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Have An App Idea? Here’s Where to Start

Have An App Idea? Here’s Where to Start

So, you have an app idea. What do you do now?

Some people do a quick Google search, see something relatively similar, and give up. Others research the process that creating an app entails, realize it’s not as easy as it sounds, and — again — give up.  So, since you’re already this far, congratulations on being farther along in the process than most. We’re here to help get you off the ground.

Step 1: Get the Lay of the Land

The first thing that should be on your radar is, if you haven’t already, to hit the ground Googlin’. Over 1,000 new apps hit the App Store each and every day. So, odds are there is something relatively similar already out there. If not, then you’re in luck. And if so, that’s not a dealbreaker either. It’s all about the execution, and if you can execute on that concept better than the last person, then you’ll still be ahead in the game.

Think about it this way: Facebook wasn’t the first social network. Friendster and Myspace came before it. But, which platform do you use today?

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So, rather than worrying about if there is anyone else doing what you want to do, think about how you can improve on those existing apps. Learn from them and see which features people like and which ones they don’t.

Step 2: Brainstorm Full Functionality and Specs

You know your competitors and what is already out there. You can now bring that back to the drawing board and think about exactly what your app will do. What functionality will it have?

Many first-time entrepreneurs go crazy here. They come out the other side of this step with a 30-page document explaining all of their product’s nice-to-have’s. Although this is tempting, maintain some discipline here!

Focus on your Minimum Viable Product. What are the core features that will make your app stand out? It should do just a few things, and do them very well. We preach to our clients (perhaps counter-intuitively for an app development company) to have as simple of a “V1” as possible; this lets our clients release their app, gather feedback, and pivot as necessary.

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This is called a “Specifications Document,” and is the best way to portray your idea to any app designers or developers that you may be working with in the future. That’s why it’s best to get this stuff written down now in advance prior to moving forward!

Step 3: Understand your Development Options

You know your competitors. You know what your app will do. Now, it’s time to figure out how this thing will be built.

Is it something that is simple, like an app that will help your restaurant put its menu on an app? Or is it a simple data app that shows text to users within certain pages? If so, an out-of-the-box app builder platform is definitely your best bet. There are many, many options out there that let you create simple “canned functionality” apps for a minimal cost, like:

What happens if your app needs more than the limited amount of features that an app builder like these can provide? As an example, when SnapChat first came out, there wasn’t a templated “app builder” that could make photos disappear. This requires custom coding, where a development shop like Designli is needed. If your app needs custom functionality, it’s time to start thinking about how the full app development process works.

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First and foremost, pursuing the paid app development course will require a budget. Apps typically start at $10,000, depending on the company that you’ll hire to develop your idea (and their location), and work their way up from there. Do you have access to capital to invest in your new business? If not, it may be time to start thinking about raising some money from friends and family or entering a business plan competition that will give you a cash prize if you bring home the win.

Some agencies that develop apps for startups and entrepreneurs ease the pain of raising investment and getting others to “buy in” to your brilliant idea by providing services that can help.

One thing you may notice right away is that it’s hard to convince others to give you money in order to build your app. It’s even harder if you are a first-time entrepreneur and have nothing to show potential investors other than a few written paragraphs describing your idea. You may (and should) have a business plan, or at the very least a Specification Document as outlined in Step 2 above.

This challenge may be dealt with by taking advantage of a fixed-price Graphic Design package. This means an agency will take your Specification Document and wireframe out — and complete the entire design for — every screen of your app. At the conclusion of this package, you’ll know exactly what every screen of your app will look like and what features it will have. You’ll also have a click-through prototype showing exactly how the app will work. Put this on a potential investor’s phone and they’ll think you’re already halfway to the finish line. They’ll have no problem understanding what your app will do and how it’ll do it.

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Step 4 and Beyond: Development!

Now that you have your app designed and your functionality written both in plain English and displayed visually, there’ll be no confusion when it comes time to develop the app. Now’s the time to shop for a development team. How do you do that, you ask? There are tens of thousands of app development companies after all.

This is a conversation for another day, and a lengthy one at that. In the meantime, you have your marching orders — let’s get your functionality solidified and a decision made as far as paths for design and development.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any assistance!

Featured photo credit: Thom via Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Keith Shields

CEO, Designli

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40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2018 Updated)

40 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2018 Updated)

Over the years here at Lifehack, we’ve discussed plenty of apps that you can use to improve your overall productivity.

There are certain ones that many of our contributors and editors (past and present) have adopted over the long-term — there are always the stalwarts that stick around. But there are also new apps that crop up every day, adding more and more depth to the app category.

Some of the apps are incredibly plain and simple, while others are more robust and offer more features than you can shake a stick at. And everyone has the one they prefer.

It’s been our job (and still is our job) to keep abreast of all of the productivity-type apps out there. As a result — and as a bit of a refresher — we’ve put together a list of 40 best productivity apps for iPhone to provide you with an all-in-one resource for you.

Productivity apps to help you get things done

1. OmniFocus

This app is, while pricey, considered to be one of the (if not the) most robust and full-featured productivity apps on the market.

Download it here.

    2. Forest

    Train yourself to put your phone down and stay focused on the task at hand by playing with this planting game. It’s fun and will help you achieve more.

    Download it here.

      3. Things

      Another robust choice, this app is a favorite amongst “productivityists”.[1]

      Download it here.

        4. 30/30

        Recently covered here at Lifehack

        , 30/30 is a newcomer to the game that incorporates lists and timing of tasks into an elegant and easy-to-use interface.

        Download it here.

          5. Any.Do

          A beautiful-looking app that is both easy on the eyes and your wallet.

          Download it here.

            6. PocketLife Calendar

            This calendar app is specifically designed to be stylish and super easy-to-use. You can organize your life easily with different modern features.

            Download it here.

              7. Asana

              We’ve covered Asana here at Lifehack

              , and it is being actively developed by a strong team committed to making collaborative task management a more efficient and effective experience.

              Download it here.

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                8. ToDoist

                This app keeps track of everything – from simple errands to your most important projects – so you can get it all done and enjoy more peace of mind along the way.

                Download it here.

                  9. FlowTasks

                  From the folks at MetaLab, Flow is a gorgeous collaborative task management app that is easy-to-use and incredibly functional.

                  Download it here.

                    10. Calendars 5

                    This calendar app focuses on events that help you to keep track of upcoming events and tasks easily. It has everything you need to organize, track and complete your to-dos.

                    Download it here.

                      11. Clear – Tasks, Reminders & To-Do Lists

                      A fun and innovative list-making app that relies on swiping and pinching to make things happen. Clear created a lot of buzz when it launched, and might be the perfect to-do list gateway app for many.

                      Download it here.

                        12. Due

                        A robust reminders app that lets you store and maintain reminders of all types. It’s replaced Reminders for me when it comes to the basics, and it’s worth a look if you want to keep the mundane stuff out of your head and cluttering your mind.

                        Download it here.

                          13. Checkmark 2

                          I use this app

                          for location-based reminders (such as groceries I need to get or single items I need to pick up from various locations). Checkmark is simple to use and a valuable addition to my productivity arsenal.

                          Download it here.

                            14. TeuxDeux

                            Created by Tina Roth Eisenberg and Fictive Kin — Teux Deux is simple and incredibly stellar in terms of design. If you like lists (including the popular “Someday Bucket”) and want to associate dates with tasks, then Teux Deux will be right up your alley.

                            Download it here.

                              15. Wunderlist 

                              Another incredibly popular choice is Wunderlist. Part of 6Wunderkinder’s software family, it sports a gorgeous design and is incredibly functional. We’ve talked about the app a couple of times here at Lifehack, so check those posts out here.

                              Download it here.

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                                16. Nirvana

                                For the GTD enthusiasts, there’s Nirvana. Straight from the source: “Nirvana frees your mind to focus on actually getting things done. If you’ve had enough of generic to-do lists, it’s time for Nirvana.”

                                Download it here.

                                  17. Priorities

                                  An elegant-looking task management app that has received decent reviews,[2] this could be the one for you if you’re not a fan of OmniFocus or Things — especially if you need (or want) to share tasks with others.

                                  Download it here.

                                    Productivity apps that help you build habits

                                    18. Productive

                                    With this app, you can plan your habits with an easy-to-use interface, schedule habits for any time of the day, set smart reminders for each time of the day and stay on track with useful feedback. This app is perfect for anyone who wants to build a habit that sticks.

                                    Download it here.

                                      19. Habitica: Gamified Taskmanager

                                      You can complete tasks and build habits in a more fun way with this app. Input your Habits, your Daily goals, and your To-Do list, and then create a custom avatar. Check off tasks to level up your avatar and unlock features such as armor, pets, skills, and even quests.

                                      Download it here.

                                        20. Streaks

                                        This app follows the model of the popular “don’t break the chain method” in that you use the app to track how you are donig in the pursuit of your goal. Great for goal-setting — and an easy and elegant interface to boot.

                                        Download it here.

                                          21. Remember The Milk

                                          Another popular to-do list app, Remember The Milk has a huge following. It has plenty to offer, including the ability to share tasks with others.

                                          Download it here.

                                            22. Day One Journal

                                            When it comes to journaling, nothing really beats Day One. Its latest update added a slew of features that will make you want to start making journaling a habit.

                                            Download it here.

                                              Productivity apps that makes organization easy

                                              23. Evernote

                                              Touted as the world’s most widely-used productivity app, Evernote an be used simply as a notetaking app or can be customized to be your GTD app of choice — among other things.

                                              Download it here.

                                                24. Pocket

                                                You can save an article, video or link you want to read or watch later to Pocket from anywhere including your computer, Safari, email, and your favorite apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, and Feedly.

                                                Download it here.

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                                                  25. Sync.Me

                                                  This app identifies unknown phone calls, warns you from annoying spam calls, and adds a caller picture to your contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

                                                  Download it here.

                                                    26. Droplr

                                                    One of the most popular file-sharing apps out there today. Straight from the source: “Stay productive on the go. Droplr for iPhone keeps you in sync and makes sharing on the iPhone natural.”

                                                    Download it here.

                                                      27. Dropbox

                                                      Before iCloud, there was Dropbox. And there still is Dropbox, which is still widely used by both Mac and PC users all over the globe. It’s like having a flash drive in your iPhone. A must-have.

                                                      Download it here.

                                                        28. iDolly 

                                                        In conjunction with Dolly Drive and DollySync, iDolly allows you to edit and share your documents from your iPhone.

                                                        Since all your changes sync automatically to all your devices, the current version of a document will always be accessible because Dolly Sync keeps everything in sync. Very handy.

                                                        Download it here.

                                                          29. Soulver

                                                          It may seem odd that a calculator app shows up on this list, but this is no ordinary calendar app. Ben Brooks over at The Brooks review describes Soulver as follows: “It is what calculators would have been if they were invented at the same time computers were, instead of what we have with most calculator apps.” [3]

                                                          Download it here.

                                                            Productivity apps that help you work smart

                                                            30. Captio

                                                            A simple capture tool. Straight from the developers: “It’s simple. Open Captio and start typing. When you’re done, hit Send. The note is immediately delivered to your email inbox.”

                                                            Download it here.

                                                              31. Drafts

                                                              A tremendous capture tool that allows for simple capture, followed by sending items to various applications such as OmniFocus, Things and more.

                                                              Download it here.

                                                                32. NoteShelf 2

                                                                This is a perfect note-taking app for you. You can take beautiful handwritten notes, type, annotate PDFs, record audio & create lists. You can organize them into categories or groups.

                                                                Download it here.

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                                                                  33. Doodle

                                                                  This app links directly with the Doodle service, which is one that allows you to plan and organize meetings far more efficiently and effectively. Lifehack contributor Steve Dotto has written about Doodle more in-depth here.

                                                                  Download it here.

                                                                    34. TextExpander (Legacy)

                                                                    I have saved countless hours of time with TextExpander, and despite its inability to be as robust on iOS as it is on the Mac, it is still a worthy app to have in your arsenal.

                                                                    Download it here.

                                                                      35. Launch Center Pro

                                                                      A quick launcher for the iPhone that doesn’t just launch an app…with some of them it can do much more. This app saves you time by launching complex actions in a single tap.

                                                                      Download it here.

                                                                        36. GoodReader

                                                                        This may seem to be an odd one to make this list, but here are plenty of reasons why it is here with this article.

                                                                        Download it here.

                                                                          37. LogMeIn

                                                                          Want to be able to control your Mac from wherever you are? Then get this app.

                                                                          Download it here.

                                                                            Productivity apps that improve security

                                                                            38. 1Password

                                                                            There is simply no better password manager out there. I’ve even put together a 1Password Emergency Kit worth looking at here.

                                                                            Download it here.

                                                                              39. LastPass Password Manager

                                                                              You can store passwords and logins, create online shopping profiles, generate strong passwords, track personal information in photo and audio notes.

                                                                              All you have to do is remember your LastPass master password, and LastPass autofills web browser and app logins for you.

                                                                              Download it here.

                                                                                40. Truecallers

                                                                                Identify and block spammers, search for unknown numbers and call friends easily with this app. With a community-based spam list from over 250 million users, you’ll need this app.

                                                                                Download it here.

                                                                                  There are plenty of other options out there (and we’ve heard from readers in the past as to what they enjoyed using), but these 40 are among the best.

                                                                                  Reference

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