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Our Work

A first of its kind lottery reseller location finder meant to compliment the already extremely popular Lottery Post website and give lottery players easy access to the games nearest them.

Lottery Places

An example of how Lottery Places might look on an iPhone

With little doubt, Lottery Post, created and run by Todd Northrop is the largest lottery website on the internet. It’s so popular that Todd is a regular segment commenter on news stations, a clip of which even appeared on the John Oliver show. So we were honored when he approached 42 Solutions about creating an app that used his proprietary data to provide lottery location information to people on their devices.

The Features

The feature set for the app called Lottery Places was not long. But because of the wide variety of circumstances in which it could be used and the possible depth or shallowness of certain data, the app had to be flexible in how it rendered its display. Lotteries in Washington State, for instance could have more information on the types of games available at each location whereas New York State might not have that information at all.

Additionally, though the app would primarily be map driven, displaying custom icons on an Apple MapKit implementation, it should also be flexible enough to display locations in a list, sortable by either distance or name.

Todd also wanted to take advantage of the feature set available on every iOS device. Apple Maps offers turn-by-turn directions, the Lottery Places should seamlessly hand off to Apple Maps if the user wants to know how to get to a location. And, obviously, the use of location services would allow Lottery Places to query the backend service with the most up to date geo-location information in order to display lottery resellers in countries across the globe.

Challenges

While iOS provides many, many out of the box features that make app development relatively quick, there are still many things that need to be custom built.

When attempting to display items on a map, for instance, there are APIs that obviously allow you to interact with the MapKit API but grouping locations effectively needs to be hand tweaked for the optimal user experience. Also, each app needs to determine the scroll distance themselves to queue a new network request for more data. It presents an interesting challenge when going from urban to rural areas where the amount of data and distance scrolled is inversely related. And too many network requests, though optimized for mobile delivery, still use data when the device is not on WiFi, a consideration every app developer should always have on their mind.

Also, the layout engine for iOS is among the best ever designed and is incredibly easy to layout static screens on. Unfortunately, when entire sections may need to be hidden for lack of data, the engine is not like HTML that moves elements up as higher ones are collapsed. Each element’s position on screen and within its parent element needs to be recalculated based on the data available. In order to keep the design consistent and attractive this, perhaps, consumed the bulk of the development time.

Technologies

The Lottery Places iOS app is an extremely lean piece of software as its mission is exceedingly simple. As such, it didn’t require stacks and stacks of third-party libraries, something that can make future maintenance a serious chore. Instead, almost every technology taken advantage of was baked directly into iOS itself.

CoreLocation was used to find or estimate the user’s location in the most energy and network efficient way. MapKit was used not just for all maps but also for the banner image of locations that the service hasn’t provided one for. WebKit was used for dynamic screens where information was better served from a webpage than through a designed iOS screen. Screens such as Help and a feedback form. We did use a third-party networking stack, mostly for convenient API calls, and of course, integrated Google’s DoubleClick ad platform to generate revenue on an otherwise free app.

Conclusion

With a fresh iOS 7 inspired look and quick and easy access to lottery reseller location information, Lottery Places has been a success and continues to get fresh installs each time a lottery jackpot begins to attract notice. It is the only app in the App Store that can not only direct you to thousands of lottery locations across the globe but also feature such a quick and intuitive interface that remains clean and informative whether there be a little or a lot of information on a reseller. And being feed driven means that Lottery Places can constantly expand without the need for further development or long app review times.

Are you interested in a custom iOS or Android app to expand your reach to mobile customers? Contact 42 Solutions and we will help put your business into people’s hands.

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42 Solutions

Working with 42 Solutions, you’ll find that it’s not the technology that’s important, it’s the idea. Regardless of whether your company is based on proprietary software or open source, we will find the right tools to get the job done.

Invite us to your office and we’ll send a pair of consultants armed with laptops and bright ideas, ready to solve your problem and offer solutions. We pride ourselves in getting to know how you do business and integrating into your process.