Build Something Unique

The best way to come upon a unique idea for an app is to rely on your own personal experience and identify where you see a need. This is easier said than done, because most of us go along and may not think about how we could improve our lives with a new technology solution. You have to make a conscious effort to envision new ways of doing things. You can start by considering the following questions:

• What are your favorite hobbies? Is there anything about those hobbies that could be improved by applying an app solution to the problem? (Hobbies can be anything that you enjoy: gardening, stamp collecting, coin collecting, photography, genealogy, scrapbooking, cooking, antiques, and so on.)

• What sports do you play? Is there a particular technique that you have learned playing a sport that would be helpful to others? (Some examples include a better golf swing, ways to hit a ball better, how to be a better right fielder, how to swim faster, how to prepare for the triathlon or Ironman competition, better tennis tips, and so on.) Could your practice, training, or actual performance benefit from tracking it through an Android app?

• What line of work are you in? Is there anything in your line of work that could benefit from the use of an Android app? (Examples include sales tools, materials and construction calculators, financial and insurance aids, and so on.)

• What challenges do you face in your life? Is there an app that could help someone cope with a handicap or other illness? (Think about soothing apps, mental health apps, physical health apps, stress coping apps, and so on.)

• What are your least favorite chores? Is there an app that could help someone with bill paying, gift buying, and so on?

• What daily activity takes you the most time to complete? Is there an app that could help people speed up that activity?

• What childhood games did you enjoy playing? Could that game (or a variation of that game) make a great game app?

We're all trying to build a better mousetrap. With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to build a completely new and unique app. As I mentioned before, whenever you come up with an idea for an Android app, the first thing you should do is a search in the Android Market or any Android app website for that type of app. The chances are pretty good that you will find some or many apps that are close to what you have thought about building. For example, let's take a topic such as knitting. You think you've got a great idea to develop an Android app that helps one learn how to knit. So, let's check the Android Market for knitting apps. An example of one knitting app from our search is shown in Figure 2.1.

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Figure 2.1 Our search of knitting apps reveals multiple knitting-related apps and one of them is shown here. Who would have thought?

However, on close inspection of the knitting apps in the list, some apps help you count stitches, and some of the apps actually teach you how to knit, cross-stitch, and weave. So, when you perform a search for your particular app idea, be sure to look more closely at the group of apps that you see and dissect them into separate groups to get an idea of exactly how many apps you are competing against. In this example, although it looks like quite a few apps at first glance, it's more like one or two that closely match your goal of teaching someone how to knit.

It's a little more difficult to do this type of analysis for game apps because there are so many similar apps with so many variations. You can do a more targeted search by using Cyrket's App website( and targeted category searches, as shown in Figure 2.2. If you are searching on card games, you can select "games" as the main category and then search on "most popular" or "number of downloads" as the subcategory. This will help narrow down the number of apps, but it's still a very large number to sift through.

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Figure 2.2 Search for similar games on Cyrket using subcategories to narrow down the search results.

At the time of this writing, finding Android apps on the Android Market alone is very limited. You can search other Android app websites, such as Cyrket, that do a good job organizing new apps and providing reviews, or you can search apps on any Android phone itself.

Although you may not land on an original idea, it is possible to build an app that improves on what's already out there. The chances are very good that you will find a number of functions missing from a competitor's app. As mentioned before, if you can narrow down the top competitive apps to just a few, go ahead and spend a few dollars to download some of them and see what features they have and what they lack.

List the key features of the competitive apps as well as features that the available apps are lacking. You will start to see a pattern in terms of base features that this type of app must have to be viable in the market. Then you can look at what features you can add that will make your app a whole lot better.

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