A Decade of the iPhone & Me...
written by Jerica (@JerikandraLurve)
The iPhone recently celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary and it got me thinking about how the iPhone has changed my life and career on a personal level. I don’t even remember hearing about it when the iPhone first came out. It wasn’t until the 3G version came out with its rollout of the 3rd party developer ‘app store’ that I even noticed it. That was a year later.
At the time, I was developing Windows software, writing C# and C++ in Visual Studio. I had wracked up a fairly diverse background of experience in platforms and development languages over the years and yet interestingly enough, it had all started with the Mac. In elementary school, we had a single Macintosh LCII machine in every classroom and they were supposed to be used by the teacher and yet my teacher at the time didn’t want to touch the thing. I quickly taught myself how to use it and well, play on it too.
Fast-forward to Middle School and as a library TA, I had a plethora of experience bypassing the so-called “FoolProof” security on the LC520 Macs, enabling the installation of games such as Prince of Persia. In High School, I was part of a Computer Club initiative to come up with a Hypercard/Hypertext “Virtual Tour” of our high school. But it was also around this time we got a new family computer at home….which left me with a free 80x286 to play with in my room. I taught myself DOS, C and C++, and then moved onto Windows when the time came. It was a small jump to HTML and CGI, writing my first web pages before entering college.
In college, I got MCSE certified in Windows NT only to learn Linux on the job. MacOS would eventually convert to OS X with a unix backend and yet I would continue to drift away from the Apple platforms.
It was the day a coworker coming to me very excited that it all changed. “This is going to be big!”, he kept saying. “We have to get in on it and we can’t wait!”. I remember being pretty comfortable in my job at the time. The idea of doing “extra" work on the side wasn’t the most exciting idea but I grudgingly agreed that the possibilities of the iPhone seemed big. So we started a company. And even though that company was a mistake (going into business with friends / coworkers isn’t the best), the move to learning iOS development would change my life and career forever.
So that year, 2008, after not having barely touched a Mac since grade school, I bought a MacBook Pro and an iPhone 3G and rejoined the Apple world. I switched from Verizon to AT&T because it was the only option for the iPhone and I opted for the unlimited data and texts plan. Then I settled in and learned objective-c and Xcode. Right away I realized I had been spoiled by the years and years of development time Microsoft had put into Visual Studio. Xcode was so different and not quite up to par back then and objective-c was well, cryptic AF.
But both grew on me. I began an app to find where your favorite beers were on tap. But after my coworker and I went our separate ways (I let him have the LLC) and I developed a gluten intolerance, I kinda slid back into my comfort zone of complacency. I did try to make use of my new iOS skills at my current job, writing a C++/CLI wrapper for their C++ Code which I then imported into a C# (SOAP, ick!) webservice where i could query it from my objective-c code on an iPhone. I also was enjoying just being an iPhone user, amazing people with what we feel are simple things now….like being able to post pictures on social media instantly after taking them. The iPhone and Facebook (which I recently joined in 2008 as well) made me (a self-proclaimed introvert back then) much more ‘social'.
Eventually I realized the company I worked for had no plans to invest in iPhone work, having already invested in Windows mobile 6.5 and saying they would maybe get into Android someday. So I started looking for a full-time job as an iPhone developer.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I finally got that first job doing iOS full time. It was a contract agency and they had a desperate need for iOS development as a part of a contract with Boeing. As months went by, other contracts and downtime would allow me to flex my IOS ‘muscles’ and try new things. I even wrote a simple android app to get the hang of it as well. At some point I even found myself writing an iOS and Mac app with shared codebase.
Anyway, about the time I got that job, I had started dating the man who is now my husband. He would take me on ‘nacho dates’ where we would share a 'small nacho with chicken’ at different places. He once asked me “Is there an app where we can find out where the best nachos are?” and I said no, that Yelp was probably the closest thing but it wasn’t specific enough. And so my first real app, all my own, "iNacho” was born.
And iNacho has become a talking point, a conversation starter, a fun way of connecting with people. I mean who doesn’t like nachos, right? I’ve run into those who don't but they are few and far between. Most people are pretty excited when hearing about iNacho. And I think it was because of iNacho that I got my current job at Avvo. Companies like to see both initiative and passion in potential developer candidates and writing your own apps and garnering some ‘success’ looks good (I use the term 'success' lightly because iNacho is not a booming business hah).
I wrote 3 more apps in my free time after iNacho. And I’ve helped develop 6-7 new apps at Avvo as well. Many of these apps have helped solve peoples’ problems, whether they were legal in nature or hunger-based. Swift came out a couple years ago and objective-c is now barely touched. I’ve been to several iOS development conferences including 360iDev and WWDC, meeting several other developers in the community. I connected with AppCamp4girls, a nonprofit putting on a week-long summer camp teaching 8th/9th grade girls to write iOS apps and I’ve volunteered with their Seattle camp for several years now. I’ve also attended meetings off and on with the seattle ‘xcoders’ community.
Taking all of that in, it seems easy to say that my life would be very different if it weren’t for the iPhone and I don’t just mean that I would probably still be developing in C#/C++ at that same company 2 jobs ago. More importantly I may not have met people or meshed as well with them, or touched others lives in the process. It really is amazing that such a small little device could have had such an impact on my life and the lives I’ve touched over the course of 9 years.