Something New or Something Old?

What’s my “Next Great App” going to be? No one knows, of course, since almost anything can be a hit, or not! I’ve experienced this phenomena with my own, current apps. And this leaves me with an ever-present quandary: Should I conceive and develop something new and (maybe) awesome, or update/re-implement something old? What to do, what to do…

For my own apps, I am a one-man shop, which means that my available time during the week to work on just my own stuff is quite limited. That doesn’t help when my ideal project includes all the best indie practices: good planning, good design, great art, and a great product! In my mind, it all works! In reality though… not so much. I just want to code. :-)

Over the last couple months I’ve considered several ideas:

  • Create something entirely new
  • Update an old app
  • Rewrite an old app
  • Something in between

Create Something New

I don’t know about you, but my ability to generate new app ideas that are both compelling and achievable (as an independent developer) needs some work. Sure, there are plenty of ideas floating around in my head… but I don’t want to waste my time on something that I think is interesting, but in reality is going to have little appeal. Nevertheless, I think the best way to come up with new ideas is not to say “Let’s think of a new idea.” Truly, I think inspired ideas occur serendipitously, when you least expect them. My idea list (yes, I do have one!) has grown over time just that way…

Why not pick something off that list, you say? Well, keep reading…

Update an Old App

The apps I have on the App Store today (that are my own) are the same apps I first produced. Meaning, I’ve not created something new (for myself) in a while. Why is that? There are several reasons, not the least of which is that I took on some clients to do their apps and I have a full time job. It comes back to that available time issue. To varying degrees, my original apps have been updated. But by and large, not so much.

I have taken the time to go back to those old apps’ projects. It’s kind of a hoot to look at code I wrote when I first started iOS development! It’s amazing what I didn’t know. Or more to the point, I am always pleased to be able to say, “Oh, I would never do it this way now…”

So, updating an old app remains an option. There are two that haven’t been touched in quite a while that are candidates.

In hindsight, I’ve already done the update route with one of my apps last year. My Flashcards! app got a substantial UI update last year, and I have seen an increase in sales of that title. So the update route can be successful in an incremental way.

Rewrite an Old App

Rewriting an old app is different than updating an old app. The latter, to my mind, is more of a “tweak, build, test, and submit” kind of thing. Rewriting an old app, however, suggests more of a “create a new project, and re-use some of the old project’s assets and ideas.”

I have an app identified for this treatment as well, but it will have to be a secondary focus.

The Plan: Something In Between

Remember that list of ideas I mentioned? One of the ideas on that list is “the winner”, and I can leverage an old app for some of the mechanics. So in some ways, it’s an app rewrite. But it will actually be a new app, which I am excited about. And in conjunction with the new app, I will update the older app to cross promote the new app. I am excited about this plan, and I have already started writing a specification for what I want in the app, etc. I am considering all kinds of new things, and then I will whittle down the requirements to something achievable for a version 1.0 release. I am resisting the urge to “just code”.

In my head, I can see the path to achieving this plan clear as day. I just need to execute now. :-)

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