Grubbie is a restaurant/food review app with a simple twist of being able to attach audio to the photo and being able to share review data with other users. It makes use of the following tech:
– MapKit/Geo location
– Parse backend
– Audio recording/playback
– FourSquare API
– Facebook API
Julius has decided to share his course experience and how he came up with the idea for his app.
Ever since I began my career in the software industry more than 15 years ago, I’ve been a developer on the Microsoft platform, having started out with Visual Fox Pro, followed by Visual Basic and finally .NET. I’ve had a modestly successful practice as a .NET developer, consultant and trainer but I realized that to keep up with the times in this fast-paced industry, I have to make the jump to mobile apps development. Besides, I’ve always enjoyed learning new technologies and mobile development is definitely one of the most exciting areas of technology today.
Being a self-taught programmer, I began by gorging on free tutorials on the Internet. There’s anabundance of free learning material out there but I soon realized that I have to start with something formal and structured, and not just learn a hodge-podge of techniques from different sources. A number of sites offer paid online training but I settled with Udemy because their business model of selling courses with lifetime access appealed to me.
I took Rob’s course The Complete iOS 8 Developer Course because it is one of the highest-rated courses on iOS development in Udemy. I have to admit that I generally take ratings with a grain of salt but the discounted rate at that time was simply too good to pass up, and minimized the risks.
As I was going through the course, I was impressed by Rob’s teaching methodology. He prods students to do the exercises on their own before he actually shows how it’s done. Every now and then, he would encourage students to come up with potential app ideas and pursue them. But what I like the most is how he shows how programming problems are usually solved in the real-world: by looking up on the Internet. In the truest sense, he is a teacher who teaches how to fish rather than just give fish.
It took me around 3 weeks to finish the course since I can only spend 2-3 hours a day because I still held on to my full-time job. I supplemented what I learned with online tutorials but things were easier to comprehend this time around because I already have a solid foundation. Armed with my new-found skills, I was ready to get my feet wet on professional iOS development which led to my first app published on the App Store: Grubbie.
Grubbie was conceived out of my traveling experiences to Southeast Asia. Whenever I went to a country that didn’t widely speak and write English, it was frequently a challenge to order what to eat especially if there are no photos on the menu. Sometimes, even photos can be inaccurate and prone to misinterpretation. And chances are I’ll forget the name of those dishes or the restaurant should I return after several months.
That’s when an idea popped up: Wouldn’t it be handy if there’s an app where you can keep a journal of the restaurants that you’ve been to, and the dishes that you ordered along with their pronunciations captured in an audio recording? When you return the next time around, the app will show where the restaurants are located, and you’ll know exactly which dishes to order. In case the photos fail to bridge the communication gap, the audio recording should surely resolve any ambiguities.
I started building Grubbie around that initial idea but then a legitimate use case came up: What if you had a friend who is about to visit the same place and asked for your recommendations? You could just direct your friend to your favorite social media account where you uploaded the photos (albeit sans the audio), but wouldn’t it be much convenient for both of you if you can just share the information via Grubbie itself? And so I had to expand the app to cover the Share feature. It took me around 6 weeks to write the code for the app, and a couple more weeks for non-code related tasks such as setting up the support site, writing content and preparing compliance stuff. Submitting the app and waiting for approval from Apple was an unsettling experience, especially after reading articles why apps get rejected by the Apple review team. It’s like waiting for a baby to be born, hoping that mother and child would pull through.
It would be an understatement to say that I was exhilarated to receive the confirmation email from Apple that Grubbie had been approved for publishing to the App Store. My efforts paid off and although Grubbie won’t make me money because it’s free, the thought of having developed something useful and have it pushed to the App Store is sufficient reward for me.
Regardless of how Grubbie will be received by the market, I will continue to improve it, simply because I find it truly useful. The Share feature is just the start of giving Grubbie its social dimension; for one thing, I’d like users to be able to ask for recommendations proactively, rather than just accept shares passively. Offline caching is also something I’m really keen on. Currently, Grubbie won’t work without network connectivity to the Cloud database. And should there be a clamor for an Android version, then why not? – Julius Estrada
Great job Julius! Although Julius took the iOS8 Developer Course there is now an updated iOS9 Developer course available.