Interview with Hollowire, Developers of Minutes Tracker
Apr 6, 2009 5:10 AM –
Looking for an Android app to help you save on cellular minutes overages? Well, we caught with Hollowire, the developers of Minutes Tracker Android App in an interview:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
We are a small software development company with offices in Miami, USA and Pune, India with a focus on developing mobile solutions. We initially began the company with a search for funding but with the advent of the iPhone and Android we switched focus. Our focus now is to develop smaller paid apps that will eventually fund more comprehensive solutions.
Why did you create your app?
Most people with cellular service contracts suffer with unplanned overages, including us. It is very easy to go over on a plan because of the limited visibility of usage. Carriers do not hide this information from its customers but it’s just too much to regularly track usage so we created MinutesTracker, MinutesTracker actively monitors minute usage. It flashes minutes remaining after every call and sends an alert once minutes have dropped below the user specified threshold.
What technology did you use in creating your App and why?
We used Android’s facility to run an application in the background and Android’s ability to register for phone events. Unlike many other mobile platforms today Android makes it easy to build utility apps that are active without user intervention. A key quality we believe is necessary to make an application useful beyond informative.
About how long did it take to create your App?
We have been playing with the SDK for a while so MinutesTracker took surprisingly little time to develop, at least in our opinion. I would say a total of 2 man months of effort.
What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
Our app is very transparent. One of our goals is to make all of our applications self explanatory but there is one feature I wish were more obvious. When you first install the application we ask you to select your current plan. If this plan has free night and / or weekends we are smart enough to exclude the minute usage during this time.
Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
We have several ideas under consideration but we are really hoping to let our customers decide. Having said this we are planning 2 very cool features. The first is a periodic sync with the carrier to extract available minutes and the second is a mechanism to track text message usage.
What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
We think the Android team has done a great job with giving developers access to the device’s functionality unlike any other mobile platform. The API is clean and easy to follow.
What are some things you would like to see improved with Android?
We hope Google continues to open up the platform so other applications can fill in the current voids. I personally believe there is room to improve the system settings and the current marketplace application. We are also waiting for Google to make good on its recent promises to grant access to the voice recognition features and Bluetooth.
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).
It’s amazing how quickly an Android application becomes available for consumption. Apple’s process is considerably more cumbersome. But, Apple’s iTunes is far superior to Android’s Marketplace. It’s very difficult to find applications.
What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the App Market?
The rating system, like the marketplace, needs considerable improvement.
Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other martkets (i.e. iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
We currently have a grocery planner application on iPhone which we will soon release on Android. We also have a few other applications in the pipeline which we hope to be reviewed on this site. We currently do not have any efforts in Blackberry and Windows Mobile but we believe these are markets that have good potential if done correctly.
Your app is a paid app, why did you choose this model over the free model, and how to you project its success?
Our primary vision is to build rich apps that get high usage. To do this we dedicate ourselves full time to the development of these applications. I believe a free model is not really sustainable and eventually consumers will pay for quality and support. There are possibilities of other models such as sponsor based, advertising based and premium based but at the moment the pay model seems to work well on iPhone and we are banking it will work well on Android as well.
Must-have Android Apps?
I personally am more of a utility person so my preferences are the browser, the map, and the Weather Channel apps.
What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
I not sure if anyone is in a position yet to give advice. The mobile application market is changing dramatically and will probably continue to change. The good news is that carriers no longer dictate the market they have done a terrible job.
Can you tell us what future Android Apps you have brewing?
We will soon be releasing our grocery planner app ShopALot on Android. So keep an eye out for that.
Thanks Hollowire for the interview and cool Android app! Keep the apps coming… Don’t forget to check out our Android App Review of Minutes Tracker.