TiPb's developer spotlights
are like DVD/iTunes Extras for the App Store -- a weekly look behind the scenes at the programers and designers that bring you the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad apps and games you love. This week Rene talks with Marc Edwards of Bjango.
What can we call you? Marc Edwards.
What can we call your company? Bjango.
Where are you situated? Melbourne, Australia. Yes, that giant, mostly empty island at the end of the earth. It's a great place to live, provided you avoid the killer snakes, killer spiders, killer sharks and various other nasties.
On the web? Bjango.com
And on Twitter? @bjango and @marcedwards
What apps do you make? iStat Menus for Mac, iStat for iPhone, Consume for iPhone,
Darkness for iPhone, Cities for iPhone, and a few others.
What apps, other than your own, do you currently use the most often? 1Password, Brushes, The Early Edition, Reeder (yes, two RSS readers) and Our Choice. There's some obvious and potentially boring choices in there, but those are the current apps I've been using daily or enjoying.
How long have you been a developer? We started building Mac Dashboard Widgets in 2005, which quickly turned into Mac app development. Prior to that I'd designed some fairly basic websites. And prior to that, I spent most of my time designing for print and for TV advertising. Creating software is incredibly rewarding and challenging, so I think I'll be doing it for quite some time.
How long have you been an iOS developer? We've been building iOS apps since the day the SDK was publicly available. Amazingly, that was just 3 years ago. It feels like an eternity.
Do you develop for any other platform in addition to iOS? If so, which one(s)? We're a Mac and iOS only shop. We've dabbled on other platforms and will continue to keep an eye out for opportunities, but for now, Mac OS X and iOS are great places to be. A big part of that is the users—iOS and Mac users seem to appreciate high quality software.
What primary computer setup do you use for your iOS development? I use a 2010 Mac Pro with a 24" LED Cinema Display, a couple of Drobos and lots of backup drives inside the Mac. I bought a Magic Trackpad and have tried to use it, but I keep going back to the Magic Mouse. I also have a Razer Deathadder, but use the Magic Mouse for all design related tasks. All pretty stock, really. I'm not a fan of dual displays—I'd much rather have a single, huge display.
I also have a 13" MacBook Air for when I'm on the road. It replaces a 15" MacBook Pro. I'm an Air convert and hope that Apple will release a 15" MacBook Air with 3G modem (or 15" MacBook Pro with flash drive and no optical drive).
What iOS device(s) do you personally use most often? 16GB Black iPhone 4 and 32GB 3G Black iPad 2. I have an iPod touch and a variety of older iPhone and iPads, but they're just for testing.
What mobile devices, other than iOS, do you currently use? None. What else do you think I need? I've always loved the Pre, but sadly it wasn't ever available in Australia. I'm also keen to see the TouchPad. It's the only non-iPad tablet I'm excited about.
What's your favorite thing about developing for iOS? Seeing your app take over the entire screen and experience is quite amazing. While open, your app is the device. It makes the software seem more physical, and the possibilities more limitless.
What's your least favorite thing about developing for iOS? The app approval process. I can deal with time delays, but placing our entire business' future in Apple's hands makes me feel vulnerable. Today Apple are our partner, tomorrow they may decide we're their competition.
What feature would you most like Apple to add to the iOS 5 SDK? Better notifications. Not an original suggestion, but a good one. Alerts are probably my least favourite part of iOS and the thing I envy most about webOS and Android devices.
What feature would you most like Apple to add to the App Store? I'm glad you asked. Being able to support older app versions is absolutely critical, and horribly broken right now. For example, if a customer buys App version 1 and we release App version 2 as a new app (the only way to charge for it), we have no way to fix bugs in version 1, while stopping people from buying it. We're forced to choose between removing the app from sale and dealing with the consequences, or keeping it on the store and dealing with the consequences.
Removing the older version of an app stops accidental purchases, but means customers can't redownload the app if they need to. This is one area where the App Store is far worse than the good old web download days. I see this as by far the biggest issue with the App Store. I'm hopeful that Apple will need to fix this for their own software and will add the ability to the App Store in the process.
If we were to eavesdrop on you while you were coding, what curse word would we hear you use the most? F**k you. (To which Photoshop, Xcode or iTunes Connect usually reply "No, f**k you.")
What do you do when you're not buidling iOS apps? Spend time with my wife, family or friends. Write music with Luc Wiesman under the name Duosseudo. Play indoor soccer (badly, usually breaking or bruising fingers while goalkeeping). Drink coffee. Play games of the iOS, Wii or Mac variety (I'm intentionally avoiding buying an Xbox or PS3 for productivity reasons). Listen to music.
What should we look for from you next? We're busy putting the finishing touches on an iStat-related product and an iPad game we've been working on since 2009 (it was an iPhone game that was better suited to the iPad, so we switched as soon as the iPad was announced).