360iDev 2015 Conference Highlights

Check out some of the best talks and highlights from this year’s 360iDev iOS conference! By Tim Mitra.

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A record-breaking 390 attendees — including a full slate of 55 speakers — recently descended upon Denver, Colorado to take part in the annual 360 iDev conference.

360iDev was broken into three tracks — design, code and business — and had something to offer to anyone involved in the business of developing apps. With 61 sessions to choose from, it was easy to find find a mix of talks tailored to your interests.

In this year’s conference, the talks tended to focus on three overarching themes:

  1. The state of independent iOS developers
  2. Swift and functional programming
  3. Auto Layout and Adaptive Layout

In this article, I’ll share my own thoughts of the conference along with those of the 11 raywenderlich.com team members who were at the conference, and share a selection of quality presentations from 360iDev 2015 below, grouped by theme. Let’s dive in!

The State of Independent iOS Developers

Keynote: Still Here – Josh Michaels

“Steve Jobs’ educational device is now a casino.” – Josh Michaels


The conference opened with a keynote by Josh Michaels, a rare successful independent developer. It seems that lately our iOS and Mac indie developer heroes have been faltering. Josh reminded the gathered developers that the current playing field has changed.

He asked audience members to stand up if they’d contributed to shipping an app; nearly the entire room stood. He then asked those who are making money from apps to remain standing. Only around five out of the 390 attendees remained standing.

Josh went on to explain that the venture-capital backed apps had deflated prices and inflated app building costs. As many indies have complained, the upgrade revenue never arrived. Apple created a store offering free upgrades, with no reward to developers. As he showed a screenshot of the big budget & top selling apps he stated, “Steve Jobs’ educational device is now a casino.”


Josh went on to explains that this situation exists because the app market has reached maturity. Unsurprisingly, this is how capitalism works, and for indies it’s better to accept that easy early days are over. He then presented his 2015 guide to being an indie developer:

  1. Live cheaply.
  2. Make something that you would use.
  3. Spend no more than 4 weeks on version 1.
  4. Ride that wave.
  5. GOTO Step 1.

Being indie is a lifestyle choice, and Josh advised developers that remaining exclusive to Apple will be a losing battle in the long run. He urged developers to focus on their work, diversify their interests and their income sources. He notes that “Think Different” is about pushing against the dominant paradigm; Apple, being the dominant paradigm, is no longer the way to think different.

What’s In It For Us After the Indiepocalipse – Marin Todorov


[Video link]

Next raywenderlich.com team member Marin Todorov took us on a journey though his own trials and tribulations as an indie developer.

He started by tracing the history of the “Indiepocalypse” – from its origins in a collection of doom and gloom articles published by iOS-Goodies.com to the current state where app sales continue to decline, and large companies dominate the market.

Marin went on to describe his struggles developing a keyboard extension with his partner. Their app Doodle Doodle suffered from a seemingly ever-changing set of rules arbitrarily declared by Apple. Eventually the app shipped, but like many keyboard extensions, suffers from an obtuse and lengthy installation process.

Being limited by the lack of in-app purchases or advertising options, the app could only be purchased outright. Most iOS customers expect apps to be free, which limits an indie keyboard extension app’s success. The final slap in the face is an alert view that states giving the app the full access it needs logs keyboard use and exposes credit card data to the developer.

Marin tells of an enlightening Coursera course he viewed: Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies. The course draws parallels between the telegraph industry and developing for the App Store. In the early years of communications, messages were sent by coach and it was possible for anyone with sufficient skills to develop a telegraph business. Eventually, the market grew until the telephone was invented — at which point the market died. The app market began in 2008; it’s reached its mid-point in 2015 and if you extrapoalate the data then it should die off by 2017.

Marin read from a transcript of Steve Jobs’ introduction of the App Store. Apple would create the App Store, collect the funds, distribute the apps and App Store Search — Marin pauses here — would also provide the market. Apple didn’t promise that you would get rich. Marin’s advice, similar to others, is be realistic about success, make a high quality app, team up, launch into a niche, contribute to the community, write books and share your code.

Succeeding Slowly: A Practical Guide To Going Indie – Charles Perry


“If you can take a nap without asking permission: you’re an indie!” – Charles Perry

[Video Link]

Charles Perry, founder of MetaKite Software and host of the Release Notes podcast, provided some advice for those contemplating going indie. There’s lots of money to be made on the App Store — but only for a few developers. Why would you want to go indie? The answer is: “freedom”!

At past conferences, Charles has given a few talks about making a living selling apps on the iOS App Store, Mac App Store and through self-managed sales of OS X software. His podcast also focuses on the business of being indie.

His guide in brief suggests that a developer should set a profit target, start saving, conceive of a product, execute the product, build momentum and then take the leap into the indie lifestyle. In response to Josh Michael’s keynote where he claims indies have lost, Charle counters that they didn’t lose, “…they failed to adjust.” As mentioned in other indie development talks, Charles reiterated we are no longer in an early app market. Indie developers need to adjust to the mature market and build a mature business.