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MacTech 2010: Wil Shipley on Noogle Noggles, a new Delicious Library and the Mac App Store

Wil Shipley is probably the premiere Mac developer -- he co-founded The Omni Group, and now runs Delicious Monster, whose Delicious Library app pretty much embodies the best of this platform we love so much. Wil kindly sat down to talk with me at last week's MacTech 2010 conference here in Los Angeles, and we chatted about what's next for Delicious Library, what the response was like to his company's Noogle Noggles app, and what he believes is in store for Apple's upcoming Mac App Store.

Shipley began by saying he was a little disappointed with the way Noogle Noggles worked out -- the idea was, of course, to beat Google Goggles to the App Store, and Google worked faster than he expected. "We thought we were going to beat them by two and a half months, but they beat us by a day." Still, the app has seen a solid chunk of downloads so far. "Last I checked it was 35,000 people, and I'm like that's a pretty good number of people for working on something for a month."

Photo by Flickr user Inju, licensed under Creative Commons.



I asked him if he thought there was still room on the App Store for a more solidly done "scanning" app -- apps like Shazam, Google Goggles, and SnapTell have done a solid job of identifying real world objects already, and Shipley admitted that while he thought there was a place for more functionality, he's "not sure what the right combination is of things. One thing that's very obvious is that people are like, 'Hey I've got Delicious Library, why not enable me to use my phone and run around and point it at books and it scans it in?' That's an obvious thing and it's obviously something we'd love to do. So message heard, right?" But Shipley's also considering the right way to make that happen -- "If you're holding up a book and you can scan the barcode or the cover, which one should you do?"

As for the desktop-based version of Delicious Library, Shipley used part of his MacTech talk to show off DL's new scanning interface -- Delicious Monster is constantly working on making barcodes easier to scan with the various iSight cameras on Macs, and the latest version is ten times more sensitive than the previous code, running eight times faster, as well as being multicore compatible, and "fully vectorized." In other words, it's really fast, and really good at recognizing barcodes.

"That one is going to be a free upgrade," says Shipley, "and then we're going to more than likely do a Delicious Library 3. We're not going to do too much like we did with 2 -- I've got a couple of features that are just going to be the stuff people have asked for, and there's one that's going to be absolutely eye-popping. If we get it working, it's going to be one of the coolest demos ever. I'm absolutely tickled pink about it." What is that feature? Shipley's not telling yet. "It's something to do with 3D, but it's not the obvious thing," was all he could tell me.

Delicious Library will be showing up on the Mac App Store if possible, says Shipley, though there's one possible hitch. "We do use some private API right now, and I need to go through and do an audit and see how bad it's going to get if I get out the private API." Delicious Library makes some calls that only Apple is supposed to make, and on the iPhone App Store, that doesn't fly. It remains to be seen if Apple will allow that on the Mac App Store. "It's pretty upsetting to me," says Shipley, "because literally every app Apple sells uses private API, and I think it's just incredibly hypocritical for them to say, 'You can't use any private API, but we can.' You're competing with me on the exact same shelves in the exact same stores, and you have access to features I don't?"

Other than that hesitation, Shipley says he's "really excited" about the Mac App Store. Creating a way to fairly and securely sell software online is almost as tough as making the software, he says, and he's glad Apple is providing an outlet for developers to do just that. "And I'm happy it happened in this order too, because coming out of the gate, moms are used to the iPhone App Store. And I think coming out of the gate, they're going to really get the Mac App Store." Shipley says that as a developer, he's hoping the Mac App Store will bring him some new customers -- if he makes new sales through Apple's channel, he doesn't care what percentage of the sales they take. And if the sale don't happen there, "I'll just pull out and sell software as I always have. It can only be a good thing for me."

Finally, Shipley says he's also excited that the store seems meant to focus on independent Mac app developers like his company. "It's going to be the indies," he says. "The big guys, they're big enough. You're going to go to the store to buy Adobe Photoshop, you'll do that. But you're not going to go to the store to discover new software -- that doesn't happen anymore. But this is the store that people can go to and discover new things."

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