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4 iPad App Makers Share Their Development Experiences

Having some contact with developers around the globe allows me (and by extension YOU, my dear reader) a glimpse of what kind of apps are going to become available with the iPad on April 3rd. More importantly, we can ask those busy developers – who struggled to be first in the launch line-up – what they thought were the difficult steps in designing and building iPad apps.

Being the good soldiers that we are, we let them have the glory from being first while being able to learn from the problems that the one or other Apple mine would have caused them. Maybe this way we can save ourselves some grief and frustration if we can avoid their mistakes from the get go.

So here are 5 of the first iPad apps and what their developers learned from making them.

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by Alexander Blach


“Rezepte”, which means “recipes” in German, is one of the most popular cooking apps in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It contains over 7.000 recipes and descriptions of more than 2.000 ingredients from www.rezepte-wiki.org. Everything is kept offline so that you don’t need an internet connection when you are on vacation and want to cook delicious dishes. Version 2.0 will support the iPad and is going to be ready for sale when the iPad App Store opens.

Getting ready for iPad

It took me about a week to adapt “Rezepte” to the big screen. At first I wanted to do a separate version for iPad but then I decided to create a universal application. This would make it easier to manage both the code and the app in iTunes Connect. I did a few mockups in Photoshop first and then decided to make the recipe the focus of the app. So I used a UISplitViewController to display the categories in landscape orientation as well as popovers for things like bookmarks,
the shopping list and search. I tried to make the interface a bit similar to Safari because people would be familiar with it.

All in all I’m very happy with the result and can’t wait to test it on an actual device. You can navigate the iPad app a lot faster than on the iPhone and there is a lot more content on one screen. The conversion was easier than I thought at first. The iPhone developer forums helped a lot.

Rezepte is available on the App Store. App Homepage.


by Adam Wolf


TapTyping teaches you how to type on your iPad. The iPad’s virtual keyboard requires a whole new way of typing. Users can get past this learning curve with TapTyping and focus on what matters. The app features lessons ranging from beginner, where they gain skills in typing just the primary keys; to advanced, where they write type tricky & complex sentences containing symbols, punctuation, and numbers.

Not Touched

My partner Mark and I developed TapTyping without ever touching an actual device. This was a pretty huge challenge given that we were designing something based around physical interaction with the iPad. For now we focused on typing basics- the stuff we know we can’t get wrong. As soon as we can test out our lessons on the real hardware we plan on releasing an update with greatly improved typing advice.

TapTyping is available on the App Store.

myCoordinates Pro for iPad

by Dylan J. McKee


myCoordinates Pro for iPad is an application to allow you to easily use your iPad for navigation.
It aims to be simple and easy, while useful and functional.

Features include

  • Current Coordinates (in Decimal or Minutes)
  • Altitude (from GPS or USGS Altitude Database, in both Meters and Feet)
  • Distance Tracking so you can easily see how far you’ve traveled
  • Reverse Geocoding
  • Map with easy zooming etc
  • Ability to share map and location via various methods including email and copy and paste.

and more…

Without Orientation

One of the biggest challanges that I faced in bringing myCoordinates Pro to the iPad was having to support all four rotations of the device completely. This meant that I had to think carefully about designing and creating my user interface. Another challenge that I faced was deciding which features to include, since I did not want to overcomplicate the iPad app and aimed to keep it as simple and easy to use and understand as possible.

myCoordinates Pro for iPad is available on the App Store.

Cube Time & Expense Tracker

by Pedro Morais (Bitrzr)


Track time and expenses on your iPhone or iPad, manage them centrally at http://cube.bitrzr.com. Ideal for companies using Google Apps or freelancers with a Google account.

NDA Blues

Working under the NDA means you can’t Google problems, and are limited to the developer forums – but, overall, the process for creating universal apps is really well explained in the documentation. App review process – we had no idea we weren’t allowed to use scrollViewTexturedBackgroundColor in our dialogs.

Cube Time & Expense Tracker is available on the App Store.

Addicus HD, Poptweets HD

by Derek van Vliet (Get Set Games)


My company is Get Set Games. We’re an indie game developer based in Toronto, Canada. We’re launching 2 iPad games this Saturday, April 3, the day the iPad is released in the US.

The first is Addicus HD, which is an iPad version of a game we released for the iPhone and iPod Touch in November 2009. It is a number-based puzzle game that has you tapping on cute, numbered mushrooms in order to add up to a goal number. You also race against a timer to reach each goal number.

The second is Poptweets HD. This is also an iPad version of an iPhone/iPod Touch game that we released just last week in March 2010. It is a celebrity trivia game with a twist: all of the content in the game comes from the Twitter accounts of the celebrities. We show you a tweet and it’s up to you to guess which celebrity tweeted it. Having all of the content come from Twitter makes for a game with endless content.

OpenGL Performance

The major challenge in developing for the iPad has been not having access to the device. We developed these titles entirely within the simulator, so we have yet to confirm that the experience is exactly how we want it to be. We can be relatively confident, having developed and played them both on the iPhone, but it would not surprise us to find that there are things we will want to tweak and change about the games once we actually get to play them in the wild.

Developing in the simulator was particularly difficult for us because our apps are OpenGL-based (by way of cocos2d for iPhone). It turns out that the simulator uses a software renderer for OpenGL apps, which worked well for the 320×480 iPhone screen, but unfortunately not so well for 768×1024 apps. It causes a huge drop in performance and makes it very hard to judge how our apps will perform on the actual device. Needless to say, the resounding cry from our team during the course of developing these iPad apps was “I can’t wait to see this on the actual device”.

Addicus HD and PopTweets HD are available on the App Store.

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  1. Derek: Thanks for the info that the Simulator uses a software renderer for OpenGL. I didn’t know that but it explains why my own apps runs somewhat sluggish on my laptop in the iPad Simulator. I expect it to be much faster on the device.

  2. No problem, Ole. It’s definitely a safe bet that our apps will run better on the actual hardware. But Apple MUST update the simulator to use hardware acceleration in the future.

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