Atto Partners is in the partnerships-for-life business. We love working alongside clients, and we see it as our job to help them make work and build businesses that we can all be proud of.
Meanwhile, Labs Projects help us stay sharp by letting us get our teeth into new and interesting challenges, with very different types of goals. Touching is one example.
Touching is an experimental iPhone app for holding someone’s hand when they’re not in the same room. It's part tech demo, part experiment: an iPhone app that's soft and fuzzy and slightly odd.
It happened for 3 main reasons:
* I'm fascinated by quiet interfaces, and we'd been making some experimental iOS apps behind the scenes.
* We were feeling like making something soft and interesting.
* Our team wondered what would happen if we made it.
I came up with the idea on a plane, having been away for my family for a few days, which definitely helped.
The simplest form of the app shows four outlined circles, aligned to be held in a grip as if you're holding someone's hand. Each circle lights up when your partner is touching it. When a circle is being touched on both phones, it goes white. When all four circles are being touched on both phones, the phone vibrates.
Touching was in the app store for a few days without announcement, but we took it down, deciding to leave it until after iOS 8 to quietly release it. There was no hurry. It was mainly for us.
At the Apple Watch announcement, Apple introduced Apple introduced Digital Touch, incorporating the key features of Touching 1.0, as well as almost all of our prototyped experiments. (Just to be clear: we don't think they copied us.)
Touching is a little different in that it's truly live. With incredibly low latency, it can tell you where on the screen your partner is touching. Realtime is a tough nut to crack, and we spent a lot of time on the server side making sure the app had this type of integrity. (Don't get me wrong — I'm fairly sure Apple could crack the technology if they really wanted to).
We probably won't release Touching publicly now. As I say, it was mainly for us. We enjoyed making it, we learned a lot, and it's served its purpose. But, if I'm honest, I wish we'd released earlier this year.