Day 1: iPhone Dev Camp 2

iPhone development has been strong for over a year now. Ever since the device debuted in June of 2007, people have been hacking away at the platform.
Written by Andrew Mager, Inactive

iPhone development has been strong for over a year now. Ever since the device debuted in June of 2007, people have been hacking away at the platform.

Now, in the summer of 2008, we have an SDK. We are now allowed to build and submit apps that will either greatly improve a user's productivity or distract the living daylights out of them. Either way, it's a fun experience digging into Apple's code works.

iPhone apps are marketed today like full length feature films.

Tapulous in the house

I will be covering iPhone Dev Camp 2 in a live blog style; posting photos and videos as I take them. If you want me to cover something specific, please leave me a note in the talkback section at the bottom of this post.

The crowd is growing

Good morning hackers

10:01 a.m.: Breakfast is served. Adobe always provides amazing food and drink.

Morning times

10:21 a.m.: As the morning ceremonies commence, the master of ceremonies Dominic Sagolla is introducing all of the sattelite locations that are participating in the barcamp. I can see folks in Chicago, Seattle, Austin, Portland, and even India.

campo in Seattle

There are 71 people in a live chatroom. You can watch the livestream here.

There will be a masseuse here until 6 p.m. and the coffee bar will be open all day. The crowd is packed with interested developers, iPhone enthusiasts, and members of the press.

You can follow the iPhoneDevCamp Twitter feed at @iphonedevcamp. All photos taken from the event will be tagged with iphonedevcamp on Flickr.

About 50 hands went up when co-host Raven Zachary asked "how many people are here from outside of San Francisco?". Others shouted out distant locations like London and Belgium.

The guys from the new visual search engine Viewzi came to SF from Dallas, Tx. They had the coolest shirts to give away.

The guys from Viewzi

10:35 a.m.: Sponsors are giving their pitches. Some of the sponsors of iPhoneDevCamp are Admob, Ansca, Apple Phone Show, bamboudesign, Device Anywhere, doubleTwist, DS Media Labs, eComm, Etymotic Research, Fullpower, Gyrocade, Incipio, iNurse, Zagg, iPhone Life, iWipes, JBL, MacLife, Medialets, GigaOm, Nitobi, Pandora, Pinch Media, Radtech, Rickshaw, Sik, Sketches, Tapulous, Things, VMware, and Viewzi.

Raven asking for volunteers

10:55 a.m.: Phew, that was a lot of sponsors. This afternoon, there will be angel investors here meeting with developers to see if they can sell them. An app can go from idea to bank in just a few hours I guess.

10:58 a.m.: They are giving away a limited number of blue raffle tickets to volunteers. At the end of the camp, they will be giving away valuable prizes to those helpers.

11:08 a.m.: Dom is doing a roundtable Q&A but it's hard to hear. The buzzing of app developers and non-stop keyboard clicks are overpowering the Adobe sound system.

What apps do you use every day?

On stage is Merlin Mann from 43 Folders and You Look Nice Today, Mike Lee from Tapulous, and Brian Fling from Leaflets.

Dom: Surfline. First thing I do when I get out of bed is blindly grab my iPhone and find the Surfline app icon.

Merlin: There are a couple of different groups of apps that I use. Regardless of how well they work and how well they're designed, there are still apps I am addicted to. The Remote app from Apple is great for controlling your iTunes or Apple TV while you're not at the computer.

It's much easier to use the iPhone to manage a huge library of music on the Apple TV than using the remote that comes with it.

1 Password. I would not use this iPhone if it didn't have 1 Password.

There is a huge slurry of apps that are almost a good idea, but I feel like I have five applications I love, and that big shiny pile of unfinished apps.

UrbanSpoon. How awesome is UrbanSpoon almost. All of the neighborhoods in San Francisco are alphabetically arranged, but that's not helpful for the real proximity of neighborhoods.

The Amazon web app is gold.

Mike: I use my own software all the time. I use Twinkle on the iPhone, but I use Twitterrific on the computer.

Brian: I use the Phone app and Safari a lot. Twinkle is really good too.

Day-to-day iPhone story time

We spend more time actually optimizing and designing the apps just to shave off kilobytes so it runs faster.

11:23 a.m.: What is the thing about your app that makes it better than every other app? What's the hook?

How would you come up with something insanely useful that gets one thing done really really well?

UrbanSpoon would be even better if it said, ‘Find something near me, that my friends on Yelp think is good, that is open right now’.

11:29 a.m.: If you Twitter questions to @bmf, they will answer them on the spot.

Dom: I've tried to spend one hour away from my iPhone, and I've counted the amount of times that I've gone to my pocket to reach for it. What types of gestures do you have that you subconsciously worry about on your iPhone?

Merlin: I find myself fiddling with it, but I find myself being more mindful of it. Interstitial time is time in your day that you are in between meetings or time that you can kill. A lot of times, we are using our iPhones to occupy that time.

Brian: We are not seeing a lot of gesture utilization in applications, but kids are already used to using these gestures. With native apps, we have the opportunity to not use our fingers as a mouse.

11:40 a.m.: Merlin: The day that my Kindle arrived, my computer died. I open it up and start playing with it. I'm sitting there trying to make the home page work swiping it with my fingers and it's not working.

Merlin Mann

Some of the most amazing apps you can make are surgical strikeout applications. On the iPhone right now, I have been trying three different applications for finding when the MUNI is coming. It's so not that easy to do on any application right now. It's like click, click, click, wait, wait, wait.

Think about having the courageousness to make an app that is crazy easy. Instead of making a circus that's really fun to play in, just make something that's easy to get in and out of quickly without hassle.

Brian: We are not just consumers anymore, we are creaters. We have all these tools to create it, but not as many to consume it.


Mike: If you have a splash screen in your app right now, take it out. If it's a video, you can't use your iPhone for a week.

iPhone talk

I'm not gonna sit there and play a game for three hours. I'm gonna wanna load it up for a few minutes, play it, and then come back to it. I can't waste 20 seconds loading it up.

11:45 a.m.: What apps would you like to see built this weekend?

Merlin: Figure out more ways to not just obsess over lat and long points in the world. In OmniFocus, there are certain things I need to do. This is something that happens at a wine store. I need to buy toilet paper; this could happen at any grocery store. I could say, "remind me to get toilet paper next time I am at a grocery store"

I want someone to build an app that's called "That reminds me". Next time I happen to be anywhere near a bookstore, I wanna know if this one crazy magazine is available. Very casual information that I can associate in a very generic way.

Brian: We need more access to location-based data from the Safari app. Integrated online payments would be nice.

Merlin: Why is Amazon's app so good? All of the most important information is right at the top. It loads crazy fast. All I need to do is hit one button and something is on a truck somewhere driving towards my house with the product I just purchased.

Mike: When you are sitting at the table with someone, the only acceptable thing to do is talk to them? There needs to be more games for the iPhone for those situations. Instead of texting and Twittering each other at the table, we should be able to play games with each other.

There should be a free version of every pay app.

These apps that cost money better be a lot better than the free apps.

12:04 p.m.: Lunch time. Sandwiches, chips, and cookies. Be back soon.

Lunch at iPhoneDevCamp Day 1

12:20 p.m.: I put in about 45 minutes of time helping attendees register and checkin.

iPhone Dev Camp entrance

Device Anywhere

1:38p.m.: This is an iPhone in a rackmount server. Actually, the rackmount server is the iPhone now.

Device Anywhere

Device Anywhere provides remote testing for handsets. They want to make it able for anyone to access an iPhone from anywhere in the world.

Let's say you've just developed a killer app for the iPhone. How can you tell it's gonna work in France or Germany?

With Device Anywhere you can remotely connect with those handsets without going anywhere. A data center looks like this:

Device Anywhere demo

They handle every stage of the development cycle, from testing to monitoring and benchmarking to customer support. They have almost every network covered.

Device Anywhere demo

Direct-to-device technology provides a 1:1 interactive access. They have over 1000 devices worldwide for you to test.

They do not break into any of the carrier networks or bluetooth. You can still utilize the wifi on the device as if you were actually using it.

The desktop interface for Device Anywhere is solid:

Device Anywhere demo

It reminds me of the SDK simulator, but it's a lot bigger on the screen. They are tapping directly into the video chips of the device to capture the screen into the interface.

It's completely hardware, no software used here.

This service is not just for iPhone either. You can test countless models of legacy phones.

Device Anywhere demo

For a video interview from Daniel Brusilovsky, go here.

1:51 p.m.: Cracked open a Sierra Nevada.

2:01 p.m.: No press in the champagne room:

iPhone Developers only

2:03 p.m.: Let the coding begin. Developers are in multiple contests to see who can win prizes that include Apple hardware, Adobe software, and cash.

Developers cranking

2:10 p.m.: Satellite dev camps are also busy coding.

iPhone satellites

2:12 p.m.: People are lining up to get their free massage. Intense programming can make for a sore neck and back.


2:19 p.m.: Veronica Belmont and Ryan Block stopped by to see what new apps are brewing here today.

Veronica Belmont and Ryan Block

2:35 p.m.: Advertising startup Medialets is one step ahead of the other sponsors. They brought in Bawls energy drink to give developers a boost. Everyone else is bringing beer which has the opposite effect.

Medialets has bawls

2:40 p.m.: MadsonLine is powering the laptop battery charging station. The XK-10 can charge 10 batteries at a time. A completely drained battery will take about an hour to fill back up. This baby ain't cheap though; it will run you about $1500 USD:

Madson Line

3:01 p.m.: The schedule is now full for Saturday and Sunday. Here is the hand scratch version of it:


iPhone Dev Camp isn't just about building, there is a lot of debugging going on. People are sharing hacks and secrets with each other.

iPhone hackers

The contest

3:07 p.m.: The special awards categories are posted on the barcamp website.

  • Best Open Source
  • Coolest
  • Most Useful
  • Best Developer Tool
  • Most Educational
  • Best Game
  • Best Web App
  • Best Social

3:17 p.m.: The list of prizes was posted on the website:

  • MacBook Pro 17 inch w/ 4GB RAM (ngmoco)
  • MacBook (White) 2.1 GHz (doubleTwist)
  • $500 Apple Store Gift Certificate (Tapulous)
  • Apple Store Gift Certificate for a new iPhone 3G (Apple Phone Show)
  • Apple Store Gift Certificate for a new iPhone 3G (Viewzi)
  • $2,000 in JBL speakers for iPhone and iPod (JBL)
  • High-End Backpacks and Laptop Hardcovers (AXIO)
  • Messenger Bags Rickshaw Bagworks)
  • Adobe Creative Suite 3 (Adobe)
  • Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 (Adobe)
  • TruePower iV battery charger and U-Charge AC adapter (FastMac)
  • Etymotic headphones (Etymotic Research)
  • Copies of VMWare Fusion (VMWare)
  • Anir ergonomic mouse (doubleTwist)
  • invisibleSHIELDs for iPhone 3G (ZAGG)
  • ...and more!

3:20 p.m.: Adobe's own Dom Sagolla, the event's organizer, takes a minute to rest:


3:30 p.m.: Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Qik's Daniel Brusilovsky are hanging out:

Jack Dorsey and Daniel Brusilovsky

3:39 p.m.: Tapulous announces a Tap Tap Revenge tournament at 6:00 p.m. tonight. This is a two player iPhone game that each person has to fit both of their hands on the device and battle Guitar Hero competition style:

Tap Tap Revenge tournament

Sneak peak: Area Codes

4:00 p.m.: As I write this live blog, I'm sitting at a table of developers. August Joki has been here since the wee hours of the morning churning out Cocoa code for an app I can't write about. He did give me a quick demo of another app that he built though.

Area Codes by August Joki

Ever get a call from someone and don't recognize the area code? Hang up and open the Area Codes app, which is searchable up to the three-digit local prefix.

Area Codes by August Joki

Joki found the area code database within the phone, so no extra data needed to be imported. It's amazing how app developers can leverage data that's buried in the code base of the iPhone. I think Apple should have already worked this interface into the iPhone, but I guess that's why we have iPhone Dev Camp.

4:39 p.m.: A Twitter response from @LunaticSX:

Joki responds: But what about the area codes for people who haven't called you?

4:50 p.m.: Justin Fishner-Wolfson from Founders Fund is speaking about early-stage investing. Some of its investments include Facebook, Powerset, and Slide.

Justin Fishner-Wolfson speaking about Founders Fund

5:31 p.m.: Taking a break with a Marin HefeWeiss and looking for Scott Beale. Preparing for the Tap Tap Revenge tournament.


6:00 p.m.: A look at the sponsors for iPhone Dev Camp:

iPhone Dev Camp sponsors

6:13 p.m.: Tapulous has built something called TwinkleShots. It takes geo-tagged photos from anyone using Twinkle within a one-mile radius of Adobe. The project wasn't completely accurate because it was pulling images from more than one mile away:

Twinkle Shots

6:31 p.m.: Pizza Orgasmica delivered 60 pies. This was only half the order.

Pizza Orgasmica

6:59 p.m.: iUI is a year-old user interface for iPhone and iPod Touch developed by Joe Hewitt and friends. A year ago, he presented it to developers the night before the first iPhone Dev Camp and the next day when building apps, they said it only took them a few hours to put it together.

This year it's even simpler. The user doesn't need to know any Javascript or CSS, just clean HTML.

A short demo from iCuteOverload:


iMovieMash is a mashup using iUI and Perl. You can search through film titles based on iMDb ratings and Kids-in-Mind ratings.


7:20 p.m.: Zac White implements copy and paste on the iPhone. YouTube video uploading now.

7:31 p.m.: Tap Tap Revenge live tournament getting under way.

Raven playing Tap Tap Revenge

7:59 p.m.: Tapulous gives away 1,000 songs DRM-free songs to the winner.

8:12 p.m.: Taking off for the night. Will be up early to make another live blog post.

Tomorrow's post will include most of the product demos. We will be able to see what everyone has been hacking away at.

Here is my live blog for day 2.

My ever-expanding Flickr photo set is here.

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