Interview with N.R. Machiraju of Reqall

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AppCraver recently heard from N. R. Machiraju, co-founder of reQall, who answered our questions about developing for the iPhone and iPod touch.

1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?

N.R.: reQall (www.reQall.com) was first released on the iPhone in August 2007. Back then, we built it as an iPhone “web app.” Once Apple announced the iPhone SDK, we knew reQall had to be a native app too and started developing immediately. We were formerly at Apple so developing for the iPhone was a lot like developing on the Mac.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

N.R.: Our mission is to help people remember better. reQall was inspired by Sunil Vemuri’s research at the MIT Media Lab. His work showed compelling ways technology can help people remember better and improve memory. For example, he built a Google-like system allowing people to literally search their memory anytime they forgot. It also was one of the first always-available systems allowing voice capture (including speech to text) before the thought, idea, or task slips your mind.

This work was covered widely on CNN, NY Times, Boston Globe and Newsweek, to name but a few. The research validated the efficacy of the approach; popular feedback from the press coverage illustrated that people were really pained by forgetting and looking for a better way to remember.

3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?

N.R.: reQall on the iPhone is currently free.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold?

N.R.: In the six figures.

5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?

N.R.: Apple has provided a very nice toolset to build world-class applications. reQall users would love to see better integration with the calendar. They’d also love to have the ability to press a hardware key to start recording. For example, right now, a “double tap” on the iPhone “home” button can’t be directed to a third party app. We hope Apple will allow that so users can quick launch reQall and record thoughts nearly hands-free. The ability to define a hardware key, to launch reQall, is something our Blackberry users enjoy.

6. Is your company venture backed?

N.R.: Yes.

7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?

N.R.: Evernote, Shazam, WritingPad, and Hollyscoop

8. What kind of features should Apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?

N.R.: Answered that in Question 5 above.

9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?

N.R.: We, as a company, are design centric. The iPhone allows us to do a neat trick: we create candidate UI screens designs as images and then put them on the Photo application in the iPhone. Then, we get user feedback on the various candidate designs. After we narrow the choices, we rapidly prototype a functioning design and again get user feedback. The SDK makes it really easy to put these prototypes together and Apple’s “ad hoc” distribution release capability has helped getting these prototypes out. After that, we’re heads down to get a release out.

10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?

N.R.: We’re focused on reQall now. But, the company’s mission is to help people remember better; we have further work brewing now and will certainly update you when confirmed.

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