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Dwellable's new iPad app takes advantage of the advanced retina display

Adam Doppelt is one of Seattle’s top developers, a bootstrapping entrepreneur who was part of the team that created the wildly successful Urbanspoon restaurant directory. Downloaded by millions, Urbanspoon’s iPhone application rose to prominence after Apple featured it in one of the company’s many TV advertisements.

But Doppelt was humbled a few years later after he built the Urbanspoon iPad app, and sent off an email to Steve Jobs asking what he thought about it. Jobs responded: “I think the UI isn’t so good.”


“It is always disheartening to hear that someone doesn’t like what you built, especially when it is Steve Jobs,” recalled Doppelt, who now runs the Seattle online travel startup Dwellable.

Adam Doppelt

The feedback stuck with Doppelt, motivating him to do better. And this week — as the newest iPad arrives in stores — the developer thinks he has something that would make Jobs proud. Doppelt is rolling out a new iPad app for Dwellable, skipping an iPhone and Android version for now.

I wondered why he made the decision to start down the mobile development path with the new iPad. For Doppelt, he said it’s all about the screen. The iPad’s new “retina display” boasts a 2048-by-1536 resolution, a display that Joshua Topolsky of The Verge notes has a million more pixels than a HDTV.

What’s a developer to do with that super high resolution? In Doppelt’s case … photos. Big, beautiful photos.

“It is amazing to me that they can fit that many pixels, for that price point,” said Doppelt when asked why he was interested in developing for the new iPad first. “I have a 30-inch monitor on my desk at work … and when I fire up the simulator for the iPad on that monitor, it doesn’t fit. I have to scroll down on the screen so I can see what my new iPad app is going to look like.”

While the new iPad has a 5-megapixel camera and a better battery life, Doppelt said the new device is all about the display.

“Nothing else matters,” he said. “Even the faster graphics chip they put in there, I think they had to do that in order to push out the new screen. The screen is a major feature. I think you will see games take advantage of it. And I think you’ll see apps like ours, with beautiful photos, take advantage of it. I think games and photos is really where it is at.”

The new Dwellable app is a return to iOS development for Doppelt who took a break from it after working at Urbanspoon. He said he’s glad to be back, noting that the software development kit has gotten much better.

“I know that there is a learning curve, but it is almost embarrassingly easy, especially compared to Android,” he said. “In some ways, it was really refreshing for me to go back to iOS. I was like a kid in the candy store.”

Doppelt is hoping that he can leapfrog rivals, getting out in front of the market much in the same way he did with the Urbanspooon app.  It’s a big bet for his tiny company, with Doppelt saying that his weeks of development on the new app represented a large percentage of the company’s overall output.

Because of that, he’s eagerly looking forward to seeing what the app actually looks like on the new device.

“It looks stunning on my 30-inch monitor. It should look even better on the new iPad. We’ll find out on Friday,” he said.

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