Here's a bit more about the app, and about the tool I used to make the app. I'd love your feedback via email or in comments below on what else you'd like to see in the app.
The Hacker News app uses Push Notifications from Urban Airship, which is integrated through AppMakr. So the author of the app can send out a notification to everyone who's downloaded the app. PG, if you read this, the push notifications are all yours to use; I don't plan on sending too many out unless it's something really significant.
AppMakr uses RSS feeds to populate the app with content. The difficulty with Hacker News is that the site links to external stories. Luckily, I found a killer feed from Readable Feeds by Andrew Trusty, which is based off a script from Nirmal Patel. This is really just an awesome example of one technology building on top of another. Andrew, Nirmal - the HN iPhone app is counting on your stuff, so I'll keep my fingers crossed that it doesn't have any downtime! :)
We just added GeoRSS feeds within AppMakr, and I put it to good use within the Hacker News app. I used MetaCarta's RSS GeoTagger to turn any locations mentioned in a Hacker News story into a pin on the iPhone app. So, building on Andrew & Nirmal's RSS goodness, MetaCarta extracts any locations, turns them into a lat & long point, and then AppMakr drops a pin wherever in the world the story is taking place.
AppMakr also recently added in media RSS functionality, which displays as a picture gallery. I used a Flickr tag to create the media RSS feed. Pretty sweet, the tags I used were "Paul Graham" and also "Y Combinator" in two separate galleries.
There's a great Hackers & Founders Meetup, which offers an RSS feed. I threw it into AppMakr for Meetup functionality.
Twitter also offers both RSS feeds for specific accounts, as well as for search results, both of which I put into the app.
I also included a "wildcard" section, where I'll rotate in any feeds that the HN community would like to see in there. If you have a feed you'd like to suggest, please email it to me (make sure to send me the RSS feed, not the website URL).
I'm one of the co-founders of PointAbout, the company that created AppMakr. Here's a bit more about AppMakr:
We launched AppMakr in January 2010. Since then, it's been used to build over 8,900 iPhone apps. We recently launched the App Quality Index algorithm, which lets us predict whether an app will be accepted or rejected by Apple with 90% accuracy. We also recently made it so youdon't need to own a Mac to create an iPhone app - by using AppMakr, the process is completely web based, yet the app is fully native, works offline and all that good stuff.
AppMakr has been used by the likes of Newsweek, National Geographic,The PGA Tour, The Havard Business Review, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, US Congress, Maclife, Inc 500, along with smaller publications like RacerX , WTOP and literally thousands of others to make apps. There's even an Australian Fire Brigade that built an app with AppMakr called CF Alerts to warn its populace of impending fires.
Our traffic & traction has been pretty astounding to us. Here's a graph since we launched in January showing both session & user base growth: (yes the actual #'s are removed; if you're an interested Angel investor or VC please contact me directly!)
AppMakr User Base Growth (end users, using the app):
AppMakr Session Growth (although it tracks user base growth closely, it's an independent number). A "session" counts as the app being opened by a user.
We often get a lot of people asking us if apps (and mobile in general) is a real true growth area, or if it's just a fad. I like to answer that question with these two slides:
Here are more screenshots from the app: