Hundreds of Web developers, designers, and ordinary geeks gathered this weekend to build usable applications for Apple's iPhone. The barcamp.org event was hosted at Adobe Town Hall and featured dozens of sponsors. The hack-a-thon began on Saturday morning, and wrapped up late Sunday afternoon when each team had a chance to present its app.
Some teams included a group of Yahoo! developers, and others included complete strangers who had just met the day before. I give credit to all teams who participated, but here are the 10 most memorable creations:
10. iPhoneVote This application was the first one presented at the hack-a-thon, and it was used as a voting system for the event. You would tilt your iPhone in portrait mode to vote yay, and tilt it horizontally to give a negative vote. There was a laptop set up in the front of the room, and it was updated in real time. Unfortunately, I don't think the app reset each time a new team would present, so the votes just tallied up into the 80s. Even though it wasn't used for its official purpose, it was a great burst of hope for future apps like this, and boosted the morale of the developers in the room.
9. AppMarks If you have an iPhone, make AppMarks your Safari home page. The interface models the iPhone front door, but instead, each icon links to a Web app or HTML bookmark. I mentioned AppMarks in this blog post a few days ago. AppMarks is cool, but I want to see more functionality. If the AppMarks people want users to add AppMarks as their home page, they need to always be thinking of new features. There are other products, like Mojits, that are right on their heels.
The only sports application presented was called PickleView. Ryan Christianson from the Walt Disney Internet Group explained that in baseball, a pickle is a play in which a base runner is trapped between bases with fielders tossing the ball back and forth and usually ending with the runner being tagged out. Most will remember it well from the 1990s classic,The Sandlot.
Their iPhone app visualizes a box-score view of your favorite teams’s stats, and then displays a mock Twitter feed of PickleView's friends. I am not sure if that's how this app works, but the developers have a cool concept.
6. The Pool The more I think of this app, the more I like it. Imagine your iPhone screen as a pool of water, and every time you touch the screen, a ripple effect occurs. You even see ripples when you don't touch the screen, and as you'd expect, those ripples are from other members of the community. If you happen to touch the same spot, at the same time as someone else, you will catch a fish. This app is a perfect product of a hack-a-thon, because it seems useless, but some users will become addicted to it. Here is a Web version of The Pool. Mouse events are disabled.
5. TeleMoose This is not a hunting game, unless you are hunting for books. TeleMoose takes a very complex Amazon engine and optimizes it for the iPhone interface. The goal at iPhoneDevCamp was to build applications that would not only work on the phone's Wi-Fi capability, but also on AT&T's tortoise-like EDGE network. I liked TeleMoose because it was seamless on the slow network. I would like to see some creativity on its CSS, though. The crowd shouted "Userful!" when TeleMoose creator Dan Wood showcased the "Share" link. This is a tradition of MacHack.
4. iTunes Remote-o-Matic Rob Chang took a minute to set this demo up, but as soon as he started, I knew it would work beautifully. Chang basically transformed a really expensive cell phone into a remote device to control his iTunes library on his MacBook. He was able to change tracks and move among albums with ease, and he didn't even point his iPhone at the computer. I am still trying to figure out how this one works.
2. moPhaic This one is kinda useless, but it received the most attention at iPhoneDevCamp:
1. Liquid Navigation Hack Have you ever heard of Firebug? It's the absolute best Firefox extension for developers. If you are building applications for the iPhone, it might be your greatest debugging tool.