On Thursday 24th May, I set off to the land of Oz – Melbourne to be exact – for the One More Thing Conference. Excited about the prospect of rubbing shoulders with some of the top iOS developers, I set off on my Emirates flight, the sun setting as I ventured through the departure gate at Auckland Airport. Upon arrival in Melbourne, I was very impressed with the conference, and the city itself.
Kicking things off on Friday 25th May were the mini-conferences. Three hours each, the first was on design, and the second on code. Many very useful lessons were imparted – from the importance of interface design being considered an art, and the use of skeuomorphism in iPhone apps, to the general lessons of creating a compelling user experience. From the code point of view, it was refreshing to see that they didn’t just jump straight into code. It was more of an insightful journey into the consideration of an application as one complete unit (likened very aptly to Apple’s Unibody designs, transitioning from their iBooks); dealing with effective releases of your apps, such as when it’s suitable to issue a point release; and even a talk reinforcing those immortal lyrics – “I get knocked down, but I get up again” – from a fellow New Zealander. All of this was hosted in a cosy environment, in a beautiful building in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton. Although it was hard to find (I ended up about 20 minutes late, thanks to some elusive street signs!), the experience was completely worth it – and the talent surrounding me was awe-inspiring.
Saturday saw the main conference, with a significant number of talented speakers. Hosted at the Melbourne Convention Centre (a beautiful building might I add), the main event also included a game developed by Sensis, an Australian company offering an API for access to Yellow and White Pages listings – a great ground for building some compelling apps. Answer 20 questions in the fastest time, with a 3 second bonus if you got the Sensis promo question right. I managed to get a pretty good time – just over 20 seconds – but the star of the show (1st place) used some ‘computer assistance’ to win, which turned out to be the aim of the game! Still, coming 3rd wasn’t so bad – I got to take home an external hard drive, and I’m pretty sure I got the best human score!
The dislike of Android was very clear at the conference – the fact that iOS sales made up a considerable portion of their income, while Android and WP7 hardly registered, made it clear that iOS is a booming business – even if Android apparently has the greatest consumer market share. Interestingly, even at Christmas time Android sales didn’t pick up, and according to the speakers, there are only a few great apps even on iOS – so there is still heaps of potential.
The inspirational messages issued by the speakers were truly great – ranging from stories of coming up from nowhere, to stories of obstacles that stopped the release of a great app, these people are truly amazing. Talks also included mention of coming half way around the world to follow your dreams, the potential for outsourcing work, the importance of trusting your fellow team, the big opportunities that can happen for us, and the transition from web to Objective-C – which can be a bit of a pain (I can relate!). One of the most amazing points about the conference was that some of the developers learnt iOS development when they had no programming experience whatsoever – their drive is amazing!
To give you an idea of scale, speakers included the developers of Tapatalk, Doodle Jump, Flipboard, Camera+, Ship/Plane Finder, Pano, Air Sharing, Trainyard, Calvetica and more – talk about big names!
And thanks to One More Thing for the great gifts – a sketchpad with an iPhone wireframe on it, ready for drawing, and an awesome lanyard, which will serve as a happy momento of the amazing time spent in Melbourne. The conference was an absolute blast, and I recommend anyone with an interest in iOS development or design to go along next year – from the sounds of things, they’re all go for 2013, and it’ll only be their 3rd year in the conference game!