WeTunes – Quite an experience

Finally IIT Bombay’s Techfest 2012 is over. It was a good event and, after having made my first “proper” Android App of my life for Techfest’s Appsurd Competition I must share my experience.

My app WeTunes, a social music player – I’m talking about a relatively new content over here, the idea emerging from the fact being that humans love listening to music and they are social beings. Our friend like I song and so we listen to that song or give it a try atleast. The thing is we are coming to know about a new song from our friend just because he is listening to it. My idea was to get this social effect into an Android App. A music sharing and discovery service where you interact with your  friends to see what songs they are listening to or what songs they like.

Ok… I did not win the event but nevertheless I drew some important conclusions from the competition :

  1. First and foremost, your projects when you make them work in an academic institute will receive a different response. But out there in the real market, its a totally different situation! People will give mixed response to your applications. You may even see the app that was praised so much in your college may not be so greatly received by people.
  2. Sugar everything you make – Now matter how good your app is and even if it brings in a new groundbreaking concept all that matters is what you throw up to your user – the GUI! Given the fact that the user is a normal person who is just trying out the app you need to simplify everything for him. Even hide the underlying computing terminologies if possible. Like for example display a music library or a gallery of pictures than throwing up an entire file structure to browse through. Otherwise if it lacks that, you are out of business!!
  3. Promotion is the word – Nothing can be successful if it is not promoted. If you don’t get means to promote your app through proper channels users don’t get to know about it! If that is the case then there is no point in making the app at all. The most successful means of promotion by far as seen by me are get to to your friends personally via word of mouth, calls, texts, emails, and the most impacting Facebook. Next comes promoting your app in the public forums that deal in such topics – maybe in this case it was Android related forums. Next up writing blog posts about your app and then a YouTube video. A YouTube video could be used to connect to mass media because people often end up watching to video to judge the app.
  4. Go for paid servers if possible – Even though I myself used free server to maintain databases but still would recommend using a paid server. I would like to thank the provider of the service for it but still it still has its own share of glitches that a paid server will be less likely to have. Users don’t want to wait for response for an app – they want an immediate response. And if an app is busy contacting a server that responds late, you give a bad user experience. And I had to experience that a couple of times. So its better to go for paid servers or else go free server hosting if you can compromise.

Ummm… beginning my quota of hard core programming lessons that I learnt from the app are ( nah, I am not going to say any new technologies I used or anything, just a few programming practises we often underestimate but should not, and I learnt it the hard way! )

  1. Multithread long running activities – If there is any activity that will be taking a long time to complete then put it on a separate thread to run, maintaining the responsiveness of your app and allowing the user to interact at that time. For example, you could even put a loading message on screen rather than displaying a blank screen while the intensive processing is done, or maybe the data is fetched over the network.
  2. Handling exceptions wherever possible – Everybody knows how to handle exceptions. But still when the end-user uses an app he she may do things that you might not have testing and might crash your app. Check for even the most bizarre of conditions to prevent your app from crashing.

That its!! Here I am writing this article now, not knowing whether to be happy or sad – looking at the growth rate of WeTunes now thinking to myself why couldn’t people download it before when the competition was on!

You can try out the app WeTunes at https://market.android.com/details?id=sngforge.android.wetunes

UPDATE: The app WeTunes has been removed from the market now according to the Terms and Conditions of the competition. If anybody wants to try out the app they can email for it! I may release the public version later, well maybe after I improve my app!

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