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Minnesota app developers talk about what’s ahead for iPad and iPhone

Five experienced Minnesota mobile-app developers explain what’s up with iPad in terms of their work. Two of them also offer insights about OS 4, coming this summer for the iPhone and, soon after, for the iPad.

I’m having so much fun with my iPad, I almost forgot to post this week. I started asking my developer friends about it almost as soon as I got mine last Saturday, so I’ve had this post brewing for days now. Then, I’m finally about ready to post it, and Apple goes and holds its “sneak-peek” media event late last week. So, natch, I had to ask some of them for their reaction to that, too.

Here we go, then — five experienced Minnesota mobile-app developers tell me, straight up, what’s up with iPad as it relates to them. And, after that, I include some great insights from a couple of them about iPhone OS 4 — coming this summer for the iPhone and, soon after, for the iPad.

Joe Sriver, founder, DoApp Inc. Joe, will your company be developing iPad apps?

“Yes, we do have plans for the iPad, first for our real estate product, then our other products. No ‘made for iPad’ apps are in the store from DoApp on Day One, though. But I did preorder an iPad for the team.” In a story our friend Julio Ojeda-Zapata wrote in the PioneerPress on April 2, we learned that DoApp was frantically at work on the iPad version of its “Home Kenex” app, which is for home buyers and real estate agents. Maps can be positioned alongside lists or photos of homes to make navigation easier and more intuitive than the cramped iPhone screen allows, said the story, facilitating better house comparisons. iPad becomes “a coffee table-type of thing, with people in their agents’ offices cruising for properties on the device,” said the story, quoting DoApp’s Wade Beavers. GPS capability will be added in an upcoming version of the iPad, so home buyers or agents will be able to pull up listings in their vicinity and “drive effortlessly towards them using satellite navigation.”

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Bill Heyman, founder and lead developer, CodeMorphic. Bill, what apps are you doing for iPad? Redoing any of your existing ones?

“No existing apps. What we’re doing are new ones for various clients. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to say what they are. I’m also working on a new game app I’m publishing myself, but I’m not ready to submit it yet. I’ll let you know when it’s getting close.”

I assume you now have an iPad in your possession? “Yes, I had one delivered to me while on vacation in Arizona this week.”

What are you finding in regard to how well your iPhone apps work on iPad? “They seem to work fine.

What about landscape mode? Are you concerned that apps should work either way on iPad? “Apple has basically told developers that they MUST support rotation in their iPad apps. Unfortunately, it can be a major PITA to support it well, but developers are going to have to bite the bullet now.”

Any other comment? “I think iBooks is the killer feature of the iPad. There’s been talk about the iPad developer gold rush, but no discussion about the author and independent content provider gold rush. It’s going to happen — and I think it could be every bit as exciting as some of the apps.”

Matt Bauer, founder, PedalBrain. Does the iPad fit in at all regarding your app? “Yes, it does — from a coaching or team director standpoint, to track athletes.”

I guess iPad isn’t too “mobile” as relates to cycling, huh? “It will be a new application than what we have. Likely a different app that we will charge for — probably like $20 or so. I really see iPad apps being sold for quite a bit more than for the iPhone. It won’t be till late summer we will think of doing an app.”

Your current app, of course, would work on the iPad, right? “App, yes — but hardware, no. Apple hasn’t given the OK for iPad accessories from third parties yet. Once they do, our hardware accessory will work.”

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Terry Anderson, founder, Handcast Media Labs. What’s up with you and iPad? “We also got our first iPad on Saturday. We’re within a few days of having our next release of the SparkRadio app, which will work on either iPhone or iPad. In the future, we will optimize a version for iPad that takes advantage of the increased screen real estate in a cool way, but that’s further out (maybe 45 to 60 days). The visualizer screens on the iPad are stunning in full-screen mode.”

Did I hear you dropped your price for SparkRadio on the iPhone from $5.99 to $1.99? “The price drop is temporary and is part of our experimenting with promotional tactics and pricing to see the effect on demand.

“Ultimately, we’re likely to end up with this scenario: A free version called Spark Radio Lite that will be full featured, but will only stream 200 selected stations (maybe two weeks away)
… A full version that will sell for between $5 and $6 (ultimately 30,000 stations) — so the price drop is temporary… And note that both versions will support iPhone and iPad equally — the software will detect the device and will load the appropriate interface … And we may come up with an enhanced iPad version, which could be sold as a separate product, but that’s down the road and still undecided. Now that I see SparkRadio on the iPad, I can imagine a scenario where the iPad is docked in a stereo (many companies make them for iPhone, and I assume we’ll see them shortly for iPad) and Spark is streaming audio and providing a pretty cool lightshow. We think this will be a great way to expose the product and the graphics to a larger audience. Very excited.”

Bekki Freeman, developer, TinyMission. Please tell us about your firm’s experience, what kinds of apps you do, and what types of clients you work with.

“Tiny Mission started as an iPhone app development company. Because of the high demand for applications, and especially integration between web apps and mobile apps, we’ve expanded to other mobile platforms, including iPad, and are eager to integrate these with enterprise systems. Two of our clients are On Impact Productions and Fraser. We work with both small and medium-size companies, writing apps to enable their corporate and customer visions.”

How many apps have you published, and in what categories, for iPhone and other platforms? “Tiny Mission has published one iPhone application for On Impact Productions, and is preparing to submit a second for them this month, in addition to a BlackBerry and Android application. We are submitting two iPhone applications for Fraser this spring, and are part way through development on an enterprise application that will be centered around the iPad.”

What are your plans for iPad apps, and what do you see as being different or challenging compared to iPhone? “We are very excited for the iPad because of the endless possibilities for very feature-rich applications. The iPhone has been great for enterprise, but it is just too small to do complex business tasks. We plan to bring web apps, smart phones and the iPad together to fully integrate our clients’ business applications. Our vision is for our clients to answer all of their customers’ questions and needs without ever going to a desk.”


So, enter the Apple sneak-peek media event this past week. CEO Steve Jobs outlined what’s coming in the next version of the iPhone operating system, called OS 4. He highlighted seven new features:

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· Multitasking

· Folders to organize apps

· A unified inbox

· iBooks is coming to the iPhone

· More features for the enterprise

· A social network for gaming

· Mobile advertising with iAds

I asked Bill Heyman of CodeMorphic for his reaction to the iPhone OS 4 sneak-peek announcement yesterday. “Multitasking is a great feature, of course, but still keeps the iPhone OS in control — to prevent bad apps from monopolizing the feature. It’s probably not enough for real-time, time-critical apps for the iPhone, but it’s a step in the right direction. Apple’s drawn a line in the sand for how apps are developed — Adobe Flash, Corona, and other platforms appear to be screwed, as they’re currently architected. Basically, Apple wants native apps to use native code (Objective-C, C++, C, JavaScript). So, for these other development platforms to survive, they’re going to have to ultimately be code generators for code types that Apple approves. I suspect Apple is following up the release of the iPad with the new iPhone OS to maintain momentum and to blunt criticisms of the iPad (and iPhone) as new Android-based tablets and phones start to appear in the next few months.”

I also asked Bekki of TinyMission for impressions of iPhone OS 4. “Obviously, multitasking is huge. We’ll be able to offer our clients’ users so many more options for delivering functionality, such as location-based notifications. Local notifications will give many of our small business clients the ability to offer reminders and user-specific content without having to manage external servers and user databases. We believe our clients will really benefit from the new enterprise features. The agility and flexibility of wireless enterprise app distribution and the improved data encryption are very exciting. By breaking down barriers to enterprise deployment, Apple is opening up a whole new market segment with opportunities for companies like Tiny Mission to expand into.”

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Finally, I wanted to ask Joe Sriver of DoApp about the *other* announcement that came out at Apple’s media event yesterday — that being their “iAd” platform — in light of DoApp having its own such platform, called “Adagogo.”

“iAd sounds like a good product. I haven’t delved too deeply into it. It’s another network that we will look at adding to our Mobile Local News platform. I guess I don’t see it as a big competitor to Adagogo, since Adagogo is built into our products by default. It will become more of a competitor if we release an Adagogo API for developers to add Adagogo ads into their apps. Obviously, it’s a potentially big threat for Google and Admob — or both together if that deal ever goes through. Google has the resources to compete, so I’m not going to be too worried about them!” Nice touch, Joe — spoken as a loyal former employee of
Google …