Techin5 Developer Interview – 4th & Mayor
Well we’re finally back with the much anticipated Techin5 Developer Interview, on yet another Saturday (coincidence much?). This is actually the 4th article in the Developer Interview Series and we’ve got a few more lined up and they should be out in the next few months and we’re quite excited by the prospect of them. So keep checking Techin5 to see who’s next, and what information they are able to share with us.
The 4th article, and the first of 2012 actually starts off with one of our favorite apps on the Windows Phone platform – 4th & Mayor! We’ve been fortunate enough to get Creator and App Developer Jeff Wilcox to answer our questions this week, and give some insight into the 4th & Mayor App. Jeff Wilcox also works for Microsoft on the Windows Phone Platform and is a Development Lead there. 4th & Mayor has fast become one of the most popular apps on the Windows Phone Platform, and despite it being a 3rd Party Foursquare client it has actually proven to be a worthy competitor to even the official app from Foursquare.
So what does Jeff Wilcox have to say about 4th & Mayor? Read on to find out!
Techin5 Developer Interview – 4th & Mayor
Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jeff Wilcox – a Foursquare addict. My day job is working on the Windows Phone developer platform – it’s been really a great exercise building my own large app for the phone and taking that feedback back to the team.
You’ve made an excellent app in 4th and Mayor (it certainly is our most used app on WP7). How long has it taken you to get it to the current stage is in now?
Developing 4th and Mayor has been a large project, much larger than I ever intended – and the project is a labor of love. Although the original implementation probably took about 80 hours of part-time weekend development, enhancing it, updating it, and making it rock solid and fast has taken a lot more time I am sure.
I try and visit bug reports, feature requests, and other work on it a few hours every weekend, and then I do sometimes set aside a larger amount of time to code up new features and clean up the codebase.
I also sometimes wrap up the work I’ve done for the app and open source chunks of it, like the QR code reading component I blogged about last week, the About page for the app, and other fun parts that I think others will benefit from.
4th and Mayor has easily become one of the most popular apps on the market. Why do you think this is the case?
Well it’s a popular app for Foursquare fans and I enjoy that. When I work on the app, really I’m building it for myself. I started the app originally because I was a longtime user of the iPhone Foursquare app, and I wanted a full-featured, fast, and fun Foursquare experience for the Windows Phone. But when the Windows Phone first came out, the Foursquare app just wasn’t very good in my opinion. That’s why I set out to build the app I wanted to use!
It sure would be nice if more people found Foursquare useful cause I’d love to have my app higher ranked by downloads – but I do have a lot of reviews, all quite positive. That energizes me to continue working on the free app, seeing 5-star reviews!
How accommodating have Foursqure been in regards to your app?
Foursquare has a friendly team and an open API – I follow their API terms and services and have been in contact before to make sure that I offer my users a great experience.
Since 4th and Mayor is essentially a 3rd party client for Foursquare, what do you do to compete with the Official Foursquare app?
I build the app for myself, and so if I’m not happy with it, I’m going to fix it – innovate it – make it faster – you name it!
I also enjoy building new features, and often will go to a coffee shop here in Seattle on the weekends to code up new features. It’s refreshingly fun, and as a result, I’m able to knock out new features pretty efficiently.
Just this week Foursquare added restaurant menus to their web site’s “explore” feature and noted that they’re going to add it soon to their mobile apps. I hope it comes to the official Foursquare app for the Windows Phone soon as well – but I can tell you, I’ve already completed adding the new menu features to 4th & Mayor and that release of the app, version 3.2, will be out in a few days!
So time to market helps me compete – and I’ve also built a different experience. The official app is beautifully designed, but for me, I actually prefer the simple, basic, fast experience that I’ve built into 4th and Mayor – making it feel just like the phone’s native experience. That’s what I prefer, and I’ve found that many others also do.
Do you communicate often with Foursquare in order to update the app as quickly as possible (based on their new updates) or do you learn about them as the public does?
I’m just another app developer so I just stay tuned to the Foursquare developer site for the most part
Tell us roughly, how many people use 4th and Mayor?
The app has had a lot of downloads, but really it’s about how many people regularly use the app. I’ve had well over 50,000 downloads, and have about 25,000 regular users based on usage information I’m able to analyze. Many people use the app several times a day – over 100,000 pages in the app are interacted with every single day.
That’s a nice number! What big feature’s can all users expect for 4th and Mayor in the future?
Launching in the next update there’s the ability to view restaurant menus and prices, as well as the ability to check-in to businesses that have a QR code near their entrance – I’ve added automatic QR code check-in.
Do you have any other app’s planned for the future?
Not at this time. I’m keeping busy enough as it is!
That’s fair enough. Do you have any advice for future app developers looking to get their app on the Windows Phone platform?
Just jump in and start coding! I built my app out mostly in December 2010 over my holiday, but didn’t end up shipping it until March 2011. I wish I had just shipped it earlier so more people could use it from the start. At some point you just have to ship your app, see how people react, and take it from there.
Thank you for your time Jeff, and best of luck on future 4th & Mayor Projects!
If you want to download 4th & Mayor for your Windows Phone 7 device, then click here.