While It’s Compiling: Skills Matter Interviews Simon Whitaker

While It’s Compiling is a series of interviews with experts across a range of bleeding-edge technologies and practices, exclusive to Skills Matter. Be sure to subscribe to this blog for future interviews, or follow us on Twitter.

Find out who we’ll be interviewing next, and get a chance to put your questions forward with the hashtag #whileitscompiling.


Simon Whitaker

This week on While It’s Compiling, we talked to Simon Whitaker; he’s a senior developer at Black Pixel and a speaker at this year’s brand new iOS conference, iOScon. Simon’s been writing apps for iOS since 2010 – find out why below!

1. What drew you towards mobile platforms?

There’s something undeniably cool about today’s mobile devices. They’re the “computer in the palm of my hand” that I dreamt of as a child. As soon as Apple released the iPhone SDK I started tinkering, and soon after that I packed in my job writing server-side software for Amazon to set up my own iOS development business. I’ve been having fun writing iOS code ever since.

2. Is there anything in particular about iOS that appeals to you?

I love that iOS is such a vibrant development environment. The developer community is full of smart, engaged people I can learn from, and the tools we use are improving month after month (remember iOS before ARC, blocks, GCD? It seems like a lifetime ago but it’s only a few short years).

3. What new projects are you working on right now?

I work for Black Pixel these days and our projects are shrouded in secrecy, so I’m afraid I can’t answer that. But I promise the answer’s not Skynet.

4. Where do you see iOS in the next five years?

I’m notoriously rubbish at predicting future trends in technology. I still have the email I sent a friend a week after I bought my iPhone 3G where I said that the addition of GPS was a nice gimmick but I couldn’t see much of a use for it. Seriously! Can you imagine a smart phone without GPS now? But I’m sure that wherever iOS is in five years, it will still be challenging convention and delighting users.

5. What do you wish you’d known when you’d first started out?

I wish I’d known that it’s OK not to know everything. iOS is a young technology; almost all the iOS developers I know are self-taught, and as a result all have areas they wish they knew better. Not having a comprehensive grasp of the platform in its entirety is nothing to be ashamed of. Engaging with the community via conferences, social media and meet-ups is a great way to fill in those gaps.

6. If you could ask the iOS community anything, what would it be?

In a fight between a bear who knows Core Data and a tiger who knows Auto Layout, who would win?


Got an answer? Tweet us at #whileitscompiling or @skillsmatter 

Simon will be giving a talk on ‘UIKit Dynamics and animation effects’ at iOScon 2014 – check Skills Matter for updates and tickets! 

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