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.
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!
The inspiration for my first paid app came from the daughters toddler story collection. There was a book that she just loved being read to about counting bears. It was fun, color and rhymed. Kids love rhyming and this is how they develop their language skills. So I set about writing a little rhyming and counting activity about cats. Cats are a good topic because lots of things rhyme with cat. It was a great development opportunity as I had to develop graphic skills and learn all about vector images. I found some great public domain vector cats that I learnt to modify using Gimp. I added sound to the activity so that it was an independent activity. Let face it kids do love being read to.
As I was very enthusiastic about learning new skills I decided that I should ‘localise’ my app. Well that means converting all text - not just the rhyming story, but the app description and the numbers. I went for French, German, Spanish and Italian. I used several different online translators and got a tip from my teenaged daughter to double translate. that is to translate from english to french and then translate from french to english. If it still makes sense then you’re on a winner. If it doesn’t keep going. Fortunately I knew a few people that could review my translations and that really helped. I’ve only localised a couple of apps. I think it was traumatised over the first one but I really should do it more for kids apps.
At first I called the app iCountCats. It wasn’t such a great name. I later renamed it to iLearn2Count when I redeveloped into a universal app for the iPad. Universal apps…..now that’s a topic for another time.
Back to my first paid app. How exciting was it to get sales!! It was only $0.99 but it was so exciting. Just for the record I am pretty sure that I have never had a day when I didn’t make a sale starting from the heady days of iCountCats.
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.
I have been very busy creating lots of apps. To see all of my apps search for canApps on the itunes app store.
PicOut, an iphone version of very popular ipad app is now for sale. Find it on itunes http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pic-out-of-place/id405012214?mt=8
picOut is perfect for helping kids learn and practice the concepts of same and different. Kids will have fun while learning.
I am thinking about how to market a product in social media forums. How do you plug your product without having your account suspended? I have experienced this on facebook and other blogs that are relevant to my product. I’m thinking one needs to be subtle and submit to blog a few times before going for the marketing plug. Any thoughts?
canApps is an australian based iPhone and iPad developer team. The apps are mostly educational, parenting based and a few other fun things. Come along for the ride. You can also follow us on Twitter on canAppsOz.