Should I Make An Iphone App?

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Facilitated by Marc Powell

Session Description

Collaborative workshop on iPhone App ideas for Non-Profits.

Bring your ideas for iphone apps and we can workshop them and figure out if you should really do it or not!

Will also demo how easy it is to make an iphone app.. and answer any questions you might have.

What does the iphone platform get you?

  • installed base of users
  • tip-jar donation via app store
  • augmented reality.
  • localization
  • strong UX and rich developer culture- lots of good code out there


  • closed platform
  • pay to code 99$ dev license (jailbreak option)
  • drinking the apple koolaid

What are your iphone app options?

  • webkit/html5 mobile version of your website
  • full-on app store app using xcode stack
  • in-store purchase for donations
  • jailbroken development on linux

What do you need?

  • app programmer
  • server-side programmer
  • graphics person

Session details

2pm, monday

Session notes


Marc Charles Jo James Tomas

Jo: Augmented Reality

iphone is a fairly standardized platform, i.e. a lot of phones with very similar specs


  • Used to be a Next eveloper
  • Developed foodspotting for iphone (used to be nr. 1 in the travel section)

The iphone has revitalized the small developer business community

Augmented reality

Yelp has a plugin that shows you what way to walk to find a particular reastaurant

Augmented reality uses compass, gps, facial recognition etc. to overlay information onto reality. Examples: Layar, yelp, beer bottle app.

Jailbroken iphones

If you jailbreak your phone you can install apps that aren't in the app store. It's easy to jailbreak a phone, and the downsides are manageable, but only about 3 millione out of 160 million iphones are jailbroken.

The toolchain

Xcode is the developer environment and it's free, but the iphone SDK component costs $99

For jailbroken iphones theres a gcc linux-based toolchain, but then you can't submit to the market

The iphone team

3 people: 1. Designer 2. iphone (objective C developer) 3. Server side developer that develops server API's and makes data available on the server side.

The app

Marc coded a small app that takes the videos and gets the quicktime version from and shows them in a iphone ap interface. It took just a few hours to do.

Mobile web sites vs. Apps

mobile websites are easy to build but don't easily allow you to use features such as collecting donations via the itunes payment solution,. Apps also have access to the GPS chip, camera etc. This is also possible in the browser but might be harder.

On iphone apps it's really easy to build social media sharing functionality into all apps.

Brainstorming ideas


NESI: A trade association in renewable energy in the north west. How do we build sustainably in a whole systems thinking model. Cutting Edge.

There's a huge knowlege base in renewable building, but the outreach can be a problem.

Could there be an app where:

  • Use an iphone to take a picture of building supply and get information about whether it works in a specific project.
  • Can I take a picture of a building situation, and get information.
  • UPC codes?

California Endowment

  • Survey tool where you can collect data from a wide variety of non-profits in a short time.
  • Replacing paper and e-mail based surveys with apps.
  • instantaneous and anonymous surveys

Bullet Points

  • Massive market opportunity
  • There's an open space in the market for aggregating non-profit syrvey and census data using smartphones
  • Augmented reality in apps
  • Tradeoffs between android and iphone