Back in the Game

It’s been a while since my last post; here’s a reminder of the three experiments I’ve been working on:

  1. Price increase for Reminder+
  2. Changing the keywords for Reminder+
  3. Niche app based on keyword research – with ReminderBin

The first of those has been completed. The link above leads to a post detailing the results that were, on the whole, positive.

Results for the second and third items were stalled.

Changing the keywords. I submitted a small update back on the 11th February, which carried with it, the new keywords. Three rejections later (one of which was entirely my own fault) and v2.0.1 was made Ready for Sale at the end of last week, on the 1st April.

Despite the delay, I’ll have results on App Store views and download numbers, soon.

Niche app based on keyword research. ReminderBin v1.0 has been in the store since the 29th February. After the first 20 days there were only three downloads. Failure, yes, but I was most bothered by not being able to see App Analytics data.

I’d assumed that, even in the absence of actual downloads, I’d be able to see the number of App Store views. This was not the case.

This was bothersome because a large part of this experiment was learning about how much I could trust the keyword research that I did – would my assumptions translate into App Store traffic?…

So, on the 19th March, I made the app free.

I’ve got Analytics data now, but, the change to free resulted in a spike of downloads over a handful of days as the change was picked up by one (or more) of the sites that cover ‘apps gone free’.

Soon, I’ll have two weeks worth of regular data that I can report on.

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Juggling Small Projects

In the previous post I introduced a new side project that I’ve been working on: a text editor – codenamed dogfood.

At the time I published that post, I had actually just started another, very small, side-project. This was/is an entirely new app, born from ‘market research’, which I submitted earlier today (yay!). Very much an experiment – I’ve spent around 20 hours over the last two weeks from start to finish – that I’ll write about soon.

And then there’s the App Store experimentation for Reminder+ (App Store link) that I’ve written about. First, the price increase, then, the changing of keywords.

I had a plan…

That might sound like I’ve been juggling small projects.

In fact, I’ve had a pretty cohesive plan that matched well with the time I’ve had available over the last month or so. And it’s been running smoothly.

Background tasks:

  • Change the price of the Reminder+ IAP
  • Small update to Reminder+ to change the keywords
  • After 6 weeks of the changed price, release the update with new keywords
  • Report on the price change, then, report on the keyword change

Primary task:

  • Work on dogfood; there’s no hurry

As I wrote above, this was progressing according to plan. It actually became more interesting when, whilst researching keywords1 for Reminder+, I stumbled upon what could be described as a (small) niche app opportunity.

I wondered: how would an app perform if, released into the wild with no ‘marketing’ other than being targeted at a specific keyword gap?

Aside from being appealing as an interesting experiment, I figured this project would fit nicely with this theme of App Store experimentation – so I set myself a target of 16 hours to complete the app and submit it.

Updated plan

So the plan became something like this.

Background tasks:

  • Change the price of the Reminder+ IAP
  • Small update to Reminder+ to change the keywords
  • After 6 weeks of the changed price, release the update with new keywords
  • Quietly release an experimental app with limited work
  • Report on the price change, then, report on the keyword change, then, report on the keyword-based app’s performance

Primary task:

  • Work on dogfood; there’s no hurry

Plan interrupted: App Store rejection

Unfortunately, there’s been a slight hitch. The update to Reminder+ that carried with it, the new keywords, was rejected.

This was a surprise as the only change to the application was a small bug fix; the issues (more than one) prompting the rejection were all in the previous version.

It’s a shame because it’s interrupted my nicely planned flow of reporting on these App Store changes. Of course, it also means that I’ve got more work to do if I want to get those updated keywords live.

What now?

  • I’ve submitted a new app today – so I’m going to pause for a moment.
  • I’ll write about what this new app is and what I’ve done. In a couple of weeks or so, I should be able to make initial comments on its success/failure.
  • My next task: I’ll respond to the Reminder+ rejection. Addressing the issues is non-trivial, which has confused matters somewhat. Dropping this app is a consideration.
  • Either way, I’ll update the Reminder+ numbers and, in the least, report on the price change experiment.
  • I’ll get back to working on dogfood; there’s no hurry. A fellow app developer suggested I look for some beta testers. With this app, I think that’s a great idea (thanks).

  1. Researching keywords: I have a post almost ready to go, explaining what ‘researching keywords’ involves for me.

Codename “dogfood”, a New Side Project

Last August, whilst I was working on releasing version 2.0 of Reminder+, I had an urge to work a text-entry (and editing) style application. The goal of the app:

Make it fast to write snippets of text on an iPhone.

I spent a handful of hours putting something basic together and then went back to Reminder+. I kept the (very rough) app on my phone, to use in the background… it disappeared when I upgraded to iOS 9.

Was there any value?

I started to think about the app again over the Christmas break and so put it back on my phone.

The ‘app’ was essentially a collection of controls to manipulate the cursor position or text selection. In isolation these controls were useful for writing and editing text, but I was less certain that the overall package was compelling as an app.

This is what I was considering:

  • A single text entry screen, like a “scratch pad” of sorts, with an advanced keyboard accessory view.
  • Workflow: write the text you need and then jump to the app where you want to use it.

So I put it to the test.

The first course of dog food

The app went onto the dock. I used it. Daily.

Fairly quickly, I started to form the opinion that, working with this original vision, the app simply wasn’t appealing enough. There was too much effort in switching between apps for a small task (even in cases when it was a net win).

But the controls did work nicely, and I do like to be able to write, productively, on the phone1

A second course of dog food

So what about more general purpose note taking and writing?

A new goal emerged:

Enable users to be productive, writing on an iPhone, by improving the review, editing and correction of text.

No longer a scratchpad, a writing app, for short and long bodies of text.

An app I that I would use, myself2.

And now I really am eating my own dog food. I’m using the app regularly – to write my blog posts – and have been doing so since early January. And I continue to find it useful.

Stepping back, it feels like a great example of having a customer / user to help drive the development of a piece of software.

Every time I use the app I refine my view of what works and what doesn’t. What is the next most important feature to add? For the 1.0, what is necessary and what can be left behind?

So it’s a new side project. Codename dogfood.

  1. Note that, around this time, I did consider a keyboard extension. I dropped that notion for a combination of technical and user experience based reasons.
  2. In place of another writing app, for example, the rather awesome iA Writer that I’ve been using, previously.