Thank God I broke my app!

Thank God I broke my app.006

I remember when I received my first app rejection from apple. It was scary and frustrating, I was annoyed and confused. I didn’t realize at the time that this was going to force the greatest innovation that my apps had ever seen.

At this point my apps were actually even more simple than they are right now. I have always wanted my apps to be simple, and to simply work. When my apps started they were actually just questions, no categories, no pages, no instructions. Just the questions and an about screen. When you clicked on the button at the bottom right of the screen it simply took you to the about screen and then another click on that same icon brought you back to the questions.

I built Couples, Teens, Job Interviews that way. They were accepted by apple. This time I hit a snag, a very real, very big snag. Apple had rejected the app for a bunch of very confusing reasons. Too few questions? No menus? No instructions? No real use of iPhone technology? What was the problem?

As it turns out when I appealed the rejection apple went out of their way to answer my questions and move me to app approval. There were a few emails back and forth but ultimately I got my answer from apple when apple phoned me. What a bizarre thing to your coworkers, “I need to take this, apple is calling me.”

As it turns out my app was too simple for apple. They wanted me to add a level of complexity that might give the app more value. Great idea, but at that time I had no idea how to add menus, more pages, or basically anything beyond my original design. It forced me to go back to the drawing board. That drawing board brought me back to the original code, the original artwork and the original textbooks that I studied to build the apps. I googled tutorials, watched youtube videos and tried countless attempts until I finally had a working experiment.

AMA FFamilies.007

My website ad for Ask Me Anything for Families. My first app with categories, that changed all the rest of my apps.

When I resubmitted that app apple was quick to approve it and it has sold over 300 copies since it was released on the app store.

Sometimes Failure is a Good Thing.

Recently I had finished an iPad version of Ask Me Anything for Teens. As I built it I became more and more frustrated that I would be charging my users twice for the same app. I’m not a fan of that myself. I hate when I buy an iPhone app and then have to buy it again for my iPad. My problem was that every time I tried to make my app into a Universal Application the original code would mess with the Universal code. I could not figure a way around it so I built two separate apps.

The new app was finished. It ran perfectly in the simulator and on my iPad. I had prepared it for upload and was starting to build the screenshots and meta data I would need for iTunes connect. Then it happened. I broke it. I still have no idea what I did but I broke the app. Suddenly I was looking at a blank screen in the simulator. Then the app just refused to compile. Busted beyond recognition. What’s an independent developer to do?

I did what everyone does in the midst of failure I was frustrated, confused and angry. I was also determined and for the second time since I started making apps I went back to the drawing board. I looked at my original code, the original artwork and the original tutorials. I found many places where my code was out of date, I found many ways in Xcode that my apps could be improved. I began experimenting with building Universal apps from the ground up. The more I played, the more I realized I was on a journey towards a new reality for all my apps.

I now have a working copy of Ask Me Anything for Teens that runs on every type of iPhone from the 4 inch down to the original phone, and it also runs on all existing iPads. It still needs some testing and some refining but within the next few months Ask Me Anything for Teens will be a Universal App.

Coming Soon AMAFT Coming Soon.008