Developing the Log Cabin iPhone Application began in the office of Clarovista, a Conway marketing firm.
Lee Watson, “chief creative guru,” and Doug Ward, application developer, sat down recently to reflect on the past hectic weeks:
Q: Why an application instead of a Web site?
Lee: Mobile applications are much more robust then mobile Web sites. When brands are looking to create unique user experiences and really engage consumers, they look at mobile applications.
Doug: The Web is a great thing, but it lacks in terms of technical standards and presentation. Due to conflicts between the various browsers it can be difficult for a Web site to create a consistent user experience for all browsers. iPhone apps don’t have that problem. A well-designed app should be easier, quicker, and more fun to use than a Web site, especially on mobile devices.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult is it to create an application?
Doug: It depends on the complexity of the app and your level of experience. A new iPhone software developer might struggle for a couple of days to create a simple app. An experienced developer could create the same app in just a few minutes. In some ways, it’s easier to design an iPhone app than a traditional desktop computer program or a complex Web site. I’d rank the Log Cabin app as a 5 or 6 on your difficulty scale. The programming we did on our server was much more difficult than the app itself.
Q: What’s the most difficult aspect of the development process?
Lee: The most difficult part, is determining what the client wants. There are so many possibilities and so many ways of accomplishing the same thing, that what we find is we have to build good mockups and go through how the app will function. We typically don’t start development, until we’ve ironed out the app on paper. With the Log Cabin’s app, our deadline forced us to jump straight into development. The hardest part of the app was developing the backend, setting up a server, developing a database and even writing a server-class desktop application to analyze, pull, process and deliver the Log Cabin’s news feeds.
Q: When will iPhone apps translate to other smart-phone platforms?
Doug: The best apps will be custom-designed for each platform. The iPhone will get the most because it has the largest market share and it has the most popular app store. Microsoft and Android will begin to develop respectable amounts of market share over time, so they will have some good apps too. The other platforms will get fewer custom apps, they’ll rely more on mobile Web sites.
Q: In 2 years, will applications be as ubiquitous as we imagine?
Lee: Yeah, its a lot like Web development was in the mid 1990s. There’s a bell curve that’s just beginning. Once Verizon offers the iPhone, as industry analysts predict, we’ll begin to see tens of thousands of new apps for the iPhone, compared to the 140,000-odd apps to-date. Arkansas’s limited developer community will put us a little behind other states, so it might be a little further down the road than two years.
Q: What’s the next big thing coming down the technological pike?
Lee: The iPad went on sale just a short couple of weeks ago. We’re watching brands figure out how they develop apps designed for the iPad, and we’re starting to see a whole new wave of development spawn for content providers like media outlets.
Doug: For consumer electronics, I predict mobile television and home automation. Apple is currently featuring some home automation apps on their televised iPhone ads.
Watson is a graduate of University of Central Arkansas. He founded Clarovista in October 2008.
Ward has developed software for Apple operating systems since the late 1970s. he is owner of ArkPhone LLC, a software development firm.
Dan Gilliam, a Hendrix College graduate, also serves as a developer with Clarovista.
Gina Newman-Herget, an account executive for Clarovista, is a Texas Christian University graduate and has worked in the marketing/public relations field for more than 17 years.