Me: Do you think a consumer cares about whether or not the OS they are using is open?
SS: Honestly, no. There is a very limited subset of users that care about these things, and even less of them care about being “open” in the Stallman sense. As tech people, we lie on that fringe – we like hacking our devices to do what we want. We’re always going to bring up the question of openness. The general consumer is way more influenced by peers, family, pricing, and apathy. For the most part, they have no clue whether a platform is open or not, and couldn’t care less. Would you care if your washing machine isn’t open? TV? No, appliances (including smartphones) are not computers to most people, and that’s exactly the way it should be – the technology should be invisible and intuitive.
Me: If you can share, what cool projects are you working on right now?
SS: Lots of things! At High Caffeine Content we have built and launched ten apps this year, across various platforms. We have another half-dozen in the pipeline, with probably only one or two of them launching before 2012. The biggest is a major update to the first, and most popular, iOS app we launched on the store, Speed; we’ve built a brand new app for 2.0, which includes an amazing iPad version. Other than that, we’re working on some top secret iPad and iPhone apps, as well as planning to finish porting our portfolio to both Android, Windows Phone 7 and MeeGo Harmattan. And when I say we, I really mean just I, as I develop everything we make myself; I pride myself in learning every platform we target inside out, and making sure that I use the native development environment for each.
Me: What are you most proud of?
SS: I am proud of all my apps, but one in particular has made the most difference to peoples’ lives, and that is Grace. Grace is a World Summit Award-winning communication app for children who have autism; it teaches them how to communicate, by allowing them to build up sentences from a set of pictures. I built Grace in partnership with the mother of two autistic children, Lisa Domican, and she really explains it way better than I ever could so you should check out the videos on the website ( http://www.graceapp.com/media-press/ ) if you’re interested.
Me: Finally, a new app called Codify was announced a few days ago. It allows developers to code on the iPad. Would you use it?
SS: I think apps like Codify are essential for the future of computing – we need children to grow up learning that they can make amazing things on tablet devices, and we need new ways of making apps that work really well on a touchscreen (as Codify does). There is so much potential here that so many people don’t understand; dogma is amazing for killing creativity and vision. “The iPad is not for content creation”, “you will never have Xcode on the iPad”, etc. There is a future coming where most software can be built without needing a line of code, and everything we’ve ever learned as developers will be upended. We’ve seen it in Star Trek, where the engineering characters write software on a touchscreen and by using their voices to talk to an AI; Steve Jobs said at the All Things Digital conference in 2007: “Ya know, just give me Star Trek”, when asked about the future of computing. It may sound like Sci-Fi (I’ll also accept ‘a load of crap’), but we now, just four years later, have touchscreen handheld always-on wirelessly-networked computers and tablets with voice-based AI systems thanks to him. And we’re just getting started.