dad2be app is a good example of an idea that burst into my head. My niece and nephew were expecting their first child and said nephew was a big iPhone user and was thirsting for information about becoming a father. As soon as they found out he was ordering books online. I thought ‘I need to make him an app’. I looked on the app store and there was nothing much for the dad2be’s but plenty for the mum2be’s and frankly there were some great mum2be apps and I didn’t want to compete with them. Remembering I’m pretty new at this stage - less than 6 months in.
Researching the content was great fun and we certainly drew on our experiences and those of friends. The graphics was good fun too and enabled me to improve my gimp skills. I found some public domain images of a quirky man and a pram and combined them into a fairly quirky icon.
So I didn’t tell dad2be I was doing an app for him. I wanted to surprise him and had included some comments that he would know were about him. The terrible thing was that the couple had a miscarriage just after I submitted the app. I agonised over whether to withdraw but in the end we decided not too but not say a word about it. Naturally he was interested in my app work but we kept ‘mum’ on this one.
the good news was that they again got pregnant and after a safe amount of time I gift him the app.
I love how this app came about and was really nice to gift someone an app that was made for them. And I do think we hit onto a niche as as sold well. Later went on to do an iPad version and also a quiz app…..now my love of quiz apps is for another day!
I turned my first paid iphone app into a universal app and that worked well. Was great to be part of the iPad launch.
A flood of ideas
I’m constantly getting ideas for apps as are my team (husband and daughter). I note them all down and the list just gets longer and longer. It’s hard to know what app users want so I’ve tended to try lots if different apps for different purposes and age groups although try to stick to some broad categories. The problem is deciding what to do next. Often something will come up that excites and we can’t wait to do it. My ideas list is long and I remember thinking I’ve got to stop thinking of ideas as I can’t keep up. I run, swim, walk and ride a stationary bike. I find all these things good for generating ideas as is sitting and thinking, preferably at the beach or by the pool. I really like the time I spend just thinking about ideas or discussing with my crew. A lot of ideas come from personal interests and I think that can be a good place to start. Also if I can’t find an app that suits a need of mine I’ll develop something on the premise that someone else also might find this handy. A good example of this is an app I developed before Xmas last year. I have a lot of people to buy presents for and also have a few birthdays before and after Xmas. As well I also make Gingerbread houses (see iPad app) and need to track how many, for who, when to deliver etc. I had recently done an inventory app and an exam preparation tracking app and thought I could combine techniques from both for what I needed. I needed something simple to track ideas, making, buying, wrapping and gifting and so the gift tracker was developed. It sold very well before Xmas although I was greatly amused when people were buying it 3 days before Xmas! But best of all I really found it a great help myself and am determined to keep using it all year round given I had missed a birthday last year for a family member who lived interstate. As you will see the canApps logo is a light bulb to show we are driven by ideas.
The iPad is a coming
It was a great time being an iPhone developer when the iPad release was announced. As developers we were invited to submit early release products for the launch. I decided to convert my iCountCats app to a universal app for iPad display as I thought it was ideal. I also renamed it iLearn2Count which was a far better name. The day before the cut off for the launch submission we were driving back from a day at the beach when we stopped for fuel. I suddenly got an idea for a simple iPad app where you select a picture icon and a color and the picture is displayed in a large size in that color with a word describing the picture and the word of the color displayed. My daughter and I chatted about what animals and pictures to include that would appeal on the American market. when I got home I spent a few hours working on a prototype to see if my idea would work and it did! Next morning I worked and the graphics, tested and got ready for submission. I had worked out the time difference and calculated that I needed to submit by midday local time. I completed the submission process just before 11am and was pretty pleased with myself. I was thinking ‘how good am i’ and thought I’d just check the pacific standard time. To my surprise I was an hour out and actually submitted with minutes to spare before the cut off time!
I am particularly fond of this app. It was my husbands idea when I first started developing. Having worked in a children’s hospital, being a fantastic cook and preparing all meals for our daughter he was very knowledgeable in weaning and first foods.
When we first came up with the idea there were no similar apps on the app store however six months later when we were ready to submit there were a few other similar apps. To be honest it took while for me to develop the skills needed and get a design that we were happy with. I developed a few different versions before we were happy. It also took a while to put the content together. I decided to use property lists to manage the content and still find this a good way for limited content. They are also easy for my ‘partners in crime’ to edit - husband and daughter. I also used HTML for more detailed recipes.
We finally decided we were ready and spent a weekend doing final visual changes, writing up app store description, getting screen shots and final checks. But what to call the app? “Light bulb moment!” It was the weekend of the MasterChef final. While we hadn’t watched it ourselves - too busy developing and testing - we were well aware of how popular it was. And so the name ‘BabyChef’ was born. MasterChef gave us a great marketing angle - ”be a MasterChef for your baby”.
BabyChef is our most successful app and continues to sell almost every day 18 months later. I have made some minor updates however I would like to re-do some parts of the interface as have improved my interface styles and prefer to move away from HTML content.
Following the iPad launch I developed an iPad version of BabyChef. I wanted to use the split view so found it far easier to create a new app rather than upgrade the original app to universal. Fortunately later versions of Xcode (4.3 I think) have along awaited universal template that includes a split view controller.
My very first app was based on a tutorial in iPhone Development for dummies. I followed it pretty much to the letter and didn’t always understand what I was doing. Instead of making it about travel as in the example I made it about aromatherapy, a hobby of mine. I submitted the app as a free app mostly for the experience of submitting. I had read that it was pretty common to get rejected so I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t. To be honest I felt a bit of a legend. And let me tell you it was a great buz to see people download it every day. It certainly reinforced that people want apps. Many months later with further experience I redeveloped iNatural from scratch and started charging the heading price of $0.99 for it. And later in the early days of iPads I developed a delux version for the iPad with extra recipes and health and well being tips.
I use both these apps a lot myself as they contain my fav recipes for natural shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, deodorant, toner, face lotion and body powder.
The life and times of canApps
I have decided to use tumblr for sharing my experiences as a developers of iPhone/iPad apps. Having started this blog 2 years down the track it will be largely retrospective and not always in the correct chronilogical order, however as saying goes “I won’t the truth get in the way of a good story!”. Here is the first installment….
Once upon a time, well December 2009 to be exact, I thought it was time that I modernised my IT skills. What to do? What to do? After observing how my teenaged daughter was using her iPod to assist with studying, amongst other fun things, I thought I should look into this. I was so impressed that I thought I’d have a go a iPhone development. How hard could it be? I had been a developer for many many years and frankly was loosing touch with my roots having moved more and more into management areas. A trip to the local Apple shop saw me onto a very interesting journey.
I installed Xcode and ordered ‘iPhone App Development for dummies’. Following the tutorials in the book I soon became an iPhone developer!!! I had recently dislocated my shoulder and so was working with my arm in a sling and suffering some pain. However I was hooked, so cradling my dodgy arm, I coded and researched.
My first app was a free app that I developed for myself. Having an interest in aromatherapy I developed an app for my favorite natural skin care recipes which was really useful. Some 4 weeks after starting my journey I was ready to submit my first app for review. What a saga. I spent all day getting a successful submission, mostly because my icon skills weren’t so great. But also because the submission process back then was very cumbersome and unforgiving. Back then it was such a saga to submit an app and if you’re wi-fi dropped out it was tragic. Despite numerous blogs reporting how difficult it was to get an app based my app passed without incident and was soon getting downloads every day. Athough I was not making any money from this it was hugely exciting. Once my skills developed further I actually redeveloped this initial app - iNatural - into a paid app and a deluxe iPad version.
Still my favorite app. The first app for canApps and still popular after 15 months
Educational game app to test your same/difference concept using shapes and colors. Good brain simulator. Even my elderly mum enjoyed playing it!