1. App developer research tools
9/12/2014 5:39:43 PM
App developer research tools
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App Developer Magazine
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App developer research tools

Friday, September 12, 2014

Richard Harris Richard Harris

App developer tools for information digging and researching assist in finding that great idea for a new app.

Six years after the mobile era's inception back in 2008, there are more than 2 million mobile apps. This includes iOS and Android combined and a significant amount of Windows Mobile apps. The challenge is finding that great idea for a new app. To take on this challenge you need tools for information digging and researching.

The starting point is defining what app category you are going to develop the app for (game, productivity tool, reference, etc.). Each App Store category has a specific purpose. The second step is creating a place to store your ideas from all of the information you will be fetching up. You need to utilize your favorite word processing or mind managing apps like MindJet or a free alternative such as Xmind.

Tools at your disposal

You are most likely checking your Facebook account several times a day, along with more than one billion others. How can Facebook become your research tool? First of all, a great number of pages dedicated to mobile apps are listed on Facebook. On these pages, people provide feedback about apps of which you can get a grasp on what other app developers are missing when developing their apps. The page may even give you ideas on what features you should include in your app. 

Facebook Groups allow you to find specific groups. After reading through discussions on those groups you can dig up more ideas on what specific features you should include into your app. You can even take it one step further and create your own group, but that will take up some of your time in order to moderate discussions on that group and such. The final note for Facebook is to subscribe to popular tech blogs in order to check out people’s comments on posts dedicated to topics that may give you an idea for an app. The number of likes and comments is a good indicator of how popular a certain idea is. The most obvious, though not necessary source of information, are your friends and family updates. Remember, that people commonly complain about issues that bother them in their life and this can be that crucial piece of information you need to help form that initial idea.

Let's take a look at how Twitter can be useful for you to conduct app idea research. There are fundamental differences in how people use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. People don't discuss topics on Twitter in many lengths so the strategy to apply will be different. Twitter provides a set of tools for businesses to promote tweets or to attract followers. Among several targeting options, the tool offered is targeting by keywords. Twitter analyzes tweet content to derive various keywords from tweets people post. To use these statistics for research you can type in a keyword that describes an app’s function or purpose and the system will return a number of relevant keywords to you. Using these keywords, you can search Twitter for tweets relevant to a specific topic.

There is also an extremely powerful Twitter search tool, recently acquired by Apple, called Topsy. Topsy stores all tweets since 2006 and allows users to quickly search for a specific topic that was mentioned in a tweet, in a tweet with a link, image or a video. It is also useful when providing data for a specific topic’s popularity in a specific period of time. 

Quora is one of many Q&A websites you can use when conducting research. It has well over 500k active users who collectively contribute to various questions and answers. The system of upvoting highlights the most valuable contributions. You can use this website by checking out questions and answers relevant to your future app’s features or by asking questions to get people’s feedback on a specific aspect of an app you want to develop.

One of the Yahoo services that have survived all company shakeups is Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers has a vast number of users, each of them can contribute to the system. It also has a built-in thumbs up/down rating system to reward high-quality contributions.  

Google Trends is really helpful in getting a big picture of how popular a specific topic is and can compare several topics. It helps because you can rely on hard data versus relying on just your gut feeling.

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