You Want Native iPhone Games? Check Out… FlipSide5 and Founder Michael Sanford

On July 9, 2008

I have to admit it- I’m a bit obsessed with the iPhone. I love using it and truly believe it’s just the genesis of a revolution in mobile computing. So as you might imagine, having the opportunity to speak with someone who is not only even more excited about the device and its future, but who is also one of the key people helping to CREATE that future, is a real treat for me.

That was certainly the case yesterday when I had the pleasure to speak with Michael Sanford of FlipSide5. More than anyone with whom I’ve spoken, Michael appreciates the impact of what is about to take place this Friday as iPhone 2.0 (and native versions of his incredibly popular games) is released.

Michael’s first computer was an Apple II which he bought in 1979. Software development has been a passion of his ever since. Michael has worked on a wide variety of platforms over the years that included NeXT Computer and previously co-founded a Java development tool product company, InLine Software, in 1997.

Michael got his iPhone on launch day last summer and created his first web app, a version of tic-tac-toe, for his son. He had no expectations of anything more for his fledgling program, but was pleased when Apple accepted it as one of the early web apps and selected it as a "Staff Pick". Now called Tic-Tac-Touch, it was an instant success, receiving over 22,000 hits on its first day. Michael was, admittedly, a bit stunned, but immediately got to work on other iPhone games-
releasing a second web app, 4InARow touch, shortly there after. It too was an immediate hit.

Since it began "way back" in October of 2007, FlipSide5’s games have been played more than 2.1 million times. As their website states,

FlipSide5 is a new exciting endeavor to bring great software to the revolutionary iPhone. The iPhone is changing how people use phones and we are passionate about making this shift even better. These games are a stepping stone to a much greater vision.

Their commitment is to create the best user experience possible. And that is exactly what they’ve done.

Things have been moving enormously fast since the SDK was released (4 months ago) and FlipSide5 is ready to make the jump to resident versions in the next few days. The web app versions of the games are terrific. The available screen shots of the native apps look even better. 

Michael shared with us that, because of the tools that Apple put into developers’ hands, the development process was an absolute joy. The ease of use is "awesome" (to quote him) providing developers with "next generation of development frameworks".

The result of his efforts? Nothing short of stunning.

Rather than merely port games form other platforms to the iPhone, Michael wanted to create his games FOR the iPhone from the ground up, so as to take maximum advantage of the device’s unique abilities. 

For example, while 4InARow touch can be played as a single-user experience, it is also possible to compete with someone else over EDGE, WiFi or 3G. They can be next door or around the world. So long as there is a data connection, distance is irrelevant. The iPhone location feature will tell you which country your competitor is located.

In addition, you can send predetermined instant messages to your competitor’s iPhone (everything from "Why are you doing this to me?" to "Hello, I’m a Mac").  And, if your competitor uses a different language, the message will show up on his/her screen in her native tongue.

Moreover, turn the iPhone upside-down, and the accelerometer causes the game pieces to fall out of the "game board". (Try doing that with a Treo.)

Michael’s passion extends to every aspect of the iPhone. "It will be," he predicted, "a bigger revolution than he personal computer. In five years we will look back and, only then, fully realize and appreciate what is taking place."  "I’ve been in the field for years and have never been this excited about a launch as I am right now."

Having played the web versions of his games previously I, for one, can’t wait to see what the native versions have to offer.

You can check out FlipSide5’s website here.

Check back for a review in the very near future.