So, quite a varied week with a surprising ending.
On Monday I tried to get the version 1 of my chess app finished. I actually started a new project from scratch for this. Everything so far has been about building modules for parsing files or for visualising different aspects of the chess board and game. This new project was intended to cover other aspects of the game including downloading files from the internet and managing them on the device. I spent the day on it and got a good way through it, completing the download aspect and beginning the file management, but I didn’t manage to get close to a “finished” version so I’ll need to continue work on that when I get time.
Most of the week I devoted to working on a new client app. They need the app to allow you to navigate through a hierarchy of information resulting in some detailed information and the ability to view web pages. I think this is actually quite a popular format of app and is probably the type of thing most people do as one of their first apps. For some reason it’s taken me 18 months to get around to it. It came along quite nicely and I’m quite happy with how I’ve done it, does seem the type of thing that might come in handy in the future too. Part of the app was an embedded web browser, loading standard web pages in a view with basic back/forward/stop/refresh controls. I had a look around the web and was surprised to find that no-one has open sourced such a thing. It didn’t really take me very long to do it myself but as it’s something in use in so many apps I would have expected someone to do it. I might have to do it myself, if I get around to it.
Thursday morning I had an interesting time at an event organised by North West Vision+Media on Developments & Opportunities in the Education Market. With my ever expanding range of iPhone education apps (currently 26 apps live) I thought this would be an interesting event to go to and try to find some new opportunities in the market. The event was really interesting with different people having different perspectives and agendas. I actually found it quite inspiring and wrote lots of notes on ways to improve the experience of my iPhone apps and ways to expand the scope and sales potential. Much of that was not actually related to the speakers, just that the opportunity to sit and think about education helped to focus some thoughts I’ve been having recently. I was a little dismayed by a few choice quotes from Ray Barker of the British Educational Suppliers Association regarding how the future of education is walled gardens and that the culture of free is nearly over. Walled gardens have never really been a good thing, look at AOL and Compuserve whose walls fell when the World Wide Web came along and offered open access to everyone. Apart from this though I had a good experience at the event and even got the opportunity to speak in response to a question of how mobile phones are being used in education. Also after the event I chatted to someone who’s been working with a school that has given iPod Touches to every student and doesn’t know what to do with them, I’m hoping there’s some real opportunities to be had there.
Finally Friday. I had fully intended to spend Friday at home working on my client app, that was until Dave Verwer of Shiny Development called me up at lunchtime on Thursday and asked if I wanted to be on BBC Radio Manchester the following day talking about the iPad. It seemed quite an unusual opportunity but I jumped at the chance to hawk my own apps and services over the airwaves. Unfortunately they wanted me to be available in person to chat on the breakfast show so it meant being up early enough for the 7am train. In the end I had quite an interesting chat with the host Allan Beswick. He was calling the people queueing up outside Apple stores (and by extension, me) barmy, but did seem a little excited about the device. I got a few comments in about the evils of anti-competitive practices and mentioned my own development services but didn’t get the chance to mention my own apps! Shortly after that I got another call from Dave Verwer asking if I would like to go on Radio 5Live, so from regional to national radio! That one didn’t go so well, unfortunately I think my phone had poor signal so they couldn’t get hold of me when they originally tried, so when I did get on the radio I managed a few sentences to answer a question before they carried on talking to Rory Cellan-Jones in the studio. A short while after that one I then got another call from someone at BBC West Midlands also looking for someone to come on and chat about the iPad. This one, mid-afternoon on Friday, went the best of the three I think. I answered a few of the presenter’s questions, managed to talk about my own apps quite a lot and also discussed the money-making opportunities with the app store.
If you’re interested in listening to these follow the links below to the BBC iPlayer, the links will probably only work for the next few days: