Simon Judge of Surerange Analysis talks Android App Development

Jamie Giggs

In app-development-2

September 2, 2015

Simon Judge develops for mobile through his UK company, Surerange Analysis Ltd. He works on Android for mainly entrepreneurs and startups. Simon is an IOEE accredited mentor, was a judge at Sony Ericsson Content Awards (2009) and has been a speaker at AppsWorld, MEX and MakeIT Mobile. Simon is well known for his site at and also has a special interest in Android security and authors the site


1. How long have you been involved in developing apps for?

I have been developing apps since 1996 when Microsoft’s Windows CE, codenamed Pegasus was beta. At the time I sold some of the platform’s first apps on what was one of the first ecommerce store to support downloads, provided by Pipex in the UK. At the time I made a living just selling Windows CE apps and later moved on to Java ME, Symbian and developing more apps for clients. When the iPhone SDK came along I wrote a few iOS apps but ended up preferring Android and have developed solely for Android ever since.

2. What types of apps do you work on?

There’s no typical type of app I work on. I have worked on client apps in wide ranging areas such as medical diagnosis, farming, messaging, retail, art galleries, hospitality, car driving telematics and GPS tracking/mapping. It would be easier to say what I don’t work on and that’s games as it requires a particular skill and interest.

3. What platforms, tools and languages do you work with?

Working on Android, I mainly use Java and Android Studio. However, I have also done lots of work in c/c++ using the Android NDK.

4. What apps have you worked on that you are most proud of?

My work for IRISSMedical has had the most far reaching impact. The app uses a special Android device that’s more of a quality camera than a phone and is essentially a camera with Android bolted on the back. The high resolution images are image processed to do quick eye diagnostics and measurement that usually takes a long time if performed by a human and replaces qualitative assessment with quantitative measurement. I am proud because the devices are used by ophthalmologists and optometrists worldwide to improve health. It’s also a great example of using Android for a one-off use rather than as a multi-purpose phone OS.

5. What are the big trends you see in app development right now?

There’s a lot of activity in low power Bluetooth and iBeacons at the moment. I have been working on solutions in this area for two companies. It turns out what is essentially a simple concept of beacons transmitting ‘I am here’ becomes much more complex when it has to be tied to arbitrary data, you have to contend with multiple beacons present and you have to decide when and how to trigger things for the user.

6. What is the best thing about working in apps and mobile?

The number of different domains I have to work in. The variety of types of app means I have to learn a little about, for example, areas as far apart as medical and farming. This keeps things from getting boring. Mobile itself is also continually moving and I have to remain alert to keep up.

7. What is the one thing you’d like to change about app development?

There was a time when mobile app development was more of a research activity. This was before agencies got involved. Marketing, media, full service, call them what you want. Today, mobile has matured and there are often too many players between the people wanting the work done and person actually doing the work. This can complicate, obscure and lengthen the vital communication that needs to occur during mobile development.

8. What mobile devices do you use?

At the moment I use a Nexus 6 that has replaced use of a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. It turns out the larger screen means you don’t really need a tablet any more. I like Nexus devices because of the regular OS updates and while I like the Samsung hardware, I don’t like the extra cruft they add on top of the OS.

9. What are your favourite apps / games?

In terms of 3rd party apps I currently use Evernote, Flipboard and Nuzzel the most. I also use aCalendar+ that’s a great replacement for Android’s calendar that Google seem to have made a mess of. As you have probably already worked out, I am not into games.

10. What do you think of the Apple Watch?

I haven’t actually used one so can’t really comment!

For more about Simon and his work, check out his sites here and here.

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