Interview with Lior Gonnen developer of UltimateFaves
Feb 10, 2010 7:16 AM –
The Android platform offers so many innovative ways to do common tasks on the phone. Today we’ve interviewed an Android Developer, Lior Gonnen of UltimateFaves & UltimateFaves Pro, who did it with some style. Learn more:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 32 y/o software engineer. At mid-2009, after about 10 years in the industry, working at large companies like GE Healthcare, I’ve decided to quit my job and start working on my own projects. The ‘hottest’ and most interesting technology at that point seemed like Android, so I’ve decided that this is where I’m headed.
Why did you create your app?
It was one of many ideas that I have. I wanted to take a simple everyday task, and give it some edge. Make it unique, easy and fun!
My initial plan was to work on it for one month as my first Android project, and indeed I had my first public version ready after 3 weeks, but since I got lots of good feedback from users, I’m constantly improving it and adding new features, although I’m already working on other projects.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
The app is written with the standard Android SDK in the Java language. After the first version has been released with standard graphics, I’ve decided to take performance one step ahead, and rewrote it with OpenGL graphics. The icons in the carousel are actually partially transparent textures on 3D polygons.
About how long did it take to create your App?
The initial version took just a little less than a month, and 3 more weeks of updates after getting feedback from users. The OpenGL version is completely rewritten, with an improved design and took another month to write.
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
The most useful feature is that you can create home-screen shortcuts to specific carousels, and one of the cool things is that each icon in the carousel that finishes to load makes a full ‘flip’ from the default icon to the loaded icon, adding some more animation.
What other interesting uses can come from the App?
The way that I like to use the app, is to create dedicated carousels: A carousel for phones, a carousel for SMS, a carousel for bookmarks, and carousels with all kinds of apps: Games, Utils, Google apps, etc. A lot of people like the fact that you can mix items in the carousels, and create location-based carousels like Work, Home, etc. each one containing the relevant apps, contacts and bookmarks.
Also, people love to use the app as a single carousel-shortcut on every home screen, leaving the rest of the space free or for widgets.
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
Yes! I’m working on some really cool features:
1. “System carousels”: Carousels that show the recently used tasks (16, instead of Android’s default 6 when long pressing Home), the currently running processes, and currently running tasks, allowing you to kill tasks and processes, and uninstall applications, making UltimateFavesPRO a great task-killer replacement.
2. Settings carousel: A carousel that controls common system settings like GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. (very similar to the power control widget but has more options)
3. This is my favorite: custom icon packs. You will be able to give any carousel shortcut its own unique icon, and replace the icons of every item in the carousels. Free icon packs will be available.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
I like the fact that the platform is open source. I browse through Android’s source code a lot.
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
What is your opinion of the Android App Market’s distribution method? In comparison Apple’s model (strict control over the iTunes store) or the Windows Mobile model (no store at all).
First of all, Windows Mobile already has the Windows Marketplace. I think that an app-store is a must-have for every mobile platform. That’s where its power comes from. I love the fact that Android’s app market is completely free but of course there are downsides to it. There are and will be a lot of low quality applications that clutter the market. Maybe something in-between Google’s and Apple’s philosophy would be best both for developers and users.
One thing that I don’t like about the Android market, and this is very important, is that you cannot distribute paid-apps internationally since only a very limited number of countries are allowed to open a Google Checkout account (mainly the US), and in my case, Israel is not one of them. That’s why the paid version, UltimateFavesPRO, is not available on the market and only through the blog using PayPal.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
The fact the developers cannot reply to users leaving comments is terrible. Both developers and users resent that. Also I think it could have been better if the overall rating was composed of several categories, like: user-interface, usability, ease-of-use, performance, etc.
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
No. Not in the near future.
Your app is a paid app, why did you choose this model over the free model, and how to you project its success?
I have two versions a free version, and a paid version.
The free version is available since I wanted to contribute a high-quality app to the Android community.
The paid version is available since I have to live of something, right?
Must-have Android Apps?
Linda File Manager / Astro File Manager
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
Follow your heart, work hard and think out of the box.
Be faithful and respect your users, but remember that there will always be some people that have bad things to say.
Can you tell us what future Android Apps you have brewing?
Well… not until they’re out. Timing is everything
Thank you Lior, we look forward to those added feature enhancements like XXX. In the meantime, check out our Android App Review of UltimateFaves.