BlackBerry 10 developers dedicate their time to providing the millions of BlackBerry users the freedom of choice to use the apps that matter to them. In gratitude, BlackBerry is spotlighting some of our most prolific developers. Meet the people who make the BlackBerry 10 apps that you love.
Previously, I’ve interviewed Oliver Martinez, CEO and Software Engineer at Nemory Studios, creator of 14 BlackBerry 10 apps, including the Face10 app, and Jerome Carty, president of Kisai Labs and creator of 11 BlackBerry apps, including Twitter app Blaq.
Work Wide is specifically designed to allow for maximum productivity on your BlackBerry 10 device, especially the Passport, by letting you view and use two built-in apps side-by-side. Available apps are the following: Web Browser, SMS/MMS text messaging, Email Composer/Notepad, Calculator, Picture Viewer, Txt Viewer and Blaq (Twitter).
Here’s what Brian shared with us:
How long have you been developing on the BlackBerry platform?
I began reading up on documentation shortly after Jam Americas in June 2012 when Cascades was unveiled. From there I set up my environment and had test/demo apps I had written running on BlackBerry10 simulators and Dev Alphas a few months later. I have been developing ever since.
From a hardware perspective, I’ve always liked (and still do) actual hardware keyboards. At the time of getting into BlackBerry development I had a Bold 9900 due to its great keyboard. When I heard BlackBerry was launching a new OS that was much better from a software standpoint, it was hard to not be excited. And then once I began developing apps on the platform it became a truly fun and exciting hobby.
Are there features that stand out?
I currently have a Passport Silver Edition; what doesn’t stand out!?! I mean this in a good way. From the large, square screen to the capacitive touch hardware keyboard, this device is truly unique. Then of course there is the Hub, which it blows my mind that there are still other mobile OSes that don’t have unified inboxes. Not sure how those people survive.
What kind of support have you received from BlackBerry?
In the early days of my developing, I would reach out to many folks at BlackBerry Dev Relations via email, forums, etc. and always received excellent feedback. As of late I mostly do my own thing and quietly read documentation, so I don’t require much support, but it’s good to know that I have various folks out there who I know I can get help from at BlackBerry.
How did you get into developing apps?
I’m not exactly sure. I had always casually followed BlackBerry from a consumer standpoint and I have a technical background (my undergraduate degree is in mechanical engineering), so when I was looking into Cascades after it was announced it was a somewhat natural fit.
Tell us about your app – what was your inspiration and what features do you want to highlight?
Work Wide is an app (mostly designed for the Passport) to enable split-screen multitasking for commonly combined tasks. Oftentimes I find myself on a website where I need to do a quick calculation, and rather than flipping back and forth between two apps, I figured it would be great to have them side-by-side. There are many other use cases, such as carrying on an SMS conversation while scrolling through your Twitter feed, side-by-side picture comparison, taking notes while watching a video on YouTube or simply viewing two websites.
My inspiration for this app is the Passport itself. With its large, square screen I saw a great potential of having side-by-side rectangular (and still decently sizable) viewing areas. And I know this sounds cheesy, but I swear it’s true, I was in Toronto at the launch event as all these ideas came rushing at me. I literally began the mockups for what became Work Wide that evening in a bar downtown (Ein-Stein, I believe, was its name).
Since the launch of Work Wide in November 2014, it feels as though it has been a tremendous success, not only in terms of downloads (nearly 100,000 to date) but also user response. I receive emails everyday requesting features, asking for advice and sharing success stories of how Work Wide helped them accomplish something more easily on their device. That last point is the most rewarding aspect of creating an app like Work Wide.
What other apps have you developed for BB10? Are any in the works now?
Many of my other apps are more of simple games that aren’t anything worth talking about. But I will mention camZOO, which is an app I made for my wife so she could watch penguins and pandas (as well as other animals) via live streams from zoos around the world. I had a lot of fun making that one from both a personal and developer point of view.
As far as what I have in the works is more developments on Work Wide. We (myself and the other developer, Olaf Hanson) have been hard at work at a v2.0 of Work Wide. It’s taking a bit longer than expected, but that’s where most of my development efforts have been focused.
What’s the greatest moment you’ve had with BlackBerry?
While I have had many great moments, I must say being invited to present at Jam Europe in Amsterdam in Feb 2013 was the best. It was the week after the global launch of BlackBerry 10. For me personally, it was the culmination of all my hard work on the apps I had written during the beta phases now officially released, finally using a device I spent six months developing apps for, meeting BlackBerry Dev Relations folks and fellow app developers in person I had chatted with in forums/BBM/email, and my first time in Europe.
Brian Scheirer, Director of Content Development at Link Systems International, leads the Content Development team and manages the creation and maintenance of online course content for K-12 and higher education. Aside from work and app development, Brian enjoys running, working out and SCUBA diving. Connect with Brian: