. Pastebot benefits greatly from it. Why don’t we just let our users select a song from their music library to play in the background? This would allow this feature to get approved and everyone would be happy. Yes, having a song playing in the background while Pastebot runs in the background isn’t ideal, but nothing is stopping the user from putting their device on mute or better yet, using a silent audio clip of their own (wink wink). So that’s what we are going to do. We are going to take option #1 so you’ll have to select a song to play if you want Pastebot to run in the background. All you need to do is add a short silent audio clip to your library and use that. After all, silence is golden and nobody can prevent you from listening to nothing if you choose. Apple even sells silent songs themselves.

In Other Pastebot News

I also wanted to mention that in this last update, we’ve added 2 more small features:

  1. The ability to view images full screen. This was actually requested by a few iOS app designers so they can store mockups in Pastebot and be able to view them full screen.
  2. The ability to send clippings as text messages. This was a long time request, but wasn’t available until iOS4.

That’s all the info we have for now. We will resubmit Pastebot soon and hope that this time it will be approved. Cross your fingers!