We had a chance to speak with the friendly guys over at Engine Equals Car about their involvement on the WebOS platform. They already have four apps in the App Catalog, 'Gone fishin, Easy Stopwatch, Peg IQ, Mine Search, and more on the way. They are looking to be a big part of the App Catalog and it looks like they are doing a good job so far. They plan on keeping all of their current apps up to date and continue adding new apps as they are developed. They discuss their experience with WebOS and the App submission process as well as how they got started in development. Pretty exciting stuff.
Check out the interview in its entirety after the break . . .
Question: What inspired you to develop for WebOS? Why did you decide to develop for WebOS over other platforms such as Android or the iPhone? Have you developed for any of these platforms or any other mobile platform before?
Answer: We decided to develop for WebOS for a few reasons. The four of us are all into the newest technology and all have smartphones. While some of my colleagues did, I did not switch to an iPhone because of the carrier associated with it and I was very happy with my service with Sprint. When Sprint launched the Palm Pre I was waiting right there in line to replace my Windows Mobile phone. We love to develop and I had developed applications for my Windows Mobile phone prior to WebOS. We have looked at developing applications for the iPhone but none of us have experience developing for a mac so it was difficult to come up with an application that we are happy with. Also, we dont want to compete with 10 other people for the same application so coming up with a unique application for the iphone is difficult.
Question: So looking at your website you were already designing web applications prior to your involvement with WebOS. How has benefited development for you on WebOS? Were you already familiar with web languages and was the transition onto the Mojo SDK a fairly easy one?
Answer: At Engine Equals Car we have over 30 years of combined web application development experience. Engine Equals Car currently is a side business for the four of us and we hope it grows into full time work. We all have positions in web development at local corporations. One of our team members is a Java developer and report expert, two are application designers that have come up with the graphics for the applications and help with the flow, and I have experience with a number of application languages including Java and Microsoft's .NET.
Question: How is the app submission process? We have heard complaints from some developers saying it is taking too long and others saying Palm has been helpful and moves quickly. For you, how has the process been so far?
Answer: The application submission process has been an interesting one for us. Palm has been fairly interested in our applications so moving them through the process for the initial approval has been fairly easy. At first, Media Remote was a held up in the process because of some misunderstandings on what kind of apps they wanted, so it stayed in homebrew for a while longer. Getting the update for Peg IQ to version 2 has been a little slower then we would have wanted but it is understandable in a way because Palm is focusing on getting new applications into the catalog.
Question: You guys right now have Peq IQ, Mine Search, Easy Stopwatch, and Gone Fishin' which just hit today, all in the App Catalog and already have a couple other apps in development. The Pre has only been out four months and you guys already have five apps in production. Looking at the update submission for Peg IQ you are also keeping your current apps up to date. This is pretty impressive and exciting for WebOS users. Are you going to keep developing new apps at this pace or will you be settling down with the apps you currently have?
Answer: We have four applications currently in the catalog Peg IQ, Mine Search,Easy Stopwatch, and Gone Fishin'. Media Remote which is going through its initial review now. We even have had other applications that landed on the cutting room floor because we werent happy with them but, we may go back to them later. We plan on continually adding new features to the applications that we currently have as well as constantly developing new applications. We probably will spend between 50-75% of our time on new applications and the rest enhancing existing applications. We are already working on another game that I don't want to talk about yet that we just started development on last weekend. You can check back in another week or so and we hope to have a working beta version.
Question: You guys are working on a new remote app called 'Media Remote' and its functionality is impressive. Unlike the current remotes available in the App Catalog, it allows you to control multiple media clients including iTunes, Windows Media Player, WinAmp, Media Monkey and more. You currently have this downloadable for free as a Homebrew app but charge $4.99 for the desktop client. How soon can we expect to see this in the App Catalog? Also, do you feel like this business model is more affective than charging $4.99 for the app in the App Catalog and allowing the desktop client to be downloaded for free, or is this something that will change when it hits the App Catalog?
Answer: Media Remote started as an application that I wanted for my own use that ended up turning into the application that we currently have. We plan on keeping the business model that we currently have partly because of what happened with the other remote applicaitons in the catalog. People seem to have felt cheated when they realized they had to install and configure the server application. We want to have that up front and apparent with our application. Also we are doing it this way for support reasons. While in homebrew we learned people had the most trouble configuring the server. We now have instructions and troubleshooting well documented so we get very few questions anymore. We want people to see our site and understand we are there to support them and try to respond to questions within a day. By selling the application and not the server it is more difficult to render support.
Question: Gone Fishin is your newest app in the catalog right now and I had a brief chance to play around with it. The game uses the phones accelerometer to move a fishing line around water in attempt to catch the various fish in the water. It is a fun and simple game and definitely unique to the catalog as of now. How did you come up with the idea for this app? It is completely different from the two games you currently have in the Catalog and uses the accelerometer. Did this make development any more challenging?
Answer: There are a couple of items that we know will be being upgraded shortly after the initial launch. The records scene needs better graphical layout and currently webOS does not allow you keep the screen alive with just using the accelerometer so we had to implement a touch point you are required to touch every 30 seconds. Look for those modifications and we are looking into new gameplay modes also for the application.
For application ideas we just have brain storming sessions where we list out 10-20 application ideas and then narrow it down to one or two apps that we want to focus on, then we decided where we want to go with it. Gone Fishin was actually an Idea from my wife. We also love to get ideas from our users. Using the accerometer did make the development a little more difficult because testing had to be done on the phone rather than the emulator on a computer.
Question: There are obviously a lot of developers on other platforms who are holding off on development for WebOS until they find out how well the platform does. For you, do you think the WebOS platform is a strong contender in the mobile market and is it worth it for developers to jump onto the platform at this point?
Answer: For our sake I wouldnt mind seeing them hold off a little longer. This would give us more time to get a larger lineup of applications in the App Catalog. As far as webOS being a contender, we think it is. There are a few down falls still in the platform but, Palm is working with us developers to implement what we need. Though those down falls are few and managable. We have been using the Pre and the iPhone side by side and really we think they are great competition for eachother which will only make all the mobile phones better. We see WebOS as one in it for the long haul.
Well thank you guys so much. We really appreciate you taking the time out to have a talk with us! Keep on developing for the sake of the users. The more apps the better of course. Readers can check out Engine Equals Car at their home page here. Also be sure to check out the apps they have in the App Catalog now and make sure you keep an eye out for new apps they add to the catalog over the coming weeks.
Out now: Easy Stopwatch, Peg IQ, Mine Search
On the way: Media Remote and some top secret stuff still in the early stages development.