Ben Dodson

iOS Developer and WallaBee Founder

I've been making iPhone apps since the introduction of the App Store in July 2008. I have built a number of my own apps (which have been featured by Apple amongst others) and I have built apps for a hugely varied client base; everyone from worldwide brands to one-man businesses. I have consulted on iPad magazines, built top 10 ranking apps (including some that have reached #1 in the App Store), and been featured on national television. If you need an iOS developer, then I'm probably what you're looking for.

I've recently been working on:

  • A new social network fronted by a household name (launching January 2015).
  • A beautifully designed emoji sticker app and iOS 8 keyboard extension (launching soon).
  • Some Apple Watch concepts for a major retailer.
  • Working with previous clients on adding new iOS 8 features such as extensions and Touch ID integration.
  • An HTML 5 prototype of an iPad game featuring some of the biggest names in Formula One. (update: I was later commissioned to build the native iPad version which is now in use within the company to great acclaim - future versions are planned)
  • An internal iPad app for the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. I built the forum component which allowed students to read and comment on discussions via a RESTful API.
  • An iPad app for sales reps at a medical company. The app displayed various widgets (video, slideshows, interactive charts, etc) that were populated via a PHP based backend which I also designed and built.
  • Optimising several apps for the new technologies and design language of iOS 7 / iOS 8.

Many of the iOS projects I've worked on for clients over the past few years are on internal systems whilst others are subject to Non-Disclosure Agreements. However, I have compiled a small selection of some of the bigger projects I've been involved with below.

Want to hire me? Take a look at my CV (PDF 274kb, checksum) and then get in touch. I am currently available from November 2014.

WallaBee

The ultimate location-based item game

WallaBee is the ultimate collectibles game for your iPhone. The aim of the game is to complete sets by collecting beautiful digital items in a variety of ways including foraging at any of over 2 million real world locations. Each item and set is uniquely numbered so you'll need to be quick if you want to beat your friends to the lowest numbers!

This app is a culmination of 3 years of research complete with Game Center integration, In App Purchasing, and 3 full developer APIs. It was recently named the 'Best European Startup of 2012' and has been featured in numerous articles both in print and online.

Find out more at http://wallab.ee/

Available on the App Store

kontent

One day. One link. Amazing content.

I worked with kontent during Spring 2014 to produce their native iPhone app. I worked closely with their API developer and designer to produce an incredibly slick iOS 7 app featuring offline synchronisation, social network authentication, push notifications, and some beautiful animations.

Find out more at kontentapp.com

Available on the App Store

Channel 4 Horse Tracker

Live time-synced horse tracking for the John Smith's Grand National

I worked with Monterosa Productions in spring 2013 as the sole iOS developer to produce the Horse Tracker app for Channel 4. The app uses some innovative technology in order to provide a groundbreaking second screen experience on iPhone and iPad. Each horse within the 3 days of racing at Aintree is fitted with a tracker in order to provide their exact position within their race along with speed and distance data. This is displayed in the app to help you find your horse but the really clever piece is that the app listens to the TV broadcast in order to timesync you perfectly - this is important as the terrestrial broadcast can have up to a 20 second difference depending on where in the country you are and what service you use.

The app was highly successful with 165,000 unique users during the Grand National whilst reaching #1 on the App Store. I am currently working on further additions to enable the app to be used in other horse races throughout 2013.

Available on the App Store

IslandBreak

A smart travel guide for The Bahamas

I worked with the founder of IslandBreak during Spring 2014 as their only developer. The app was interesting to work on due to the need for a completely offline experience. This wasn’t limited to just the points of interest and itineraries (which feature a huge amount of beautiful high-resolution photos) but also the map; this was a requirement so that tourists don’t have to use their data plans, particularly in an area which has very poor mobile reception. Getting a full map of the islands complete with multiple zoom levels and the experience you expect on iOS was difficult, but works really well. In addition, I built an online CMS in PHP so that the app content can be updated remotely without going through the App Store approval process.

Find out more at islandbreakapp.com

Available on the App Store

Meat Map London

The insiders guide to the best butchers, street stalls and meat restaurants in the capital

I worked with The Late Night Salon in autumn 2013 as the only iOS and PHP developer to produce the Meat Map London app. The app allows customers to find interesting 'meateries' in London and displays lots of metadata such as contact numbers, opening hours, and rich imagery. In addition to the application (which makes use to iCloud for syncing favorites), I built the online CMS and API which powers the app and allows for fast delta updates when new content is added by the production team.

The app was designed for iOS 7 but has been retro-fitted so that it can also run on iOS 6 with a similar design. There is iCloud syncing functionality, use of UIDynamics, and integration with the built-in Facebook and Twitter services.

Available on the App Store

Portal Entertainment's 'The Craftsman'

What Alfred Hitchcock would make in the 21st Century

I worked with Portal Entertainment throughout the first half of 2013 to build the original prototypes and game elements for their unique horror experience. This included using the camera and timezone detection in order to determine the darkness of a room, interactive glyph recognition from touch gestures, AI for a self writing journal, and advanced video rendering techniques to overlay dynamic content and display the players home within the experience. In addition, I wrote several APIs to provide more advanced functionality (such as determing sunrise and sundown at player location) and worked with Twilio in order to add real phone numbers that could be called and enabled the game to phone the player. Finally, I built several companion websites that went with the experience.

Available on the App Store

Million Pound Drop

A second screen experience for the popular Channel 4 show

I worked with Monterosa Productions to update their existing Million Pound Drop app with some bug fixes and new features. I added new swipe gestures to make moving money far more intuitive, added the ability for additional question packs to be loaded externally, and upgraded the iPad assets to work with retina displays.

Available on the App Store

ExpenseMagic

Receipt processing and expense management

I took over development of the ExpenseMagic app in March 2011. The original brief was to finish development of a web-app wrapped in a Titanium framework but it was later decided to move to a completely native app for a better user experience.

I helped push forward a radical redesign of the application whilst also overhauling the PHP backend which powered their website and API. The app makes use of many SDK features including the In-App Purchasing APIs.

ExpenseMagic has been featured on numerous websites and national newspapers as well as appearing as the #1 Financial app in the UK App Store - It has also been in the top 40 of all free iPhone apps in the UK App Store and is regularly featured in "What's Hot".

Available on the App Store

The Million Second Quiz

Syncing audio on the biggest gameshow in US history

I worked with NBC during the summer of 2013 to implement a complex audio synchronisation technology provided by Gracenote into this app whilst it was being built. The audio sync allowed players across the US to simply let the app listen to their television in order to sync them in real time with the action of the quiz. The app reached #1 in the US App Store.

Available on the App Store

Nectar Card

Earn points with exclusive offers from the UKs largest loyalty scheme

I worked on the Nectar Card app extensively during 2010. The app has a number of features for the Nectar Card user including viewing their exclusive iPhone offers, opting into those offers, a store locator, and an About section (powered by a JSON feed).

I was the main developer on the project and worked on everything from tweaking the UX with the interface designer to advising the API team on the best way to deliver the necessary data to the phone. I also worked up a number of concepts and UI changes many of which are present in the completed app. In addition, I had regular contact with the Apple WWDR team and presented the app to them thoughout development.

Available on the App Store

L'Oreal Vichy

Quick recommendation engine for L'Oreal customers

The L'Oreal Vichy app was an app created for internal use within L'Oreal in order to better manage their roadshow campaigns. L'Oreal frequently set up stalls within malls and shopping centres across the country and traditionally they used a pen & paper questionnaire to get customers to fill in their skin conditions, age, etc, in order to recommend a product.

The app I created allowed customers to quickly enter their details and get immediate recommendations of products. In addition, I created a full backend system that would save all captured information and send a text message and email to the customer directly at the point of completion.

I set up Ad Hoc provisioning for the app and distributed it onto several iPod Touches that were distributed to the various members of staff that manned the roadshow stalls.

Social Beacon

The definitive status update generator

Social Beacon is a unique and innovative social networking tool which enables you to create super quick status updates for the leading social networks.

Using the innovative 3-wheel interface, you can update both Twitter and Facebook with just five touches of the screen on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Better still, Social Beacon integrates “Fingerless Functionality” allowing you to tilt your device left or right to select each segment of the wheel – tilt up and down to go forwards and backwards through the menus, and finally blow into the microphone to send your message to the world!

This application was built exclusively for Channel Five’s “The Gadget Show” and reached #4 on the App Store – find out more about the development on my weblog or watch the episode online.

Highlights

The crowd-sourced location recommendation app

Finding the best places in an area can be difficult. How do you know the best place to eat in a new town or find a really great day out for the family? Introducing Highlights, the crowd sourced recommendation app that lets you find the very best places around the world. Whether you're trying to discover the nicest bar in your town or looking to plan your next vacation, Highlights (a Univeral app for iPhone and iPad) will have you covered with its advanced recommendation engine.

Highlights uses data from popular check-in services Gowalla and Foursquare and then pushes it through our custom ranking engine to work out the very best places around the world. This isn't just the places near you sorted by most check-ins, but ranked in popularity based on data such as photographs, comments, business listings, user activity, Foursquare tips, Gowalla highlights, and other social network activity.

Highlights was featured by Apple as 'Best iPad App of the Week' in September 2011 and featured in the 'Best of 2011 Rewind' on iTunes.

Update: I've removed this app from the App Store due to the closure of Gowalla and various improvements to the 'Explore' feature of Foursquare.

Security

Photo and location based evidence when someone uses your phone

Security! for iPhone 4 is an app designed to capture evidence of other people using your phone. It works by pretending to look like another app or your iPhone homescreen, yet when anyone touches the screen, their photo is taken (using the front-facing camera) and is automatically saved to your iPhoto library or emailed to you within seconds. With our latest update, you can also receive additional information in the alert email including a screenshot showing exactly where the screen was tapped (e.g. were they trying to look at your text messages or did they just want to play Angry Birds?)

By using the background task completion APIs present in iOS 4, a photo capture can be triggered when the user presses the home button so even if somebody tries to quit the app, it will still successfully photograph them and send you the details.

Update: I've removed this app from the App Store due to some incompatabilities with iOS 5 and improvements to the iCloud system that make finding a lost iPhone easier than ever. I'm working on a new version that is optimised for iOS 8 that should be available as a free update in Spring 2015.

Wallabee: Travel Edition

The best Gowalla experience when you're travelling

Wallabee Travel Edition allows you to save costs on data usage by using around 95% less data than the official Gowalla app. It works by syncing your Gowalla account information with Wallabee who then make the calls from their server on your behalf - this leads to far smaller and faster checkins.

There is also the ability to add multiple Gowalla accounts allowing you to check into several places at once for extra data savings - this is particularly useful if you are travelling with friends and all want to check in at the same time. An advanced search system that allows you to narrow spots down by specific categories, keywords, bookmarks, popular, featured, or a combination! Finally, a built-in item finder will show you the location of any items that you don't have vaulted.

Update: I've removed this app from the App Store due to the closure of Gowalla.

Magnetic Flux & Metal Detector

Detect metal with the compass in your iPhone

The Magnetic Flux & Metal Detector was one of the first iPhone apps I built and demonstrates how you can use a compass in an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 to detect metal and magnetic flux. Once you've enabled Location Services, you can start detecting metal. A scale (similar to a real metal detector) is played depending on the amount of metal detected and the phone will vibrate if it receives more than an 80% reading.

As demonstrated in the video above, by employing some magnets, you can turn the app into a theramin thanks to the musical scale included. First person to play the Doctor Who theme successfully wins!