Take this idea and run: the find-your-double app. You take a selfie, the app analyses it and tells you where your identical twin, I mean, your identical twin from-another-mother is to be found.
I’d love to have something like this out there, but won’t be able to start a new thing just now. (Insert sad smiley here.)
Another brilliant idea that I had before has just been made by PornHub: the BangFit is a fitness tracker service that tracks a special kind of fitness. Though this one is done by PornHub, so I guess it will eventually measure the mhm, exercise of men’s underarm?
Developing a new mobile application takes a lot of iterations: with every new version we are adding new features, polish the old ones, measure user acceptance – and react as fast as possible.
However, with the long App Store submission process and the even longer period until Android users update their apps, it usually takes a while to experiment with new features.
To find the features people will love is the key to win a whole lot of hearts: hearts, that belong to the new users. The faster you can find out what product the users really want, the better – that’s why marketers keep using A/B tests for almost everything.
On mobile though, the free and paid split test solutions usually aim too much: they come with statistics, robust close-source SDKs (that crash all the time), and these services want you to commit for life and beyond.
That’s why we created AppWoodoo. A minimalistic, open-source SDK and a lightweight backend service that does exactly what you expect: receives a new list of settings every time you want it.
So, say, you can switch off Facebook login as soon as it turns out people leave your app for that. Or just add a “my mood” section which you can update daily.
If you are already eager to try it out, please do so. The SDKs are on Github (iOS, Android), and the service is live on appwoodoo.com
And now, some coding magic, with Android (you can do pretty much the same on iOS as well though).
In this example, we will create a simple screen to remotely display or hide a Login button, and measure the clicks via Google Analytics.
1. Add the settings on AppWoodoo
In this example I added the ENABLE_LOGIN_BUTTON setting and set it to false. (Go to appwoodoo.com, and create an app to get started.)
First, we add a loginButton in the xml (notice that the button is not visible):
Then we download the settings from the server via the AppWoodoo service. Here I’m using the WoodooDelegate, which gets called as soon as the settings arrive from the server.
…and that’s it!
After a while you will see the usage data in Google Analytics. If the LOGIN_BUTTON event the DISPLAYED per CLICKED ratio is too high (meaning that most of the users don’t click on the button) and the user retention rate jumps to the skies whenever the button is visible, you can just switch this feature off from the AppWoodoo service.
Without resubmitting your app to Google Play or App Store.
As you may remember, I started to track my runs with Nike+ just about two months ago. Since then we shared a few moments (ten sessions and 50 kilometers) – quite enough time to know: I need something else.
miCoach – slightly less style
The main reason for the break-up was something that’s not the really Nike’s fault: their app is only for running. Because I like to track my cycling routes as well, I had to have a separate app for almost the exact same thing: see some speed and location data on a map.
And since miCoach from Adidas (the Android version) was already there, I couldn’t help to see the advantages of it:
1. Better statistics: shows my actual speed in time (not only green/yellow/red colors), average by kilometers, fastest km, elevation data etc. Just perfect.
2. Works without registration. (Now, I registered anyway so that I can see my data online, but I really like the fact that I didn’t have to for using the app.)
3. Feels more accurate. Sometimes Nike+ showed 100m as the distance so far, right at my 600m turn (I used to run on the same route a lot.)
1. Slightly worse UI. Not bad, not ugly, but well… Nike+ really was top notch on that.
2. miCoach asks for a code every time I start it. (Why? Anyone who gains access to my phone, could check my emails, Twitter, even payment data – but not how far I ran? It really doesn’t make sense.)
Tracking runs and other sports is great fun, even if it means carrying another device. I got addicted to more data about my runs sometime last Summer, and tried half a dozen of apps since then. Now that the last update broke ‘My Tracks’ on my phone, it was time to look for a new one.
To look for a tracking app on Google Play is not easy though. There are hundreds of them out there, almost indistinguishable from each other and to make matters worse, I already have some preferences. They should be small, easy to use, easy to set up – and especially, don’t need any kind of registration or whatsoever. In fact, the less features the app has, the more I should like it: display the position on a map, measure time and speed – that’s all one can need.
I can’t really say why I did download Nike’s running app then. You have to register on nike.com before the first use. I don’t want to share anything on my Facebook wall. The app is huge. (16 MB, really? Will it do my runs for me?) And it’s not made by some nice indie developers on an island, but Nike, a giant. Yet, I did download it and tried it just now.
And I loved it!
The registration is annoying. I don’t even know what a calorie is, but it keeps showing me how many less of those I have. It always wants to share my embarrassing results with my friends and followers. But there is something to it that I really liked.
Great graphics, for starters. And while I’m not at all interested in calories, I really do like how it is displayed, together with the longest distance, fastest run etc -it’s just great to look at those screens. The whole lot is perfectly made and has some spirit, some unique touch to it. And the best thing is: I can’t wait for the next time to use it.
This app is a brilliant lifestyle product. Nothing less.
For keeping track with hundreds of blogs, RSS readers are the best tools; my personal favorite is Google Reader which is free, easy to use and available for all devices. For most of the blogs it’s perfect, but with Flipboard you’ve got something different: a magazine experience.
Google Reader is brilliant to collect blogs and consume information: the followed web pages can be grouped by interests – you know which of those lists to read carefully, and which ones don’t need a very close attention. I usually read all the posts of friends’ blogs, but with the 200-300 incoming posts a day with the label ‘inspirating-graphics’, I could sit at the computer and push the next button for the whole day.
These labels therefore need some special treatment, and that’s where Flipboard has no competition. It’s a great way to read information you don’t really mind missing out: you can scan through all your feeds just as if it was a magazine. Big pictures, headlines with nice typography and page layouts – it really is amazing how all the different kind of blogs and web portals turn into something beautiful and consistent. And it does more than just RSS: Twitter, Facebook posts and all sorts of social networks can be plugged into Flipboard – and become magazines on your device.
For Android users, Flipboard was always something to miss, but now it seems like the app is coming sooner than we think. For those of us who couldn’t wait, there already is a leaked APK on the internet. (And it works like a charm.)
Programming used to be a hacker thing: men in black sitting on the floor, bending over a laptop that has some key parts missing (or even wires coming out), and the only source in the dark room at 3 am in the morning is the dim light from the monitor. Nowadays though, programmers get some shine.
Codea is a touch-based programming app for the iPad, that lets developers create games and simulations. Of course, it’s more a toy than a heavy weight development environment (and since the current kit doesn’t support any kind of publishing, the final games will never leave the iPad itself – I was awfully wrong! See below). Not like it’s a big deal, no one will cry over missing out those “amazing things” created with Codea.
So the time is not now, yes, but the damage has been made: as more and more development tools will come out, eventually, programmers will be changing their black bricks into shiny toys – just like journalist did some time ago.
Update: as @TwoLivesLeft said on Twitter, there is a solution to turn apps made with Codea into native iOS apps, and the code for this is already on Github. One example app in the App Store is Cargo Bot, available for free for iPad.