WWDC 2020: Meet Bengaluru's top iOS app, game creators

WWDC 2020: Meet Bengaluru's top iOS app, game creators

Taking cognisance of the widespread coronavirus outbreak, governments around the world made swift decisions to impose lockdown. In India too, most of the people young and old have been confined to their homes for more than fifty days.

Being isolated at the same place for long takes a toll on mental health, but thanks to mobile and laptops, there are lots of apps and games, that not only help the people improve their skill set but also kill time with interactive games and also get a job done without having to move out of the house.

Ahead of Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), which is slated to kick off next month on June 22, DH had the opportunity to interact with Bengaluru-based iOS app and game creators, who have made it big in the mobile software industry.

SignEasy app will let the user sign any document on their iPhone and iPad, and they are as legally binding as using a pen. It has been downloaded over 6 million times on Apple App Store. It is touted to be the 'Best Business Apps', and the only e-signature app to feature in Apple's global commercials. SignEasy is trusted by entrepreneurs, freelancers, executives, and enterprise businesses alike, says the company

There's an interesting story behind the development of the SignEasy app. The company CEO, Sunil was once on a vacation in Mexico when an important job offer landed in his inbox. And as exciting as it can be to see an offer letter for a dream job on your vacation, it was a dampener that there was no easy way to sign it remotely without a printer. Thus, the SignEasy app was born.

"Over these ten years, the need and acceptability of eSignatures on the legal and usability front has grown many folds. SignEasy was a truly ‘mobile-first’ solution and the first eSignature solution on the iOS App Store. We empowered users to sign documents easily on the go. This passion has continued to drive us and today we have an electronic signature solution that meets the needs of companies of all sizes," the company spokesperson Apoorva said.

"Companies from all industries and employees in all functions need a solution like SignEasy. And now the need is more sizable than ever before, when employees are working from home, with no access to printers, scanners, and have an aversion to communal surfaces due to the risk of cross-contamination. Last month, we saw a 3 times increase in the number of installs and 2.4 times increase in the number of paid subscriptions of SignEasy," Apoorva added.

SignEasy developer team (Credit: SignEasy)

As of now, the SignEasy app has over 7 million downloads for iOS and Android and has 130,000 active customers from over 150 countries. 

On iOS alone, the SignEasy has almost 6 million installs globally, with over 100,000 installs from India. We also have over 100,000 paying customers from 150+ countries. It has been consistently ranked in top 10 grossing business apps worldwide.

Must read | Apple to host virtual WWDC 2020 next month

When asked about How's the experience of interacting with Apple's Worldwide Developer Relations team?

Apoorva said-- "Apple’s synergy with the developer community is unlike any other company’s. The Worldwide Developer Relations team at Apple gives dedicated attention to their partner apps, and one can really feel that they’re truly invested in the app developer’s success. And it’s not just code - Apple supports developers with design guidance, feature ideas, adoption tactics, and even GTM strategies. Over the years, Apple has invested in and nurtured its developer ecosystem to become a rich, engaging community that is pushing the boundaries of app development and technology"

SignEasy on Apple App Store (screen-grab)

"We at SignEasy have frequently benefited from the Apple accelerator and local developer relations team in Bengaluru, and their global design lab and developer relations teams in Cupertino They’ve provided us guidance on numerous occasions, from general feedback on the design of the app, some new features that we can build to solve their enterprise customers’ use cases, and even specific code-level feedback. It’s truly a remarkable ecosystem," Apoorva added.

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, SignEasy was one among top apps that witness a phenomenal growth in adoption and usage during the lockdown, as people took all their paperwork and document signing online. 

Considering the precarious financial situation of people and small scale firms, SignEasy has slashed prices of all their plans by up to 50%.

"We also offered free upgrades to frontline COVID-19 warriors in healthcare, education, and NGOs, and have had many users take advantage of this. Customers have shared heartwarming stories of how SignEasy helped them in keeping critical paperwork moving during the time of lockdowns and social distancing" Apoorva said. 

“In the absence of access to office printers & scanners, SignEasy provides a great way to ensure we can keep our contracts moving and our business running. Just today I sent a counter-party [agreement] with SignEasy to get an account and in under 10 minutes we had our contract executed”, a client of SignEasy, Philip McCrea of Red Nucleus, said.

In the US, the Small Business Administration launched the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan that is intended to help companies keep their staff on payroll and avoid firings/layoffs. To enable users to fill and sign this form quickly online, we rolled out a feature in our iOS and web app that would let users access it with a single click. We further educated users on how to fill the form easily using SignEasy, the company said.

Superimpose X
As the name suggests, Superimpose X is a photo editing app. It offers filters that allow users to add multiple layers, blending modes, masking, adjustments, brushes, smudge, warp, effects, clarity to casting shadows, and more.

Superimpose X on Apple App Store (screen-grab)

Superimpose X too, has a fascinating tale behind the development of the app

"When I was an engineering student, I found it pretty fascinating how a computer could store and display pictures. And how you could edit them using computer programs. It was something new at that time. I wrote some computer programs to do various kinds of photo editing on a desktop computer. It was magical to see how a few lines of code could do wonders for your photos. It became a kind of hobby until I landed a job at an IT company in Bangalore. Slowly, I lost touch with my hobby since then," Pankaj Goswami said.

"But then in 2007, Apple launched the iPhone. I got one for myself. It was an amazing piece of gadget, which I fell in love with. I started taking a lot of pictures with it and occasionally post them on social networking sites. Soon, I felt the need for a photo editing app. By that time, Apple launched the App Store. Initially, however, there were not too many photo editing apps. The ones which were available were not very suitable for my kind of use. That is when I thought of writing one for myself. I downloaded the Xcode (Apple’s development platform) and started working on the app, during my free time," Goswami added.

"Soon, I had a little photo editing app ready on my iPhone and started using it for my edits. I also shared it with some of my friends. And their feedback was very encouraging. That is when I thought of publishing it in the App Store. To my surprise, it soon became pretty popular, reaching even the top 10 apps in the App Store's photography section. As the popularity increase, I had to spend more time on it. So, I decided to quit my job," Goswami noted.

Must read | Apple, Google release COVID-19 exposure notification API

When asked on How much help was Apple able to provide while creating his app? Goswami said- "Luckily for me, after a while, Apple also opened a Worldwide Developer Relations office in my city, in fact just at a walking distance from my place. They provide help and guidance to iOS developers in improving their apps. I have been attending their sessions. They have been instrumental in improving the app. Especially in terms of the UI/UX and in adopting new technologies released by Apple with every iOS version. Also, as a registered developer, I can access technical help directly from Apple engineers. As an indie developer, these things have been of tremendous help to me".

For several years, Superimpose X is said to be topping the chart in the photography section with an average user rating of 4.5 in the US App Store. More than 5 million photos are created with the app every year. With a wide range of editing tools, the app has become quite popular among people doing creating photo editing, Goswami claims.

Was there a new learning experience in the past couple of months during the lockdown?
"The COVID-19 lockdown has been adding a lot of stress to a lot of people including me. Staying home all the time has not been easy. On the positive side, I noticed that the number of users has gone up considerably with the lockdown. Probably many people are spending more time doing creative work with their iPhones and iPads during their time at home. I have received a lot of new requests/suggestions during this time. Although I keep receiving such emails often, suddenly the number of emails has increased many folds. I cannot be more thankful to my users! I am now busy prioritising and implementing those. Hope after the lockdown, a much better version of the app would be ready for the users," Goswami said.

Appy Monkeys
Appy Monkeys create gaming-cum-educational apps for children so that they learn things with fun activities. Some of their games include 3D Blox Junior, Draw 3D Junior, a 3D Geometry learning app live on iOS will soon be coming on MacOS, and more that use technologies like Augmented Reality (AR). 

Appy Monkeys' apps and games

What's the story behind the gaming apps' idea?
When the founder and lead developer Arjun Gupte was teaching design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad in 2015, he noticed students struggle with complex software and wondered if there was a way to simplify the whole process.  

"What if you used an everyday object like a cube as a starting point? Simple enough that it could be used by a five-year-old with taps. Using this idea of a building block, Gupte built and launched Blox 3D Junior with a simple tap or double-tap mechanism which was ideal for iPhone users," the company said.

Arjun Gupte- Appy Monkeys founder and team lead

"It is used by kids and schools worldwide to build out their creations in 3D. It's simple to use and exposes younger kids to a core science subject in a fun and intuitive way" the company added.

Its been 5 years since the first version of the Blox 3D Junior was launched and it has updated eight times with new features and polishing existing ones.

How was experience interacting with Apple technology evangelists?
"Apple Accelerator was a big help in getting Augmented Reality working in our apps, so that kids could see their creations in the real world. We attended 3 of their App Accelerator sessions since 2019 and got invaluable feedback and technical guidance from Apple Technology Evangelists, and included ARKit in our apps, leading to a large increase in functionality and interactivity, the company said.

Blox 3D Junior app demo (video screen-grab)

"In addition, Apple featured us for a special Diwali sale, giving us good exposure to Apple users in India and works with us in order to integrate their latest technologies and customer insights," the company added.

How's the public response to Appy Monkeys' games? 
"Globally, the Blox family of apps have been downloaded more than 2.5  million times on iOS. We're most proud of the fact that one of our apps, Anim8 is used by an Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, in his Edtech school, www.wozed.com to teach kids 3D animation," the company said.

Furthermore, Appy Monkey's apps have been featured by Purdue University and won Editors Choice awards from Children's Tech Review.

Anim8 trailer screen-shot (Picture credit: Appy Monkey)

Did Appy Monkeys team come up with any plan for a new game or features for existing games during the lockdown period?
"Yes, we have added some new features that enable kids to play together by building the same 3D model in realtime for Blox 3D Junior and ability to add custom characters to their creations in Blox 3D City. Currently undergoing testing, but should launch by end of May/Early June 2020," the company said.

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cyber security and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.

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