It is only because of the good taste of Nokia Conversations readers that I discovered Weather Flow and it has rapidly become an indispensable app on my Lumia 800.
As many of you pointed out, Weather Flow is a beautiful app to look at, it is charming to use and delivers on its core purpose with maximum efficiency.
As it happens, the brains behind Weather Flow is the developer of another Windows Phone app that we had written also about enthusiastically: Cocktail Flow.
The creator of both these apps is Gergely Orosz, 27, a Hungarian national who has been living in London for the last couple of years.
Despite being ‘not really interested in computers’ as a child, he ended up becoming a computer science major at university and only then at 21 years old did he begin to consider a career as a software developer.
Now, Gergely works in partnership with his brother’s mobile app development company, Distinction.
He spoke to me about the work behind Weather Flow, the importance of good design and the advantages of developing for Windows Phone.
How did you start developing for Windows Phone?
We were software developers who had heard about Windows Phone coming out. We were a small team of developers and a designer and we decided we should try to write an application for it.
We came up with the concept of a cocktail application just because we had a cocktail database at the time. So, Cocktail Flow was the first Windows Phone app we did.
What’s the story behind Weather Flow?
We came up with the idea about a year ago and there were already some weather apps out there but we wanted something that fitted much more natively into Windows Phone.
We did a lot of research, we went through all the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and of course Windows Phone applications and we tried to categorise them to see what kind of weather apps were successful, and why they were successful.
To our surprise, we found that the highest rated and most downloaded weather apps on all the platforms were extremely simple. The complex apps with tonnes of features never got good ratings or made it to the top of the list.
That told us that most of the people wanted their weather application to have a simple interface and tell them what the weather is like now and later in the week, without any of the fancy stuff. So we went down this route with a bunch of prototypes, had our friends try it out and then we refined it.
Many of the comments say that your apps are beautiful. How important is design to you?
I think that is the most important thing in all of our apps.
Our apps are robust and all those things but our design separates us from the competition.
We place a lot of emphasis on it and we have a really good designer in our team. When developing any app we spend a huge amount of time prototyping and creating animations to give it a native and natural feel.
What are the striking differences between the different mobile platforms?
In terms of my motivation and how applications sell on different platforms, Windows Phone, in terms of purchases per user, does very well. Windows Phone is side-by-side with iPhone, but Android is way, way behind. You have to put a lot of resources in Android and it is really heard to monetise.
As a developer, what are the advantages of working in Windows Phone?
Apple does a really good job of making sure that about 75% of its phones are updated to its latest OS. On Windows Phone it is 100%, which immediately is an awesome win. If you test an app on one device you know it will work on all devices.
Also, the development environment, I think has the best performance, the best features and the best emulator. A lot of developers still don’t redesign their apps for Windows Phone, they just port the design and user interface from their Android or iPhone app. We don’t do that and it works because our applications get high ratings and good downloads.
What are you working on for the future?
We are very much looking to Windows 8 and putting our apps onto tablets as well. We’re also looking to put our apps onto Windows Phone 8.
We are expecting Windows 8 to be opening up the market very much in terms of download numbers and more developers, so the earlier you are there the better position you are in.