iPhone Developer Spotlight: Peter Schols of Orbicule

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Peter Schols, president of Orbicule, spoke with AppCraver recently via email to share his experiences developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

When did you start developing apps for the iPhone? Did you have previous experience as a developer?

We started developing apps for the iPhone as soon as the SDK has been released. We have over 7 years of experience with Cocoa development for Mac OS X. Before developing Undercover for the iPhone, we developed Undercover for Mac OS X. We also develop Macnification, a scientific app that has received an Apple Design Award at last year's WWDC.

What / how many apps have you made so far?

Undercover is our first iPhone app, with more applications in the works.

What type of apps/games/software inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?

We try to improve people's daily lives in an innovative way. With Undercover, we can track and locate a stolen Mac or iPhone. When we recover a stolen device and unveil the thief's identity, our clients and the police are extremely happy, which makes us happy in turn. The idea for Undercover came after a colleague suffered laptop theft. We really pioneered the field of theft recovery: we were the first app on any platform to snap mugshots of the thief, for example.

How do you settle on the price point for your apps?

We want to make our software available to as many users as possible. We think $4.99 / €3.99 to protect your precious iPhone or iPod touch is really a no-brainer. If you have multiple iPhones or iPods, you can protect them all for this one-time fee!

What has been the best thing about designing for the iPhone?

It's a great platform to develop on: the frameworks are rich and they are getting better with every update. The device itself is a joy to use and has the best user experience of any mobile platform. Apple's attention to detail shines through in many third party apps. It's much easier to develop high quality apps on a high quality device with an outstanding OS.

What has been the biggest challenge about designing for the iPhone?

The iPhone SDK has not really been designed with theft-recovery apps in mind. It does not allow background apps, for example, something we'd really want to have for Undercover. We do the best we can, given the tools Apple provides us with, and we will improve our app going forward. For example, we will embrace push notification to remotely trigger Undercover on a stolen device.

Is your company venture backed or privately held?

It's privately held.

Do you have any other apps in the works?

Absolutely! Unfortunately, I can't talk about them. The competition is continuously looking at us and copying our ideas.

What apps do you have on your iPhone?

I'm a huge fan of Shazam. I also have Stanza, Google Earth, Facebook, Air Sharing, WifiTrak, ... and Undercover of course ;)

What do you like to do when you're not coding for the iPhone?

Reading, listening to music and taking a lunch break.

One last thing:

Watch a video demo of Undercover for the iPhone.

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