Chatting with Medal-worthy British iPad App Developers


Putting on the Olympics gives the host country a chance to strut. While strutting (think Bart Simpson as Danny Zuko) couldn’t be farther from Britain’s modest, understated grace, we thought we’d give a few of our favorite British iOS app developers Touch Press, Nosy Crow, hedgehog lab, and KeyStageFun a chance to share their plans for the London Games, their thoughts on British app aesthetics, and even which other developers they most admire.

This is the first second screen Olympics. How will you be watching?

“As a true Olympic enthusiast, I shall be watching as much as possible from the stadium itself,” says Tom Bonnick, digital project and marketing manager at Nosy Crow. “However, for the 99.9% of events I don’t have tickets for, I’ll be watching on my iPad or in the pub, I imagine (maybe both at once). And, along with every major televised event these days, I expect the means by which I’ll stay up-to-date most satisfactorily of all will be Twitter.”

Keystage Fun founder Ian Knapp adds, “If I’m out, my iPhone will come in handy – it still amazes me that I can stream live TV whilst sat on a train. At home I’ll probably have my iPad showing it if I’m working and in the evenings I’ll relax in front of the TV. I love watching most live sport and the Olympics is always a great spectacle.”

If your company were an Olympian, what would its event be and why?

Fiona Barclay, Ph.D., editor and senior producer for Touch Press says, “Oh dear – if you could have heard the suggestions! Anyway – we’re going with the 4 x 400m relay. The team needs to be cohesive as the baton passes from the creative phase, into the hands of producer, designer and finally (and most importantly) engineers (appropriately nicknamed anchors in the race). ”

Interestingly, hedgehog lab co-founder Sarat Pediredla agrees, “What a great question. I can compare us to a few events but if I have to absolutely pick only one event, I would say we would be the 4 x 100 metres relay. This is because that although we have individuals who excel at what they do (capable of running 100m by themselves), we truly shine as a team and are unbeatable as a collective.”

Mr. Bonnick quipped, “Well, maybe the marathon, because we’ve come so far!” while Mr. Knapp pursued a similar line of argument, “Diving, because taking the initial leap into app design was nerve-wracking but now we’re hoping to make a splash!” (Ed. note, divers are penalized for splashing in the Olympics, but we get your point.)

Are British apps better looking than apps created elsewhere?

None of the developers took my jingoistic bait on this one; however, it’s hard to disagree with Mr. Pediredla who said, “I am not sure if British apps have a monopoly on great aesthetics but it is is certainly true that we place a great amount of importance on visuals, experience and the “soft” stuff. Perhaps it’s the great history of art, design, and culture or perhaps it’s just where we see a competitive advantage.”

Mr. Bonnick took the chance to praise Sir Jony Ive, “I think there is a lot for us to be proud of in terms of design and function (including the fact that the man who created the iPad and iPhone is a Brit)!”

Is there a British app developer whose design aesthetic you admire or who inspires you?

All of the developers were ready to sing the praises of their countrymen and women, and their suggestions highlight just how much great work hails from Britain at the moment.

According to Ms. Barclay, “there are some great British app developers out there. For example Heuristic Media that made Cyclopedia and the super London App run by a bunch of ex BBC and Channel Four programme makers, also for children’s titles Nosy Crow are unbeatable.”

Mr. Bonnick returned the nod to Touch Press, “Some of my favourite UK app developers – who I admire enormously – are Touch Press, whose newly-released Sonnets app (built in collaboration with Faber) is simply brilliant, inkle (who made, with Profile Books, a fantastic Frankenstein app), and Somethin’ Else (who developed The Magic of Reality for Random House).”

PadGadget reviewed and highly recommended Sonnets (5 stars) and inkle’s Frankenstein app (4.5 stars).

ustwo have a design aesthetic that we love,” said Mr. Pediredla. “Their apps ooze quality and they have done British mobile industry proud on the world stage. They are also a huge inspiration in terms of what they have achieved and their efforts to promote the industry.”

In sum, Mr. Knapp added, “a lot of the best stuff is coming from small, independent developers rather than the large, established companies, which is great. In terms of educational apps, I really like the design of the Singing Alphabet app by Ministry of Letters.”

If iOS app development were an Olympic event, these four companies would definitely be in medal contention. Not only have they all created top-notch additions to the App Store, but their suggestions have added a number of developers to my watch list.

Who are your favorite British iOS app developers? Let us know in the comments.

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About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite