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ChilliFresh is an app development company founded by Jon Atherton. Wobble, a mobile, Amazon-cloud based app that enables users to take static pictures, add targets, and shake, making the images jiggle and sway, is the first project Mercury Development worked with Atherton to complete. Wobble was developed using a 3D engine and realistic wireframe to identify which pixels to distort, and a natural physics model to calculate acceleration.

Mercury Development and ChilliFresh have since worked together on three more projects – Pin.FM, a new, Amazon-cloud powered, social media app for the iPhone that allows users to view their content (photos, Tweets, check-ins, and so on) from social services like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare in one aggregated chronological timeline and post voice comments to it; jaja, the world's first pressure-sensitive stylus; and the AppTag Laser Blaster, which brings first-person shooter console gameplay to smartphones.


The Challenge

In 2008, Jon Atherton contacted Mercury Development about creating a mobile application that would enable elements of a photo to realistically jiggle. Users could also interact with the wobbling portion of the picture by touching the jiggling area to stop the movement, which would then proceed to jiggle when the user removed their finger.

Because of the app's initial adult overtones, one immediate challenge was ensuring it would comply with App Store decency requirements. Mercury Development modified Atherton's design so it could make it through the App Store review process. In the altered concept, the user could select any picture, place pink and white circle targets on locations on the picture, and then shake the device to cause the jiggle.

Another challenge was to enable users to share their wobbled images with friends through a cloud-based website. Anticipating a large user base, the app had to support a high load rate. Mercury Development also had to consider the implementation of 3D technology to the application. Finally, as the application grew in popularity, so, too, did the prevalence of Android devices. Mercury Development knew it would have to port the application to that platform.

Jon Atherton
ChilliFresh Founder

“Mercury Development took a simple idea and made it an App Store juggernaut. Their drive to continually look for opportunities to increase the quality and awareness of Wobble is what made the application so popular with fans. Tremendous company. Tremendous product.“


The Solution

Mercury Development submitted the first version of Wobble to the App Store in December, 2008 and received approval in January, 2009.

The app was an immediate success, becoming the top-selling app in several countries, including Japan and Australia.

Wobble rose as high as #13 in the United States. To solve the issue of users sharing their Wobble images, Mercury Development used Amazon Web Services cloud server to create an application to handle large numbers of simultaneous users.

In 2009, cloud technology was in its infancy, thus Mercury Development was an early adopter of the cloud storage trend. As a result, when the number of users grew into the hundreds of thousands, Mercury Development was able to modify the system to increase efficiency and performance.

To implement 3D technology and make Wobble even more lifelike, Mercury Development selected an Anachrome method, which was integrated into the app's previously developed Open GL-based engine. By wearing 3D glasses, Wobble users were able to experience an added amount of realism.

Feedback for this feature at the App Store was tremendous. In 2011, as Android devices grew in popularity, Mercury Development made the decision to port Wobble to that platform. Supporting both the iOS and Android platforms simultaneously would require an extensive amount of resources.

To solve the problem, Mercury Development extracted the Open GL portion of the application and implemented a low-level, cross-platform engine applicable for both 2D and 3D modes. The result ensured that users of both platforms could enjoy the realistic jiggling movements of the app without increasing support needs and maintenance costs.

Development of Wobble has continued since with Mercury Development frequently looking for ways to improve the app by adding features and releasing new versions. For example, when the iPhone 4 was released, Mercury Development updated Wobble so users could modify not just static images, but video streams as well.

The augmented reality effect was a hit. Another upgrade occurred when the iPad was developed.

In response, Mercury Development created a special version of Wobble supported by the higher screen resolution provided by the device.


The Results

Interest level for the app remained high throughout the first three years of development with 800-1000 downloads each week. Wobble also achieved a five-star rating in the App Store. In 2011, Mercury Development adopted a strategy for implementing one new feature and releasing one new version of the application every week. The tactic worked and the weekly download total jumped above 1000. To ensure the new strategy didn't impact the quality of the app, Mercury Development devised a special testing plan for each new version released. As a result, each update was of the highest quality and the application never lost its five-star rating.

Since 2008, more than 1 million users have downloaded Wobble, and the numbers continue to rise. Despite several clones now available in the App Store and the Android Market, Wobble has maintained its market dominance.

App Store Customers

“Wobble is, without a doubt, the most realistic 3D image app on the market. State-of-the-art and well thought out.“
“Love this app! So fun to experiment with pics and make things wobble.“
“Love this! Best dollar I've ever spent.“
“An awesome app for making stuff even more awesome!“