Interview with Loopt Developer Fred Potter
Jan 20, 2009 5:00 AM –
Check out the interview with Loopt developer Fred Potter. Interesting stuff about their popuplar Android App:
AndroidTapp.com: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself(ves)?
I’ve been at Loopt for 2 years, mostly working on the Loopt clients for J2ME, BlackBerry, and Android. I’ve been doing mobile development and playing with location-based apps for about 5 years.
AndroidTapp.com: Why did you create your app?
We made Loopt to help individuals connect, share, and explore with the world around them while they’re on the go through the location of their phone. Loopt can be used to connect with friends and receive alerts when they are nearby, share geo-tagged journal photos and status updates, and explore places and events recommended by friends.
AndroidTapp.com: Must be totally cool to be featured in an Apple iPhone commercial, how was that experience?
We were pretty excited :-) If you haven’t seen it already, you can find it on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/looptdotcom
AndroidTapp.com: About how long did it take to create your App?
We spent about 3 months start to finish. We’ve built Loopt clients for iPhone, J2ME, BREW, and now Android, and this was our fastest development cycle yet thanks to the great foundation Android gives us to build from. We had two engineers from Loopt working on the project: myself, and Jianming Zhou.
AndroidTapp.com: Many people have mixed reactions about your app, because it has the potential of broadcasting your location (if you enable that), what is your take on it?
We realize this and that’s why we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that Loopt has intuitive and effective privacy controls and security features. Loopt users can easily control where they set their location, when they share their location, and which of their Loopt friends they would like to share their location with. We’ve worked hard to establish and promote best practices in privacy and security on our own service as well as throughout the LBS industry (http://www.loopt.com/about/privacy-security).
AndroidTapp.com: Why did you leave out the “Mix” feature, and do you expect to integrate it for Android?
Loopt Mix is a beta feature that we’re testing out on the iPhone. If it continues to go well, we’d love to eventually roll out Loopt Mix to all of the versions of Loopt that are out there, including Loopt on Android.
AndroidTapp.com: What is a cool uncovered tip or trick you can do with the App?
If I had to pick one Loopt feature that people should definitely check out, it would be Friend Alerts (you can find this under Settings). Friend Alerts lets you set up alerts so that you’re notified when any of your friends are nearby. Loopt is at its best when it enables serendipitous meet-ups between you and your friends.
AndroidTapp.com: What other interesting uses can come from the App?
We love to hear stories from our users about how they are using Loopt, especially entertaining ones. Visit our Stay Loopt In community page at http://www.loopt.com/community and drop us a line.
AndroidTapp.com: Can you tell us about future feature enhancements with your App?
There are a few cool ways we can integrate Loopt better with the phone. For example, when you get a comment on Loopt, it would be great if you could see that comment in the Android notification bar rather than having to go back into Loopt. We think we can also make it easier to share the photos you take with your Loopt friends. Like I said before, we may add Loopt Mix to Loopt on Android well. There’s always room for improvement and the feedback we receive from the Loopt community continues to be invaluable in helping us improve our service.
AndroidTapp.com: What did you really like about creating Apps on the Android platform?
Not having to reinvent the wheel! We’ve been doing J2ME for a long time at Loopt, and we’re used to having to roll our own UI libraries to draw our own buttons, lists, text, and everything else. With Android, I think there are only one or two spots in our entire code base where we had to do custom drawing – the standard widget library is great. This was also the first time we didn’t have to roll our own mapping code which definitely sped up development.
AndroidTapp.com: 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).
We distribute Loopt on the iPhone AppStore as well as the Android Market, so we’ve seen both sides. Speaking just for myself, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing that apps have to pass through an initial quality gate before being made public for the first time so long as it’s just quality that’s being measured (i.e. no show-stopper bugs, things generally work). One thing we really appreciate about the Android Market, though, is that we can push updates to our application as often as we like.
AndroidTapp.com: What is your Opinion on the state of the Rating/Feedback system in the Android App Market?
We’re big fans of the way Google implemented the review system. Only allowing people who downloaded the app to review it, and then only allowing one review per app per device is the right way to do things.
AndroidTapp.com: Do you have plans on releasing Apps for other markets (i.e. Windows Mobile, Blackberry, etc.)?
Loopt is already available on over 100 mobile devices that span across all the major U.S. carriers, including Sprint, Verizon, Boost, MetroPCS, AT&T and T-Mobile. Here’s our growing list: http://www.loopt.com/phones. We’re always working on bringing Loopt to more devices and Loopt on the Android is just another step in our quest to make Loopt available to anyone who wants it.
AndroidTapp.com: Must-have Android Apps?
Loopt, of course. :-) The Cooking Capsules app is really cool – I think they’re going to do really well. And, Wikitude’s annotated landscape is among the hottest things I’ve ever seen on a mobile phone – they’re doing a great job!
AndroidTapp.com: What advice would you give to another aspiring mobile application developer?
Obsess over the user interface and experience. The idea can be great, but if it doesn’t come across well in the UI or if the UI isn’t attractive enough, many people will just skip over it.
Thanks Fred! Keep up the great work with Loopt. Check out our full Android App Review of Loopt for Android.