Australian developers at Apple conference say iPhone 4 will change app market

Australian iPhone developers have welcomed Apple’s new iPhone 4, saying hardware upgrades and an ultra high-resolution screen will enable them to create apps that weren’t possible on previous handsets.

The comments come as a number of local developers are in San Francisco for the Worldwide Developers’ Conference, using the gathering as an opportunity to showcase their apps and network with others in the industry.

Mark Edwards, chief executive of Melbourne-based studio Bjango, says he lined up for hours beforehand to see Jobs deliver his keynote presentation in person.

“There were people lining up three hours before the keynote even started, and the line was huge. There are thousands of people here, and about 1,500 Apple staff. It’s a bit frantic.”

But Edwards says the wait was worth it. The iPhone 4 is a significant upgrade from the 3GS model, he says, and the introduction of a high-resolution screen will keep his company busy for a while.

“They’ve really hit a home run with the high resolution screen… we’re going to have to redesign everything to make everything twice as big. It’ll be a massive amount of work, but it means we’ll have print resolution applications, and that’s never existed before.”

“I also think there’s going to be some great features in the iOS4. There are also some comments going around about wireless syncing with iBooks from an iPad to an iPhone. Maybe that’s leading up to something else.”

Edwards says he was initially thrown by the leaked photos of the iPhone, which showed tiny gaps in the handset’s edging. But he was impressed once Jobs explained the case was actually part of the antenna.

“When I first saw the gaps in the design, I thought it wasn’t very attractive. But once they explained it as a way to save space, I thought it was amazing because it’s so functional.”

Edwards says the new phone, combined with the iOS4 software, means developers now have to struggle to think of any new features they want to see on future models. “It’s getting to that point now… developers can pretty much do anything.”

Alex Peters, spokesperson for Flight Control developer Firemint, says the company is very excited about being able to work with the new phone.

“The device looks great, and we think our games are going to look fantastic on it. They’ve added some great new hardware possibilities like the gyroscope. Overall, it was a great presentation and we’re very excited about it.”

Keith Ahern, chief executive of development studio MoGeneration, says the new hardware might make the company revisit some application ideas it originally thought were too complex to pull off.

“The iPhone 4 might make us reconsider some of the things we’re doing with publishers. Things we couldn’t have done before might be suitable with the new screen.”

“I’m not sure I would call the new phone revolutionary but it’s a great base to work from. They’ve stretched ahead again. The new battery life and the power included enable the type of apps you wouldn’t have thought possible.”

While Ahern isn’t personally in San Francisco, he says some of his team are attending WWDC and think the device will drastically improve app development.

But Ahern also says Apple needs to introduce some new features, particularly improvements with its new FaceTime video calling application, before the iPhone can be considered at the top of its game.

“Some clarity around whether the iPhone would be locked or unlocked would have been nice, so I just assume they’ll be going with all the carriers again.”

“But having video calling on WiFi only will restrict the take-up of that feature at the start. I assume they’ve blocked using it on 3G because the AT&T networks can’t handle it in the states – but our networks can here. I’m not dismissing they’ve made the feature attractive, just sceptical about how popular it will be initially.”

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