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Interview: David Stanfill of Napkin Studio (Developer of AirParrot and Reflection for Mac)

Interview: David Stanfill of Napkin Studio (Developer of AirParrot and Reflection for Mac)

Following the fantastic recent releases of AirParrot and Reflection, two fantastic Mac apps that allow you to mirror your Mac’s screen through the Apple TV (AirParrot) and mirror your iPhone 4S or iPad 2 display directly onto your Mac (Reflection), We took the time to pick the brain of David Stanfill, the developer of these two great apps, as well as a couple of iPhone apps from Napkin Studio, asking him to share his thoughts on the apps and his vision for their future.

  1. What inspired you to begin creating apps like AirParrot and Reflection?

We started creating Reflection first because of a great need in our own office to show one or more iPad or iPhone apps in development to the whole team on our projector.  We were thrilled when the Apple TV added mirroring, but it was limited to one device and didn’t allow us to share a demo session with our colleagues around the country via Skype or GotoMeeting.

  1. How long have you been developing apps?

I’ve been developing for the iPhone since the beginning.  Our US TV listings app, What’s On? was one of the first 500 apps in the App Store.  Before that I had developed a handful of palm and windows CE mobile apps, but as a devoted Mac user iOS really changed my world in terms of what was possible.

  1. Did you face any unique challenges in developing these apps?

Absolutely!  The AirPlay protocol we use was developed by Apple internally and not designe for third parties, and thus was unpublished.  It took a serious engineering effort to get an implementation up and running.  Apple also uses a complicated security layer for mirroring that we needed to be able to interoperable with to ensure our users transmissions were secure.

  1. How is business in general? Are your apps selling as well as you hoped they would?

We are seeing great sales around the world.  Of course we could always sell more, but mostly we are just excited to hear about all the unique use cases people are finding for them.  For instance many educators are finding Reflection to be a great solution for allowing kids to collaborate and share in iPad driven classrooms.  We didn’t expect that and it is great to hear.

  1. Any cool features planned for future versions?

Not a lot that I can share in detail right now, but I can tell you we’re looking at adding a ‘theatre mode’ to support users who have Reflection setup on a Mac Mini as a home media server.  We’re also looking to add recording and mirroring of only specific apps to Reflection and AirParrot respectively.  We think those features will be of great benefit to app reviewers and developers demoing their products.

  1. What other projects are you working on? Any cool apps or ideas in the pipeline?

Just keep watching.  We’re always looking for great ways to extend the functionality of our Apple devices without the need to resort to jail breaking.

  1. Now that Apple has announced AirPlay for Mac in Mountain Lion, how do you plan on competing? What will distinguish AirParrot from AirPlay for Mac?

We think it is great that Apple finally recognized the need for this feature.  The timing was classic – announcing Mountain Lion out of the blue 24 hours after we launched.  Secretly we are hoping we forced them to push the announcement ahead of schedule.

As for differentiating, Apple’s solution will be unavailable for many users on older hardware or who are unable to upgrade immediately to Mountain Lion.  AirParrot fills this gap. Additionally, dedicated features like the ability to extend your desktop to your AppleTV to use it as a second monitor are exclusive to AirParrot.  We will be adding more of these features in the future. 

Regarding Reflection, Apple has not announced any plans to offer support for mirroring TO Mountain Lion, so we think we can definitely continue to fill a huge need there for developers, educators, reviewers and many others.

  1. Where do you see your company and your apps in two years?

We have a great set of apps here that are helping people around the world.  We’ve been developing applications in spaces ranging from Consumer Entertainment to Medical Professionals for the past 4 years as we just want to keep helping people do what they need to do faster and easier with Mac hardware.

  1. Anything else you’d like to share?

We still care about those poor users stuck on Windows.  Versions for that operating system are in the works!