Interview: Natasha The Robot

Natasha The Robot is an iOS development industry leader. She blogs at natashatherobot.com and publishes a weekly Swift newsletter at swiftnews.curated.co. Her Twitter handle is @NatashaTheRobot.

Natasha, thanks for taking the time! First of all, what are you up to these days?

It’s been the holiday season, so I’ve been taking it easy. I made a lot of life changes recently, so I’m catching up on things, a lot of travelling, meeting people, creating a vision board.

You spoke in a lot of countries in 2015. You were also in Germany, England, Spain and the Netherlands. Do you like Europe?

Yes of course. But right now I’m in New Zealand though.

And which country in Europe do you like the most?

I don’t know, all of them were different and cool. But the Netherlands were amazing, especially Amsterdam.

Indeed, I was in Amsterdam in 2015 as well and it’s really a great city.  I saw you on the Swift Summit in San Francisco and I think that you are doing a very good job performing on the stage. Have you done some sort of speaker training or is it just practice?

I did a public speaking class in high school, but that was a while ago. But a lot of it is just observing what other people do, like watching WWDC keynotes. And also listening to some podcasts. And then definitely practise. For me I have to be really prepared because I’m not good at improvising stuff. Usually it’s just a lot of preparation and just knowing that I know what I’m talking about.

When I was about to enter the stage at Swift Summit, I was pretty nervous. Do you still have stage fright or has it become routine?

I do a little bit, but not too much. I just kind of let go and what will happen happens. I don’t know if that makes sense. But I trust that I know what I’m talking about and that I’m prepared.

Recently you have started another blog at natashathenomad.com. Could you tell us about it?

Sure. I recently gave up my apartment in San Francisco and got rid of most of my things. So I’m just traveling and I don’t really have a home. So natashathenomad.com is more for covering my travel adventures.

But you will continue natashatherobot.com?

Definitely.

You are one of the organisers of the try! Swift conference that will take place in Tokyo 2016. What’s the story behind that?

I visited Japan earlier in 2015 and it was amazing. I was more of a tourist and then at some other conferences I talked to other speakers and we said “It would be cool to have a conference in Japan.” I think eventually after I talked about it I said “Fine, I’ll do it.” So I decided to organise it and one of the people I talked to introduced me to @k_katsumi who is based in Tokyo and leads the iOS meetup there. He works for realm, which is based in San Francisco and they give their support as well. So we’ve been working together with some other friends and made it happen. I’m really excited about it.

I’m sure it will be a great conference. So good luck for it! Besides the try! Swift conference, what are your plans for 2016? Or, to say it differently, what is on your vision board for 2016?

I don’t like making concrete plans. It’s more like guidelines: travelling more, exercising, learning, continuing natashatherobot.com and things like that. The first three months is obviously organising the try! Swift conference and making it a success. And then also probably writing a book. And of course figuring out the balance between everything.

What will the book be about?

I’ll probably do a few books. The first one I have a concrete plan for is about iOS unit testing in Swift.

One big topic at the moment is Swift going open source. So what are your initial impressions?

I’m super impressed and the coolest thing is that they are accepting Swift evolution proposals from the community.

Yes, I think Apple has gone much further than people have expected it.

Definitely.

On your blog there are a lot of Apple Watch posts. The watch was launched in April 2015. After some time has passed, what do you think about it now?

I use it, but I noticed that I’m basically using the built-in apps. So for example Apple Maps is the best for travelling and to get somewhere. Before it, I had to stare at my phone the whole time, but now with Apple Watch I can enjoy my walk and I know I’ll be tapped if I need to turn. But I’m not using any external apps, what’s probably bad. But it’s still version one and I’m looking to see what they’ll come up with for version two. And besides that it takes time for us developers to figure out the right interface for it and the right use cases.

Besides the Apple Watch, also the new Apple TV was launched in 2015. Do you own one?

Actually I don’t. But that’s because I don’t have a TV for years. I use my iPad as my TV, especially when traveling. But obviously there is a huge market for it, many people do have TVs at home. So I think it’s definitely the future of TV, but for me personally it’s hard to get excited about it.

Both your blog and your newsletter are very successful. Have you ever considered to start a Youtube channel? I am very sure that it would be a huge success as well.

Yeah, I’m considering some workshops, but usually videos take much longer to produce than just blogging. But I think it’s kind of the same thing as the TV. It’s easier for me to just read a blog post and scan it and to see what’s the important part for me versus a video tutorial where you don’t know where the relevant part is and you have to watch all of it. So I like the writing form much more.

Thanks for the interview!

Resources

Image: @ BrAt82 / shutterstock.com

Book Tip

Big Nerd Range Guide: iOS Programming: Excellent introduction to iOS development. Some programming experience is recommended.

Amazon