The longtime actor and director has turned his production skills to Android apps
To be perfectly honest, I didn't know what he was doing there either. Why was Damon Wayans, the actor, writer, director, producer (and member of the legendary family) at the Samsung Developers Conference in December? Celebrity appearances (paid or otherwise) are nothing new at tech events — see Lopez, Jennifer; Kutcher, Ashton; Wilde, Olivia; and i.am, Will to name but a few. So you'll forgive me for not thinking all that much about the appearance that week.
Fast forward a few months. The Samsung Galaxy S5 launches with some $500 in free "Galaxy Gifts" apps. And tucked in there along with the likes of a WSJ subscription and Paypal voucher is Flick Dat, one of Wayans' apps. And it turns out it all started at, of course, a Hollywood tech conference.
"The very first one I went to was DigiHollywood," Wayans recently told me by phone. "And I get there, and everyone's giving out business cards. So it made me think … with all this technology, we still haven't conquered the business card." That's certainly true, I thought. For as high-tech as this job may be, you'll still catch any one of us taking notes with a pen and paper and handing out (and worse, receiving) scores of paper business cards.
Thus, Flick Dat was born.
The idea itself isn't overly new. Sharing contact information is a pain, and Flick Dat (again, free with the Galaxy S5 in the Galaxy Gifts section or $1.99 on Google Play) aims to make it easier. It bills itself as "a revolutionary and exciting new way to share cool business cards and stay connected with your team, business associates and friends from anywhere while on the go." And it's a pretty good app, actually. Load up your on contact information (it can import from a contact you already have), choose where you want to flick it to — another device via Bluetooth, or to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or by email. Then, just flick it to send it.
The road to releasing a quality app (of any kind) wasn't easy (or inexpensive), Wayans said, noting that his role isn't unlike that of a director or producer in film and TV. But it did require digging into software development kits and APIs.
"I went to (Apple conference) WWDC and learned about SDKs, and all that stuff is kind of foreign to me," Wayans said. "But there's so much you can do. I'm really starting to understand UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) and how those things apply."
Don't expect Wayans to transform into a neckbearded coder anytime soon, though he has gone deeper down the rabbit hole than perhaps he expected.
"You know, me," he continued, "coming from my TV producing background and film, I just want to produce it. I don't want to get my hands dirty. But I'm finding I have to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I've learned so much just in terms of creating an app and what the difference is between a good one and a bad one — and spending the money to make it good."
"Think Vine, with Music," Wayans said. So you can record a music video on the fly."
And that begs the question: Which is his favorite? Android? Or iOS?
"You gotta remain neutral," Wayans said. "Samsung has been very helpful, but the people at Apple have been very gracious also. The wonderful thing about being a celebrity is that you can walk through doors."
And with that ...
A few other thoughts on the week that was, and the week ahead.
- We've got a pretty major Mobile Nations announcement coming Monday. It won't involve anyone having to smash anything. Probably. Stay tuned.
- We've been breaking down the ins and outs of the Galaxy S5 like we've never done with a smartphone before. (And we're trying to play catch-up with the HTC One M8 on that front as well.) I laid out the strategy a month ago. All the news and reviews you've come to expect and love, with more reference content to go along with it. (Hell, it's not all even ending up on the front page, we've got so much of it.) Grow, or die. And so far the response has been great.
- And that's to say nothing of the larger plans we've got in the works for later this year.
- You'd really be surprised at just how many folks search for help on features most of us here take for granted. As an editor, you've gotta love being able to help first-timers like that. And it shames me a little that we ignored that for so long.
- Coming up Tuesday: Andrew Martonik at the OnePlus One event in San Francisco. I'm really looking forward to his thoughts on this one.
- All the carrier bloatware on the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 — again, this is the carriers, not the manufacturers — is a damned travesty.
- Some pretty major departures last week, with Vic Gundotra leaving Google, and Scott Croyle and Ford Davidson leaving HTC. But you know what? Both companies will go on. Of that I have no doubt.
- If you haven't seen our redesign of our "Through Glass" series, definitely check it out.
And with that, I'm taking the kids swimming. So much for spring.