When President Barack Obama took office, one of his first challenges was the United States economy and its veritable freefall. To an effort to slow that downward spiral, he signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a program designed to fund—and you would have heard this term 10,000 times by now—“shovel ready” projects that could help bolster the US economy.
For many—myopically disposed or not—the tech startup scene seemed to hold hold any number of said projects with the potential to positively effect both job creation and wealth creation. Unfortunately, government efforts didn’t seem to focus much on that aspect of the economy. Until now. Yesterday, Obama introduced the Startup America Partnership. Read More
If you’re in Portland and involved in a the Web and mobile startup scene, any mention of “iPhone” is usually immediately followed by a mention of “Raven Zachary.”
Portland isn’t alone in that regard, the iPhone consultant—who helped create iPhoneDevCamp before there was even such a thing as iPhone development—has seen more and more attention for his services as the burgeoning iPhone market has come into being.
Well, now Raven has his hand in another app that’s sure to increase the iPhone limelight for him. Meet iPhorest, a new iPhone app launching this week at TED, the premiere “cool leading edge technology thinking and stuff” conference.
And Raven isn’t the only one excited about it. There’s this guy you may have heard of named Kevin Rose who told his 98,700 (and counting) Twitter followers about it.
What’s not so clear is exactly what iPhorest does—since it’s not yet available in the App Store. But it has something to do with planting trees. On the iPhone.
By downloading the app, the user activates a seedling both virtually and physically. As the seedling on their phone grows, users can also send seeds to other phones, starting a new forest.
For each virtual tree planted, The Conservation Fund will plant a native tree in real life – starting with restoration of vulnerable wildlife habitats along the Gulf Coast. They will work with the nation’s leading public natural resource agencies to ensure the long-term protection of each iPhorest.
iPhones and sustainability? What could be more Portland-y than that? [UPDATE] More Portland people of course! Raven adds:
The lead developer and designer, Andrew Pouliot @andpoul, is in Portland, as is the 3D modeler, Alex Jetter. Thanks to Bram Pitoyo for the recommendation for Alex.
It’s a very cool concept. I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to test drive it—and help a few flowers bloom trees grow.
As soon as I know more, you’ll know more. But I wanted to congratulate Raven on iPhorest as soon as I could.
Aside from being beautiful, it’s a feature rich application designed to get individuals more involved in the political process. (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opponents of the Obama campaign rival the proponents in downloads.)
The application has a “Call Your Friends” tool that helps you organize your contacts by key battleground states — a feature we’re hoping will generate thousands of additional personal contacts. You can also easily mark reminder notes to yourself on which friends you have called, who they are supporting and who wants a reminder call on Election Day. The information does not leave your phone (so your friends’ and your own privacy are protected) but the total amount of calls the application makes are tallied, so you can keep track of your progress as we close in on November 4th.
Leaving politics aside for the moment, it’s a pretty impressive display of what is possible using the iPhone and iPod Touch platform.
[UPDATE] I just heard that the Obama ’08 for iPhone folks will be holding a launch party for the app during the next presidential debates. Head on over to the Mission Theater on Tuesday, October 7 to congratulate the team and watch some politicking. To RSVP, see the Obama ’08 iPhone App Launch Party and Presidential Debate Party on Upcoming.
Is Portland beginning to take center stage in mobile app development?
So yes, the app is super cool. (And if you agree, you may want to digg it.) But, I think—in my Silicon-Forest-centric frame of mind—that’s not the only cool thing happening in this story.
There’s something else that’s going on here. And when I say “here,” I literally mean here.
While the application is an impressive feat for a volunteer effort (or any effort for that matter) what I think may be even more interesting—and Zachary, arguably the premiere consultant for all things iPhone, agrees—is the underlying story about mobile app development in general—a development effort that, more and more, seems to be centered around talent right here in the Silicon Forest.
“This speaks to a growing trend in Portland toward mobile app development,” said Zachary. “We’ve really got something starting here.”
I’m terribly proud of this application. I’m also honored to have been part of making it happen. It’s not simply that we built something that we believe will empower people to bring change to Washington, but it is also the fact that we assembled an exceptional team.
The amount of energy that went into this was fun to be around. Raven Zachary and Jason Grigsby’s strategy genius, Jonathan Wight’s very powerful development fu, Mike Lee and Tristan O’Tierney’s hacking support, Louie Manta’s visual-zing-wow aesthetics, Aileen Jeffries and John Keith’s many-faceted support, and Dom Sagolla’s tireless testing work. Phew. That’s the lot of us.
We all hear, time and time again, how mobile is the next big thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if that big thing were happening right here in Portland?
I think it would. And I think it has the potential to happen.
And with efforts like this—and the growing ranks of mobile developers here in town—I’d say we’re well on our way.
Congratulations to the whole team—but especially the Portland folks—on launching an amazing app that’s sure to step on to a national, if not worldwide, stage.