Asim Pereira is the developer of a variety of popular and highly regarded chess apps including Follow Chess, Analyze This!, and iChess. His releases also include a couple of chess e-books! You can find out more about Asim’s apps via his blog at MyChessApps.com or keep up to date by following him on twitter @
Please introduce yourself and say a little about anyone else involved in the development team
We are a small chess startup in Bangalore, India trying to make a dent in the Chess-iverse! Although we are mainly focused on chess apps & ideas, we consider ourselves to be a Tech/RnD oriented company. We explore and like to work on new technologies and are always on the lookout for solving a problem using technology or doing something different. That is what our Apps too stand for!
How did you get involved in developing chess apps?
Its a long story and someday will probably be a blog post! 🙂 But I started developing chess apps to solve my own problems; for my personal amusement. That was back in 2007/8 when I had a Nokia device running on Symbian OS. One thing led to another and my small hobby work became a passion and that passion became a business!
Of the chess apps you’ve developed which is your favourite and why?
Its like asking which one of your child is your favorite 🙂 All of them! But I always tell myself. My “best” app is yet to come!
Typically how long does an app take to develop for conception to initial release in terms of elapsed time and development hours (eg Follow Chess, Analyze This)?
Its not easy, since every App goes through various stages. And it is like an inspiration. Ideas are constantly running in the head. So sometimes we just make a note of them, and keep adding points to them over a period of time. And its more like an art. Someday we might just develop a prototype in one day or sometimes leave it unfinished! It may take months from conception to a working example. Its an ongoing process.
We spend 20% of our time working on something radical or different, much like Google. So sometimes an App idea may come out of that 20% and it would just sit there for a while. Its just an experiment. Fun! Then someday there would be a trigger, either an email from a user or something that pushes you to just finish it off and release it! (Follow Chess idea was like that. We knew we wanted an App like that. But one fine day GM Tisdall sent an email proposing the App idea for watching live games. And well THAT was the push we needed. And within a few weeks a functional App was ready! Ofcourse it took many more weeks/months to bring it to the level that it currently is. Same with ‘Analyze This’. Initially it was only a single screen App, just to show the evaluation of the current position that users could load via iChess app. Just one screen and an option to paste FEN and quick analysis from iChess App. Nothing more!)
As an established app developer what advice would you give any new/aspiring developer?
We always listen to our users and that has helped us a lot to grow.
What do you most enjoy about developing and releasing chess apps?
Its a passion, a child-hood hobby. And I always like learning and exploring new things, technologies. So those nice emails that you get from your users telling how the App has helped them and the new technology that you learn, gives me a kick! (So I love what I do and do what I love! )
What is the worst or most frustrating aspect?
There are certain annoyances at every level, but nothing which others have not faced. Right from hiring, visibility, to the usual technology problems or some users who may just give a 1* review without explaining why or what went wrong. But not one specific thing that is “most” or “worst”.
Which of your apps are still in active development and which do you consider ‘dead’ if any?
All of them are in active development!
What new features and enhancements can users look forward to in future releases of your various apps?
We will be making some branding changes. Then there are a few areas which we have not explored like syncing, social interaction, online game play, openings, endgame TBs, Games database etc. So there would be features/Apps addressing these areas. There is so much we want to do, but not all of it would be feasible.
What is the most valuable feedback you receive from users?
Oh we get lots of good feedback. And these are all of various kinds. Right from somebody suggesting a new feature, to new App ideas or expressing their displeasure on the new stuff that we added, maybe the colors etc. All of this is very valuable since it helps you understand and get a very different perspective or know that you are not entirely right. Some of them would call the new App design/update “sexy”, or others would frown at the small highlight around the piece or even the slightest change in color! Today we even got feedback about our Play Store listing and how he could not find some useful piece of information that he was looking for!
Do you have any other apps in planning or development?
We are always trying out new stuff or solving some or the other problem, so there are many apps/ideas in different stages of planning and development!
When not using your own, which are your ‘must-have’ chess apps from other developers?
Ironically, I hardly spend time on Chess these days, so dont quite get time to use other Apps. Partly also because much all of my personal needs are satisfied with what we have built. But once in a while, I do like to admire and check out what others have built, but not quite a ‘must-have’ as yet.
Many thanks for your time in responding and for volunteering to take part!
Thanks, it was a pleasure to jot down my thoughts.
Note: This interview was conducted by email on 28 September 2016