Windows Phone 7 is the next big thing that everyone is excited about. When I got an opportunity to interview someone who is one among the people behind one of the most popular initial apps for Windows Phone 7, I was excited too.
Windows Phone 7 has already sparked enough excitement with its initial launch. It’s SDK had been released, the Windows Marketplace was announced and even the initial bunch of promising apps have been released. But we wanted to know the real deal of working with Windows Phone 7 SDK, the experience of developing apps for Windows Phone 7, how is the phone from a developer’s point of view et all.
IdentityMine is an expert interactive design, software development, and user experience (UX) company. Founded in 2001, based in 6 offices around the globe with a workforce of 60 full time employees, IdentityMine is of the leading developers of apps for Windows Phone 7, most noticeable being the IMDb and Twitter app for Windows Phone 7. Apart from developing apps for Windows Phone 7, the company also develops for iPhone and Android and has been working on Microsoft Surface.
Chad Brown, Sr. VP Sales and Marketing shared his insight and experience of IdentityMine about developing apps for Windows Phone 7. Here are the excerpts of Interview with him.
One thing about which he seemed to be pretty much disappointed, that people are terming that developers are porting apps for Windows Phone 7, rather than building them from scratch:
True, iPhone and Droid got a head start and therefore many of the apps are already on those platforms. However, suggesting that we are “porting” apps from those platforms to Windows Phone 7 doesn’t properly communicate the value of effort.
Q> I have read that the IMDb app that IdentityMine developed for WP7 is a big hit and is very pleasing in UI. How was your experience while developing it and what are it’s keen features?
Chad: I’ll start by saing that at IdenityMine we wanted to develop applications that would really make a difference. We had many requests to develop Windows Phone 7 applications. We had to turn many down. The ones we developed we chose to develop because we believed in them as having potential to really make an impact in peoples lives. “Consumer applications are making users’ personal lives simpler (SBB Ticketing app) and more interesting (IMDb)”
Q> Which other apps have you developed for WP7 until now and what others are in line for future?
Chad: SBB, Twitter, Graphic.ly, History Channel, IMDb. The others I can’t talk about yet. Not released on PR. I can’t wait to start talking about History channel more. We will really start touting it next week but I can share something now. History’s core product is historical content, and they needed a mobile application that would allow consumers to use their Windows Phone 7 to discover all historic points of interest in their current vicinity, as well as to explore points of interest based on selected criteria. History worked with IdentityMine, Inc.’s team of UX experts to create a Windows Phone 7 user experience. A simple shake of the phone while the app is running will take the user to a random point of interest.
Q> So, how do you see the role of smartphones in coming future?
Chad: The natural progression will be the consumer demand to also make their work life more simple and interesting. We believe the mobile trend will continue beyond the consumer market and into the workplace. The demand for elegant, fun, and robust applications to help us manage our work lives will be an important shift for the enterprise, but it’s an undeniable outcome from the application movement. For our WPF and Silverlight customers committed to the Microsoft platform we are thrilled to have Windows Phone 7 as an option. Our company also builds very large complex desktop applications for companies. These applications will be mobilized in time. What was large and complex will be broken up into a portfolio of smaller “best of breed” highly efficient mobile applications. ISVs will be first, Enterprise IT will be second, after Consumer of course… Which was/is the driving force behind this initiative. I have it at home… what about work?
Q> I have read you also develop for MS Surface. How is that experience? Isn’t Surface out of development?
Chad: I think it’s public that Surface vNext is in the works and coming soon. Yes, we do a ton of NUI work. This is what gave us a leg up on mobile. Nothing I can share just yet.
Q> Which smartphone do you personally use and find useful in your daily routine and why?
Chad: I use an iPhone today. Although I really like the iPhone, the UX is already starting to feel a little out of date; the app launcher paradigm is also getting old. Windows Phone 7 takes an approach somewhere between the open Droid model and the closed Apple model, and allows for some creativity within provided guidelines.
Q> Is developing apps for WP7 easy and is SDK interesting as MS is pushing?
Chad: Yes. We develop native iPhone and Droid apps as well. As much as we like Microsoft tools, you couldn’t have seen the mobile wave coming and say… “I’ll wait for the next” just because MS wasn’t riding it. The tools for WP7 are much better. The tools are very good. Much time is saved in development as well as debugging over the competitive platforms. However, as with any initial release there are some nuances. Given the number of Windows Phone 7 applications our team has created several tips and tricks to increase performance, handle tombstoning and address isolated storage challenges have been uncovered. In fact, we’ve gone as far as developing our own framework to elegantly and efficiently address the nuances in a uniform fashion. Microsoft has been very responsive to our requests and I’m certain that they will build in enhancement to assist in these areas. We can confidently say, though, that the tools that exist right now are more than adequate to create a great user experience with beautiful design. We believe that the development platform is one of the primary reasons that WP7 is going to succeed.
Q> Do you really think Microsoft can push Wp7 to higher levels? I mean at the initial start itself Copy & Paste features are missing.
Chad: They have to. I’ve found over the years that anything Microsoft absolutely must do, they find a way of doing. This is a “must do”. The tile approach / metro this is good stuff. I mentioned the iPhone paradigm was feeling a little old. What MS calls a glacable UI is a nice fresh approach. That grid layout has been around for 10 years. Anyway… Droid has been trying to do what tiles does but provide not standard approach.
Q> Is the hardware restrictions for any good or a nuisance for development and portability from Win Mobile 6.x?
Chad: I can’t comment on the portability. The standard buttons have grown on us. Once you get used to them you find yourself trying to find the back button on the iPhone.