I’d like to start blogging about mobile apps made by my fellow Canadian design and dev talent. Feel free to contact me if you are a Canadian mobile developer or designer and you’d like me to feature your app. I cover all platforms.
1. What does your app do?
Next Streetcar provides real-time arrival times for TTC streetcars based on the user’s location. The app will automatically locate the user on launch or allow for manual selection of all routes and stops. Furthermore, you can add stops to your personal favourites for easy access at any time.
2. Why did you create this app?
When I started the project, there were no native iOS apps that provided this functionality, only web apps. I have a full-time job that involves a lot more delegation and planning of projects, so I thought this would be a fun project to do in my spare time, where I would get to do the design and programming myself. I managed to create 1.0 within a reasonable time frame (about a month), and if sales are good, my plan is to expand the app’s capabilities without losing its core focus; real-time, location-based streetcar arrival times.
3. What tools did you use to build this app?
My primary tools were Xcode and Photoshop. I did all the design in Photoshop, including all the UI and icon and then coded all the UI after. I did a bunch of drawings on paper, but I mostly like to draw out a UI in Photoshop, and since I also do the programming, I can go back and forth and reiterate the UI constantly if some of it isn’t to my liking, or just doesn’t work out programmatically. Sometimes, a UI element might look amazing, and essentially work amazingly, but it also requires hours of programming work, so being able to go back and forth allows me to figure out whether it’s actually worth it, and perhaps come up with a better solution design-wise that’s more manageable to program.
Apart from Xcode and Photoshop, I of course used the TTC streetcar data via the OpenData framework. I also used Ben Copsey’s awesome ASIHTTPRequest. It’s a simple wrapper for doing networking on iOS that makes life a whole lot easier.
Finally, I also used TestFlightApp.com to send out betas to a bunch of people, so I could collect some real-world feedback. While the data TTC supplies is great, it definitely has flaws and missing data, so with beta testing, I was able to programmatically fix some things with the data – at least for the people who tested and those who’d use it were they are located :)
4. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I manage a business that runs an Internet retail store. Most of my time is spent on marketing and managing development projects. I have a developer and graphic artist who work with me on new projects. While my primary job isn’t doing design or development, I have a background in both, which helps a great deal when working with developers and graphic designers. I have also developed our iOS app, which is a native app with our store, where customer can browse, purchase and discover the same products as our website store.
5. What is your favourite hang out spot in Toronto?
House on Parliament on Parliament Street. It’s a true English pub, but the food is incredible. It’s also conveniently located a 2 minute walk from where I live. They recently moved to a new location right next door from the old place, with a bit more room and overall a nicer spot.