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Meet the Devs - Aus Weather

In this week's developer interview, we talk to Benjamin Xing of Aus Weather, one of the highest rated weather apps ever and the best there is in Australia.
September 16, 2014
developer interview benjamin xing
Welcome back to our Meet the Devs segment! In this piece we take a little time to get to know the people who really make Android what it is today and that is the app developers. In this week’s developer interview, we are talking to Benjamin Xing of Aus Weather.

Name: Benjamin Xing

Developer Name: Aus Weather

Country: Australia

Website: N/A

Google + Profile/Page: Aus Weather Google+ community

How many people on your team? 1

aus weather developer interview

Tell us about your company

One man team developing in my spare time in between final year of school. Bit of a stretch calling it a company.

Aus Weather developer interview

What level of experience do you have with coding and development?

I began IT in Year 11 at school (currently in Year 12), focusing primarily on Java. I’ve also learnt a a bit about web design through school but that’s about it.

What languages do you know? How and where did you learn them?

Java through IT at school, and a little bit of HTML, CSS and Javascript through the web.

What level of experience do you have with design?

Before Aus Weather, I’d only designed a website, but I’ve always loved Google’s card interface, which definitely inspired the interface for Aus Weather. Other than that, I’ve never taken a design class at school or anything.

What apps have you made?

Aus Weather primarily, but have been working on a small game in other time, just for interest’s sake.

How do you monetize your apps?

Aus weather features small banner ads at the bottom of the app, with the ability to remove them via an in app purchase.

Do you consider yourself successful?

The project never really set out to make money primarily, as it was mostly sharing an app I made for my own purposes, but Aus Weather does make some money, so it is successful in that manner. I never really expected to make much money, but it is good to see some returns from all the time I’ve put into making the app.

How difficult is it to make money as a developer?

While I do make money from my app, it is nowhere near enough to consider making a living off. For this reason, I think it would be quite difficult to become a full time developer, without having multiple (relatively) successful apps before transitioning. The fact Aus Weather is limited to a small user base also makes it rather hard to gauge the potential monetisation versus a global app.

What can Android do to improve?

Just a couple of little things, such as more consistency (such as Google+’s new update, although I suspect that we’ll be seeing updated guidelines very soon). Getting the latest API to users is also pretty important (I made the decision to make Aus Weather Android 4.0+), which really limited my target market initially, but has improved gradually over time. Hopefully with the (rumoured) impending Android Silver announcement, this will become a problem of the past.

Aus Weather developer interview

Why did you choose Android? Do you develop for other platforms? What are the differences between them?

I first recieved a phone running Windows Mobile 6.5 4 years ago, and, of course, installed Android on it. Then I fell in love with it. I now have a Nexus 4, and while some friends have asked me to port Aus Weather to iOS, I have neither a Mac nor an iDevice, and while I would consider it, the annual developer license is a bit too steep when I’m unsure about the whole process. Maintaining both would be more effort than I’m currently willing to put in. I’ve never developed for either mobile platforms, so unfortunately I have no experience to share.

What are your thoughts on iOS and Windows 8?

They’re both respectable and have great design and User Experience (I really like the translucency effect on iOS), something that Android could probably take away from it. I also quite like the smooth user experience on Windows Phone, even on low end hardware. This would be great to see Google follow, possibly through the new ART runtime, or with stricter guidelines for OEMs.

What do you think of the Android design guidelines?

They are definitely improving from the pre-Ice Cream Sandwich days, and when implemented properly, they look great (looking at some Google apps), but then again, Android has a lot to go to achieve a consistent design across its over a million apps (Facebook only recently updated to a flat design!). I really like where they are heading with including branding colours into apps.

What are your favorite apps?

All the Google apps, pretty much (yes I’m a bit of a fanboy), especially the Google Launcher and Google Maps. I also like Dashclock and Muzei by Roman Nurik, as they add a fair bit to the user experience, while feeling a lot like a first party Google creation.

Aus Weather developer interview

What has been your experience been like working with Google?

They’ve been pretty good, both as a user (replacing two dead Nexus 4’s promptly) and as a developer. I’ve never been frustrated at a lack of documentation, in part to the vast community help you can find online. I also really like the direction that Android Studio is heading as well as the ease in integrating Google Play Services into my apps.

What does the future of development look like?

While the number of people purchasing smartphones is increasing, so to are the amount of developers realizing the goldmine that mobile development can be. While it is good to see an increase in development, it can be annoying when your app isn’t being discovered due to the amount of ‘other’ apps that are constantly appearing. While the future is unclear, I believe that development mobile app development will continue to thrive.

What tips do you have for aspiring developers?

Google (or Bing if you really want to) is your friend if you ever get stuck, persevere, read the developer docs or even ask questions on forums or Stack Overflow, because learning to code is fun!

Anything else you’d like to share?

My new app Empire is #5 in the top new paid section in personalization on google play. I am really proud of how it came out and how well it is doing.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m really excited for Google I/O! Even though this probably going to be posted after Google I/O (Editor’s Note: it was), here’s to a year of fantastic Android growth!

We want to thank Benjamin for chatting with us in this week’s developer interview! If you’re a developer and this looks like something you’d like to do, check out our Meet the Devs form! We look forward to hearing from you.