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Read our Q and A with Tony Dong , Mobile Product Manager at TouchNote Ltd, and find out how the TouchNote team developed its photo postcard app for Windows Phone 7.
Find out more about TouchNote here
Please describe your mobile application Touchnote allows users to take a photo on their handset and turn it into a postcard that we print and post within one working day.
Where did the idea come from? The idea came about from founder Raam Thakrar who wanted a better way to send photos of family to other loved ones, and thus Touchnote was born. Touchnote was originally only available on the web, and moving into mobile was simply a natural progression.
Is you app a paid for app or a free app? The app is free to download, and a free sample trial card is given. After that the cards cost $/£/€1.99 each.
Our business model is a bit different from normal apps. We’re trying to encourage loyal users who really like our service – and the only way that we will be successful is if we develop that long term relationship.
Is there anything unique in your app that is only possible because of WP7? There are lots of cool features that have only come about because of Windows Phone 7. Our UI is inspired by Metro, and is the best of any of our apps to date. The ability to instantly connect to the user’s Facebook gallery was also a huge bonus. Throw in live tiles to remind the user of the last card they sent, and we’re really happy.
Why did you choose Windows Phone 7? We believe that Microsoft will make a huge push on Windows Phone 7 - if current efforts are any indication, then it should be a big success. Being one of the first to market on this platform will therefore be a great advantage for us.
What opportunities did you see with Windows Phone 7? Given the push for Windows Phone 7, we saw a great opportunity to go along for the ride in terms of both marketing and general buzz. We also saw the opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the crowd with something fresh and intuitive.
By following the Windows Phone 7 design guidelines, coupled with some very unique features, it’s quite easy to make our app look and feel great.
How did you find the Metro design to work with? The Metro design is very easy to work with. The focus on font and clarity really makes our app look different.
How far did you follow the guidelines and were they useful? We used as much as we could while still maintaining our brand. This included the metro font, colours, panoramas and tilting effects.
How important do you think the Metro design is to the overall app experience? I think the Metro design is the overarching driver of the entire experience. It is definitely the biggest differentiating point for the whole app.
What do you think of the Metro design as far as user experience? Metro is great. It’s concise and simple. On the mantra of less is more, Metro has done a pretty good job at nailing it.
How did you find working with Silverlight for the first time? It’s great. Though through a number of things. The VS IDE is very good, and I think that makes a huge difference. Silverlight itself is also quite easy to work with. Also throw in the fact that Windows Phone 7 was still in beta when we started and I think the results speak for themselves.
How did you find the development experience overall? The developer support has been absolutely great. For the sake of other developers, I hope that it continues as the number of apps grows - we’ve never had this level of support with anyone we’ve worked with. There were a few hiccups along the way with the constant IDE refreshes, but overall it’s been very positive.
Have you developed for other mobile platforms in the past? We’ve developed for Symbian, iPhone and Android.
If so, which ones and how did developing for WP7 compare? Very comparable to the iPhone development in terms of ease, and much better than Android. The one thing we really enjoyed was not having to develop for fragmentation.
What platform features most impressed you? “Live tiles” is a great feature. I really hope it takes off. Deep integration with social media was also a great feature. I think Xbox live integration is a great idea - I hope that it works well (spoken as a xbox 360 fan!)
Was there anything specifically that enabled you to quickly progress? The support from developer support, specifically Paul Foster and Martin Beeby. Their help has been sincerely appreciated.
This sounds like an innovative app. It's all well and good that you have a camera on your phone, but having the ability to get the pictures out of it again--and in such an interesting, useful way--seems like a good deal. I'd be curious to see if people are willing to pay what you are asking--to me it seems about double what the going rate for internet related services go for nowadays.
Anyway, good luck with the launch.