Wow – you can now download a Buzzer blog app for your iPhone, created by local developer Mark Larocque! Search for “TransLink Buzzer” in the Apple App Store, or just use this link here.
Mark’s free app pulls the Buzzer blog feed and the TransLink Twitter feed into one very pretty interface. I’m thinking it could be really handy for transit updates during the Games, if you’re looking for a one-stop iPhone-based app.
Anyway, it was a lovely surprise to find out Mark had put this app together. I certainly hadn’t been prodding people to get the Buzzer into the App Store, and it’s nice to see the blog is valued enough to warrant its own app.
Mark also kindly agreed to do an interview, so we could learn more about the app and how he put it together.
What inspired you to make the app? Are you a longtime Buzzer blog reader?
I made the app because I found the blog was great, updated daily and I figured that there had to be a way to get updated with daily news instead of monthly news. I do read the Buzzer on the buses and skytrain however I found often, that if I missed my chance or it was later in the month, there wouldn’t be any Buzzers left. The application launches and updates the latest news always. It’s great. I’m also a twitter user and I have TransLink added to my twitter contacts list. I have spoken to many different people that don’t know to use twitter, don’t want to or maybe don’t even know what it’s all about. I added the RSS feed of the TransLink twitter feed right into the app through another tab so it allows the non-twitter users or even the twitter users direct access to the updates that TransLink updates with. I appreciate it when TransLink gives me an update through twitter that skytrain is going through a little bit of trouble and a station may be out of commission for a bit. They provide real-time updates and also answer some questions that twitter users reply with. To have this in the app is so convenient.
How long did it take to put the app together and launch it?
The application build process took very little time. 1 hour max. Very easy walkthrough, customization and build process. Because I have an Apple Developer Account that I pay $99 a year for, it allows me to publish the application. The approval process can take up to 2 weeks per application but the approval for TransLink Buzzer was only 6 days, not too bad. I have another app previous to this that took less than 24 hours.
What has response been like so far?
Because it’s fairly new, I haven’t had much response however my friends and family and YOU love it! There is a rating and review system through the app store which allows downloaders of the app to rate through a 5-star process but also allows for comments. Users can do this through the app store on iphones and ipod touches as well as through itunes on their computers. It’s also a bit difficult to try not to get lost in all the apps considering there are 140,000 apps in the Apple app store now. This app caters to a specific audience but I have seen many countries such as the US and Japan download the app as well. People like the pricepoint as well. FREE!
What’s next for the app? Do you have other development projects on the go?
I have had a few suggestions offered and I am reviewing these, but mostly right now, I wanted to see the response. There haven’t been any reviews yet but give it time and they’ll be coming in. I have a 2nd app as mentioned, it’s called Gizmodo Updates. It’s an unofficial app for www.gizmodo.com and I’m working on publishing an update to that quite soon. I’m also looking at creating an official website for myself and my company, ‘Larockus’, so to provide a better avenue for support and in general, getting my name out there.
Anything else you would like to add?
I appreciate the time and interest that you’ve provided. I hope it satisfies Vancouver transit riders well as it has with my family and friends.
I do have a regular full time job training and inspiring and I have to say that it’s been exciting venturing into the smartphone application market. It’s definitely a great discussion at gatherings when I state that I have an app in the app store. Be on the lookout for more application releases under the company name of Larockus (shameless plug, I know!).
I have a cat named Holly as well. She’s pretty diva so it’s pretty fitting for her to have a last name of Wood. lol.
Thanks again Mark!