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Exclusive Interview With Soocial App Developer – Andrei Patru

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Soocial is an application that synchronizes your iPhone address book to our online service called Soocial.com.

This means you will automatically have a backup of your address book in case your phone dies. Additionally Soocial syncs with your Mac, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Windows Live Hotmail, Outlook and more. All of this happens behind the scenes so you don’t have to worry about it.


Soocial is a very good app and we will be publishing our review soon but first we wanted to find out more about how it all came about and what the future holds. Read our exclusive interview here, you’ll love it.

If you would like to download Soocial you can do so here.

The Beginning

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Please explain how your app was originally thought of and what were your thoughts behind the marketplace, specifically?

As we provide the most comprehensive and easy to use, multi-platform contact syncing service out there, it was only natural to create an app for people that use iPhones, since they are usually power users with a lot of contacts.

The fact that Apple was also unsuccessful in the field with MobileMe provided a great boost to us, since we got a lot of dissapointed users trying out Soocial and staying with us!

The Design

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Explain the design, how you came up with the colors and themes.

The idea was to keep the design simple and consistent with our website and our other applications. The green-black color combination can be found on our website and we love it!

We are all for minimal, clean designing and the iOS is a sweetheart for this way of thinking.

Target Market

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Who do you see as the main target market for this app in terms of age, genre and expenditure?

The target market for our app is represented by busy individuals with plenty of contacts in their address book and plenty of devices they use. So far, the address book syncing of this multitude of devices was really messy – this is the problem we tackled.

We now offer Business Accounts as well and take our service a level higher – not only do we sync one person’s address book to all his devices, but the whole company address book or even parts of it, to the people who need access to it from anywhere.

We can’t really speak in terms of age or genre, as there are plenty of people with a massive amount of contacts at any age and cannot find the right way to manage them. If you run a small or medium size business, or even a personal freelancing one, you probably feel the pain of what we are describing!

A more comprehensive list of our product offering can be found here: http://www.soocial.com/pricing

The coolest feature that we just rolled out is the multi-person syncing of contacts.

In plain English, you can now share parts of your address book with other people. This can prove to be tremendously useful and there are numerous use cases where sharing groups of people will come in handy. We have selected a few cases as examples on our webpage (http://www.soocial.com/benefits#!perfect_for).

Imagine the convenience of just adding or updating a contact on your phone, syncing and then having your friends or colleagues get access to it right away. This is Address Book 2.0!

Production Process

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How long did it take from the original planning to the production process of this app?

In total, it must have taken us around 4 months to roll out our home-grown version of the app. We had initially opted for an outsourcing solution, but that didn’t really seem to work, so we decided to do it internally.

The result made us really happy and confident about it.

Market

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How do you predict sales to be, is there a good solid market for this style of app?

Keeping contacts manually synchronized can be a hassle, especially when you have many devices that need to store the same contact information.

If you are somebody whose life or profession depends on having your contacts’ information complete and up-to-date in all your address books, then you will need a syncing solution for your contacts. Since many people find themselves in this situation, we believe there is a solid and growing market for this type of application, since it offers a valuable service, done right.

Obstacles

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What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome regarding this app development?

Since our goal is to make Soocial your “one” address book, we had to overcome some iPhone address book limitations.

Initially, being unable to add or remove groups to and from the iPhone’s address book was something that hindered our plans. Therefore we had to create group management functionality in our application (add/remove groups, add/remove contacts to/from groups). This was challenging to pull off, since Apple’s documentation regarding the Address Book API is limited and there are few experts in this field on support websites.

The second challenging aspect was that of integrating address book sources (such as Exchange, MobileMe) for iOS 4.0 and above, while at the same time keeping just one address book for versions of iOS below 4.0 and giving users the ability to choose which address book sources they would like to sync with our service.

Nevertheless, we managed to overcome these obstacles and now offer the best solution for address book syncing for the iPhone to a multitude of other devices (Mac, Outlook, many other mobile phones and email providers).

Third Parties

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Would you consider developing apps for third parties?

We are focused on providing the best contact syncing service out there and therefore would rather focus on this.

App Store

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What have you learnt from the App Store?

One thing that’s critical – That you can’t have the word ‘beta’ in any of your application’s descriptions, title or tags, since that will get your app rejected..

Don’t do this in any case!

Apple Support

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Have Apple supported you well with your App development?

Yes. We have always received good, timely answers from them, and whenever we needed to quickly upgrade our application, they were willing to push our app on the expedited track.

The Future

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What next, are you developing another app, would you go for the same genre again, if not which?

Since the most important address book is the one on your phone, we aim to target all major smartphone platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7). Nokia phones can also synchronize with us out of the box.

The native address books on different smartphones can have limitations (e.g. no groups functionality in the iPhone address book), and we believe we can provide more than just syncing functionality in our apps, such as improving or building upon the address book features of the platform.

We have already started doing this for the iPhone application and it is just a matter a time before users see improved address book functionality on Android, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms.

By this we mean stuff like better group management and better connection possibilities with other Soocial users (through our Connected Friends feature – http://www.soocial.com/how-to/sync-contact-details-between-connected-friends).

For the future we will be focusing on upgrading and releasing new versions of our application for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7.

We already have apps running for BB (https://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/21303) and Android (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.soocial), but as we like to constantly develop new features we are in upgrade mode for these platforms too.

 

 

TheAppWhisperer.com

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What do you think about TheAppWhisperer.com? Have we helped you? Would you recommend us? Have we been supportive?

You guys have been really co-operative and cool with us. Thanks for that and we would gladly recommend others to work with you too!

By Joanne Carter

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website— TheAppWhisperer.com— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said.
Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London.
Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - TheAppWhispererPrintSales.com has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art.
Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK.
She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: joanne@theappwhisperer.com

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