After a small hiatus, I’m happy to present a new Home Screen post. When in Chicago for the ABA Techshow, I was lucky enough to have tea with an excellent Mac and iPhone developer, Keith Alperin. Keith’s company, Helium Foot Software makes several Mac utilities, my favorite being MercuryMover. In addition to his coding prowess, Keith is a devoted father (he takes his son to the opposite site of Chicago every day for school) and an overall swell guy. Make sure to check out his software. You can follow Keith on Twitter right here.
What are your most interesting home screen apps?
I have two that when i use them, they make me feel like i’m living in the future. First up: Buster [iTunes link]. Here in the big shouldered city of Chicago, my family and i lead a pretty pedestrian lifestyle. We have a car, but generally you’ll find us on public trans. Buster will tell you exactly how long you have to wait until the next bus arrives and gets bonus points for knowing what stop you’re at. Second in order only is Briefcase. Briefcase [iTunes link] is one of a few apps that lets you keep and view arbitrary files on your device: pictures, pages/word docs, audio clips, almost anything. What really sets briefcase apart is how it can connect to your home machine from anywhere in the world and download and view just about any file from your hard drive. Indistinguishable from magic.
One more that i wanted to mention is Constitution [iTunes link], because you never know when a constitutional crisis, or good political argument will break out.
Which app is your guilty pleasure?
I’m tempted to say my twitter clients, but i’ll go with a really fun game that i downloaded recently called Ground Effect [iTunes link]. It’s futuristic rocket plane racing at its best.
What is the app you are still missing?
I’m going to out myself here, but the app that i’m missing the most is a phone! I’m the last iPhone developer who doesn’t own an iPhone. I have a fleet of iPod Touches (one of which is always at my hip) but i’m waiting for the baddest iPhone A4 to come out before i finally throw down and sign up with AT&T.
How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPod touch?
I’ve never counted. Is there an app for that?
What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPod touch?
After having the internet in your pocket, you never want to go back.
If you were Steve Jobs, what would you add to the iPhone?
I’m in no position to give advice to Uncle Steve, but if i had my four iPhone wishes fulfilled the would be:
As a developer, i’m acutely aware of the hardware limitations of the device. Everything takes power. There’s so little memory. The CPU is so much slower than on a Mac. Giving us more of what we have will make apps like the current crop easier to develop and will enable a new generation of apps that would make today’s iPhones shed unicorn tears.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Two things. The 100 ton bird in the room is Twitter and almost everyone in the MacSparky home screen fraternity has a Twitter app on their home screen. Currently, mine is Tweetie [iTunes link], but in the same position on my second screen is Twitterlator Pro [iTunes link]. I was fortunate enough to meet Andrew Stone (who wrote Twitterlator) at WWDC last year and he was such a neat guy that i bought it on the spot. For now i like the almost minimalism of Tweetie but i often switch those two around since Twitterlator has so many more features.
Secondly, i wanted to point out that there is some really incredible iPhone software available from independent developers. The iPhone really lends itself to the type of relatively small, yet highly polished app that indie developers really excel at creating. Also, love it or loathe it, the App Store has opened that floodgate between regular every day users and tiny one and two person software shops. I haven’t been able to get any numbers but anecdotally it seems that a high percentage of regular iPhone users are buying indie software; and from where i sit, that is an indisputable Good Thing.