Developer Josh Guest of b2clould answers our questions on app development
by Andy Crofford on October 26, 2010
We had the opportunity to interview Josh Guest of b2cloud, a company that specializes in iPhone application development and social media consulting. Not only is he the director of b2cloud and iOS app developer he is also a Mobile Orchard reader.
Mobile Orchard: Tell us a little about your background in app development as well as your company, b2cloud.
Josh Guest: I founded b2cloud in early 2009 as a new media blog based out of Melbourne, Australia. Over the months to come b2cloud evolved into a consulting and development company, with iPhone and iPad being the major focus as demand for applicaitons increased. We brought together a team of developers, designers and user experience people who are really awesome at what they do. Most apps that we build are either built and released on behalf of a client, or in partnership with b2cloud.
B2cloud has had around 10 apps released in the last year, and in some cases we have contributed to other apps on the store. As demand for apps is far higher than what we can supply, we are constantly on the look out for developers who think well outside the square and passionate about really innovative ideas. As a company we want to share our experiences and code with other developers around the world.
MO: What was your inspiration for MorningReport?
JG: The original idea was by Adam Rudd, a really creative and passionate guy who wanted to have the days weather read to him when he woke up. Both Adam and I are both based in Melbourne, and our city is known for its unpredictable weather, 4 seasons in a day . So the solution was to replace the alarm, with a MorningReport.
MO: How is morning report different from other weather/alarm clock apps?
JG: If you look closely on the app store in weather, there are a multitute of apps that receive an RSS or XML feed, and display the results differently using varied design interfaces. Morning report uses a premium XML feed too, but unstead of only displaying the results, the feed connects to our remote database of several hundred sound bytes, retrives the relevant files, stitches them together, and the result is a spoken report, as well as the traditional on screen weather.
Adam organised for professional voice actors to read a script of every time and weather condition, in both Celcius and Farenheit. Then each piece of audio was precisely cut to avoid gaps when programatically joined together.
MO: Were there any major hurdles you had to overcome during development?
JG: I guess one challenge when we got kicked off with the app development was around multitasking. We started building on iOS 3, which meant that the app had to be open once the alarm was set, to activate Morning Report. Towards the end of the app, when iOS 4 was available, we started investigating how to activate the alarm whilst multitasked. We are still looking at this now, and a challenge is how we allow the MorningReport to generate the audio file and play, whilst in the background. We can easily set a generic alarm sound, but the custom report is a little trickier. Ideas anyone?
MO: How long did MorningReport take from idea to App Store?
JG: At a guess I would say around 6 months from idea, recordings, design, programming, database setup and release.
MO: What was your experience like trying to get your app approved?
JG: A little slow, much slower than most of our other releases. We nominated to be reviewed on the US store, so I think there was far more demand on this region as opposed to Australia. It was around 16 days from our first binary upload, and it was rejected. Reason was that if a user chose “do not allow locaiton based services” on the first load of the app, there was no prompts saying that the app could not function properly. So we put in a prompt, re submitted and it was approved after another 12 days.
MO: How are you marketing the app and do you have any tips you can share?
JG: Early on during development, Adam put together an awesome blog where he was able to share with the community progress of development. This was also a great way to recieve input and ideas from people, that were actually included. This builds an early stage following and in turn downloads when released.
I guess an important tip is to think of ways to generate as many downloads as possible within 3 days of release, this will assist in getting a peek into a top 50 list. Have a blog and start building followers, prepare an email to send to all your friends, family and colleagues, think about using facebook and twitter to share. As soon as the app is approved, create a bit.ly link (to track clicks) to the store and start sending.
MO: Do you have any app development projects you are currently working on?
JG: Yes, we have several live projects and a couple in final beta. An iPhone app which will be in review this week is called Calendar Snap, the fastest way to put appointments in your calendar. It is built for people who use shared calendars to let their colleagues and friends know where they are at any one time. Basically if you get pulled into a meeting, which wasnt already in your calendar, no one will know where you are. Entering it into the iPhone calendar takes way too long. Calendar Snap creates an appointment with 2 touches, load the app, and set. The defaults can be changed quickly too.
We are all using it now at b2cloud and its actually really useful. We are always looking for help testing pre-release so please contact me if your interested.
MO: What, if anything, will you do differently on your next app?
JG: Every app we build we learn something new, so im thinking on our next app we will do a dual iPhone/iPad release. Use the same code for both but make some changes to the UI design. More and more people search for apps on the iPad, so iPhone apps dont usually get much real estate on the screen, so a dual release should be good.
MO: Finally, what is your favorite app right now?
JG: My favourite app at the moment is PressReader, a newspaper reader on the iPad which has most publicaitons from around the world scanned in high resolution. Check out my recent review for it at AppAddict.net.
MO: Josh, thanks for the interview. Good luck with your projects in the future.
We hope you enjoyed this interview. Please feel free to post questions for Josh in the comments and we will see if he will answer a few of them.