Menu

Tag Archives: WWDC

altwwdc

AltWWDC in Review – How to Focus on the Customer

AltWWDCLast week I had an amazing time attending and volunteering at AltWWDC in San Francisco. For those who don’t know, AltWWDC is an alternative conference that occurs simultaneously to Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference. The conference had an array of world class speakers who are all leaders in the mobile and tech development field.

With the addition of a co-working space, instructional lab sessions, and panels, AltWWDC is a wonderful conference open to all and I highly recommend everybody to experience it next year. You know it’s good when plenty of individuals with WWDC badges choose to spend their time at AltWWDC instead. Ultimately, it is an unbelievable community that fosters growth and innovation and every developer can gain knowledge and friends by being part of it.

The talks and panels at AltWWDC covered everything from design, app marketing, mobile games, to plenty of development tips such as how to make your app run fast, Cocos2D,  an in depth look at how the Vesper app was created, and more. What struck me as interesting was that almost every talk and panel had an underlying focus on the customer. Throughout the diverse talks, the notion of connecting, listening, and understanding your customer was present even if it wasn’t directly being spoken about.

Within this mobile, connected, and flowing world companies are trying to replicate the mom and pop style of community and personal interaction with their customers. Focusing on your customers can seem like an obvious statement, but it is harder to do than you think. That is why you hear so many influential speakers mentioning it in their talks.

Marketing

Eli Hodapp, the editor in chief of TouchArcade, gave a talk titled “Traditional Marketing Sucks, Let’s Get Weird.” The talk broke down how many mobile app developers approach releasing a mobile game onto the app store. It usually goes something like this:

  1. Spend a ton of time building your game.
  2. Submit to Apple and hope for the best. If it’s rejected, tweak as needed to comply with Apple.
  3. Blast out press releases to everyone imaginable.
  4. Cross your fingers, wish upon a shooting star, or rub your bald friend’s head for luck for Apple to feature your game.
  5. Make loads of money.

This get rich quick mentality is, in Eli’s words, “toxic.” For the top games in the app store there is so much more that went into the creation of these games than code. Eli’s top piece of advice to mobile game developers was to invest in creating a community or being part of a community. Traditional PR marketing can’t hold a candle to the power of a community. Make the press irrelevant by starting your own community and make your own press through your community.

Obvious paths to building a community can be through Facebook and Twitter, but don’t forget about sites such as TouchArcade, iOSGaming on Reddit, or even sites not directly related to gaming like MacRumours. Engage with and build your community by constantly posting concept art, new features, and showing aspects of the app as it is built. You will be building personal connections with every interaction, every conversation, and driving excitement for your app.

“Real connections with the people who use your app are more effective than any kind of marketing you can ever do.”Eli Hodapp

Make your app, whether it is a game or not, a part of a community by  responding to your own threads as well as commenting on others. You may not realize this but every personal interaction, a reply to a question, a sharing of an idea, or confiding in a loyal fan is a memorable experience that you have created for that person. You will be building a community that is loyal to you, your app, and anything you release in the future. You have people that will champion your app, tell your friends, and even start forums about your app on other sites. Traditional marketing can suck, but building a community shouldn’t be weird. It should be the every app’s first marketing goal.

Source: Eli Hodapp, TouchArcade

Source: Eli Hodapp, TouchArcade

Listening

Lex Friedman, a senior writer a Macworld, gave a talk called “Learning from Apple’s Mistakes.” Apple has obviously made mistakes, just look at the release of Apple Maps, MobileMe, and the Cube to name a few. However, after the release of Apple Maps, Tim Cook wrote a letter apologizing for falling short on Apple’s commitment to providing the best experience for Apple customers. He even went as far to name alternative applications for Apple customers to use, including Google Maps, in the letter. However, not everyone is like Apple and I don’t recommend providing your customers with an alternative solution, but writing a letter to take ownership and acknowledge the frustration that Apple customers were feeling was a great solution.

It can be hard to compare Apple with your own company or independent moonlight activities but everyone should strive to acknowledge and listen to their customers. Lex referenced many examples where Apple made mistakes and the result of those mistakes, but in the end what every developer could actionably take away from the talk was the type of relationship they should have with their customers.

Honest and open communication with your customers is incredibly important.”Lex Friedman

There will be times where you receive large amounts of feedback from customers, angry and happy, about what you should change or improve. Whether the customer is right or wrong, they deserved to be listened to. Try a reply of “Thank you for your suggestions. At this time we do not have time to change this feature, but thank you for bringing it to our attention.” You’d be surprised at how a simple response can satisfy a customer, even if that response tells them that nothing will be done. Here is a great article that Lex wrote that shows when Apple heeded or ignored customer outcries on their products.

Communication

Josh Michaels, an independent developer most famously known for Ow My Balls!, gave a great talk titled “Tales from Indie Tech Support.” In the talk he regaled us with stories, both painful and hilarious, from his experiences interacting with his customers. The talk gave a fresh perspective on how important customer support is. A single developer, who has hundreds of tasks to do in order to be successful, will take the time out of his day to respond to every bit of feedback no matter if it is praise or harsh criticism. Josh created a recipe for responding to feedback, even if it is an inconsiderate, rude, or condescending message.

How to respond to feedback:

  1. Say “Thank You”
  2. Apologize for the inconvenience
  3. Ask how you can help

It might look something like this “Hi, Thank you. I am sorry about the inconvenience. Is there anything I can do to help fix the problem?” Sometimes simple and to the point is best. Josh has seen remarkable conversations begin with this response. Commonly customers are surprised to even get a response, let alone someone asking what they can do to remedy the issue. Once you open the conversation with an angry customer there are numerous ways to turn them into a loud, happy, and loyal fan.

One of Josh’s tactics is to offer them a refund or even provide a free version of a future product. The goal is  to continue the conversation to learn what could be improved or what was wrong. These conversations give allow Josh to develop a relationship with those customers, most importantly the ones who are unhappy. By refunding the money, but not giving up on them, more often than not he creates a loyal fan from an unhappy one, eager to know when about his next product release. One element of Josh’s talk that stuck out to me was the importance of being accessible. If it isn’t easy for customers to reach you, they won’t, and you will not have a chance to turn a dissatisfied customer into an evangelist.

“You need to make yourself easily accessible, don’t HIDE from your customers.”Josh Michaels

Making yourself available through your app is a feature that is often overlooked. It isn’t difficult to do and should be just as important, if not more, than being able to turn the sound on and off. The first step of providing great support is by being available through your app because that is where your customers are.

Design

There are more ways than just building communities, listening, and being accessible to your customers that can have an impact. Charles Perry, owner of Leaf Hut Software, gave an enlightening talk on universal design. There are millions of people in the world with some form of disability and products like the iPhone and iPad can have a profound effect on changing those people’s lives. For the blind, deaf, or physically disabled, apps open up a whole new way to experience and interact with the world. Charles’s talk “Designing Apps for Everyone” really illuminated the power that every developer has in changing lives.

In a talk called “Marketing You Won’t Hate” given by Jean MacDonald, a developer extraordinaire and founder of AppCamp 4 Girls, she gave a vital piece advice to us all.

“What’s easiest for your isn’t always the way to go. Think about it from the customer’s perspective.” - Jean MacDonald

This piece of advice goes far beyond marketers and directly into what Charles meant when he spoke about universal design. Developing for everybody requires you to think about it from the customer’s perspective. That is not to say that your app has to have universal design functions that will allow someone who is blind to use it. It lends to the concept that each app can be a powerful tool for someone and it is the responsibility of the developer to invest extra time and effort to make the app as best as possible for the customer, disabled or not.

Even the small stuff can impress your customers and give them a better user experience leading the customer to those surprising “delightful” moments. Ben Johnson, a senior product engineer at Raizlabs, gave a wonderful presentation on “Gratuitous Animations.” Gratuitous they might be, but certain animations can add and create a better user experience. These animations can be incredibly helpful at creating an engaging experience on a small screen and even teach the customer something new or how to use the application. Take a look at Ben’s slides to see how subtle animations can improve the user experience and but remember not to go over the top with the animations.

Source: Ben Johnson, Raizlabs

Source: Ben Johnson, Raizlabs

This review of my experience at AltWWDC was to express thanks and to show developers how they can focus on the customer in myriad of ways.  You can build a community and leverage personal relationships to help market and improve your app. You can take unhappy customers and turn them into loyal fans with a little time and effort. Efforts that often go far further than you could imagine. You can place the customer perspective at the forefront of your mind and make an application that provides what they need, and even change someone’s life. You can focus on the smaller aspects of your app to provide an overall better experience and delight the customer.

Focusing on the customer benefits developers as much as it does the customer. When you pour your heart and soul into an app you want people to love it. So think about the little things, join a community, listen to your customers, understand the customer perspective, make yourself accessible, and you will create something larger than an app. You will be creating a wonderful experience, a new relationship, and perhaps brighten someones day.

Many of the talks slides are available through each speaker page and you can watch some of the presentations online. Did you attend AltWWDC? Please share any comments about AltWWDC or how customers are playing a larger role in our products.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Post by:

Ezra Siegel

A challenge to WWDC attendees: cement your connections

Every WWDC is a phenomenal opportunity to connect, learn and be inspired about the opportunities in our industry. The numbers don’t lie: building great software is a more valuable skill every day and the number of people interested in our software is increasing at an extraordinary pace.

As the conference wraps up, we’d like to issue a challenge to you for the rest of your WWDC experience.

Cement your new connections.

Over the past several days you’ve probably met a few new people, made some new friends and shared a few pints/cocktails with people who were previously strangers.

Before you leave, grab a few of them and go hang out.

Spend some more time getting to know one another, whether it’s over an espresso at Blue Bottle, a beer at the Chieftain or a bite at Ooola. Use the Beer Bash and the parties tonight to ensure that you’ve added another quality relationship to your repertoire.

Also, come join us for beers at Zeitgeist tomorrow.

For those of you who are around, the weather looks like it’s cooperating so let’s meet at Zeitgeist for beers, conversation and cementing your new connections. We’ll be there around 4 and would love to see you! (note: although we’re not hosting a happy hour we’ll be buying a few of the pitchers to kick things off).

If there’s enough interest from people (ping us on Twitter: @apptentive) we might organize a field trip out to Sam’s in Tiburon for bloody marys, sun and ferry rides.

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Apptentive’s guide and interactive map to the best SF has to offer

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in the app development, technology and startup spaces visit San Francisco for conferences and events, like Apple’s WWDC and Google’s I/O.  And most of those people spend all of their time around the Moscone Center, only visiting the touristy/chain venues that are close to the conference.

We think that’s a damn shame.

As huge fans of San Francisco, we feel very strongly that the best of San Francisco is OUTSIDE of Moscone Center.  Getting outside and seeing the investment the city has made in its many parks, experiencing the Golden Gate Bridge in person, trying out craft cocktails, visiting the unique restaurants and understanding how very different each of the neighborhoods requires leaving the vicinity of your conference. But, we realize that part of the reason that people stay downtown is because they don’t have a good sense of where to go and what to do. So, we’ve put together a list of what we think you really should see during your visit to the city.

With the help of our friends Buzz Andersen, Justin Williams, Ryan Nielsen, Jonathan Barbero, Mike Wolfinbarger and Ash Ponders we present to you the Apptentive guide to what you should do in order to truly experience San Francisco. Bars, restaurants, coffeeshops, parks, stores, hikes and landmarks are all covered here.

(Foursquare user? Here’s the list on Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/user/2637670/list/apptentives-guide-to-san-francisco)

View WWDC 2012 recommendations in a larger map

 The full list:

Clock Bar
Recommended by multiple people
Rickhouse
Recommended by multiple people
Smuggler’s Cove
Recommended by multiple people
The chieftain
Recommended by multiple people
Tempest Bar & Restaurant
Recommended by multiple people
Biergarten
Recommended by Andrew Wooster
Zeitgeist
Recommended by multiple people
Deli Board
Recommended by multiple people
Sentinel Restaurant
Recommended by Andrew Wooster
Ferry Building Marketplace
Recommended by multiple people
Boccalone
Recommended by Andrew Wooster – get the Nduja
Golden Gate Park
Recommended by multiple people San Francisco, CA
Battery Spencer
Recommended by Andrew Wooster for sunset viewing
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
Recommended by multiple people
The View
Recommended by multiple people
Mission Dolores Park
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
House of Shields
Recommended by multiple people
Corona Heights Park
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
Alamo Square
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
Lands End
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
El Presidio de San Francisco
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
Crissy Field Ave, San Francisco, CA
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
Washington Square
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
Sue Bierman Park
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for a field trip
Alembic
Recommended by multiple people
Orbit Room Cafe
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen
Club Deluxe
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen for pizza and the greyhound
Elixir
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen
Beretta
Recommended by Buzz Andersen and Ryan Nielsen for their cocktail, The Single Village Fix
Toronado
Recommended by multiple people
Blue Bottle Coffee
Recommended by multiple people
Blue Bottle Coffee
Recommended by multiple people
Ritual Coffee Roasters
Recommended by multiple people
Fourbarrel Coffee
Recommended by multiple people
Coffee Bar
Recommended by multiple people
Samovar Tea Lounge
Ino Sushi
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen
Maki
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen
Maverick
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen
Range
Recommended by Ryan Nielsen
Mission San Francisco de Asís
Recommended by Ash Ponders
Tempest Bar & Restaurant
Recommended by Ash Ponders
The St. Regis San Francisco
Recommended by Ash Ponders
Cyrus Restaurant
Recommended by Ash Ponders for fresh cocktails, specifically the Corpse Reviver #2
Russian River Brewing Company
Recommended by Ash Ponders
Mint Plaza
Recommended by Ash PondersSan Francisco, CA 94103
DOL Ho
Recommended by Ash Ponders for dim sum
Slide Ranch
Recommended by Ash Ponders
Tartine Bakery & Cafe
Recommended by Ash Ponders
Oola Restaurant & Bar
Recommended by Jonathan Barbero
House of Air
Recommended by Jonathan Barbero
Planite Granite
Recommended by Jonathan Barbero
Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery
Recommended by multiple people
Pizzetta
Recommended by multiple people
Umi
Recommended by Jonathan Barbero
California Academy of Sciences
Recommended by multiple people
Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate
Recommended by Jonathan Barbero
Trouble Coffee Co
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Outerlands
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
General Store
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Mollusk Surf Shop
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Cliff House
Recommended by multiple people
Bourbon and Branch
Recommended by Buzz Andersen for their cocktail, The Laphroaig Project
Pancho Villa Taqueria
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Taqueria Cancun
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
El Farolito Taqueria
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Taqueria Vallarta
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
La Palma Mexicatessen
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Papalote Mexican Grill
Recommended by multiple people
Nopa
Recommended by Buzz Andersen for their Supernova cocktail
Zeitgeist
Recommended by multiple people
Jasper’s Corner Tap
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
City Beer Store
Recommended by multiple people
Coffee Bar
Recommended by Buzz Andersen as a good place to work
Epicenter Cafe
Recommended by Buzz Andersen
Zuni Cafe
Recommended by Buzz Andersen for their late night burger
Humphry Slocombe
Recommended by Justin Williams
The Burritt Room
Recommended by Andrew Wooster
COCO5OO
Recommended by Justin Williams
Mixt Greens
Recommended by Justin Williams
Ayola
Recommended by Justin Williams
Muir Woods National Monument
Recommended by Mike Wolfinbarger
Golden Gate Bridge
Cable Car Museum
Recommended by Mike Wolfinbarger
Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA
Mike Wolfinbarger says to go to Pier 39 and see the seals

So there it is – the Apptentive set of recommendations when you’re visiting San Francisco for a conference. If you visit any of these places or if we’ve missed something that you truly love, please add ideas (with links) in the comments or tweet at me (@rganguly) and let me know about your experience.

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of WWDC with @jmwolfinbarger

(This is part of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

Mike Wolfinbarger (@jmwolfinbarger) started making some additional recommendations for our post on Twitter so we invited him to weigh in with his suggestions for SF visitors. In particular, we really appreciated his field trip suggestions and thought he had a great take on the value of the conference overall.

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

I don’t have a particular favorite. Anywhere I can catch up with friends. The View lounge on the top floor of the Marriott Marquis is small, but has great views of the city. I usually visit Foley’s Irish Pub at some point during the week.

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

We’d walk across the Golden Gate bridge. From the far side, it’s not a terribly far hike into Sausalito, where you can catch a ferry back to the wharf.

I’d also take them to the Muir Woods to see the coastal redwoods. It’s a remarkably peaceful place to visit, especially after a few days in the city. http://www.nps.gov/muwo/index.htm

The ruins of the Sutro Baths near Point Lobos are interesting and a good excuse to see the coast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutro_Baths

We could probably spend a whole day in Golden Gate Park. It’s a nice break from the city and has a variety of attractions. http://www.golden-gate-park.com/

Any engineer should enjoy a visit to the Cable Car Museum, located in the Washington-Mason powerhouse and carbarn on Nob Hill. You can learn about the history of cable cars in SF and see the engines that drive the cables. http://www.cablecarmuseum.org/

The Wharf is one of most touristy places you can visit in SF. But if you go, take the cable car and visit Pier 39 to see the sea lions. http://www.pier39.com/SeaLion/index.htm

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

I don’t know, but I like to try local brews wherever I visit. I’m partial to unfiltered wheats and hefeweizens.

Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?

I prefer to focus on the conference during the day. I try to avoid working while I’m at WWDC. For me, it’s a week to think about technology without thinking about my job. I try to forget about that stuff, get reenergized, and come up with new ideas and perspectives.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

Lots of good places to eat, but no one place sticks in my mind. I mostly remember SF for the conference, for time with friends and family, and for seeing the sights.

What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Get away from Moscone West and Market Street and experience the rest of the city. Read one of Christopher Moore’s books that are set in the city before you go. For some reason, I felt more in tune with the city after reading his books.

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Walk the length of the Golden Gate bridge.

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

At least one black t-shirt. If I’m lucky, new ideas, new inspiration, and new ways of thinking about old problems.

Thanks Mike, these are great suggestions!

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Buzz Andersen

Jonathan Barbero

Ryan Nielsen

Andrew Wooster

Ash Ponders

Justin Williams

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of WWDC with @justin

Photo of Golden Gat Bridge

Sure it’s touristy, but what a sight to see in person

(This is part of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

We pinged Justin Williams (@justin) for his thoughts on the topic. As a long-time WWDC attendee we figured that he would great insights into what to do when coming into town for the week.

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

Blue Bottle at Mint Plaza or Samovar Tea at Yerba Buena Gardens. I am not much for hanging in large crowds, so getting together with just three or four people I haven’t seen in a couple months in a much more relaxed atmosphere than an unruly bar is more my vibe.

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

Whenever I have guests in town, I almost always take them to get a couple scoops of Humphry Slocombe ice cream in the Mission.  On a nice day, there’s usually a line out the door, but the crazy flavor concoctions they come up with make it more than worth the trip. If you do go, get the Cinnamon Brittle or Secret Breakfast. If you’re more daring, give the Salt & Pepper a whirl. It’s pretty good if you’re in the mood for something daring.

What is the best cocktail you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

I am a big fan of the Burritt Room. It’s still in the downtown area, but far enough away from Moscone that it has a decent mix of locals and out-of-towners. If you want to make a trip to the Haight, it’s hard to go wrong with the Alembic.

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

Beer? Beer is gross, dudes. Wine or champagne first. Cocktails second. Never beer.

Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?

I suppose Blue Bottle, but I usually don’t look at WWDC as an opportunity to get work done. The work I am usually doing is in the sessions or meeting with other delegates at the conference. The code you need to write can wait until next week. This week is about educating, inspiring and (of course) having fun.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

I have been here five months and have had my fair share of awesome food experiences. The one thing this city does not lack is excellent restaurants. If you are in the SOMA area, I just recently went to Coco500 at 4th and Brannan and had an excellent time. The fresh catch is always amazing no matter the day. Their desserts and cocktails are awesome too. Even better is that it’s not a loud restaurant, the waitstaff is attentive and personable, and the portions aren’t so big that you feel like you need to spend the rest of your trip at the hotel gym.

If you’re looking for a lunch spot, my favorite quick salad is a couple blocks away at Mixt Greens on Mission or Ayola on New Montgomery. Their Sparta Salad is my favorite.

What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Hop in a cab (or an Uber if you want to be a true San Francisco douchebag), have them take you to one of the neighborhoods in the city not named “Tenderloin” and just get dropped off. There’s plenty of touristy stuff to do, but my favorite activity is to just walk around, go into shops, try random restaurants and just experience the city for all it has to offer. It’s only a 7 mile stretch of land, but each neighborhood has its own unique personality and character.

I hated San Francisco until I started leaving the Moscone area and seeing what else it had to offer.

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Grab a ridiculous amount of silver body paint and cover yourself in it. Head down to the Fisherman’s Wharf and try to give those silver guys who stand still for change a run for their money (pun!). Actually, don’t. I’m not really sure what to do that is unique.

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

Well, I live here so there’s not much for me to bring back home that i don’t already have access to. I suppose I always bring home that WWDC jacket they give us. I never wear them though. I’m saving them for the day one of my few Android developing friends see the light and come to the nice, blue waters of Objective-C.

Thanks for sharing Justin!

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Buzz Andersen

Jonathan Barbero

Ryan Nielsen

Andrew Wooster

Ash Ponders

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of WWDC with @buzz

(This is part of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

A photo of the Sutro Baths ruins in San Francisco

The Sutro Baths Ruins

We pinged Buzz Andersen (@buzz) for his thoughts on the topic. As a long-time WWDC attendee, former SF resident and established food and drink connoisseur we knew he’d have a great set of recommendations for us. We’re sad he won’t be making the trip this year but we’ll frequent a few of his favorite haunts in his honor.

Are you going stay near the Moscone Center when you’re in town for WWDC?

I usually stay with my brother, who lives in the Mission–partly because it’s cheaper, but partly because it’s a more interesting neighborhood. I think it’s kind of a sad thing about San Francisco that most of the hotels are in places (generic SOMA, the crack-addled Tenderloin) that don’t give visitors the best impression of the place.

What ONE place would you say WWDC attendees from outside of the Bay Area have to go?

As other people have said, I think it really behooves WWDC attendees to try to get out of the SOMA/Tenderloin area at least once. To a lot of people who attend WWDC year after year, that area basically *is* San Francisco, which is too bad because the city has a lot more to offer.

It’s hard to pick one thing, but when I was working for Square and flying out to SF every 6 weeks or so, I had kind of a tradition of taking the N Judah out to Ocean Beach every Sunday to have a cappuccino at Trouble Coffee, brunch at Outerlands, check out a few shops I like out there (General Store and Mollusk Surf Shop), and then walk along the beach up to the Cliff House. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even walk back through Golden Gate park and catch the N in the Haight. It’s exactly the kind of uniquely California experience you want out a visit to SF.

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

That’s a tricky question, because a lot of my favorite bars in SF aren’t exactly the best places for mass socializing. Rickhouse, which is run by the same people who own craft cocktail institution Bourbon & Branch, is a good bet not too far from the Moscone Center. It offers quality cocktails and great bartenders, but has enough space for casual group socializing.

One of my personal favorite bars in SF, Mr. Lew’s Win Win Bar & Grand Sazerac emporium appears to be closed for a reboot – Bill Couch and others from Twitter recommend Local Edition in its stead. They take walk-ins but reservations are recommended – make them here.

Smuggler’s Cove, a tiki-ish bar near the Civic Center (and thus a bit further afield for WWDC attendees) is also becoming a perennial WWDC favorite, and justifiably so. It’s a decent sized place and thus can accommodate large groups, and umbrella drinks always guarantee a high fun (and drunk) factor.

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

I did help Daniel Jalkut lead a large group of people on a Mission taqueria run one year at WWDC. I guess if I did it again, I might even go for a full-on taqueria crawl and hit up all my old favorites: Pancho Villa, Cancun, El Farolito, Taqueria Vallarta, La Palma Mexicatessen, Papalote (editor’s note: best salsa ever!), etc.

What is the best cocktail you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

I can’t choose just one! In terms of “invented in SF” cocktails, I’d have to say my three favorites are:

  • The Laphroaig Project from Bourbon and Branch (but also available at Rickhouse): Basically a Last Word variation with Laphroaig scotch. Incredibly well balanced and delicious. Actually manages to make scotch refreshing, warm weather affair.
  • The Single Village Fix from Beretta: A simple combination of Mezcal, lime, and pineapple gum syrup. Wonderfully, smokey, a little bit sweet and a little bit tart.
  • The Supernova from Nopa: A champagne cocktail with vanilla tincture and just a few drops of the insanely, over-the-top smokey Ardbeg Supernova scotch. A brilliant idea.

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for Poppy Jasper Amber, which is made by El Toro brewery in Morgan Hill, just south of San Jose. It’s usually available at SF outdoor drinking mainstay Zeitgeist and tastes incredible with a plate of carnitas.

As far as beer destinations, everyone will tell you the Toronado in the Lower Haight, which is great (if a bit loud and crowded). I haven’t been there yet, but Jasper’s Corner Tap, which is actually close to Moscone, looks like a really solid bet.

When I worked for Square, one of my favorite things to do was go get a sandwich at the incredibly awesome (and I say this as a sandwich snob New Yorker) Deli Board and take it to the nearby City Beer Store to eat with a beer. They have a great selection and a license to serve beer on premises.

Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?

This is kind of an insane question for SF, because there is probably no city in America with a higher per-capita concentration of excellent coffee places. The question is whether you’re looking for the best cafe to work in, or the place where you’ll get the best coffee, because they’re not usually the same place.

For the former, I’d recommend Coffee Bar. I suspect there’s no better coffee shop for work in America. Wifi is consistent, outlets are plentiful, coffee is decent, good food and non-coffee beverages are also on offer, and you’re guaranteed to feel productive in the middle of an entire cafe full of startup types writing Rails code. The only problem is that Coffee Bar is that the original Coffee Bar is in a bit of an inconvenient location (out in the Potrero), but I’m told there’s a new location not far from Moscone.

Epicenter is also very much on the SF “coffice” map and is mere blocks from Moscone in SOMA.

As far as the best places to get amazing coffee, I’m always partial to Sightglass. I know the owners from the early days of Square (Sightglass was the original Square testbed) and they’ve gradually built an absolutely stunning space since opening. It’s not far from Moscone, and as far as SF tech celeb spotting goes, it can’t be beat.

Four Barrel, in the Mission, is also a coffee destination worth a visit–partly just because it’s a great place to soak up the Mission neighborhood vibe.

Blue Bottle is probably the closest good coffee option to Moscone, and one of my SF rituals for years has been to stop by at least once a trip for a cappuccino and their excellent belgian waffle (two great tastes that taste great together).

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

I’ve always loved the burger on the late night menu at Zuni, which is kind of a classic of the SF restaurant scene. The beef blend is fantastic, it’s served on delicious house made ciabatta, and accompanied by shoestring fries.

I also absolutely love Pizzetta 211, a tiny, hidden gem of a Neopolitan-style pizza place way out in the Richmond. Their menu changes constantly depending on what fresh, local ingredients they can get that week, and it’s always a pleasure. Who says SF doesn’t have good pizza?

What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Living in New York now, I think the thing I really appreciate about SF is availability of wonderful outdoor experiences right in the city. Central Park is beautiful, but it feels a manicured English garden. Golden Gate Park is wild, and places like Land’s End, Ocean Beach, and the Presidio feel like the ends of the Earth. When I go back to SF now, those are the kinds of experiences I’m craving.

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Aside from the Ocean Beach trip I recommended earlier, I’ve always loved the Russian Hill Stairway walk. It takes you through some great hidden spaces and offers incredible views of the Bay at points.

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

Probably either a bag of Sightglass coffee beans, a bottle of some local spirit I can’t get in New York (like St. George Spirits’s lovely Rhum Agricole), a jar of Papalote’s crack-like salsa, or a box of vegan donuts from Pepple’s Donuts at the Ferry Building (for my fiancé Briana, who has a dairy allergy).

Thanks for sharing Buzz – you’ll be missed this year!

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Jonathan Barbero

Ryan Nielsen

Andrew Wooster

Ash Ponders

Justin Williams

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of WWDC with @jonbarbero

(This is part of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

We pinged long time Apple employee Jonathan Barbero (@jonbarbero) for his thoughts on the topic. As a long-time WWDC attendee and a San Franciscan, Jonathan knows how to make the most of the week.

Are you going stay near the Moscone Center when you’re in town for WWDC?

Nope! I live in the Upper Haight, which is full of various treasures and bilge.

What ONE place would you say WWDC attendees from outside of the Bay Area have to go?

Speaking of treasures, one cannot truly experience San Francisco without paying a visit to Smuggler’s Cove, the smaller and more cozy of the two tiki bars in SF. The cocktails at the more widely known (and overpriced) Tonga Room pale in comparison to the rum soaked, gourmet drinks at Smuggler’s:  http://smugglerscovesf.com/trapdoor/

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

Near the Moscone Center, I highly recommend Oola for food and drinks. They do terrific cocktails and the cilantro, ginger and soy glazed ribs rank among the best in the city. There are also $1 local oysters during happy hour (Monday thru Thursday 5-7, Friday 4-7). http://www.oola-sf.com

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

Grab your sunscreen (but don’t forget a jacket) and head down to Crissy Field for stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the iconic Palace of Fine Arts. If you are feeling energetic, hope over to the House of Air and check out the newly built indoor trampoline park! The House of Air also resides next to Planet Granite which has fantastic indoor rock climbing

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

Most visitors make a pilgrimage to the Toronado’s Pub in the Lower Haight which has around 50 foreign beers on tap. It’s hard to beat, just don’t forget to take a cab! However for more local SF brews stop by at Magnolia in the Upper Haight and grab a porter or stout. You won’t be disappointed. The food here is also excellent.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

Two places worth taking a cab to:
  1. Pizzetta 211 in the Outer Richmond has stunning, affordable pizzas that change every week.
  2. Umi Sushi in Bernal Heights is the best freaking fish I’ve had in SF. They also have an epic selection of sake.

What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

  1. Get to Smuggler’s Cove when they open at 5pm (and before the crowds show up) and proceed to get plastered in peace and quiet. Well mostly quiet. One has to account for the pirate music, blenders, and merriment.
  2. For the non-drinking crowd, I also recommend visiting the recently opened $500 million Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate park. They have a series of unbelievable, multi-level aquariums as well as an indoor rainforest and planetarium. Plan on spending 3-4 hours here.

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

In terms of quirky San Francisco, you can’t go wrong with seeing the wild buffalo in Golden Gate park. There are also two recently remodeled Dutch windmills near the buffalo paddock worth visiting:

http://www.golden-gate-park.com/buffalo-paddock.html
http://www.golden-gate-park.com/windmills.html

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

The chocolate truffles at Christopher Elbow in Hayes Valley are stunningly delicious works of art that make excellent gifts.

If you are or know an espresso drinker, the Blue Bottle kiosk is generally accepted as the reference point for best espresso and beans in SF. They are just around the corner from Christopher Elbow (above).

Blue Bottle also has a location close to the Moscone Center!
http://www.bluebottlecoffee.net/locations/mint-cafe/

Thanks for sharing Jonathan!

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Ash Ponders

Ryan Nielsen

Andrew Wooster

Buzz Andersen

Justin Williams

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of WWDC with @ashponders

(This is part of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

We pinged Aptfolk founder Ash Ponders (@ashponders) for his thoughts on the topic. As a long-time WWDC attendee and an accomplished world traveler, Ash knows how to make the most of the week (and he’d like you to know he wrote these answers while eating a popsicle).

Are you going stay near the Moscone Center when you’re in town for WWDC?

No, I prefer to stay in areas that reflect a more lived in ambiance. This year I’ll be staying in a town home on Nob Hill.

What ONE place would you say WWDC attendees from outside of the Bay Area have to go?

Mission Dolores Church, which is as far as I can tell, the oldest building in the city. I’ve spent more than one dusk there, enjoying the sounds of the Mission as the work day ends.

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

It used to be the Tempest, a bar I wandered into a 5 or so years ago looking for the party raging at the Chieftain. These days though it’s so crowded after dark, one can barely hear. Actually, that’s a real trouble at almost every bar around the Moscone Center. All except the St. Regis. The St. Regis is the calm sitting bar I’m always looking forward to after a long day of walking about to and fro. It was well attended last year, and I’m sure this year it’s charms will be shared with even more folks.

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

The Streets! SF has some of the most wonderfully tall hills; nothing delights me more than riding a bike up and down Russian Hill or the Twin Peaks. A fierce climb or 12 would be a great way to wake up and oxygenate your brain before a long day of learning at WWDC.

What is the best cocktail you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

Oh that’s tough, I’m bunting. I’ve had a particularly memorable Corpse Reviver #2 miles & miles north at Cyrus. The restaurant and bar are renowned around the world, but still seem to be hidden gems every time I go. Their cocktail program is focused on the freshness of their garden, and their seasonal drinks give me heart ache when I can’t visit to try them.

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

Toronado’s Pub. Belgian ales might be my Kryptonite. If Kryptonite made Superman preposterously happy and a little tired. If you’ve got legs though, go for a run up to Santa Rosa and try out Russian River.

Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?

Last year by Thursday, my liver began to rebel. I spent the day playing “Hey, That’s Jack Dorsey!” in sunny uncrowded Mint Plaza. The coffee at Blue Bottle is worth the (preposterously, literally out the door and around the corner) line; the food is ample and delicious enough to get my liver to agree to terms. It was a wasted day, but a beautiful and enjoyable one, so perhaps all was not lost.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

Dol Ho is basically the best bang for your buck in the whole city. Tremendous value and tremendously tasty Dim sum. Warning: It’s not the most clean place in the world.

What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

The same thing as anywhere, meet new friends and catch up with old friends. That’s the whole point of WWDC, right?

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

I’m a big fan of ditching the city (can you tell?). There’s a small sea side farm near Muir Beach called Slide Ranch. I love jetting up there before dawn and watching the sun come up. It’s tremendously relaxing and inspiring. There’s even a geodesic dome… if you need a geodesic dome for something.

If you had one picture from SF to share, what is it?

I keep my memories in my head. Fewer people are embarrassed that way.

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

A tour of coffee: Ritual, Sightglass, Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, to share with my coffee fiend friends.
And a loaf of bread from Tartine for my baker friends at Panne Bianco.
And an odd toy or two from Chinatown for my kid brother.
Other than that, I’m a strictly memories only kind of traveler.

Thanks for sharing Ash!

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Jonathan Barbero

Ryan Nielsen

Andrew Wooster

Buzz Andersen

Justin Williams

Enhanced by Zemanta











Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of your WWDC visit with @ryannielsen

(This is part of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

We pinged Tumult co-founder and SF Resident Ryan Nielsen (@ryannielsen) for his thoughts on the topic. As a long-time Apple employee and WWDC attendee, Ryan knows how to make the most of the week.

What ONE place would you say WWDC attendees from outside of the Bay Area have to go?

I’d say the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. It’s a bit off the standard tourist path and, if it’s not foggy, offers fantastic views of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island. It also gives a fantastic look at the “real” Bay Area – there’s a wide selection of locally grown and produced food, often you’ll see local artisans or performance artists, and San Franciscans from all walks of life will be wandering the market.

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

I can’t really say there’s one… The Chieftain is great just for how close it is to Moscone West; you’re almost always guaranteed to run into WWDCers hanging out there any time of the day. The View, at the top of the 4th St Marriott, probably has fewer WWDCers hanging out at any given time, but it’s aptly named – you’ll have a fantastic view of SF while you chat with those who are there. Finally, the House of Shields is a perennial “last stop” where many attendees end each night.

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

It’s important for anyone attending WWDC to see SF outside of SOMA. With that goal in mind, I’d lead the group on a tour of SF’s many city parks.

The larger parks each have their own character and community, and helps give the visitors a wonderful sample of everything SF has to offer. I’d probably kick things off by heading south to Dolores Park. We’d then probably wander clockwise over to Corona Heights, taking them through the Castro and up to a wonderful view of the city. Then we’d head down to Alamo Square – what tour of SF is complete without seeing the Full House house? – and then work our way from Lower Haight up through Upper Haight and into Golden Gate Park. Continuing down Golden Gate, we’d go through either Sunset or Richmond and hit Ocean Beach. From there, you have to visit Lands End, with the Sutro Bath house ruins and the Legion of Honor. The Presidio and Crissy Field are next, and we’d work through the Marina into North Beach, with Washington Square Park. Finally, we’d end up at Sue Bierman Park, right across from the Ferry Plaza Market.

With this tour, the group would have seen almost all of the major SF neighborhoods, could have sampled many of the restaurants, bars and cafés in each of those neighborhoods, and would have seen almost all of the famous landmarks. Most importantly, they’d see SF as most of us living in SF see it, by hanging out in parks and wandering through the neighborhoods.

What is the best cocktail you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

Captain’s Grog – Smugglers Cove

(For cocktail locations, I also nominate Alembic, Rick House, Orbit Room, Clock Bar, Beretta, Elixir, and my personal go-to, Club Deluxe.)

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

Toronado. (Also accepted: City Beer Store)

Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?

Sightglass is probably the best place that’s close to WWDC for both working and coffee. Blue Bottle’s hard to work at, given how packed it often is, and spots in the Mission – Ritual, Four Barrel, Coffee Bar – are a haul from WWDC. If you’re willing to forego coffee and get your fix from tea, then you’d have a hard time beating Samovar Tea Lounge. It’s a fantastic location that overlooks Yerba Buena Gardens, is almost always sunny, and will often have other WWDCers hanging out.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

San Francisco has hundreds of restaurants worth eating at, dozens that are award winning and pioneering, and a few that are the best in the world. In Japan Town, you’ll find fantastic sushi at Ino, or classic hand made cold udon noodles at Maki. The Mission has burritos (of course) but also boasts some fantastic American eateries like Maverick or Range. The French restaurants in the Marina and Cow Hollow are all wonderful, and you can’t go wrong with almost any of the Italian places in North Beach.

Choosing the best meal I’ve ever had is basically impossible… I’ve had too many phenomenal meals to call one the “best”. What I can say, however, is that I consistently look forward to grabbing a “Don Giovianni” pizza and a greyhound at Club Deluxe. I’ve never once been disappointed by Giovianni’s pizza (I’d even say it’s some of the best pizza in the country), and the neighborhood atmosphere of Club Deluxe helps complete the meal. It’s not a meal that’d earn a Michelin star, but it’s a meal that’s uniquely SF.

What’s the most fun thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Wander the more eclectic neighborhoods. Grab a drink at a bar in the Castro, explore the shops in Upper Haight, grab a burrito in the Mission, relax with the natives on Dolores Park, see some popped collars in the Marina, and burn your tastebuds eating a Sichuan dish in China Town.

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Crossing the Golden Gate – ideally by walking! – is the obvious answer. Also, check out this amazing photo of the GG bridge by Duncan Davidson

Less obvious: this city’s got character unlike any other city in the world; get out of SOMA and experience some of it.

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

A hangover.

Thanks for sharing Ryan!

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Ash Ponders

Jonathan Barbero

Andrew Wooster

Buzz Andersen

Justin Williams

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post by:

Robi Ganguly

Making the most of your WWDC visit with @wooster

Andrew Wooster's favorite SF picture for Apptentive's WWDC post

(This is the first of an email interview series we’re sharing this week in advance of WWDC. Since so many people come in from out of town to attend the conference, we thought it would be helpful and fun to get some advice from long-time attendees and SF residents about how to make the most of your trip to the Bay Area)

Today’s WWDC recommendations come courtesy of Apptentive co-founder and SF Resident Andrew Wooster (@wooster). As a long-time Apple employee and WWDC attendee, Andrew knows how to make the most of the week.

What ONE place would you say WWDC attendees from outside of the Bay Area have to go?

Anywhere outside of the Moscone/Metreon/Westfield gravity well. The rest of the city is more interesting.

What is your favorite place to grab a drink and run into random WWDCers?

Mostly I watch Twitter and see where things are happening. The last couple of years that’s been cocktail bars like Burritt Room, Clock Bar, Rickhouse, and Smuggler’s Cove. However, closer places like The Chieftan and Tempest still attract a lot of people and are a good bet for meeting interesting folks.

If you could lead a field trip for 15 WWDC attendees where would you take them?

If the weather is nice, Biergarten.

Where is the best beer in San Francisco?

Pitchers of Death and Taxes at Zeitgeist is about as good as it gets.

Have you found a coffee shop worth working in and skipping WWDC sessions for? If so, where is it?

Honestly, Moscone is a lot better place to work out of than any of the nearby coffee shops.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in San Francisco and where did you have it?

That covers a lot of ground. For lunch, do yourself a favor, skip the food at Moscone, take a nice walk, and go grab a sandwich at Deli Board or Sentinel.

What’s the most unique thing you can do in San Francisco that you’d recommend to visitors?

Honestly, there’s a lot. Some of my favorite things to do are to go to the Ferry Building during the Farmers Market (Tuesday and Thursday) and grab some lunch and something to take home from Boccalone Salumeria, go for a long run in Golden Gate Park or visit the Academy of Sciences, or watch the sunset over Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer.

What one thing do you bring home from SF every time you visit?

Nduja from Boccalone. It’s fantastic.

 

Want to see advice from other friends of ours? Check out tips from:

Ash Ponders

Ryan Nielsen

Jonathan Barbero

Buzz Andersen

Justin Williams

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Post by:

Robi Ganguly