The Journey to 100,000

As a kid, I had always dreamt of making my mobile app and publishing it to Android and iOS for people from around the world to download. Gladly, I was able to finally achieve this dream during the COVID lockdown.

Right after the school had shut down I came up with an idea of a mobile app that informs you about the latest coronavirus cases in your area and around the world. Since online school was much less demanding than in-person school, I was able to develop this app in around 2 weeks. I didn’t have any prior experience with mobile app development so I decided on using Unity, a game engine that allows you to build apps to almost any platform. Although it was challenging and mediocre to build an app in a game engine, I managed to do it nonetheless.

I was satisfied with the result and decided to submit it to the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The submission process was quite annoying and repetitive. I had to take dozens of screenshots with multiple different devices and screen sizes. Once I submitted the app I waited patiently until I got my response back. Before submitting the app I had looked at the guidelines and rules for submitting apps and my app seemed to comply with all of them. I was not worried about my app getting declined since it followed all the guidelines, and I could just resubmit another version if there was a major problem

A day after I had submitted the application, I got a response from Apple. They had rejected and suspended my app. A couple of days later I got a similar response from Google. They too rejected the app. To my surprise, both companies have been rejecting all coronavirus related applications due to the possibility of misinformation. I was quite devastated and disappointed after I found out about this. I had spent countless hours developing the app and was not able to publish it. After this setback, I decided to take a bit of a break from app development.

A few weeks later, I was informed about an online hackathon happening in June. I decided to participate in it. I wanted to build another mobile app but wanted to make it in a more conventional way. I decided to take a short course on Flutter, a relatively new framework by Google which allows you to build apps for iOS and Android in one language.

When I entered the hackathon I had little experience working with Flutter so I had to wing the hackathon. For the hackathon, I decided to create a mobile app that summarizes the privacy policies of popular websites and services such as Facebook and Zoom. I managed to finish the app in under 48 hours and was happy with the end result. After participating in another hackathon I had managed to quickly learn Flutter and was ready to build and publish a real app.

In the past, I had developed chatbots on a chatting platform called Discord and could not find any application on the app store that had chatbots for Discord. As a result, I decided to make an app that is sort of like a marketplace/store for Discord bots. Developing the app was tough and time-consuming since I had to build a backend and a frontend. I used the APIs of existing bot lists on the web to populate the app with bots otherwise it would be empty and no one would use it. I was able to finish the app in one week and submitted it during summer vacation. This time, the submission process was worse than the one before. I encountered dozens of random errors while I tried to submit the app and had to completely reset my Macbook since it would not submit the app. After another week, I was able to finally submit the application. I had made sure that the app complied with all guidelines in fear of it being rejected or suspended.

After patiently waiting for a couple of days it was added to the iOS and Android app stores on August 9th. I had finally achieved my dream of having my own app published on mobile. I didn’t expect the app to gain lots of traction since I didn’t have many means of marketing it or sharing it. I was hoping for the app to get at least a couple hundred downloads and that's it, but my mind was blown away. In the first few days, the app had gained 1,000 downloads already and had started to blow up. Then a month later the app had amassed over 10,000 downloads and almost 500 downloads per day. I was blown away by this growth and had never expected it to grow this much. Today, the app has now over 100,000 downloads with 3,000 new downloads every day and 5,000 daily active users.

Developing this has been an amazing experience and I’ve learned a lot about mobile development. It's been a great experience waking up every day and reading all the reviews from nice people about how the app has made their lives much easier and how helpful it is. It truly makes me feel better knowing that this app helps thousands of people every day.