Category Archives: Interviews

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WPSauce Dev Spotlight : Shoban Kumar

On this week’s Developer Spotlight is Shoban Kumar. Shoban is a Microsoft Valuable Professional from Trivandrum. A Sharepoint developer by profession, he makes Windows Phone and Open Source apps in his free time. He has developed Windows Phone apps like HTC Clock, QRCode Generator and others. He has also developed an open source Windows Phone App Dashboard, a desktop app lets you see how your apps are doing in the marketplace.

His apps have been doing well in the marketplace, so I decided to interview Shoban and ask his views on Windows Phone.

WPSauce : Windows Phone ! Was it Love at First Sight ?

Shoban :  Though I wouldn’t call it love at first sight, I love Windows Phone now because for the past few months Nokia Lumia is my primary phone and it does help me do things faster

WPSauce : How did you start developing for Windows Phone ? and Why ?

Shoban : I started developing apps for Windows Mobile for my personal use and being a C# developer,  it was easy for me to start developing apps for Windows Phone. Since C# is my primary programming language, even in SharePoint, I was able to develop apps with just few hours of learning.

WPSauce : One of your most popular app on Windows Phone is HTC Clock with over 70,000 downloads – How did you get an idea for such an app ?

Shoban : HTC Clock is one my popular App but it does not have a very good review mainly because of Windows Phone Limitations . The idea for HTC clock was not new. I had developed a SharePoint WebPart using HTML, CSS and C# and it was very easy for me to port it to a Windows Phone app.

WPSauce : Developing for Windows Phone – What was the challenge in it ?

Shoban : I was new to XAML and it took me some time to used to it.

WPSauce : What do your users want ? How has the feedback been ? Can you throw some light on it ?

Shoban : Most of the Windows Phones users are used to Android and iOS devices and most of the feedbacks are for feature requests which are not possible due to Windows Phone Limitations. One common request is display Clock as a Tile.

WPSauce : As a developer, how do you make a Windows Phone User happy ? What is the secret sauce ?

Shoban :  The best thing about a Windows Phone is its simplicity and easy to use. I would request every Windows Phone developer to read User Experience Design Guidelines for Windows Phone to develop apps that users will love to use.

There is no secret sauce, just make sure your app is not very slow and ask few of your friends to test the app before releasing it for marketplace. As developers, we forget what users want and develop apps which may be easy for us but difficult for end users. Test your apps with friends who are not programmers and listen to their feedback.

WPSauce : How would you rate the entire developer experience for Windows Phone ?

Shoban :  I have spoken to few Android developers who tried out Windows Phone programming and all of them were amazed at the speed of development, the tools and the wealth of online resources available for Windows Phone development.

I was able to develop all my apps without the help of Windows Phone forums or community. MSDN articles and other blogs were more than enough to develop. Windows Phone apps are growing at a steady rate and Microsoft was not able to handle the amount of apps submitted daily. This resulted in delay for some of my apps to be certified but this was rectified soon and now the whole process is much better.

I found that APP Hub reporting is still slow and needs improvement.

Visual Studio is my primary development tool and there is no need to mention how amazing it is. It is one of the best IDE for development I have ever used.

WPSauce : How can Microsoft enrich the developer experience more ?

Shoban :  Even though developing for Windows Phone is very easy there are many limitations in developing apps.

Most Android developers compare the amount of customization that is available in their phones and Windows Phone. I hope with new versions of Windows Phone developers will have more features and APIs to play around with.

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WPSauce Dev Spotlight : Talha Naqvi [ SecureVolt ]

So Talha , what do you do for a Living ?
I’m a student.

Since when have you been making apps for Windows Phone ?

It’s been around 8 months . I started in October 2011.


Do you develop apps for other Mobile Platforms too ?  Which ones do you work on ? Which ones do you find lucrative for a developer and why ?
I’ve worked on Android platform too but I don’t find the overall SDK/IDE combo pleasant enough. As a developer I find WP to be the most lucrative especially for the new developers since there are still a lot of great ideas left unexplored. In terms of user count Android definitely shines but then again, there are piracy concerns etc.



How did you come up with an idea of SecureVolt! ?

 I’ve always wondered why people lock things under passwords within apps when they can lock their entire phone! The reason is that a cell phone isn’t truly personal since very often your friends, relatives etc get to use your phone. In the event where you can’t refuse to give away your password SecureVolt! can save you by displaying dummy data. This is smarter than conventional encryption scope where it becomes apparent that you are withholding information.

 

Tell us more about SecureVolt ! 

You can use SecureVolt! to store any kind of sensitive information which you don’t want other people to see. The coolest feature of SecureVolt! is Dummy Password. Dummy password, essentially is an alternate password that you can use to login into SecureVolt!. But, when you use your Dummy Password to enter SecureVolt!, SecureVolt! replaces your real notes with some random, inbuilt notes, that are already stored in its database. You can use Dummy Password to hide your notes from anyone and they won’t even suspect that you are hiding something.


What are your other apps on the Marketplace ? or are you working on any apps for Windows Phone ?

Me and my friend Saif co-develop WP apps, we’re working on many other apps right now like MultiBench 2 which I hope will turn out to be the best benchmark for this platform.

Our other apps are: StopWatch (currently top stopwatch on Indian Market), Countdown, BomberBalls! And BallWarp! (games), gNews, MultiBench and VoltNote.
We are also working on a project for Imagine Cup 2012 where we’re developing a great app which has potential to help a lot of people. 

What is the secret ingredient for a good app ?

 It is the interface which does most of the magic, ideas do matter but a badly implemented idea serves no purpose. A developer must communicate well with the users, apps should be smart enough to let the user know their full potential. I believe that the developers should focus on ways to extract the full potential of their application before adding new features.

What are the features that you are planning to bring to SecureVolt in future?

 We’ll soon allow users to store images/videos under password without any extra charges.


Can we expect Live Tiles for the app ?

Sure!


How is the Indian App Market Scenario on the Windows Phone Marketplace? ( The Developer Scenario as well as the User Scenario )
 Indian users don’t purchase much it’s a bitter truth but truth nonetheless. Free apps developed by Indian developers do good on Indian market but most of the paid apps don’t sell much for obvious reasons. Open APIs are not available for most of the major companies. Even apps like NGPAY are yet to debut on WP market. 
The best hope for Indian market is Nokia and its popularity in India. Nokia will definitely add a healthy number of Indians to the WP family.

Any Message you would like to share with Windows Phone Sauce Readers ?

Developing for WP is a territory which every person should try to explore. It is a beautiful platform and coming up with a good looking app is surprisingly easy!
For students, free registration on App Hub is available which gives you an opportunity to start without paying anything.


As a Developer, what are the features you want in the upcoming versions of Windows Phone?
Bluetooth API
Communication abilities other than http.
Bluetooth file transfer
Ability to save Images/Videos/Music in the library
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WPSauce Dev Spotlight : Prasanth Guruprasad [ Habit Tracker ]

Hello Readers, This week the Spotlight is on Prasanth Guruprasad – who has developed apps for Windows Phone. One of his apps for Windows Phone is Habit Tracker, which tracks your habits the KISS way [ Keep it Simple and Silly]. We interviewed Prasanth. Some Excerpts.

 

WPSauce: So Prasanth , what do you do for a Living ?

I am a coder. I work for ThoughtWorks as an Application developer.

WPSauce: Since when have you been making apps for Windows Phone ?

Since this January 2012 . I just started with it after the Nokia devices came out in India.

WPSauce: Do you develop apps for other Mobile Platforms too ?

I tried one app in Android, but that was just playing around. The Android platform is not as easy to develop for as the Windows phone platform.

WPSauce: What are your other apps on the Marketplace ? Please provide links

Habit tracker, Thoughtblogs and Shoporific(Yet to release).

WPSauce: What is the secret ingredient for a good app ?

Simplicity, a clean interface and a good experience. When you are writing mobile apps, developers have to start thinking a lot about the UI.

 

WPSauce: How did you get the idea for HabitTracker ?

It was to help me to start doing my hobbies more regularly and get more focused on doing those. I started tracking how often I study in a week on the app and it was a great guide.

WPSauce: What are the features that you are planning to bring to HabitTracker in future ?

I am planning two more features: Live tiles, and a calendar page where you will be able to see on what days of the month you have been doing your activities

WPSauce: Can we expect Live Tiles for the app ?

Yes. That is one thing that every windows phone app needs to have to distinguish it from other platforms

 

If you are an Indian Developer and want to be featured on the WPSauce Dev Spotlight – Drop in a mail to karthik@wpsauce.com or reach us via the Contact Page.

Pavan Bhattad

WPSauce Dev Spotlight : Pavan Bhattad [ Indian Rail App ]

Hello Readers – Welcome to WPSauce Dev Spotlight . This week, the Spotlight is on Pavan Bhattad , The face behind Indian Rail App. We had earlier reviewed the app here. If you are an Indian Developer and want to be featured on the WPSauce Dev Spotlight – Drop in a mail to karthik@wpsauce.com or reach us via the Contact Page.
So Pavan , what do you do for a Living ?

I am a software engineer and work in Windows team in Microsoft.

Since when have you been making apps for Windows Phone ?

I started working learning and developing since April 2011.

Do you develop apps for other Mobile Platforms too ?

Yes

Which ones do you work on ? Which ones do you find lucrative for a developer and why ?

I did one for Symbian but didn’t publish it. Initially it was iOs platform which inspired me to develop apps. I did some initial study and found that without mac I cannot proceed. So was looking for other options. 

What attracted you to Windows Phone Development ?

Microsoft gifted Windows Phone to all employees. I was amazed by the design and uniqueness of the phone and felt that this platform will thrive in the long run, compared to others. Being Microsoft employee, I got the leverage of free developer registrations, ample learning material, participation in internal distribution lists etc. and it helped to clear all my doubts.

What are your other apps on the Marketplace ?

Other two apps I developed are Eggs and 2 INR

What is the secret ingredient for a good app ?

Simple, Fast, Metro Style, Intuitive. If it is a informative app, then it should have dynamic content.
What are the features that you are planning to bring to IndianRail in future ?
  • Pinning Bookmarked PNR and Saved Train schedule to the start screen.
  • Automatic updating PNR status.
  • Location based alarm, to notify when the destination station is approaching.

Can we expect Live Tiles for the app ?

 Yes, very soon.
How is the Indian App Market Scenario on the Windows Phone Marketplace ? ( The Developer Scenario as well as the User Scenario )

Indian users do not have the habit of purchasing apps as of now. So chances of the paid apps getting hit are low. But I guess ad supported apps can get good revenue from Indian users. Many good apps can be developed for Indian Market, but very few companies have API’s which would allow to fetch their content. If companies develop their back-end infrastructure and expose API’s to developers, many decent apps can be developed which will benefit companies, developers and users.

Any Message you would like to share with Windows Phone Sauce Readers ?

The Windows Phone is one of the best platforms for developers to show their creativity. Also its still naive compared to ios and andriod. Getting a head start early would be quite advantageous for developers. There are plenty of forums, blog posts with lot of code samples along with MSDN documention which will help you clear any doubts within few minutes.

As a Developer, what are the features you want in the upcoming versions of Windows Phone

First thing is pubcenter registration for Indian developers

   Some of the features I would love to see in Windows phone are:

  •     Live cubes instead of Live tiles.
  •     Bluetooth support.
  •     Push notification alerts stack.(so that I never miss Tango/Whatspp or any other app’s alerts)
  •     Battery status notification in percentage in Lock screen.
  •     Copy+Paste in dial pad.
  •     Ability to configure and call one number along with emergency numbers that can be called even with locked screen.(Will help if some one’s phone is lost.)
  •     Easy customization of live tiles for developers