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June 14, 2012

4

The Mythical App Month

by Russell Ivanovic

There exists a perception out there in the ‘real world’ that Independent Software Developers like ourselves are working on all our apps, all the time. If we ‘fail’ to release a new version of an app after a few months, some people seem to consider the app to be abandoned, and start asking us where the updates are. Today we’re going to share a shocking secret with you:

Developers, from little Shifty Jelly all the way up to legends like Panic, generally only work on one app, at once.

I want you to sit down and think about that. This means that when we say “We’re working on a massive update for Pocket Weather AU” that we’re not working on Pocket Casts, or Australian Weather. There are a few of you out there right now with a ‘well, obviously’ expression on your faces, you’re excused, the rest of you though, I know this comes as a shock. The other shock is that apps take a long time to build, but more importantly updates take a great deal of time as well. There’s also the fun of commercial realities. From time to time we take on interesting client work, because it’s interesting, but more importantly because it lets us do interesting things, like say feed our families, and our contractors. Thus, another shock comes about from this conclusion:

While we are working on projects for clients, we aren’t working on our apps.

Damn, where’s that gasp Emoji when you need it so badly? So what are we trying to say? Simple that we love all our apps, and we’re taking the time to make our updates great. If it’s months since an app has been updated, don’t give up hope, we’re in this for the long run.

It’s no surprise that most people don’t understand the sheer volume of effort that goes into creating and maintaining an application. Two years ago we didn’t really understand that either, and we launched so many new applications without thinking through the consequences.Who could forget our Pocket Weather AU app on Android, something which we’ll soon fix, but which has to go down as one of our biggest mistakes of all time. It turns out with just 2 developers and 1 designer, we can’t maintain 10 different apps…who knew? That’s why about 2 months ago we removed a lot of our apps from various stores, and have now honed it down to just 3: Pocket Casts (iOS and Android), Pocket Weather AU (iOS and Android) and Australian Weather (Mac).

Finally, allow us to make the rest of this year easy for you to understand. Right now, we’re working on Pocket Weather AU 3 for iOS and Android. It’s been many months of work so far, and we’re getting close to the end. We hope once the update is out, you’ll see just how much time and effort we’ve poured into it, and why these things take as long as they do. After that’s done we’ll be working on Pocket Casts, making the iOS version run on iPad, updating the Android version, and adding some very cool new features to the Pocket Casts Family (hint: no hints). Lastly we’ll update our Mac app Australian Weather with some fun new features and data. And that my friends, will take the entire rest of the year. Welcome to the fun world of Software Development 🙂

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4 Comments
  1. Ben Thomas
    Jun 15 2012

    Press Command Option T then click on Emoji… 😱😱

  2. Jun 16 2012

    Hear, hear! I wish more people understood the sheer time that development actually takes. Well said.

  3. David
    Jun 16 2012

    Amen!

  4. shelley
    Jun 16 2012

    Russell, I love you guys for many reasons.

    First, the blurbs that accompany updates to PocketCasts make me laugh so hard I almost cry.

    Second, your apps are awesome (maybe that should be first!). I use PocketCasts every single day, for 3 or 4 hours. Can’t live without it.

    Third, you wrote an awesome reply to a user who was grousing about paying for iPad and iPhone versions of one of your apps (saw that when somebody posted it to Twitter). I provide customer and tech support to an app developer, and I will likely use parts of what you wrote when I have to reply to customers who are grousing about this and that.

    My dev team is currently working on ONE big new release, and I have some customers grousing about other apps not being updated to their liking. It’s not about bug fixes — we take care of those as fast as we can — but just general updates with new features. SO, my fourth reason to love you guys is this article: I’m just going to send people the link to this article.

    Thank you, thank you!!

    We love our users — without them, we’d be nothing — but sometimes get pretty exasperated by unreasonable demands when we’re already dancing as fast as we can.

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