For many programmers or entrepreneurs, the ultimate dream is to become an "App Millionaire". It must be amazing to know that because of a clever idea you had, you will never have to work again. And knowing that this idea actually helps people! The problem is that so few people know how to become an app developer.
That's what I like about programming and software development. This is a set of tools that anyone can use to create something that they can dream of and use to change their lives and the world.
Unfortunately I'm not an App Millionaire, but I have a little taste of success some time ago with an Android app and thought I would share my experiences here for other hopeful developers.
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I'm not sure it was exactly $ 50,000, but that's a rough estimate. One of my apps was downloaded more than 70,000 times for $ 1.20 a month, and some others were also selling well. I've also signed contracts with OEMs in India to have the apps appear as preinstalled software, which earned me a little more.
I am by no means rich. It may sound like a lot of money, but the impact is much lower over a ten-year period! That does not mean that it was not great. And it certainly helped me to live a bit more comfortably. And it was not like I followed traditional apps development advice.
The app that triggered me was multiscreen multitasking. As a freelance writer enjoying the freedom that this job offered me, I wanted to find a way to work on my giant phone without the need for a laptop. I had a Bluetooth keyboard, but I could not split the screen between a browser and a document for research purposes (this was long before integrated multitasking on Android).
See also: Ideation for Android Developers – How to Conceive the Next Big App
Unfortunately, this restriction was due to the firmware, so no encoding on my part would be able to access it without root access bypass.
Scratch your own itch. I knew what problem I wanted to solve and found a cool way to do it.
The solution I came up with was creating an app with both a text editor and a webview so I could see them side by side. I called this "split-screen browser and editor" because I'm original and actually got some downloads! I did not really want to learn how to become an app developer, but I knew what problem I wanted to solve and found a cool way to do it. Designers and inventors tend to call this a "scratch," and it's a great way to find "pain points" that can become salable ideas.
From then on I realized it would not be so hard to add more mini-apps to the mix, like a file browser, a drawing tool, or a movie player. I then found a way to move the windows and resize them like a Windows desktop. I got the user's finger position from a canvas hovering above all views, and allowed that press to pass through when in a window.
I did not expect the app to be the way it was.
I published this extremely quickly as multiscreen multitasking and then developed it over time to incorporate more ideas and features. I also split the app into several different versions to address different types of users and different device types. My programming at the time was quite limited, to say the least, so I learned how to be an app developer basically at work!
A scary time
I was not I expect the app will start as it did. Again, I'm not a Mark Zuckerberg, but after a day or two, the app sold numerous copies per hour for a single price of 1.20 US dollars!
I have a vivid reminder of how I was at a house party and my phone checked phone to realize this had the potential to be "it". It was intoxicating! I've always been interested in learning how to become an app developer, but I did not really think about what it feels like when an app succeeds.
For about a year, the app worked I earned about $ 30 a day, which makes a big difference to a young man from college. In addition, I could see that it had the potential to become much larger .
At some point I was contacted by some people in India who wanted to act as a sort of agent for selling my app, a license for OEMs in their part of the world. I agreed, and while just about everyone tried to get me out of my intellectual property, and I barely earned a dime for weeks to optimize code, it still felt pretty big for me at the time. And nobody can take that from me!
How do I become an app developer today?
If you want to know how to become an app developer, what can you learn from my experiences?
I've made many bugs (which I will discuss in a moment), but I felt like I did it right to use a "fail-fast" approach – basically I have the app Little half-heartedly published.
It sounds like awful advice, but it works because you do not spend too long with an idea without legs. Before multiscreen multitasking, I had a custom keyboard, game, word-count app (this was not always a built-in feature at the time), and much more. None of them sold more than 20-30 copies.
If I spent a whole year narrating my words, I would never have multiscreen multitasking, and I would have been discouraged very early.
I see it so often among hopeful entrepreneurs and developers. They live for years at home with their parents and work on a life-changing app idea. Very often they will not even tell me what they're working on because it's so revolutionary that I could steal the idea (because of course I have nothing better to do!).
Then they publish their app / website / business and within two weeks they go bankrupt. Some take out a lot of credit and spend a fortune on branding, legal advice and error checking, without checking if anyone really wanted their idea!
See also: Online Work as a Software Developer
When you become an app developer, you do not necessarily have to move in with your colleagues! You can build and learn while holding down a 9-5 (or at least while working online as I did).
What's in a name?
Another thing I did right was to give the app a name that was sold by itself. "Multiscreen multitasking" is effectively a search term. If you want more apps running on the screen, look for it!
I did not do any marketing.
This made the app 100% a hit. I did not do any marketing and really did not expect it to be a modest success. What also helped is that the icon I used in the Play Store list is literally a screenshot of how it does it. People could immediately see that if they wanted desktop-style multitasking, this was the place to go!
The price is right
I agree with my decision to release the app at a one-time price. I knew from my experience as a webmaster that advertising revenue is high only if you have thousands of daily users. This is not the case with any app (how many apps do you actually use daily on your phone?). I knew some people could download the app and never try it! I would still earn them by charging a one-time fee.
How to become an app developer today? I think there is a good chance that smaller, independent developers – especially on iOS – still have a good option.
Finally: I was smart not to trust the agents I worked with. Fortunately, I had a small kill switch built into the OEM versions of the app, which checked for the presence of a file on a server and paged and destroyed the app when it found it. When my app appeared on their website without mentioning my name or business, it was easy for me to convince them to see the reason!
Where I went wrong
Although this time in my life was very exciting – and I remember a tremendous confidence boost ( I finally felt like my hero Tony Stark) – I was also incredibly worried. It would only take some time for the app to be removed from the store for my success to come to a standstill. Likewise, there was nothing to say that the app would not accidentally lose momentum overnight. I was also sure that it would only be a matter of time before Android introduced the multi-window functionality natively (it turned out to take several years).
My app was the first in the store to work this way, but it was only a very short time before innumerable imitators joined the fight. Some worked better than my app and were completely free. If you want to learn how to become an app developer, you should also learn how to protect your intellectual property, although honestly it's not worth it.
Your best defense against imitators is to do this first. and do it best. I missed that advantage. This is also the advice of most Silicon Valley makers. However, ask an investor to sign a confidentiality agreement before you share your idea, and he will probably laugh at you. You know that ideas are worth squatting, execution is everything.
Ideas are worth squatting. Execution is everything.
This fear also prevented me from getting involved in the idea. I was so sure that it would quickly fail, that I still spent 90% of my time working freelance. In retrospect, I could easily use this early success and give users a reason to stay with me. Maybe I could have turned that into a handy suite of apps, or made the selling point an increased synergy between apps (I'd already added a feature that allows a website to be opened in the character app for comment, which I'm proud to say Time a little ahead!).
The Spirit in the Machine
The bigger mistake I made was in the code. I've created multiscreen multitasking with a little self-taught programming knowledge, and did not even use Java and Eclipse (the then-preferred method). Instead, I used a tool called B4A to program in BASIC. My only experience at the time was with a ZXSpectrum, a Tatung Einstein (does anyone remember this?) And QBasic; so that was perfect for me.
I've created multiscreen multitasking with a little self-taught coding knowledge.
However, there was never an application for an object-oriented structure (words that meant nothing to me at the time), it would be one that opened many iterations of the same app! Learning the official tools (in this case Android Studio) is by far the best advice if you want to become an app developer!
That may be nonsense to you, but you can probably understand my folly when it comes to naming variables and variables functions. I had the terrible habit of calling them things like "JigglyWiggly" and "Cup" (usually, if by chance a cup was on the table). Eventually, this gave way to a kind of internal logic so complex that it was almost a language of its own. I have not written a note about it anywhere. The old random code was completely dull.
Honestly, a serious programmer would get a heart attack if he saw the code. If I decided that I no longer needed a function (which is only in the line in my script), I simply left it there to rot. I have not even deleted it! This meant I had to take a little break from my app (my biggest writer did not pay me for about six months, which led me to financial hardship – another funny story). I had absolutely no idea how to get in when I came back!
It stood there and rotted until it was finally shut down.
When Google updated its tools with Android Studio and its rules with Material Design, my old app just was not adaptive enough to handle it.
So it was there and rotting until it was finally removed to use an image for which I had no rights in the Store listing (the background I had on my phone at the time). Again, this is not my best move.
While multiscreen multitasking is no longer available for sale and I may have missed an opportunity, I still do not consider the experience a failure. For one thing, it was an experience that nobody can take away from me. I'm very proud of the app, from the first idea to some of the features to some resourceful methods that allowed me to achieve things with limited coding steps.
I still do not consider the experience a failure.  In addition, numerous other opportunities arose: creating more popular apps, working for Android Authority and even publishing a book. I would recommend it to everyone.
The experience also taught me to become an app developer, and that led to more creations, successes and mistakes across the board.
To create a successful app today.
If you want to succeed in the App Store and become an App Developer, what else should you do? First write a good code to which you can return. Learn how to create apps the right way.
Find a pain point and fix it – ideally a user will search for it. Do not work too long on an app and choose something relatively simple for your first project. People who have never created an app before should not create cloud-based services with security issues and other complications. You should make calculators.
Also, consider using a flat fee as a payment method unless you are providing truly great service. The next time I launch an app, it will almost certainly be available on the iTunes Store, where it's common to spend $ 5 or even $ 20 on something that's worth it.
I hope you found some of my findings useful. Maybe they helped you set your own course to become an app developer. Make sure you share your own in the comments below. What are you working on?
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