Developers Cubed: How To Keep An App Going

Developers Cubed: How To Keep An App Going

Gizmodo’s Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: the guys from OzTV are back to tell us just how to keep an app going successfully as you update it over the years.

Who are you and where do you work?
I’m Alex Johnston, the Designer at Apps Perhaps, a two-man company I Co-Founded with Developer Jeff Tan-Ang here in Melbourne, Australia.

Why do we know you? What have you created?
Together our main product is OzTV, Australian Free-to-Air TV Guides for iPhone and iPad which we started working on nearly three years ago.

What platforms do you develop for?
Currently we work exclusively on iOS titles for iPhone and iPad, though like many people we come from Mobile Web backgrounds.

What are you working on right now?
We just released our latest update for OzTV, one year in the making, that basically reinvented the entire app and added a whole lot of features including Favourites and enhanced data. We also introduced a social layer, focused on allowing you to Check-In to shows and see what friends are watching on the guide. The launch has gone really well, being a featured app for the iPhone 5 Australian launch was a great privilege and we’re currently working on improving these features now we’ve had a chance to see how people are using them. There will be an update coming very soon for OzTV.

We’ve also been working away this year on a new app with some friends.It was the first idea we’ve come across since OzTV that made us so excited we just had to get involved. It’s all about food and cooking and has been in development for some time now. We hope to release during the Summer.

What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles?
It provided us a market place to distribute and, most importantly, monetise our work which has completely changed our lives and empowered us to work on our products. I wasn’t sure at first if it was just going to be a fad but now it really seems like the rise of a whole new medium, one that will hopefully continue to greatly improve the quality of experiences on all devices.

What’s your favourite app that you didn’t create?
I’m going to have to say Flipboard, it simply and elegantly defined what a digital magazine could be and was one of the first apps that made the iPad a must have. Jeff loves Path, it’s a great way to share with those close to you and it’s done with such polish you enjoy using it.

What phone do you use? Why?
Currently we both use iPhone 5’s. We’ve got a bunch of older iPhones but it’s a nice perk of the job that we require the latest device to work with.

What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there?
Focus your apps to a single core scenario and the features needed to deliver that promise. Spend your time on the parts of the app people will use all that time and always cut things that don’t work regardless of how much time you spent on them.

It’s a tough balancing act and many people worry they’ll take too long and never release. Sure it will take a long time, probably more than you would like but that’s just what it takes. It’s important to remember you’re not going to have all the answers but if you keep all features cut to their core value it shouldn’t take long to make them polished enough that you can release and see how people use them.

Set your quality level really high, you’ll probably never reach it but as each part of the app gets close, you’ll know it’s time to release. You shouldn’t be embarrassed by anything you release let alone your first version, it should be good, it has to be good. What you left out shouldn’t embarrass but rather motivate you to continue and improve it.