Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First iPhone App: HockeyTweet has Launched

HockeyTweet is my first foray into the Apple App Store. HockeyTweet is a Twitter client which makes it fast to send Twitter updates about hockey games in real-time.

HockeyTweet is purpose built for the NHL. But enough of repeating the product page in the App Store, check out HockeyTweet in the App Store.

Here are some of the questions I've gotten about developing for the iPhone and what my next plans are:

Does it cost money to develop for the iPhone?
  • Short answer no, for the majority of people though the long answer is yes.
  • No, if you 1. Own a Mac, 2. Only want to write and test apps on your Mac.
  • Yes, if you 1. Don't own a Mac, 2. Want to run the app on your own device, 3. You want to post the app to the App Store.
Ok, how much does it cost?
  • $99/year (before taxes) for the iPhone Developer license.
  • $$$$ for your Mac
  • $219 CAN (before taxes) for the 8GB iPod Touch to approximately $1200/year for an iPhone
Does it cost any more?
  • Well yes, what is your time worth? If you are like me and you love to try new things, love to play with different programming languages and create, then this is not a real cost. If you add that time into your costs, it starts to skyrocket, but hey we are here to have fun and design cool apps that solve problems for people.
What are the tools like?
  • In a word, AWESOME. I love Xcode (the Apple provider IDE) and the toolset that it comes with. Basically everything I've used to write, debug, run, test software is available. The list of features is long but you won't be disappointed.
  • NOTE: Your mileage may vary if you don't accept the tools and learn them. I love vi, the editor is not vi. I decided with Xcode to not fight the tools and try to use replacements. This is paying off as I learn more shortcuts and they start to sink in.
What is next for me and HockeyTweet?
  • I plan to market HockeyTweet using several tactics with minimum cash. I'll write about how each of these pans out as I try them.
  • I will be working on the next version. The app is designed to allow me to quickly integrate other sports. I will be improving the design as I work on the second sport and seeing how I can improve the design to let me integrate other niches quickly.
  • I will be adding localization to the app for French.
  • I will be monitoring user input for future features and working on any issues that arise.
What did you learn technology wise? I've gotten to learn the following (or at least scratch the surface):
  • UI design
  • Objective-C
  • The Cocoa Touch framework - the SDK you build iPhone apps in
  • Web Services using Google AppEngine
  • Python for the Web Services
  • Dealing with performance and responsiveness in a constrained environment
  • Integrating open source frameworks into code
  • Managing deadlines with team members
  • Learning when to stop implementing and ship it ;-)
Is it hard to write an app?
  • Are you a programmer? Do you have passion? Are you ready to learn? If so, no it is not hard. Again, back to the time issue. If you have it and are willing to do a lot of self learning then it is fairly easy.
Do I have a website?
  • Yes, I am currently building Lockernine as my (planned) various apps home on the internet.
Have I had sales?
  • Yes, though does my wife and friends count?
  • I will post an update on sales numbers later once I have something interesting to report, be it good sales, or poor sales.

2 comments:

Phil said...

Good overview of the dev process. Two nits:

An 8GB iPod Touch is 200$, not 300$

It's Xcode, not XCode ;-)

Mark said...

You're right, it is Xcode. I'll change that.

As for an 8GB it is $219 CAN and with taxes more like $251 in Ontario. Hence, I rounded up.