WinSource Interview: Distinction creators of AppFlow, CocktailFlow, and now WeatherFlow

WinSource Interview is a weekly series of developer interviews. Check out our previous interviews here.

Here at WinSource, we’re always browsing the Marketplace hoping to find new apps that are drool worthy for you to use on your Windows Phones. Most developers that come from iOS and Android seem to be hit or miss when it comes to capturing the Metro spirit, but today we’d like to highlight a group of talented individuals whose apps are worth checking out.

The Distinction crew is a Hungarian based app development team that works cross platform, but their metro apps available for Windows Phone are some of the sleekest, most well designed Windows Phone apps that I’ve seen in a while. We caught up with Balint Orosz, the lead designer for the team and asked him a few questions about his gorgeous apps. If you’re interested in checking them out, you can do so here.

How many people make up the Distinction Team?

 We have currently 8 team members, and occasionally work with some others on a project basis.

You guys have several apps on the marketplace from Cocktail Flow to Weather Flow. Are you filling gaps in the Windows Phone ecosystem or do you start with a specific idea and take it from there?

We are more likely filling gaps. Our first app, Cocktail Flow was an initial start on the marketplace, but we made AppFlow, because we thought that the marketplace app does not provide a good enough user experience – so we decided we will try to create an experience that is better.

Weather Flow was also a similar idea : The weather apps out there are good, but we didn’t really like using them – either they were too complex, or we didn’t like the design – so again, we decided to do something we think is better. Overall, we always try to look at the marketplace and see what apps could be our future competition – obviously if there is a great app for that, we don’t want to build a similar one – we want to build apps that make the WP7 platform a better one, and apps that we, ourselves would use.

What handsets to you guys use?

We have like 6 different types of WP7 devices in our office. Our favourite device is however the Lumia 800.

You develop for multiple platforms. Of the three major mobile OSes, do you find any one to be easier or more pleasurable to develop for than the other?

iOS is definetly the easiest to tackle. The performance of the iPhones are great, and almost everything we imagine can be achieved. Android is really hard – the fragmentation is really a problem, and because of the platforms lack of real GPU support (before 4.0 ICS) it is really hard to create great experiences.

Windows Phone is one of our faviourites, however. The development time is much lower than Android, but we need to do a lot of performance tuning at the end of the development of an app, that makes it slower compared to iOS. But I definetly think that developing for WP7 (apart of performance tuning part) is the most pleasurable one, mostly because of the very high level development environment.

Any future projects on the horizon that you’d like to talk about, specifically for Windows Phone?

Right now we are prepairing a completley new version of AppFlow, which we hope that users will love. We are taking the app to a whole new level, a new design, functions, etc.

Will you be bringing your suite of apps to Windows 8 once it launches?

We already have started developing Cocktail Flow for Windows 8, and we will port our other apps as well. We are very impressed with Windows 8, and believe it will be a big-time player on the tablet market.

What made you create an app discovery app for the Windows Phone Marketplace? Do you feel there are things Microsoft could learn from your design?

We think the whole marketplace system (both the App Store, Google Play, and WP7 marketplace) is outdated. We hope that the next version of AppFlow will make the whole experience much better. Right now I can’t say much about the new version, but what We believe is that the marketplaces around there should be much more “browseable”. Right now they are mostly just searcheable, and we don’t think that is how users find apps – search should be just a small part of the whole, and not the core.

I don’t think Microsoft should learn from our design – through AppFlow we managed to talk with some of the people working on the marketplace at MS – and they are very talented and clever people – but they have to create something that users are familiar with – we have much more freedom here. It’s a hard thing being in their position, and If I were there I don’t know what steps I would make.

Did you start developing for Windows Phone first, or were you on other platforms and expanded to include Windows Phone?

Windows Phone was our first, but shortly after we jumped on iOS & Android.

Are you available for hire?

Yes, we do work with clients on various projects, e.g. we created the Skyscanner App for Windows Phone 7.