9/12/2014 5:39:43 PM
Research Tools for App Development Ideas
app creation, app marketing, app idea
App Developer Magazine

Research Tools for App Development Ideas

Artyom Dogtiev Artyom Dogtiev in Marketing & Promotion Friday, September 12, 2014

I was recently asked on Quora to answer this question - are there any good sources for people to come up with great ideas for apps? I have decided that instead of giving a short answer to the question, I will give an extended answer by writing this article.

I can understand the reason this question has been asked on Quora. Six years after the mobile era 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. 

While many responses were suggestions to be creative at your approach for new apps development, that response doesn’t really help at this point. That answer will most likely result in, “Yes, I know that but where exactly should I look for ideas? I’m not sure if an app I’m going to develop will be useful and unique..”. The obvious problem is that A LOT of ideas are implemented into 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. Let’s cover the resources that are available for free but will require planning, dedication and creative approach. 

Before getting into research tools, 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 its specific purpose and those tools won’t be equally effective. 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 app - I would recommend using MindJet or a free alternative such as Xmind.

Let’s talk about the tools you have at your disposal.

Social Media


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 into your app. 

The second powerful source is Facebook Groups. Using the same search tool, you can 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.

Google Plus

When using Google+ the most valuable asset for your research will be groups, such as Today in iOS show group. This group has hundreds of members who are active iOS app users and there are various groups dedicated to Android apps on Google Plus. 

Read through daily posts, look for specific app discussions and fish for an idea - just like with Facebook groups, don’t expect to find a good idea to jump out at you right away. Like any serious research, it will take time to find a good idea for app development. 


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, Google+ and Twitter. People don't discuss topics on Twitter in much length and 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. 

Question & Answer Websites


Quora is one of the best Q&A websites 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 should use this website in two ways - by checking out questions and answers relevant to your future app’s features and by asking questions to get people’s feedback on a specific aspect of an app you want to develop.

Yahoo Answers

One of the Yahoo services that has survived all company shakeups is Yahoo Answers. It’s not better or worse than Quora, it’s great in its own way. 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. Hint: the Google operator for searching complete phrases do work for Yahoo Answers. You can search for “note taking app” using quotes to narrow down your search. 

One of the paramount questions you may have as an app developer - is there any statistical data for a specific topic’s popularity and the answer is yes. 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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