Interview with Philip Dhingra

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interview philip dhingraAppCraver recently spoke with Philip Dhingra of Nuclear Elements, the developer behind Tarot, Palmist and Rave Light. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

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

Philip Dhingra: Early May 2008. Since then I’ve done five apps. Three have been published, and two were privately built for clients.

2. What was the inspiration behind your app?

Philip Dhingra: My friend gave me a tarot reading around the same time I was looking for app ideas. When he was finished with the reading, I thought to myself, “this would be perfect on the iPhone.” The size of the card fits nearly perfectly on the iPhone. Plus, you don’t have to fuss around with a deck or having a table if you want to give yourself a reading on-the-go. I think the light-bulb moment is when you realize, “this would be perfect on the iPhone.”

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

Philip Dhingra: I knew I wanted compensation, so I was going to charge at least a dollar. I thought about raising the price to $2.99, but then I figured whatever I’d gain in extra per-sale revenue, I’d lose in volume. So $1.99 has been a happy medium.

4. Roughly how many units have you sold? 5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?

Philip Dhingra: The development experience for the iPhone is great. Xcode is a mature IDE, and Apple has had tons of experience assisting developers with intuitive interfaces. What was irritating was the complicated, and sometimes obscure, work required to provision, code sign, and deploy the app on devices. There were many hoops I had to jump through that I believe Apple put in place to protect their IP.

5. Is your company privately owned? Venture backed?

Philip Dhingra: Just a one-man dev shop.

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

Philip Dhingra: The ones I’ve been most impressed with are: Twinkle, Bloom, Koi Pond, Enigmo, and MotionX’s Poker.

7. What kind of features should apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?

Philip Dhingra: The biggest I’d like to see is automatic garbage collection and better memory management. One of the biggest time sinks for me is optimizing my apps so they don’t run out of memory. I know the iPhone has enough memory, but when, for example, I load 78 40kb images, the app halts to a standstill.

A gyroscope would also be a great supplement to the accelerometer. A front-facing camera would be nice. I’m curious how tactile feedback is going to work with the Blackberry Storm. If it’s great, then I think the iPhone needs that.

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

Philip Dhingra: There’s usually a 2-3 week phase of just contemplating the idea, thinking about how you would approach it, and whether or not you want to commit the resources to doing it. The next phase is a week or two of creating the core technology. For example, Tarot revolves around the deck interface and card-viewing interface. And Palmist revolves around the hand outline overlay on the camera and the display of content on top of palms. So you build the core tech first, and then you add all the menus, navigation, and unifying look and feel. Then it’s about polishing and field testing, which takes another 1-2 weeks, and finally publishing.

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

Philip Dhingra: I just finished a 3D puzzle game for a client that should be coming out in a month or so.

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  • MaxxineStamos

    He said it perfect. I want better memory management too