10/2/09
9:48 am

MacMost Now 300: Talking With iPhone App Developers

Interviews with iPhone app developers from the 360iDev conference. The developers talk about their apps, what they like about making iPhone and iPod Touch apps, what they don't like, and how others can get started in the business.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. Today lets talk to some iPhone App Developers. Earlier this week I had the chance to go to the 360 I Dev iPhone App Developers conference. There I talk to a lot of app developers about their apps and asked them what they liked and didn't like about developing for the iPhone and iTouch platform, and how others can get into iPhone App Development.
Male 1: Rocket monkey allows you to control a 3D space monkey as he avoids astroids and travels through different systems and avoids all obstacles at all times.
Gary Seto: It's an in photo captioning and annotations tool. You can do speech bubbles. You can do impact font for LOL and fail text. You can add tags to peoples faces.
Jessica Kahn 1: Well it's a music rhythm game. We've got about somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 million users on it. It's the most popular game in the store today.
Serban Porumbescu: The first one is Scrabby the Scrabble word finder. And the second was sort of a follow on tool which was Judge Scrabby.
Noel Llopis: My primary app was called Flower Garden, which is something that lets plant seeds. It's kind of game, kind of a entertainment app. It lets you plant seeds. You water them and they grow over time. And they bloom into flowers.
Tom Blind: Your in charge boats but we also have different levels of game play. Such as submarines and helicopters and you have to maintain all of the different levels at the same time. So it's sort of a new dimension to the genre.
Kyle Roaches: Things like sliders and buttons pop up on the screen with an audio prompt. It's basically suppose to be a training tool for new users to get use to the interface elements of the iPhone.
David Whatley: Geo Defense just came out number two on the app list. It's a tower defense game. Awesome in all ways. All ways.
Keith Shepherd: Harbor Master would be considered a line drawing game where you managing traffic in a busy harbor, where you have cargo ships coming into the port. And you're taking them to a dock, they unload there cargo and then you have to lead them off the dock.
Chuck Smith: Its a way to learn German on your iPhone. Just pull it out when you have extra time, and there's 25 lessons you can go through.
Jon Carroll: We post questions and people vote and give answers on the questions, and we use the GPS iPhone to correlate their answers to their geographic location. And so we can show colored maps with break downs of what people voted on certain questions. Users can comment on them, create other users comments.
Jonas Wills: Our biggest game is Bounce On. It got up to number 9 on the app store. It's a platform game like Mario.
Gary: How long did it take to develop?
Scrabby took about two weeks.
It took about three weeks to develop, from beginning to finished.
You know a couple of months worth of development.
That was my first real app on the iPhone. It took me six months to do.
That one has actually been in development for a few months. Sort of in the background of the other projects we've been working on.
About two months.
About four months. Weekends, evenings that kind of thing.
We developed the first release in two months.
I'd say about a month.
All in all its been about a year in development.
It took about six weeks to do the first world, and we've done updates every month and a half or so adding additional worlds
Gary: How big is your team?
We've got 5 and we have some other people that are working with us. Contractors.
There's two people. Myself and my brother Kensedo. It's just the two of us. I do most of the back end, the objective C programming. He does the user experience and the graphics.
I've got about six engineers working with me on the client. And then two folks working on the server side.
My team is a team of one. With some help from a friend every now and then.
Just me. Just me. And I contracted out a little bit of graphic design from a friend of mine.
Our team is now up to seven people.
It was me and one of my friends in college.
With Geo Defense it was just me. And then with Geo Defense Swarm I had one other person helping me out a little on the levels.
Just the two of us and we have two contractors that we work for the art.
She wrote all of the lessons and I did all the development.
We have a graphic designer, and a guy that does a lot of back encoding. I do iPhone development and Cory does iPhone coding too. There's some people that do marketing. The business side of things.
We have seven people. Just hired two more. So we're up to seven now.
Gary: What do you like most about iPhone development?
It's great to make games, have fun doing it, and make enough money to keep doing it honestly.
The fact that you can develop an app so quickly, and do something that no one has done before is quite exciting.
For me its like home. It's the platform that I love to work on. There's nothing more to be said than that.
There's something about (???) that's just very elegant. It really clicks with me.
So this is the first mobile platform that has the power and capabilities that makes it a really fun platform to program. It has graphics hardware. And it has really cool innovative input and multi-tact stuff.
The frame works behind it. The iKit and all those other things are very flushed out. Very easy to use.
The fact that if you develop something and it does really well Apple drives a dump truck full of cash up to your bank account every month. That is enjoyable.
I think being our own bosses. We left traditional big jobs and now we just work for ourselves out of our apartment, and get to be totally independent. That's awesome.
I like that you immediately have a market of 15 million people, and before the iPhone platform there was no way to get such large exposure.
Gary: What is the biggest problem that faces iPhone developers?
I would say the biggest problem is the developers themselves. The biggest issue is probably trying to do a little too much. Trying to get too fancy.
Just making sure your apps are not buried in the Apps Store. There are 80 thousand apps out there, and you really need to make your apps stand out from the crowd.
Probably Apple itself. Their review process can be hit and miss.
The platform has some issues, and its really fast moving. And so there can be bugs introduced in certain issuance of the OS. And then Apple can be a bit of a black box. And that can be challenging at times.
It's almost like the biggest problem and the biggest benefit is the Apps Store. One of the best things is the distribution channel, but its standing out from noise that makes it very difficult.
Trying to make small casual games that aren't going to be ridiculous to develop, but still attractive to the casual gamer audience.
The steps it takes to get into the iTunes store, and the Apps store. The review process and all the things you have to do to get that set up is kind of lengthy.
The biggest problem that most developers have is they dont know how to promote their title. They can't rise above the noise.
Finding that one really fun compelling product that you can get out there to the Apps store. Kind of stand above the crowd. Kind of stand out from everyone. I think thats the toughest part.
I think its the iPhone App review process. Because you really have to look at the app you're developing and think is this gonna get approved by Apple. You could be a month into the review process and be like did I just waste a month of my time?
We just have a problem with apps being rejected for using too much bandwidth. Just the Apps Store approval process in general.
Just getting exposure. Just getting enough people to see your app. Seeing how good it is. And getting attention from Apple.
Gary: What's the best way for someone to get started?
I think just get started. Come up with an idea and prototype and bang it out and get it out there on the store. I would suggest not spending months and months developing something and then getting it out there. I would focus on short really. Focusing on the game play the core of the actual gaming and getting little prototypes done, and polish them up and get them out there.
Meet up with other developers. There are groups in almost every city across the country.
You just download the SDK. I mean if you have Mac OS X the developer tools are free and you can get started with online tutorials and things that are freely available to you.
Just jump into some of the samples Apple has. And probably go to conferences like 360 I Dev. To really get engaged with the other developers.
The best way is just to do something. Download the App for free and do something on the simulator. You don't even have to pay the 99 dollars. Everyone can do that which is one of the really cool things.
You go to the Apple Development Site, download the SDK and you're off to the races. I think the Apress books are the best.
Look at the sample code on the Apple website. It's really the best way to get started. It's how I got started.
Online tutorials are good. Depends if you want to go art or programming. Make games. Make small games like Tetris, make Pac-man. Make whatever you like. Just build up. Just keep making games. If you're an artist just keep making art.