Mark Johnson & Rob Hunter, the developer team behind Hunter and Johnson, are releasing their debut iPhone app Duck You Undo. They're no Johnny-Come-Latelys, though. This duo already has two apps each under their collective belts and more on the way. Here, they answer our questions about developing for the iPhone and iPod touch.
When did you start developing apps for the iPhone? Did you have previous experience as a developer?
We've both been programming forever, basically, but we each started developing for the iPhone about a year ago. We met at the iPhone monthly meetup in Palo Alto, and started regularly communicating about app development. Eventually we decided to join forces.
What / how many apps have you made so far?
Duck You Undo is our first joint app.
Mark: I've written Hit Tennis and Smart Caller.
Rob: For my other company, Scribular, I've released two apps: Scribular and JourneyCast.
What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
Mark: I'm fascinated by apps that are only possible with the unique combination of capabilities of the iPhone. For example, Hit Tennis originated when I experimented with gameplay possibilities on a touch screen.
Rob: I'm really interested in location-based mobile applications. I also love it when you can take a pain that people experience all the time and ease it. It's surprisingly hard to do, though. Sure, it's easy to complain about stuff. And, in fact, that's the phase I was at with iPhone's auto-correction--just complaining. But then Mark said one day, "Here's how we could make it better." And I said, "Hey, you're right!" And then we went and wrote Duck You.
How do you settle on the price point for your apps?
Case by case basically, but we've just seen so many people buy something on a whim because "it's only 99 cents", but then avoid buying another app because it's "too expensive" at $1.99 or more, that $0.99 is appealing.
What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?
Rob: I think the best thing is that it's just a lot of fun. Writing for the iPhone reminds me of writing for the TI-82 calculator (seriously) in high school, which was also a blast.
Mark: For me its the distribution model. For years now I've wanted to write mobile software. The app store finally smashes the barriers to distribution.
What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?
Rob: I had been programming web apps in high-level languages before I started on the iPhone, so moving to Objective C/Cocoa was kind of a shock. The early SDK betas were also pretty buggy, which was rough.
Mark: The competition! The app store's a crowded place now.
Is your company venture backed or privately held?
Hunter & Johnson and our other companies are privately held by Mr Hunter and Mr Johnson.
Do you have any other apps in the works?
You bet! Apps for clients and some of our own, but our lips are sealed.
What apps do you have on your iPhone?
Mark: I just started using Byline for news reading and its a major productivity boost. I've also been enjoying the beautiful Flower Garden.
Rob: SnapTell blew me away the other day--I took a photo of a Chagall print and it told me the name of the painting! Masyu is a game I really enjoy--it's like Sudoku, without the numbers.
What do you like to do when you're not coding for the iPhone?
Rob: I've been rock climbing a lot lately. I pretty much hate exercise, so when I find something like climbing which is so fun that you forget it's exercise, that's a good thing.
Mark: I'm back on a major Civilization kick.
Watch the video for a better understanding of Duck You Undo. But be warned, despite it's cute appearance, this app curses like a sailor!