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May 5, 2014

Foundbite dev finds Windows Phone 8.1 gives developers more control, enhances user experience

“Windows Phone 8.1 enhances users’ experiences, bringing apps to life in new ways.”

London-based developer James Mundy recently ported his highly-rated app, Foundbite, to Windows Phone 8.1, and he found that the latest version of the platform gives developers more control and empowers users. The first app of its kind, Foundbite, has many unique and engaging features that have inspired the envy of many an iOS user, and Mundy has big plans to leverage Windows Phone 8.1 to further engage his users. Recently, he agreed to share his exciting 8.1 plans with me.

What about the Windows Phone 8.1 release excites you the most?


    Foundbite interface

Undoubtedly, the combination of Windows and Windows Phone into one platform is the best part of the 8.1 release. I’ll be able to seamlessly share code and port apps across the two platforms, saving me a lot of development time since I won’t have to rewrite my code.

Even more importantly, more than seventy percent of the code libraries feature shared UI code and controls, meaning users’ experiences can be seamless. For example, when I was building Foundbite, I realized that users might want to drag photos they already liked directly from other apps into Foundbite. I did not want to force them to capture new images with their cameras, so initially, users had to save existing photos to the Photo Library. Now, in 8.1, users can drag photos between Foundbite and other apps without any intermediate steps. Windows Phone 8.1 enhances users’ experiences, bringing apps to life in new ways. The new version gives developers more control, but it also empowers users, providing them a smooth experience.

Can you tell us more about Foundbite’s value offering, its success, and how you plan to use the 8.1 release to drive deeper engagement?


    Capturing a Foundbite

Foundbite is unique in that it connects photo, location, and sound to create an audiovisual memory of the subject. This unique capability allowed Foundbite to earn a 4.5/5 average rating across more than 450 reviews. Although the app has garnered just 75,000 downloads since November 2013, people all over the world have used it; from Canada to China to Chile, and they have captured memories at venues as diverse as the Winter Olympics and rockconcerts. In fact, iOS users have complained about not being able to use this app since it is only available on Windows Phone.

Clearly, Windows Phone 8.1 provides me many new possibilities, but I still have a lot of work ahead. Specifically, I will now use Audio Editing to allow users to directly edit their audio captures, and I will use Background Transfers to allow users to easily upload photos without waiting for completion, freeing users who have previously been bounded by slow connections. I also plan to use the new Live tiles and People Hub extensibility for social apps. And, I’ll use the new action center for notifications to make my notifications non-intrusive. Finally, I’ll use IE11’s enhanced HTML5 support in Foundbite’s Web site.


    Foundbite Live tile

I think users will find that Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 are easy to use. It was harder for me to develop Foundbite in Android than in Windows. Specifically, I struggled with fragmentation and found it hard to adapt to different screen sizes, whereas on Windows Phone 8.1, my app works well on all screen sizes. Microsoft has clearly put a lot of thought into giving users a choice of devices.

What advice do you have for developers?

I advise developers to take advantage of everything that Windows Phone 8.1 has to offer. Windows is a great launch pad for innovation, and Microsoft has been a good partner for me. Also, having learned from my Foundbite experience, I would advise developers to take a step back and improve pre-existing code and features. It’s easy to keep adding new features without reevaluating older code or the UX; however, I’ve found that taking the time to strip down pages, code, and controls and rebuild them can be really useful and make apps much slimmer and more efficient.

Foundbite Sound Images

Enduro Racing

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Street Band in New Orleans