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The Cross Platform Myth

A few weeks ago, we released a version of the Lucky Oyster iPhone App that we really felt represented the full range of use cases we wanted to support based on our months of research with alpha users. And so it was only natural for us to cross a secondary bridge: making the app available to other devices and the desktop.

To make platform/device ubiquity happen, we were banking on a decision we made last spring, to develop our app in a hybrid environment (Phonegap specifically), leveraging HTML5, CSS, and Javascript.

In the beginning, using Phonegap gave us a tremendous advantage in that our development was lightning fast, and we didn’t need to secure any platform-specific development resources. And for features that required getting closer to the native capabilities of the device, we simply used existing plugins or wrote our own Objective-C.

So while the speed-to-market part of the equation panned out, two things really surprised us about making our hybrid app cross platform. To be clear, this is in fact one of the intended benefits of the Phonegap framework, and their build service supports cross platform deployment quite well. Most of the key third party plugins have both Android and iOS versions, and the device API provided by the framework is incredibly robust across everything from iOS and Android to Windows Phone and Blackberry.

The first surprise was how easy making Web-, Android, and other versions of the app would be, at least from a development standpoint. I was skeptical at first. For example, to make the app work on the Web, we just loaded in alternative base classes, supplanting Phonegap and/or native Plugin functionality with environment-specific code. Even our use of SQLite worked seamlessly between our native iOS code and HTML5 WebSql with literally a few modifications to model instantiation, as their APIs are largely the same. We also discovered we could have device- and content-specific templates, functionality, etc. with very little heavy lifting, although keeping the presentation exactly the same was clearly going to be a more difficult chore.

But the second surprise, and the more relevant one, was that we realized we didn’t need to go cross platform with our app. The use cases, for Web specifically, but for other devices as well, differed from those the iPhone app was meant to support. By replicating the app, we would have been leaving an opportunity to test an alternate product approach to our mission.

In the end, we came to a few conclusions about what cross platform could mean to a startup like us:

- Just because you can push your code to multiple devices inexpensively, maintaining all of the device-specific rules, exceptions and tweaks is where things will ultimately get super costly. And unless you’re 100% sure you have the right product to build your business, that could be a fool’s errand.

- You can cover the entire device world with a mobile/Web friendly version of the product, and one platform-specific “native” app.

- Having a lighter non-app version of the product can serve as a great bridge between the open Web/mobile world, and the barriers inherent in the adoption of apps (losing context during installation; requiring a password to install; actually running the app post install; logging in; etc.).

- Rather than seeing cross-platform as a n-degree development problem, we chose to see it as a 2-degree product opportunity. Our iPhone app is super rich and granular in functionality, and provides a more intimate experience, while our mobile/Web version is simpler, lighter, more open/public, and a great way to introduce new users (independent of their device) to our core product/mission.

- By choosing this route, we can quickly pilot functionality in the mobile/Web environment, and move it to the iPhone app once proven.

Finally, we realized that in a startup, you’re never really sure about the product until you see massive traction, and the entire process is about experimentation and learning, and determining features that best support user delight and adoption. And given that, replicating the same product n times—just because it’s technically feasible—is to neglect an opportunity to learn even more, pilot new functionality more quickly, keep the mid- and long term costs of maintenance to a minimum, and build bridges between the open world of Web/mobile and our native app.

Thoughts? Comments? Drop us a line at feedback@luckyoyster.com.

Cross Platform Pearling!

This week we’re proud to announce the mobile/Web version of Lucky Oyster. Rather than duplicating the full functionality of our iPhone App, we decided to take a simpler approach. With this version, you can discover new pearls, follow people and publishers you’re interested in, and save pearls in one of two buckets: “to try” and “to love”. On top of that, there’s pearl and list sharing by the usual methods (link, FB, Twitter, email), and we’ve opened this version up to anyone with an email address (although you can still log in using Facebook).

Take it for a spin, and let us know what you think!

http://pearls.luckyoyster.com/mobile

The Lucky Oyster Team
Matthew, Ryan, Sonia, and Theo

The Latest Has Arrived - Redesigned for You!

We’ve made 100’s of improvements to Lucky Oyster to ensure you have the best app for capturing and sharing recommendations with friends. Check out what’s new and update to the latest.

Download Lucky Oyster for iPhone

New & Noteworthy

Invite Friends to See More Recommendations
Having more friends on Lucky Oyster means you discover new pearls when they do. It’s now much easier to add and find friends on Lucky Oyster. Just go to the Friends view and tap on the friends icon in the upper right to send them an invite, share a pearl, or ask for a pearl. Voila! We do the rest.

Need Some Recommendations? Just Ask
Planning a trip? Need a new place to take the kids? Use the new Ask feature on the Search view and we’ll collect & organize the pearls your friends share with you. Friends just don’t let friends lose precious recommendations in emails, text messages, notepads, or Facebook posts. Get them all in one spot with all their details and links.

Take Your Great Taste Viral
We’ve added the ability to share pearls on Facebook and Twitter so all of your networks can discover your recommendations. Plus, your friends can now save your pearls from Facebook and Twitter so they have them when they’ll want them most. Social meets useful, in a big way.

#Pearls on the Rise
You now have access to the most recommended books, movies, travel spots, products, and more across all Lucky Oyster users. Check out an early version of Pearls on the Rise on the Search view. We look forward to expanding it as more pearls are shared across cities and categories.

Redesigned for Maximum Enjoyment
We’ve redesigned nearly every view to make sharing and discovering pearls more useful and enjoyable. Experience it yourself to see and feel the difference. We think you’ll love it. Give it a go!

Please continue to send us your feedback and ideas to feedback@luckyoyster.com. Your feedback _has and will always_ drive us forward.

Check out the latest for iPhone!

Best,

The Lucky Oyster Team
Matthew, Ryan, Sonia, and Theo

It’s Almost Here — Diving Deep for Lucky Oyster 1.2!

Lucky Oyster 1.2 is on the way! Our whiteboard is covered with hundreds of shipped features and enhancements. We can’t wait to have you pearling on the latest version. A special thanks to our user panel for volunteering their time and feedback!

We’ll let you know as soon as 1.2 is live in the Apple App Store…..stay tuned!

Local Businesses: Help Your Customers Spread the Word

When it comes to finding pearls where we live, we naturally turn to friends, co-workers, and neighbors we trust for recommendations. You name it: a perfectionist tailor, the best cup of coffee, a top-notch realtor, a trustworthy family dentist, and so on. And if you ask any successful local business owner, they’ll tell you that word of mouth referrals are the lifeblood of their business.

As we aim to make word of mouth digital and more useful, we thought it would only be fitting to team up with local business owners to help their best customers spread the word by using Lucky Oyster.

If you own a local business we’ve made an easy way to get your customers talking. And if you know a local business that’s a pearl, send them our way. Reply to this post, or give us a shout at ryan@luckyoyster.com.

A Lucky Oyster Team Pearl: ETG Coffee and Bakery, Seattle

Lucky Oyster V.1.1 Arrives for iPhone

Today we’re introducing an update to Lucky Oyster. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been busy listening to your initial feedback and experiences with the app. Your feedback has helped us address bugs, identify a few usability issues, and even come up with some great new features. There have been more than 1,000 pearls exchanged to date, and we’re excited get the new version in your hands so you can discover, experience, and share more pearls with your friends. Here are a few new features:

  • Getting Started guide to help you get the most out of your pearling.

  • Discover new pearls by what’s trending and popular amongst your friends.

  • Facebook friends and iPhone contacts already using Lucky Oyster display in the Friends view so it’s even easier to find new folks to exchange pearls with.

  • Piloting a new feature to bring you recommended eats, entertainment, and escapes pulled from across our network and elsewhere.
To download Lucky Oyster V.1.1, go to our page on the Apple App Store. Please give it a try, and do continue to share your thoughts and feedback with us at feedback@luckyoyster.com.

Sincerely,
The Lucky Oyster Team
Matthew, Ryan, Sonia, and Theo

Introducing Lucky Oyster™ for iPhone

Today we’re launching Lucky Oyster, a new mobile app that lets you exchange recommendations with people you trust.  With Lucky Oyster, you now have a whole new way to tap into your personal network.

Every day, we naturally turn to the people in our lives whom we consider our personal experts.  Whether we ask them for a special place to go on our next vacation; a great book to read; what to do with the kids next weekend, or where to eat downtown, we rely on the people we know and trust for the answers.  We do this because it’s the quickest and most reliable way to find a pearl amidst all the noise. Lucky Oyster takes this everyday word of mouth further by making it easier to discover, experience, and share.

Our tiny team would like to thank the hundreds of people who helped us get here, especially everyone who humored us as we asked, listened, poked and prodded to learn and test our early ideas and prototypes. Of course, now that we’re at the starting gates, we’re even more excited to continue listening, learning, and evolving the product as we strive to make word of mouth ever more useful.

Starting today, Lucky Oyster is available for free on iPhone and iPod touch.

Give it a try, and please do share your thoughts and feedback with us at feedback@luckyoyster.com. We’re all ears!

Sincerely,

Team Lucky Oyster
Matthew, Ryan, Sonia, and Theo