As part of my ongoing research into many different technologies, I’ve finished my very first iPhone app, written in Objective C, The Kitten Conveyorbelt!
As with any personal project I tried to keep the scope down to something that was actually possible to complete within the time I had available. So, I came up with the idea of Kittens. On a conveyorbelt. Passing along in front of your eyes, to help cheer you up. I even wrote a cheesy elevator music song and recorded it with my wife Jenny.
Oh, and they meow when you stroke them. Now I kinda think it’s so ridiculous it’s funny. And I really hope you get the joke too.
Despite an excellent head start from Aral’s excellent training course, there was still quite a learning curve. It’s probably one of the harder technologies to master. The lower level and incredibly ugly Objective C syntax, manual memory management, and just getting used to how all the various elements work together.
The other thing I noticed after having worked in various multi-media authoring systems (Flash, Director etc) for so long is how tricky it is to implement simple animated effects. Something that is a simple matter of basic timeline animation in Flash becomes a fairly lengthy process of exporting bitmaps and animating them in code. This is an area I’m very interested in exploring further in the future. (The conveyor belt graphics and weird cat heart thing were designed by my talented nephew, Jonathan).
But I have to say I enjoyed the development process. It’s kinda nice to get a bit lower level for once. And I really like iOS devices. We can learn an awful lot from the tactile and intuitive user interface.
It took me longer than I expected to make this simple app, probably about a month, on and off. Another reason why it’s essential to keep your personal projects limited in scope. But I have to admit a certain confidence crisis half way through this project, where I couldn’t believe how much time I was spending on something that was so clearly an insane idea!
App Store submission
The worst part of this whole process was the App Store submission, which was just hugely convoluted and obfuscated, which is really surprising considering how user friendly Apple products are. And I suddenly got extremely panicked after my friend Paul Neave had his app denied for “limited functionality”.
How much more limited can you get in functionality than kittens on a conveyorbelt? Thankfully though, Apple put it through late last night. Yay!
The future of Kitten Conveyorbelt
I have big plans for this app. More functionality, more customisation, “screen saver” mode, iPad version, ability to put your own photos on a conveyorbelt, choose various versions of the kitten song or even your own music library… but this all depends how well this one does.
My next experiments with the iPhone will be more graphical tests. I’m currently looking at Cocos2D, Unity3D, and also just testing out how performance CoreGraphics is.
And as you can probably see from my blog lately, I’m also looking at AIR for Android. So don’t worry. There’ll be Kittens on Android soon 🙂
But check out Kitten Conveyorbelt on the App Store – I’d love to know what you think!
I’ll be talking more about this and my other explorations into different technology at my upcoming Flash on the Beach session, What the Flux!?.
And I know some of you don’t like Apple. And some of you don’t like Flash. But please try to be normal in the comments, OK? Thanks!
13 replies on “Kittens. On a conveyorbelt. On an iPhone.”
Expected to see particles! My cats ears perked up so it also can be used as a cat caller
Hehe I’m sure there are plenty of opportunities for particles in upcoming upgrades 🙂
Just a thought, but why not do the Android app using the proper Android SDK?
If you come from a Flash/Flex background you’ll find it a hell of a lot more familiar than ObjC (it’s just Java with some MXML like layout files) and you’ll be able to publish your app to version 1.5 which opens up a much larger market, as AIR only runs on the latest Android SDK which many existing phones may never get an upgrade to.
I think you’ll also find the Market submission a much simpler process… signup, publish, done… 10 minutes tops. 🙂
yes I’d be quite interested in that, I know that Jesse Freedman’s been working in the native SDK and he likes it. I have to say though that given the wide range of different resolutions and screen sizes for Android phones, I think that Flash and AIR is really useful, particularly because of the scalable vector graphics. Or at least for the sort of thing I’m into. 🙂
I’ve just spent the past 6 months building iPhone games in Objective C after 8 years working with Actionscript. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without using the Sparrow framework:
It’s a free framework built to emulate the display and event model of flash in objective C, running off OpenGL. It’s incredibly easy to use and well documented (as opposed to Cocos2D), and the guy that wrote it quickly responds to any questions in the sparrow forum. It even has its own movieclip class and tween engine.
I honestly can’t recommend it enough if you are thinking of building games on the iphone.
that does look like quite a time saver – thanks for the tip!
Congrats Seb. Nice work. The simplest ideas are usually the best ones.
I’ll have to wait for it on Android though, as I have chosen not to invest time or money in iPhone technology. I can see why, from a business perspective, or from simple curiosity, you’d want to, but I guess I have the luxury of working with the solutions and devices I’m most happy with… Or is it that I’m lacking the luxury of time to play with all the exciting new toys out there? Hard to tell sometimes!
Thanks for your kind words. Of course you absolutely should work on the platform you love the most. And which one is that for me? I’ll let you know at my Flash on the Beach presentation 🙂
Wish I could make it, but it’s back to the grind in September. Maybe I can work a Flash on the Beach visit into a sabbatical at some point…
Sorry to hear about Paul Neave’s AppStore issues btw. Neave.com is one of my favourite sites. I could watch neave.com/television/ for hours. I’m sure his app was just too subtle for them to understand.
Yeah that really sucks, I hope he gets it through. And def get to Brighton at some point 🙂
Haha, thats awesome seb, pushing that creative boat right out there 😀
I’ve just got myself some shiny iDevices as well as a Nexus One so i’m looking forward to your FOTB talk… am I right in thinking you’ll be at FC Birmingham too?
“pushing the creative boat out…” hehe thank you that’s a very kind way of putting it 🙂 I should be at Birmingham but did you hear it’s been postponed until March?
you’re welcome, its fun to have fun, that’s what its all about right 🙂
Yeah I noticed not long after posting that, pretty gutted, was looking forward to that as a warm up to FOTB, ah well, something to look forward to in the new year 🙂 See you at FOTB 8)