Seeing an app you made in the app store for the first time is a magical feeling. It’s right there, alongside all the other apps you’ve known and loved and admired for years! When my first app went live in the store on November 26th, I got to experience that feeling.
It wasn’t easy, though. I’d been wanting to make an app for a long time, but two things were needed for that to happen.
The Right Project. There are a lot of apps in the store. I had hundreds of ideas, but they kept being made by other people, usually years or months before I thought of them. But in October my wife and I started talking about what we’d like to see in a rosary app, and what was missing from the current offerings. It was clear that there was a gap in the market for an offering that was easier to use and designed for the latest version of iOS with a more minimal aesthetic.
The fact that it was our project meant that whenever I started to flag, my wife was there to give me encouragement. Every aspect of the app passed her rigorous testing, and her ideas were the nucleus of the entire thing. Having someone else to share the load of visualizing and evaluating the app gave the project the momentum it needed to go the distance.
An Easier Learning Curve. Every time I tried to get stuck into Objective-C, I got stuck! Something about it was a little too opaque, and without the right project to push me through I just never got past the first couple of storyboards. Swift, the new language Apple debuted last year, has its problems, but I’ve been tremendously grateful for it. Not only was it a lot easier to understand and jump in feet-first with, it acted as an unexpectedly useful gateway to Objective-C.
Learning and improving
I am now a bona fide app developer, which is an accomplishment I’m genuinely proud of. For years I’ve been listening to and reading developers, and although I was somewhat adjacent to the patch they were hoeing, there was a whole world of stuff that I just didn’t get. Developing apps is a subtly different mindset from developing websites. So many things make sense to me now that were opaque mysteries six months ago. I get it now!
Putting out an app is a much more focused and high-stakes project than creating a website, or publishing an article. Hundreds of hours of work are funneled through a little doorway to the dreaded App Review, and you wait outside anxiously to see if some nameless arbiter will be magnimanious enough to let your pitiful offering through with a stamp of approval. Once you make it through, there’s very little way to predict who will download your app, or guess who has.
The App store is a black box, and even the most successful developers have no idea what’s going on in there.
We didn’t market our app very aggressively, because we made it purely as a service to Catholics and we’re not charging anything for it. Despite that, it’s been gratifying to see people download it and rate it. I honestly hadn’t expected how rewarding it would be to see people give it favorable reviews. It’s fun to check the stats every morning and see whether anyone downloaded or reviewed it the day before.
I have more than one follow-up app already in the works, both in the Catholic sphere (which is just wide open for good, modern apps!) and in another area too. I didn’t realize how addictive this would be!
If you’re interested in praying the rosary with our app, we’d be honored if you’d check it out: New Evangelization Rosary.
Published on January 5th, 2015