Tyler Casselman is a San Francisco based freelance iOS developer at 13bit Consulting. He’s been writing mobile apps since before they were called “apps” on the Brew and JME platforms and has been doing iOS development exclusively since the 2.0 SDK came out in 2008. His current interests include anything IoT/BLE, graphics (OpenGL ES, shaders, OpenCV) and machine learning. Outside of the mobile space he’s interested in hobby electronics and embedded systems. He’s even designed and had fabricated a few of his own circuit boards.
Swipe is a dating app that was implemented by Tyler over a 2 week period
How long have you been involved in developing apps for?
I started writing mobile games in 2005 on the Brew and J2ME platforms. I call those “the bad old days”; no on device debugging and every phone had its own unique “quirks”. I’ve been developing apps for iOS since the day the SDK was opened to 3rd parties.
What type of apps do you work on?
Lots of photo and video sharing apps, BLE connected apps and chat apps. I’ve moved away from game development though.
What platforms, tools and languages do you work with?
I’m in love with Swift. I’m looking forward to the day when I can write 100% pure swift. I’m also interested in the functional aspects of the language. I’ve also been exploring functional reactive programming. I think it is a paradigm shift in the way we write apps (and I don’t use that phrase lightly either).
What apps have you worked on that you are most proud of?
I really enjoyed the work I did for zuli.io. They’ve developed home Smart Plugs which allow users to dim lights and control appliances from their phone. I was the sole developer on the project; implementing a mesh network on top of BLE which allowed communication with plugs outside the range of the phone. The app also utilized machine learning algorithms to detect a users presence in a room. The app was able to work offline and synchronize data about a network via RoR backend. It implemented a slick UI with lots of intricately choreographed animations. This project lent itself to my skill set. My background in electronics meant I was able to communicate at a hight level with the embedded engineer on the team.
What are the big trends you see in app development right now?
I think things are moving toward functional reactive programming and functional techniques in general. While there is certainly a learning curve, these technologies simplify the reading and writing of code. Anything that moves the needle from an imperative to a declarative style is bound to make code more stable and development easier.
What’s the best thing about working in apps and with mobile devices?
Mobile applications are more intimate than their desktop counterparts. Everyone has one or two mobile apps which are an integral part of their life; they bring joy to their lives. It’s hard to say that about a desktop app. The abundance of sensors and the ‘always on’ nature of mobile devices opens the door for so many unique and creative applications. With the addition of BLE connectivity and Bluetooth accessories, the sky is the limit on what is possible.
What’s the one thing you would like to change about app development?
I think all of the hype around mobile apps right now is a double edged sword. Everyone wants to build an app and get rich. It’s hard to sort through all the noise to find the really useful, game changing applications. But they are out there; I think we’ve only scratched the surface on what is possible.
What mobile devices do you use?
iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs
What are your favourite apps and games?
I love the service oriented apps that make my life easier like uber, instacart and doorman. I’m also addicted to productivity apps like omni focus. In terms of beautiful UI, I love Reuters TV.
What do you think of the Apple Watch?
I own one. I think it has lots of potential.
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