I build my ideas #11 - 11/29/20

3 months of Airport, phone calls from Apple, lil hotline, Infinite Loop


3 months of Airport

It’s been a little over 3 months since Airport has been live for testing on TestFlight.

📲 Over 650 apps

👥 17,000+ testers (iOS and web)

👀 Over 1 million app views

We’re well aware that many of you haven’t been able to get the Airport experience on iOS because we’ve hit the 10K TestFlight tester limit. This is in part why we opened up the browsing experience on the web. To get Airport in the hands of everyone who’d like to use it, we’re pushing to the App Store.

On November 26th we officially submitted Airport to the App Store. We’ve been preparing the submission over the past few weeks in addition to sorting things out with Apple and their App Store guidelines. Here’s a look at some of what we’ve been up to:


Phone calls from Apple

We went through a sequence with Apple of rejection, phone calls, resubmission, and approval over the course of a few weeks. Here’s how it went down:

Apple gave us a call in early October to let us know that there were a few issues with the latest Airport TestFlight build submission. Apple was going to reject any future submissions of our app until their concerns were resolved. A few back and forth phone calls later, there was just one thing that Apple wanted us to resolve: Move away from using the literal term “App Store.”

Originally, we called Airport “The TestFlight App Store.” We resolved Apple’s concern by changing this to “Discover TestFlight apps.” We changed this everywhere that the original description appeared (Twitter, our website, TestFlight app description, etc) and Apple finally approved our update to go public again on TestFlight.

We have reason to believe, and affirmation from Apple, that the official App Store review process and guidelines can differ between TestFlight, and there is cause for more concern for our App Store approval. Our top concerns include:

  1. Appearing similar in design to the official App Store app

  2. Using the name Airport which Apple uses for the AirPort networking products.

  3. Using the term TestFlight

  4. Distributing “third-party” apps outside of the App Store (despite Apple having approved TestFlight apps themselves and Airport going through TestFlight for app installs)

We’ll update you on what they say when they get back to us on our submission soon.


Profiles

As we’ve been thinking through what to build next on Airport based on tester and developer feedback, we came to the conclusion that we needed user accounts on Airport to serve as the foundation to build upon.

In the latest Airport TestFlight build, you can now create an account on Airport that lets you install TestFlight apps, save apps for later, and create your profile. This allows for new features we’ve been thinking about including a new way to give feedback to developers and making it seamless to use Airport with your account on the web.


Airport Design Awards

We’ve seen some truly incredible apps submitted on Airport, and we wanted to give back to the developers who have put so much effort into making unique, joyful app experiences.

On December 4th, 2020, we’ll announce the winners of our first Airport Design Awards. The announcement will be in the form of a highlighted section in Airport as well as a website showcasing the winners.

If you’ve submitted an app to Airport in general, you’re eligible. We don’t have any formal “judging criteria”, but we do take the opportunity to test as many of the apps that come along. We’ll use a combination of app concept uniqueness, outstanding app design, and ingenuity to determine the winners.


lil hotline

I’ve built lots of little experiments using SMS/phone and Twilio in the past. I had a random thought to extend lil apps beyond just apps, and thought it would be fun to make use of lil APIs.

You can call the lil hotline at (417) LIL-APPS (417-545-2777) for real and it’ll present you with a few options: To check the forecast from lil weather, press 1. To get the top stories from lil news, press 2.

lil hotline is a simple Sinatra Ruby app hosted on Heroku that uses the twilio-ruby gem to interface with Twilio. The entirety of the app is less than 100 lines!


Infinite Loop

I want to give a really special shoutout to Sam Henri Gold for being so gracious to share the 2TB Apple archive that stretches back into the 1970’s and covers meticulous organization year by year, month by month, of Apple history and media.

I carefully combed through some of my favorite era’s of Apple, and took the public (!) things I found worth sharing to a larger audience. I made a Twitter and Instagram account called Infinite Loop to share my favorite pieces of Apple history. Enjoy!


I appeared in The New York Times: Meet GPT-3. It Has Learned to Code (and Blog and Argue).

I made a Figma plugin concept called Magic Layout: Automatically apply Auto Layout constraints and resizing to your layers.

I open-sourced an iOS app welcome screen built in SwiftUI

I made a conceptual iPhone 13 nano:

Cash App is hiring designers

Ask me anything