I spent today at the iPhone Dev Camp 2 in Calgary, held at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre (run by Calgary Technologies). This was an all-day affair, with speakers talking about different elements of iPhone app development, some business-oriented and some more technical. It was a very good mix of speakers and topics, and a well organized event. Kudos to Michael Sikorsky for putting it together. All of the speakers brought an interesting perspective on developing products for the iPhone.
Michael Loh from iConnectivity spoke about the challenges and issues around building custom hardware add-ons for the iPhone. Their upcoming iConnectMIDI device was very interesting. Of more interest to me personally is a product that connects to the ODB-II port on a car that provides data to your iPhone or laptop from your car. It appears to be a bit more complicated than one might think, though, to get through the Apple process for special-purpose hardware that uses the 30-pin connector (so far, TomTom is the only one who has managed it, but the expectation is that a flood of other devices will be coming out in the next few months).
Brendan Duddridge spoke about localization tools, and the challenges in localizing his Tap Forms Database product. He showed us a very powerful localization tool (which is free) called the Localization Suite. Brendan has had great success using it. With the tool, and volunteer work from his customers, his app is in a large number of languages, and more coming all the time. Brendan also did a later presentation on integrating Facebook with your app, which looked pretty simple.
Isa Goksu spoke about his experience building an app for photographers called strobox. He was able to share his experience with app submission and approval, and described some of the mistakes they had to correct to get their app approved. His main lessons: pay attention to what Apple tells you, and defer to their way when in doubt.
The Big Nerds in Disguise team spoke about their game Own This World. They had some interesting lessons around app submission, product launch, and with tracking users and managing a community-based game. The game looks pretty cool too. One of their big challenges (and I’ve had this discussion with other colleagues of mine) is the marketing side. The App Store makes distribution easy. Its getting people aware of your app that is the hard part.
The presentations from Stephen Gazzard (from Broken Kings) on user feedback and memory tracing/tracking tools were both very good. He (and others at the event) have used the UserVoice service to allow for customer interaction for problem reporting, feature requests and feedback with great success. Stephen also gave us a quick walkthough of the Pinch Media analytics, but since that is now part of Flurry, most are moving to the main Flurry technologies. Stephen’s overview of the Instruments performance tool was very helpful, and running it will now become part of my standard test suite.
We also had a presentation from Trevor Doerksen from mobovivo, which provided some insight into the world of commercial television, and how it intersects with the iPhone world. It was an interesting perspective on the iPhone and mobile platforms in general. He also covered some of the challenges he expects for his technology with the iPad. The main issue there: the bigger screen means you need to have better quality video for it to look good.
Along with the presentations were “interludes” where Michael Sikorsky would provide various little tips for developers. There were also a plethora of other tools and tips provided by the different participants. Michael was able to summarize a bunch of it on the shared user doc for the event.
This was a worthwhile event, and I fully expect to attend the future events. Each one is different, with a varied array of speakers and topics. I would encourage any current or potential iPhone developers in the Calgary area to attend future events. The next one is tentatively scheduled for May 29.