Creating an iPhone App in One Month
Ten23 Software is a company that specializes in web/mobile development and consultation. We’re a small company consisting of two principals and little free time. We have worked on many different software solutions, from GPS-based truck tracking systems to mobile business intelligence tools to social networking sites. Afew months ago, we challenged ourselves to create a social networking iPhone application in 30 days and PhotoKast was the result. I remember when we got our start in mobile development - answers were seemingly inaccessible and everyone who claimed to have them usually didn’t. Sometimes, all you need is a little head start. This document provides some tips that we’ve picked up in the last fouryears, with examples drawn from the recent development and launch of PhotoKast. Much of the content speaks to mobile development in general, with some specifics regarding the iPhone platform. Since you can find a lot of coding material on the web, I’ll focus more on the other questions that get less coverage. There is a lot to know about the design, development and promotion of mobile apps…and youcertainly won’t find it all here. Also, there are varying opinions on how best to do it. For these reasons, I’ve included links to other resources at the end of this document that will hopefully point you in the right direction. This document will illustrate some things we have learned through “15 tips”. We’re not claiming these to be a magic formula that will guarantee you success (that will stemfrom your idea and how well it’s executed) – they’re simply suggestions pruned from experience. This is our contribution to those getting their feet wet in mobile development; we hope you find it helpful.
Our concept for PhotoKast was simple: allow users an easy way to share their photos and track their worldwide popularity. When a user (“kaster”) broadcasts a photo, it is sent toother PhotoKast users in the area. If they like the photo, they can give it a “Thumbs Up”, which will then send it on to other people near them. Hence, the more people that like the photo, the faster and further it will travel. For each photo, users can view a “Photo Trail” map which shows every place throughout the world that people enjoyed the picture. The final requirement? It had to be done ina month. That includes design, database work, server code, spatial implementation and of course, the iPhone application itself. Any features that couldn’t be incorporated within the month time limit would have to wait…perhaps indefinitely.
PhotoKast turned out to be much more popular than we anticipated. Just through word of mouth, we quickly registered tens of thousands of usersand are serving well over 2 million photo views a week. Within the first month, the paid version of PhotoKast was one of the top ten social networking applications. It’s certainly not the runaway hits some iPhone apps have become, but still not bad for a couple of programmers and a month of development time. 2
Users can look through photos in their favorite categories. They must vote to see thenext one.
A photo trail accompanies each photo, so you can read comments from other users, and see where it has been most popular around the world.
Vote Tab initial design sketch
Photo trail initial design sketch
iPhone. Start here.
The iPhone is a great platform to build a mobile community
What’s in a name?
Discovering a good name for your product is importantDesigning the 7 deadly sins
Make sure your application concept is addictive
Easy as 123. Or not.
Make sure your application is intuitive and easy to use
Short term commitment or marriage?
Think about the shelf-life of your product before releasing it
Be Realistic, Part I
Consider the possibility that you won’t hit 1 million users the first month
Be Realistic, Part II
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