Is it possible to make an iPod app that can make sounds while songs are playing?

I’ve got an idea for an iPod app that will play sounds at specific times while one is listening to songs on their iPod. Is this possible? Is making an app something that an ordinary Joe can do or does it require knowledge in writing software?

Yes, it is possible.

Yes, it requires knowledge in writing software -unless, of course, someone has already made this app.

Only for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. None of the other iPods support third-party-programable apps. And yes, “apps” are software, and have to be written as such, especially given Apple’s recent crackdown on any sort of tool which “generates” iOS applications (there used to be ways to do it for very simple applications).

That specific app would be a little challenging, incidentally, because the iOS normally mutes the iPod songs when another app starts using sound. (And there’s no way to have your app automatically run when they’re playing songs on the iPod app – the user would have to manually start the song, then explicitly switch to and run your application).

Are you sure that’s true under 4.0? My latest application has a feature that plays sound that, due to the new multi-tasking features, continues to play even after I “exit” the application.

Since my sounds are snippets (about 2 seconds) it would be difficult to get to the iPod portion of phone in time to test it.

Could be, but as a registered iOS developer, I’m not allowed to talk about 4.0 until it’s in general release (a week or so yet).

In any case, I think the issue’s not with the multi-tasking, per se (iPod could always multitask), as much as a more "apps that are playing sounds aren’t going to want songs playing under them. There have always been ways around it, though: you’ll notice some games (that have their own sounds) will let you play your music in the background – it’s just more challenging; you may have to take control of playing the music yourself (I don’t know for sure, I’ve not done it – I’ve only noticed that as soon as I allocate a sound to start playing, the iPod songs fade out.)

Yes, first rule of iPhone development is you don’t talk about iPhone development. I’m pulling this from the popular press, rather than the version on my phone (which cannot be anything later than 3.2.3 since I can’t talk about that).

It seems to depend. As you say, this is something I’m more comfortable talking about in about 6 days (can Jobs really come over and kick my dog if I violate the agreement? That seems a bit harsh)

Yes, there should be some way to do it. I have a GPS running program called Runkeeper Pro for the iPhone, and it will run concurrently with the iPod app, giving you status updates by time or distance intervals, as well as on-demand. You can trigger the iPod playlist from either the Runkeeper app itself or you can do it through the iPod app.

I concur. I have trailguru, an iPhone app that allows my playlist to keep playing and dings every time a mile ticks off. It is a free app if you want to try it out.

That can’t be entirely true. I have a 30GB iPod - I forget the generation number, but it is the first model that could play video. I purchased a game for it through the App Store, which was produced by a third party (the folks who make the Final Fantasy games, in fact).

The game does play sounds, and does continue playing music in the background.

Thirding “it can be done” (though I have no idea how; I’m not a programmer). The C25K app on my iPod Touch tells me when to run or walk and runs over the top of my music, no muting required.

I knew someone would call me on that. Yes, there is (or at least was) an older API for the 5th generation “wheel” iPods, but Apple never made it public, so far as I know, and mere mortals can’t write for it.

As for playing sounds at the same time as the iPod songs, I’ll defer to folks who have actually done it about how it’s done.

Thanks for the clarification. I follow developments on the desktop side of Apple much more closely than the portable side.