Thursday 12 November 2009

Apple iPhone Tech Talk London 2009: Overview

Apparently I can blog about this year’s Apple iPhone Tech Talk World Tour, so here’s my notes.

This was a much larger event than last year — and I wasn’t the only person surprised by how many developers turned up. Since the registration process involved entering an iTunes URL, most of the people present must have written an app and got it into the store. However, the gender balance was even worse some recent developer events I’ve attended — it looked like there were more women on the Apple team than in the whole audience…

The kickoff session was a quick rundown of where iPhone development has got to since it launched only 15 months ago (seems like longer, possibly because the jailbreakers got there a fair amount earlier…), and the rest of the day was spent going into details (I'll cover the sessions I attended in later posts). I really hope the Apple guys put their presentations up soon, as there was a lot of great detail that I couldn’t type fast enough to get down :-)


  • only 15 months since App Store launched (though an extra year of iPhone)
    • 2 Billion apps, means 180,000 apps an hour…
    • 100,000 apps in app store
  • more than 50 million devices
  • 81 countries
  • 125,000 registered developers
    • so at least 25,000 who paid money but haven’t put anything in the store yet!


  • jun 08: seeding SDK & emulator to all devs
  • jul 08: app store live
  • sep 08: customer reviews only by purchasers & versions
  • oct 08: crash reporter & logs
  • mar 09: developer discussion forum (still beta), more customer service agents
  • jun 09: quick reference guides
  • jul 09: news & announcements + better developer support
  • sep 09: new app store categories (genius, essentials), top grossing lists, app store resource centre
  • oct 09: in-app purchase available to free apps

the best apps are…

  • simple or sophisticated (hiding complexity)
  • lightweight
  • intuitive
  • small pieces loosely joined

iPhone users have changed

  • not necessarily technically savvy
  • bringing technology into new places

specific examples of innovative apps

  • each app has 5-7 seconds to sell itself to the user
    • it helps to have a memorable aspect
  • use the latest technologies
  • go the extra mile
  • keep it fresh

  • urbanspoon

    • shake to randomly choose a restaurant in the style of a fruit machine
  • peaks
    • Augmented Reality (AR) for mountains
  • car finder
    • AR for finding car
  • zipcar
    • book and find cars
    • unlock the car over network, when you’re close to it
  • snaptell
    • picture identification
  • postage ~ postcards
    • take a picture and send an electronic postcard
    • can apply simple visual effects
    • visually interesting error messages (look like envelopes with postmarks)
  • timetuner
    • bedside radio
    • location aware — will take timezone into account
    • can set up custom alerts — different radio stations on different days
    • simple sleep timer on main screen
  • weightbot
    • way over the top UI polish…
    • real sounds
    • makes it fun to enter your weight
  • tweetie 2
    • only presents UI when you need it
    • swipe down to refresh at top
    • swipe across a tweet to see options
  • guitartoolkit
    • swipe across to play strings for a selected chord
    • has tuner
    • has metronome that keeps playing when screen goes dark
    • can do this by setting app type — determines what happens when
  • 1112
    • exploration game with lots of extra touches
  • ocarina
    • with worldwide
    • and sonic lighter — added messages for choice of flame to mean something
  • roambi
    • data interaction with data from SAP, Salesforce etc.
    • lots of visual interaction with data
    • pull through folders, seeing preview of front one
    • pie chart can swivel round to see details of the one on the bottom
    • charts can
  • things
    • auto synchronized when iPhone comes into same WiFi network
  • At Bat
  • Flick Fishing
    • using GameKit to hook up to other iPhones
  • myStarbucks
    • can send your standard order to someone else so they can order for you
    • (not currently available in UK store)
  • ramp champ
    • in-app purchases
    • shows preview, details and price
    • very good catalogue implementation
  • iceberg reader
    • iTunes puts up a confirmation dialog of purchase as well
    • shows progress of download in-app
    • (again, not yet available in the UK store — though individual books are)

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