Loren Brichter, the Letterpress game designer who invented the “pull down to refresh” feature in iOS, introduced fast-scrolling technique for apps and sold Tweetie a.k.a “the best Twitter app ever” to Twitter itself at the age of 25, talked about the future of iOS with GigaOM, discussing how he continues to push the boundaries of what an app can do.
Brichter was recruited out of college by Apple six months before graduation to work on the iPod team, an offer he ended up declining. But Apple kept persuading him and dangled another job after he graduated on Scott Forstall’s secret iPhone team. He is now the sole employee and proprieter of Atebits, and is among the smartest and most innovative user interface developers working on iOS today. Letterpress, his latest iOS app, saw 60,000 downloads on the first day which has now crossed 1 million downloads after the first month.
Brichter, who comes across very humble, sincerely said he has no idea if 1 million downloads of an app in its first month is actually good or not.
“The App Store is so big now that I don’t if that necessarily is a success or not. I didn’t necessarily define success [going into it].” And it’s totally different than his first big hit, Tweetie, the Twitter client he sold to Twitter in 2010. “You can’t compare them,” he insisted. “Tweetie was a paid app,” whereas Letterpress is free.
Talking about the future of iOS design, he said:
“I’m excited about Ive” taking over the Human Interface group at Apple, where he will lead both industrial design and the design of the software that runs on it. “He has good taste.” He paused. “But more important than good taste, he has the ability to” — he points to the MacBook Air in front of me — “he’s true to the materials, to the medium he’s working in. One of my complaints about design of iOS is it’s doing things that aren’t true to the hardware.”
“My design goals with Letterpress were to do things that the graphics hardware was really good at. [Ive] is the kind of person who has the same aesthetic. It’s not superficial — he’d think about [the design of iOS and an iOS device] all the way through” not just make something that looked good, he said.
He said that he’ll be focusing on Letterpress for a while and “use it as a testbed for more stuff”, but as for what’s next, he said “I have a thousand half-baked product ideas”.
“It’s like an iceberg. No one is solving the fundamental problems underneath the surface correctly. I want to give that a crack.”