Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: how can you create a weather app that's as beautiful as mother nature? Russell Ivanovic explains.
Who are you and where do you work?
I'm Russell Ivanovic, Developer and Co-Founder here at Shifty Jelly. We're a massive company of 3 people based in Adelaide Australia who make apps for iOS and Android.
Why do we know you? What have you created?
We made Pocket Weather Australia, an app that's been in the top 100 paid Australian apps for over 4 years now. If you don't have it, you really owe it to yourself to check it out.
What platforms do you develop for?
As a company we develop for iOS and Android, and work pretty much exclusively on our own products. We used to be iOS exclusive until we noticed a lot of our customers were trying out Android phones. Once enough of them moved, it was only natural that we followed them there.
What are you working on right now?
Right now we are working on a major update of our other app, Pocket Casts for iOS and Android. Version 4.0 will bring tablet support and cross-device syncing as well as many other cools things we're not ready to announce yet.
It's a massive undertaking, especially on the Android side where we are re-doing the entire application to give it a more modern/holo feel make it easier than ever to use. We've made a lot of mistakes as we learnt Android in the past and we're happy that we finally get to correct them all and create a new version that will hopefully blow people's minds! Just yesterday we synced our Nexus 7 with our iPhone 5 here in the office, and we got a buzz of nerd/developer energy that can only come from doing something that cool. Your podcasts everywhere is what we're striving for with the next update...who knows, we might just pull it off ;)
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?
App Stores give independent developers like us a unique opportunity to do mobile development that hasn't really existed before. Believe us we tried in the days before the App Store and it was a nightmare. That said App Stores are a double edged sword. Customers have come to expect lifetime support for 99 cents and as independent developers we're finding that harder and harder.
A lot of independent developers have recently gone back to working for bigger companies as creating hit apps and then supporting them is getting harder, not easier. Massive companies with marketing budgets in the millions now dominate the charts, so worldwide success for small developers is becoming more of a lottery these days.
Don't take that the wrong way though, we still love what we do and we're managing to pay enough bills to keep the lights on at Shifty Jelly HQ.
What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
At the moment if you go by what I use the most, it's probably Alien Blue, by another Australian Developer Jason Morrissey. Coming in at a close second would have to be Letterpress & OzTV.
What phone do you use? Why?
iPhone 5. The main reason is the apps are just better on iOS. I realise that might anger some people but it's still the case. That said I'm loving Android 4.2 and the new Nexus devices Google is shipping out today, so you never know, a switch might one day be on the cards if developers keep making their apps better and better ;)
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
It's hard out there for an indie. Don't assume you'll be successful just because you have a great application. Also stop thinking of the word 'marketing' like it's a swear word. The reality is you'll only be successful if you create the perfect storm of a great app, great marketing and have great timing. Even then you might still need a bit of luck along the way. It's a great experience though, I highly recommend trying it even if you end up making $0!