Interview with Groundspeak, Developers of Geocaching.com
Nov 20, 2010 8:14 AM –
Today we’re interviewing Travis Veralrud with Groundspeak, developers of Geocaching.com. The online service and now available for mobile apps that allow you to find geocaches listed on theirÂ websiteÂ nearby your location. Let’s learn more:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I hold a BS in computer science from University of Washington and am a relatively new Groundspeak employee. I am recently married. For fun, I enjoy visiting new restaurants in Seattle and doing logic puzzles (which I can’t get enough of).
Why did you create your app?
We wanted to provide our community with the convenience of a mobile geocaching experience. It was a natural extension for the outdoor activity. After the success of the Geocaching iPhone Application, launched in 2008, our community requested that we extend the application to other platforms.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
Android SDK and Eclipse for development. Obviously, we rely heavily on the Internet to access Groundspeak’s database of geocaches.
About how long did it take to create your App?
Originally the project was being worked on using an outside contractor. When we decided to bring the work in-house, the balance of the project took us approximately 4 months.
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
The best tip is to save geocache listings for offline use or download Pocket Queries (one of our Premium Membership features) to the application. These features allow users to access geocache information when out of cell phone range, so that they can go geocaching anywhere in the world, at any time.
What other interesting uses can come from the App?
The applicationâs fundamental purpose is to enable a fully functional geocaching experience. Primarily, users can use this application to identify and locate over 1.2 million physical treasures hidden by geocaching participants around the world. So, an interesting use of this application would be to get you and your family out of the house and searching for geocaches.
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
We are adding Trackables functionality to the app shortly. Trackables are geocaching game pieces with unique tracking codes. They generally have specific goals, such as to “visit all 50 states” or “see Australia.” Geocachers will be able to log Trackables and look up their goals directly from the app.
We have many more feature enhancements in the pipeline. Community members post the features that they want in the Android section of our feedback site, http://feedback.geocaching.com, and other geocachers vote for the ideas they like best. We look here for ideas on what to develop next.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
The ability for our applications to work with other apps is very nice. For example, we will have support for navigating to a cache using turn-by-turn directions with Google Navigate.
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
The “openness” of the Android platform is exciting for users, developers and phone manufacturers, but makes testing difficult because it requires a wide variety of phones to test on. It would be nice if it wasn’t an issue, but it goes with the territory.
What is your opinion of the Android App Market’s distribution method? In comparison Apple’s model (strict control over the iTunes store)
Both models have advantages and disadvantages. We believe that the jury is still âoutâ and neither model has demonstrated that it is the ideal one.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
Regardless of the choice of App Market (iPhone, Android or other) there is limited accountability for providing ratings and feedback. Weâve seen many cases where people will use reviews of a popular application to drum up business for another app. Although there are rules against doing that, negative effects can occur from even few people rating an App at one star and saying things like âThis app sucks, App XYZ is much betterâ.
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
Yes, we are launching a Windows Phone 7 Geocaching application. It will be available within days.
Our Geocaching iPhone application has been extremely successful over the past two years and has consistently ranked in the top 100 grossing applications in the iTunes app store.
Your app is a paid app, why did you choose this model over the free model, and how to you project its success?
We chose to make this a paid app, like our other apps, so that we could continue allocating resources to developing, maintaining and improving the application while providing a good working environment for our 50+ employees.
Must-have Android Apps?
Some of my favorites are Yelp, Urbanspoon, Google Maps and Pandora.
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
If you have an already existing community, talk to them! Our community has provided incredible feedback (be it praise or constructive criticism) that has been essential to the direction of the application.
Thank you Travis. Don’t forget to check out our Android app review of Geocaching for Android!