AppCraver recently spoke with Matt Coneybeare, the developer of Ambiance. He answered our questions about developing apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.
1. When did you start developing apps for the iPhone?
Matt: I started at WWDC 08. I had a student scholarship to the event and thought it would be cool… although I originally went to learn more about developing on Leopard. When there, the ease of the iPhone development SDK really appealed to me and I started Ambiance then and there.
2. What was the inspiration behind your app?
Matt: All throughout college, I used a small app called “Noise” to help me study. I wanted to duplicated this for the phone and had even setup the first app under the name “White Noise”. While showing it off to my girlfriend, she suggested I add other sounds, just because some people don’t like white noise. She suggested other variations of noise and even rain. The first released version only had about 12 sounds, about 1/2 of them variations of white noise, and the other half simple wind and water sounds.
Then the app just took off, reaching the top ten list in 4 days, landing on number 2 and staying there for 3 weeks. During that time, I received invaluable suggestions and criticism from my users… at least 100 emails a day. I responded to every one of them promptly to learn more about the use cases and found that most people were not using it to focus, but using it to relax and to help fall asleep. All the next features and updates revolved around giving the users what they wanted from the app, not what I wanted to put in.
3. How did you settle on your price point for the app?
Matt: I was going to make it free because I thought nobody would download a white noise generator… In the end I decided to make it 99c to try and recover some of the cash I spent on the sounds and the photo. I had no idea how popular the app would be and am really glad that I decided to make it 99c
4. Roughly how many units have you sold?
Matt: I have sold close to 200,000
5. How did you like the developer tools provided in the iPhone SDK? Is there anything missing?
Matt: The developer tools are pretty good, I have not hit any roadblocks. I would like to see a better simulator though… it would be nice to have one that throttled the processor and network so you could test as if you were on a real phone. I have thought about trying to run it in another mac virtual machine but that seems ridiculous.
6. Is your company venture backed?
7. What are some of the other iPhone apps that you like?
Matt: I love Topple, Wurdle and HoldEm for games, Pandora and Shazam are great, Trism is awesome. I download all the big games too but am usually disappointed. I beat Spore and now I haven’t touched it in about a month—would rather not have spent the $10.
8. What kind of features should Apple implement in future versions of the iPhone / SDK?
Matt: Of course the ability to run in the background. This has an immediate effect on the current limitations of Ambiance.
9. What’s the development cycle for iPhone apps like?
Matt: It kinda sucks not being able to emulate the user-end upgrade. I have had some bugs that have come up because of a settings conflict with a previous version. Other than that it is great. One time I had to wait 2 weeks to get the app on the store, but most of the time it is under a week.
10. Are you working on any other apps that you will be releasing soon?
Matt: Yes. One for my day-job at GoodGuide.com. I am also working on a website cacher, originally used as a mobile cache warmer, but now is evolving into an app that you can store all your favorite sites on with one click, and read them offline.