In this Developer Appreciation Month Interview we chat with Steve Albright from Neverstill Media (Phandroid’s parent company). Not only is Steve responsible for the most recent Phandroid News and GameFans Android Apps, but he’s also been the lead developer for Carrier Coverage, Football Pickem, Football Schedule 2012, and ClutchPad.
In the video below, Steve and I sit down to talk about his experiences developing for Android. For those who think the 40+ minute video is tl;dw… skip down to the 10 Burning Questions below.
(1) How did you get started with Android Development?
As I said in our long boring video that Rob fast forwards through… I originally started out with an iPhone. I have built a few OS X apps but nothing to brag about. Surprisingly this experience with the Cocoa framework did not lead into iPhone mobile development. I spent a year or two trying to hack every aspect my my iPhones but never built an app.
Since the beginning of the rumors that were floating around the internet I have been following the early news for Android. Well, at the early times Android was not Android and the articles I were following referred to a Linux powered phone. Linux on a phone really caught my interest which gave me the courage to turn my iPhones into nice paper weights. Over time, Android development became a hobby and I developed and released my first application called Clutch Pad. The Android Developer Community is the only reason that I am where I am today!
(2) What phone do you personally use?
I am a phone whore and will always purchase the latest and greatest… even if I have to eat rice for a week. Right now, I am using my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon but now that I think about it.. I should be looking for a new phone that Rob should buy me!
(3) What was your biggest challenge in developing Clutch Pad?
Truly the hardest aspect of developing this app was fighting the SDK. I recommend, especially if you’re going to be writing your first ever Android application or game, make sure it’s an easy project and follow the documented SDK. On your first app you don’t want to try to figure out non public API or to hack something together to get your app to work but rather learn from good code examples to learn the framework the way it’s intended to be used.
(4) What app was the most fun to develop?
Hands down I would have to say the recent Phandroid News app we just released. I personally love Phandroid and the community behind this site. Creating a news app was just awesome and felt like more play than work. I love to hear user feedback and it’s a great feeling when you get positive responses back from a community your largely involved with! Oh, and updates are coming… I managed to get off conference calls 😉
(5) Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential? (We know this is a touchy subject and confidential issue, but we appreciate any details you’re willing to share)
Bottom line: I do not have experience with Ads and users are cheap. I get complaints and refund requests for an app that is .99 cents on the market. You can find .99 cents on the ground. I’m not trying to insult any users or anyone in general but 99% of the time that same user would spend over 5 dollars at McDonalds or a $1.25 on a Pepsi. Most of the time lots of mobile apps are under priced with the amount of effort that goes into them. I personally don’t know the best way to make money off of apps but it seems like if you want to make a living off of your applications, you need to offer constant updates and great support or you won’t be around for long.
(6) What do you want to see in future versions of Android?
As phone hardware continues to get more processing power and ram the obvious future I see is more animations, smoother transitions and more eye candy. From a user standpoint I hope to see Google constantly improving their own apps to show off the latest and greatest UI designs as they do today. From a developer standpoint I hope to see better support libraries for past versions of Android. There is nothing I hate more than to try to make code adjustments to accommodate older versions of Android.
(7) Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?
I currently do not develop in any other mobile platforms but I could see Android being more difficult than for example iOS due to the large amount of unique devices we have to support. Although, there are pros and cons to everything and I think it comes down to more of a personal level and what language you like to develop in.
(8) If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?
Get more involved with the community for early builds. It seems if you build an early on user base they will later support you down the road. Make sure you give good application support as well. Sending email responses back to users goes a long way.
(9) Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.
My computer career really began from getting suspended from high-school for a few months and I had nothing better to do then become a 1337 AOL hax0r.
(10) De Niro or Pacino?
This is hard but I have to give it to De Niro because of the movie Taxi Driver. Good sh*t.