iBrr is the very first Bluetooth Receiver and Remote control for use with 2 iPod touches or iPhones. You can now control your iPod music from
up to 4 or 5 rooms away! Plus– if you are using your iPhone as the Remote, it can automatically pause your music when you receive a call. We wanted to find out more about this really exciting app, read this exclusive interview here…
Can you tell our readers how your app was originally thought of, what were your thoughts behind the marketplace, specifically?
Our main business is installing entertainment systems in luxury homes and yachts. Music and video remote control is a constant topic for everyone here at Techno Gurus and one of my main tasks in the company involves designing and programming touchpanel GUIs for the end-user to control the system. When Apple released iPhone OS 3.0, they gave developers bluetooth peer-to-peer programming capabilities, and I kept checking once or twice a week to see if someone had released a peer-to-peer music remote app.
I personally use both an iPhone and an iPod touch, and it only seemed natural that with the new OS feature I ought to be able to control the music on my iPod touch from my iPhone. After several months of waiting with no apps to fit the bill, I took it upon myself to learn Xcode and the iPhone OS and just write the app myself.
So to sum it up, this app was originally conceived of and developed because I wanted it for my own personal use. Beyond that, I just hope that there are others out there who find it useful. Now that we have some competition in our new niche, we will have to focus on keeping ahead of the clones, simply for the sake of customer service to the thousands of daily users we have at this point.
Can you tell us how you came up with the colors and themes ideas, design?
I wanted the name of the app to explain its function to a certain extent, so I thought of Bluetooth Receiver and Remote, and then the nickname "iBrr" occurred to me. At the same time, I was working on an icon design and came up with something using a spherical bluetooth symbol and two iPhones (with our app running on them, of course). It seemed to me that this logo was reminiscent of an ear muff adorned head, and so coupled with the "Brr" aspect of the name, a winter theme seemed appropriate. Later, Apple made us remove the iPhone images, so I tried creating some fur-lined bluetooth ear muffs and took a liking to it immediately.
Of course, blue had to be the dominating color overall as well. I found a public domain image of an ice skater that looked like it was from the 1950’s, colored it blue and replaced the head of the skater with the iBrr logo and then created an ice rink background to give the feel of a cool wintery night.
In terms of the user interface, the app was designed to be easy-to-use, with very large buttons and large text for song and artist info. I also chose to simplify the repeat and shuffle functions because when I use repeat, it’s "repeat all", and when I use shuffle it’s always "shuffle songs".
Who do you see as the main target market for this app?
Anyone who uses their iPod touch or iPhone to play music (and soon videos too). In addition to device to device remote control, we are developing iBrr to be quite useful as a stand alone music and video player by adding features such as an alarm clock where you can choose a particular song, video or playlist to wake up to, a sleep function so you can have the music automatically stop after a chosen amount of time, and a "pocket" mode that allows a single tap anywhere on the screen to play or pause, a swipe up or down to adjust volume or a swipe left or right to skip tracks.
How long did it take from the original planning to the production process of your app?
About three weeks, including the time it took for me to learn Xcode and Objective C. We then spent a couple of months in a little black hole they call the app approval process…
How do you view your sales, is there a good solid market for this style of app?
Sales have been very steady, and there does seem to be a consistent interest in our app. The sales we’ve gotten so far have mostly come from people just searching the iTunes store themselves rather than any advertising efforts.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome regarding this app development?
Back in August we got held up by the folks at Apple who managed to figure out a way to force our app to predictably deny bluetooth connections, over and over, once they connected and disconnected rapidly 5 or 6 times in a row. It took us several days of testing to even figure out that this was how they produced the circumstance (because they refused to tell us the how and only sent a screen shot of the result); and while this seemed like more of a bug in the OS or API, we had to program our way around it and prevent the end-user from being able to reproduce the connection errors. Eventually this made our application better and much more stable, so I can’t blame Apple for being picky.
As I mentioned, Apple also took issue with my original icon design. We were worried it might go back and forth a bit with approvals and submittals, but luckily Apple approved us in just a couple of days when we were finally ready to resubmit.
Would you consider developing apps for third parties?
That is a tricky area, but we might consider a project if it seems like a good fit.
What have you learnt from the App Store since you launched your app?
We’re definitely still learning the dynamics of this incredible distribution machine Apple has created for us as both users and developers. For instance, we recently gave our app away for free for a week as a "Tax Time" promotion, and it shot right up into the Top 10 Free applications in the Music category and remained in the Top 25 all week. On our best day there were almost 15,000 downloads. The promotion increased our potential user base from around 1000 to over 60,000 in just a few days. Now we are trying to capitalize on this as much as possible.
Have Apple supported you well with your app?
I have to say that Apple’s developer forums online are an excellent collaboration and support tool. As I mentioned, I had to learn both the language and the programming interface in addition to learning how to do bluetooth communications and iPod library control. There were many people, including employees of Apple, who helped me to get past hurdles in the programming process, and I might still be working on the application even now if it had not been for their assistance.
What next, are you developing another app? Would you go for the same genre again, if not which?
Currently we are working on the upgrade to iBrr. Our goal is to make it the goto app, not only for remote control of another "iDevice" but as a stand-alone player, by adding some of the features I mentioned before, like waking up to a particular song. We are also working on some ideas for a few other apps: a multiplayer game, a "spy guide", and a sales & marketing tool for iPhone developers. In addition, we’re brainstorming to come up with new ideas for apps that have not been thought of yet. The iPad, of course, expands this realm even more.
The Apple iPad – what are your thoughts about it and how do you think your app will integrate?
We plan on making iBrr fully iPad compatible to take advantage of the large-sized screen as much as possible. In addition we’re adding media playback control. This will be a free upgrade for everyone who has already purchased or downloaded the app.