I'm going to talk about four of our recent iPhone projects that we've been working on at Raizlabs. Two of them have shipped two have not. We started developing for the iPhone over the summer of 2008 and have had a fun ride. The mobile UI design space is quite different from traditional web-design in that it forces you to think about application design in a whole new way.
In the process we developed some tools to help other designers. Make sure to check out our iPhone wireframe toolkit.
This was our first large application, we were approached by a new Boston start up looking to enter the fitness space. We discussed a number of ideas including a web-dashboard, GPS integration and other technologies. We hit upon the idea of creating a mobile version of a GPS watch.
This was before the iPhone 3G was announced so we were taking a risk that the upcoming phone would in fact have GPS capabilities. The value proposition was simple, why buy an expensive GPS running watch when you can get a low cost iPhone application to do the same thing.
The user scenario oriented around a runner who would start their music and start a run. The display had to be easy to read while running and provide easy to read and easy to understand information.
Through several iterations we discovered how many customers are actually bikers, hikers and the various ways that GPS data and accuracy can vary based on where you are and what you're doing.
The application has won many awards and has been featured in a number of newspapers, blogs and other publications. RunKeeper continues to evolve as we disect deeper interaction problems and continue to refine the end user experience.
Loan Lite Mortgage Calculator
Loan Lite started off as an exploration by our summer intern, Justin. The goal was to develop an application that had one user interface page, was meant to be used in a mobile scenario, could be developed in about a week and sold for at least $0.99.
We explored a number of ideas and decided that a mortgage calculator could solve a problem for house-hunters or real-estate agents on the go. Figuring out mortgage calculations isn't rocket science but it's also something that people tend to need while away from their PC's. We also felt that the utility of the application far outweighed the .99 cent cost, especially considering the typical price of a home.
We did a competitive analysis of existing calculators and found that many didn't offer adjustments for home owner fees, insurance and similar considerations when trying to determine a monthly payment.
The application was put together over the course of a couple weeks and served as a good foundation for learning objective C.
A note to comp-sci students in the Boston area. We're always looking for talented and driven people for summer internships.
Word Popper is our first design exploration into mobile games. We wanted to design a simple game that could be played solo while waiting for the bus or train but also incorporated an online multi-player component.
We wanted to create a fast moving game so unlike Boggle or Wurdle where you have to string nearby letters together to form a word we allow the user to pop letters anywhere to create words as fast as they can.
This creates a fast moving casual game that can be played by crossword junkies, scrabble and boggle lovers and casual users alike. The online component allows users to play the same board as other users and compete for high-scores.
Designing for a game is very different from designing a typical website in that you're more free to explore effects such as animations, buzzers and sounds. The most interesting thing about game design is usability. The main purpose isn't to accomplish a specific task but to have fun.
JetSetter is a experiment in psychology and economics of high-end products. The majority of iPhone application are currently targeted at the low-cost or free side of the market. The assumption is that to generate the greatest profit you need to generate a ton of demand. To generate a ton of demand you need to have a low price point. For this reason you see many low cost apps.
Unfortunately for application developers having a low price point no-longer guarantees high demand. We wanted to try something different.
JetSetter was designed as a high-end game. In fact we plan to make it the most expensive game that Apple will allow at $999. While some may view this as outrageous this is intentional because we want the game to be more exclusive. A limited audience may garner a premium price.
The object of the game is to travel around the world on your private jet and accumulate points for the distance you travel. What's that? You don't have a private jet? Well then you probably can't afford this game either.
The game explores the high-end of the iPhone application market a section of the mobile space that has been mostly ignored.
In the $0.99 cent world we need to sell over 14,000 copies to make 10K. While in the $999 world we only need to sell about 14. This means that smaller more specialized high-end apps can in theory be very profitable.
Weather or not this model for applications will work is yet to be seen. The application includes some interesting social features to make it appealing to an exclusive crowd. The application isn't yet available but keep an eye out on JetSetterApp.com if you have a Jet or fancy yourself as a JetSetter and think you can afford it.