Couplett 1 of 3: Conception and Planning (and delays)

Couplett is finally coming out tomorrow, February 8th. For those that are interested, I thought I'd give a little insight into the year-long process that has brought Couplett to the App Store. A whole year, you say? Indeed. So how does such a simple concept take a year to come to fruition? Read on to find out.In January, 2011, I was having lunch with my daughter. We were having one of our favorites, Panera mac and cheese, while taking a break from some errands. I find that my favorite times with my children are when I get to spend time with them individually. My daughter had requested “the mac and cheese restaurant” and I was happy to oblige.

Being the age of cell phone cameras, I was taken by an impulse we all seem to have from time to time, “I want to capture this moment”. So there she was, across the table from me and I began the typical dance:

  • Launch camera app
  • lean over the table
  • extend arm
  • realise that I’m not sure the framing
  • weigh the option of using the front facing camera despite it’s lower quality...

Wait a second.

Why am I switching cameras? This device has 2 cameras, if I could just drop the phone in between us and use both cameras, that would be so much simpler!

Thus began an App Store search and I found that there wasn’t much available (or my search skills weren’t up to the task). I filed the idea away and set a RE.minder to talk to John about it on Monday.

After relaying the idea, John started playing around with the camera system and we made some interesting discoveries, the most important of which is that, on the iPhone 4, there is no way to have both cameras active at the same time. No matter how we sliced it, the best we could hope for was two images, captured one immediately after the other. We took this prototype with us to WWDC 2011 and confirmed this with Apple. Barring a redesign of the underlying camera system (or a significant change deep within the OS), we could not have both cameras active at once.

Armed with this knowledge, it was time to dive into active development. Oh if only.

After WWDC in June, we were knee deep in the development of Uncle Slam. In addition, we now had a bright and shiny  (if borderline alpha) new iOS version to content with. But as we all know, Apple is never exactly forthcoming with projected release dates. Could Couplett be iOS5 only? Should we shift Uncle Slam's focus to iOS 5? Decisions, decisions.

(read part 2 and part 3)

Expo Bingo, the game to play during the Keynote

Some of you Apple fans, you know who you are, will remember the keynote bingo cards of years passed. They would travel around the internet the week before a big reveal and were a fun way to participate in the speculation. Well we were shocked to discover that there was nary a keynote bingo game to be had on the app store! A situation we felt needed to be remedied.And late last week, Expo Bingo was approved. Free for all and universal for all iOS devices, Expo Bingo is a game we whipped up for the community that is just like the keynote bingo cards of yore, only even better.

When you launch Expo Bingo, it will check in and download the latest bingo squares so we can make sure the rumors are as up to date as possible. It also gives you a totally random bingo card so you really are playing against the world. And since apple isn't the only company with big presentations and huge announcements, we'll go ahead and set up a game for just about anything if you just ask. Aside from WWDC tomorrow, we also have games set up for the 3 big E3 presentations from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo this week.

And because a game like this is only fun when you're competing against others, you can share your winning board for all to see via Twitter or email. Go ahead and gloat!

Get it for free right now!


Decompressing WWDC

Well, I'm home, cleaned up and the jet lag has mostly worn off so that makes it time to decompress. And frankly, I've never felt more like a zip file in my life.Attendees are all under NDA so I can't go into specifics regarding anything beyond the keynote, but I can explain what I mean about a zip file. At around 2pm Monday, apple turned on a fire hose and aimed it at around 5000 developers. It was then up to us to catch as much info as we could. There was precious little time for reflection between sessions, we just needed to take copious notes and move on. I expect it will be several weeks before the entirety of what we learned will be "available to the system" in uncompressed form.

Suffice to say, I feel like Handelabra could have taken 5 people instead of 2 and still missed something somewhere. Between new frameworks, updates to old frameworks, additions to software and hardware, it's clearly a VERY good time to be in the mobile space.

And on the other side of the coin, Handelabra made some fabulous connections with developers working on some amazing new products. I truly cant wait to see what comes to market in the next 2 months.

Thanks to all the great people we met this week! Can't wait for WWDC '11!

Looking forward to my first WWDC experience

I've used Apple products since I was 8 or 9.Every professional job I've had, I've done on a mac.

I even worked for Apple retail for almost 3 years.

But in all that time, I've never attended one of the near-legendary "Keynote Speeches", so to say I'm excited is an understatement. But it's not in a "drinking the kool-aid", "prostrate myself before the Steve" kind of way. Honestly, it's not. (I swear).

What I'm most looking forward to is seeing one of history's greatest marketers in action, first-hand. I don't think that's an overstatement. How many companies out there would love to have the entire internet stop and listen every time you announce a new product? I know I would. How apple got themselves to a place where they can call a meeting and have people start lining up before dawn to participate is the subject of books and beyond the scope of a blog post. But nevertheless, that's what they've done and I can't wait to be there in person.

(ok, maybe just a little kool-aid)