Introducing Rookie Review, for Newbie Developers

While we as users often revel in the growth of the Android Market/Google Play, proudly stating the 450,000+ apps available as a feature that no other platform, other than iOS, comes close to, the downside to this is the competition developers face to get their apps to the audience they deserve.

While there isn’t quite anything that drives downloads as getting featured, in whatever capacity, on the Store, you need to get noticed by the editorial team handling the Store in the first place. This isn’t much of a problem for larger brands, or the ‘Top Developers’, who have interacted with employees at Google, but for indie developers, especially those that have just started out on the platform, it can be quite an infuriating process.

However, there are other ways you can bring in a significant user base, and one very obvious one that I’m going to discuss here: pitch your apps to us.

I have been extremely fortunate to have had my latest app featured on the XDA-Developers’ Portal. Despite the general lack of interaction on the portal, when compared to the huge user-base on their forums, and the fact that the link to the app is only available inside the forum thread, my moment in the sun proved to be a huge boon. And I really want to share my experience with you to discuss exactly how much I’ve gained.

Prior to the post going live, my app had as little as 32 users. There were 4 ratings given, and just a couple of +1s. And I’m certain most of these users, and all of the ratings, were from my friends.

In 24 hours, I’ve had additional 616 downloads, over 50 new ratings (averaging at 4.5*) and the +1 count has risen to 20. Simply put, the effect has been staggering.

As a developer, who has struggled more than succeeded, I know the disenchantment that comes when your app fails to gain the kind of traction you expected. You’ve put in the hard work, but haven’t reaped the rewards. You’ve even pitched to blogs, but haven’t gotten the review post you crave (the blogger in me apologises for this).

Well, things are about to change a little around here regarding this. You deserve better. From this week onwards, I’m beginning a new series called the Rookie Review. This is to help new developers get their work noticed (it’s difficult to know exactly who is new, so I’m going to define those developers as rookies that have only one app available on Google Play. If someone has a better idea, shoot away in the comments).

Provide your pitches in by replying to a comment thread that I’ve started below (regular users, please refrain from participating in that thread). At the end of my shift on Sunday (typically 2 PM EDT), I’ll pick up a few apps to try during the rest of the week. I can’t put a finger on exactly how many, but I promise at least one. These apps will be featured the weekend after.

A few more qualifying requirements:

  • Your app must have short of a 1000 downloads at the time of submission.
  • If your app requires payment, you’d be required to provide a trial version that lasts a week.

Continue reading:




  • Raveesh Bhalla

    So, here’s the comment thread for the pitches. Remember the rules: only newbie developers, not more than 1000 downloads for the app, and the bit regarding trials for paid apps.

    One additional point: the URLs might not come right, so to make it easier, please mention the package name which would make it easier to search Google Play for your app.

    • mariano zorrilla

      Im a Android Developer «MKiiSoft» independient… i have a BETA version of a camera app called «ECCam HD» with only 300 Dowloads and is totally free cuz is a BETA. The URL is: https://play.google.com/store/…
      I need good reviews (and not 1*) cuz maybe don´t work in a few devices, only have been tested on my Motorola Atrix working great. Chrees!
      EDIT: Plz send LOGs if FC to know what to fix.

    • mariano zorrilla

      My other app is called «Social Network LWP HD» with only 2 dowloads and is $0.99 LINK: 
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mkiisoft.socialnetworkslwpf

      You can try out the Free version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mkiisoft.socialnetworkslwp (1000+ downloads)

      The FULL version let´s you open all native apps in wallpaper (in this days i´ll give it an update to choose what Social Networks you want to show).

      It´s a cool idea, u can save a lot of space in your homescreen and lauch your Social Network lot quicker. If you don´t have THAT specific SN i´ll lauch your browser to open it.

    • Daniel Fares

      I think this is great and appreciate the opportunity you’re giving us.  My app is called Linwood Wine To-Go.  As it states in the description of my app in the play store, I work at a wine shop and we have a lot of customers come in and they try to remember the wine that they had at a restaurant to see if we have it but more often then not they forget the name.  As a first time developer I wanted to make something for our customers that they could search or scan the bottle right at the restaurant and get that info on the spot.  This is the first time I have ever developed an app that actually went anywhere besides my own computer.  I am trying to get it to work with more items other than wine… It works with beer and spirits but does not offer as many options as the wine search does.

      Anyway I appreciate this opportunity and hope you or some of your visitors find this app useful or helpful in some way.

      Thank you,Dan
      Link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dtm.linwoodwine.mk

      App name: Linwood Wine To-Go
      App is FREE
      Total Installs at time of post: 643

    • http://www.facebook.com/kencaruthers Ken Caruthers

      Heart Container Battery Meter
      981 total user installs as of 6:45 pm.
      Play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.heartbattery.kc
      It is a paid app.  Here is a link for a demo version:
      http://db.tt/x6yI9OWl 

      Thanks for giving us little guys a chance! Any help is greatly appreciated!!!

      -Ken

    • Laurentiu

      Android Sokker Manager  (package com.lv.sokkermanager)
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lv.sokkermanager
      QR code: http://i40.tinypic.com/2cxvv4p.png

      You’ll need an account to http://www.sokker.org

      Enjoy it!

    • http://www.robodance.com/ roschler

      Free app: AppEliza.  In the spirit of the old ELIZA chat bot from the early days of artificial intelligence, AppEliza uses Android’s speech recognition and text to speech capability to pose as a cheesy therapist that can solve all of your emotional problems as long as you are clinically happy without a care in the world.  It’s a fun little program to make you and your friends chuckle that can also echo your “session” to Twitter.

      Note, please do not use the app for real psychiatric disorders.  If you have a real psychiatric disorder please consult a real therapist and avoid the following: reading about current politics, fast food unless it tastes really good, sex unless it tastes really good, anything that tastes really good unless it’s sex in a fast food restaurant, and… oh nevermind.  Just live your life.  As Jim Morrison of The Doors said “No one gets out of here alive”. :)

      Link to the download page for the app:
      http://www.androidreview.com/html/appeliza-mobile.php

    • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Quint+Stoffers Quint Stoffers

      Hello there,

      I’d like to submit Etext, a free app/service that forwards SMS messages to any e-mail address you configure, and also supports repying via E-mail using Google’s C2DM.

      Name    :    Etext
      Package:    com.quintstoffers.etext
      Downloads: 112
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.quintstoffers.etext

    • Slapout

       Contact Caller
       It’s got about 85 downloads

       Currently priced at 99 cents.
       There’s no trial version right now, but if I get time I’ll try to put one together and put up a link to it.

      It aims to make dialing the phone simple.

      Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.markbrents.android.cc

      Package name: com.markbrents.android.cc

  • Juan

    This is an awesome idea. Looking forward to this.

  • mariano zorrilla

    Comment above.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      Hey Mariano, post this as a reply to my comment above, so its easier to keep track of the regular comments and the pitches.

      • mariano zorrilla

        Ok… my bad :-P

  • José Ibán Alemán Monzón

    Always good to hear this news.

  • jamesgould72

    Looks nice!

    http://goo.gl/urqzK

  • chuckles87

    ive been wanting to start developing apps, but i have no idea whatsoever about developing. is their a good reference point to start from? do i need to learn a programming language?

    • mariano zorrilla

      Lear basic JAVA at first, better with a good book. I´ve learn to develop en 1 month (basic stuffs), is a really easy language.

      • chuckles87

        thanks

    • Mike Reid

       For Android, check out App Inventor. (Now at MIT.)

      I have decades of Linux etc. dev experience, but was new to Android and App Inventor (AI) was a great place to start.

      It’s visual programming. Generally, it can’t be used for serious commercial apps, but it’s good fun and can get you up, running and learning quickly.

      And once I started learning about the Java SDK environment, I was able to use what I learned with AI, more or less.

  • ObasiS

    What are the qualifications for a “newbie”? I’d definitely consider myself a newbie (I started android development a little over a month ago), but I do have one app that has almost 3,000 downloads. Am I a newbie?

    Also, I have a paid version of the above mentioned app that has 13 downloads. Am I allowed to post that one or not?

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      I’ll keep an eye out for this. I’d earlier defined under 1000 downloads, so no, your app won’t qualify by that definition. BUT, based on the kind of sudden announcement regarding this, we may not get that many pitches and in that case I’ll probably stretch it out more.

  • http://twitter.com/goteventz Got Eventz

    Card Swapp App – the 1st ever business card with a built in news feed

    iPhone:

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/biztoqr/id457416466?ls=1&mt=8

    Android:

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.biztoqr.biztoqrlite

  • Mike Reid

     Hmm,… I just saw this thread.

    I’m guessing I don’t qualify as a newb, but I’ll tell you about my app anyway. :)

    My app is Spirit FM Radio, a real over the air FM app, and I think the only available pay app for FM on Android.

    A free version has been out just over a year. Due to “issues” the free version is not now published but there’s a mediafire link here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mikersmicros.fm

    There’s a new paid Light version that the public sees as “100 – 500″ installs: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mikersmicros.fm_li

    There’s an older paid Unlocked version that the public sees as “1,000 – 5,000″ installs, but the REAL number of sales when you subtract cancels etc. is still under 1000: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mikersmicros.fm_unlock

    I’m able to avoid competition in this niche with other paid apps because the REAL, hard work is low level & uses a LOT of undocumented & OEM secret info.

    But making a livable income is tougher than the most difficult technical problems. After ripping most features out of the free version and taking a lot of criticism I had one very nice week of sales, but that’s sagged now.

    But I’m keeping at it because I think if I keep placing business interests first, more or less, I’ll be able to meet my livable income goal by the end of 2012.

    But darn those hordes of ignorant and/or cheap users who seem to think I owe them a free, fully featured app. I swear, I think some think Google or AT&T pays me and that I’m ripping them off somehow by not supporting impossible phones on the free app.

    And the ones who think I can make a fortune by just adding ads. Or that I can make a fortune if I just dropped the app to 99 cents and “made it up on volume”. (I’ve experimented and can’t.) Or those who think they were the first to ever come up with a “wonderful” idea, like recording, and think it’s easy to do.

    LOL. :)

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Sorry, but ripping out features from the free version just to put ‘em in the paid version is a weak cash grab and IS deserving of the criticism. Try not to do that, as it reeks of desperation. Instead, plan ahead, and ADD to paid, instead of castrating free further, as you’re probably just pissing off more people (wordofmouth) than you’re incentivizing to pay up for what used to be free.

      • Mike Reid

        It’s not desperation, it’s acting like a decent businessman, and too many apps will die because too many devs think too little of business.

        Do you sell apps ? Most people who think like you do are not devs trying to make a living, but users who think there is some magical “fair price” for apps, at some self professed level of of $1 or $2, because that “just sounds/feels right”.

        Attitudes similar to yours, but much stronger, are why I “unpublished” my free app. Dozens of hateful comments/reviews ensued and I thought “why should I bother continuing to work for free for people who hated me so much for giving them a free app, then deciding that updates would have fewer features ?”

        And “I’m sorry”, but making sub-poverty level income for over a year while providing a nice free app that’s taken 4000 hours at 80 hours per week (after 30 years of industry experience) and providing free tech support, all the while watching rampant theft of your paid app is no way to live, and it’s no way to develop apps in anything approaching a sustainable fashion.

        If you check my XDA thread you’ll find I’ve been very open with my income and my business plans and I’ve followed through on everything I’ve promised to do.

        If anyone wants my older free app, it can be found all over the place, in addition to pirated versions of my paid apps.

        With the change I created a Light version, with more features than the previous more featured free app and I priced it at 99 cents for 1 week.

        If people are unable or unwilling to pay a mere 99 cents (or find and use old copies) for an app I’ve put so much work into, and that will work on as many phones as you own over the next 20+ years, then that is “too bad”.

        I owe nothing to anybody but my paid customers. I owe it to them, and myself, to do everything I can, short of dishonest practices, to keep the app moving forward indefinitely. If possible, I will not let my app die on the trashcan of history, like so many other apps.

        The reviews on my paid apps are all real; ratings around 4.8 overall. Read them and see how happy customers are with the level of service I provide.

        I’m happy to discuss this further on my XDA thread if you wish.

        • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

          I wasn’t asking you for your justification of why you thought you needed to increase prices & remove free features, because it doesn’t matter (effort in != ‘deserved’ money out). I was only pointing out that all devs should TRY not to REMOVE existing features from FREE only to have them PAID, because you’ll gain enemies & bad reviews without really bumping PAID sales much.

          (And, yes, I have a few apps available (one paid), but had and still have no delusion of making big money, just ‘pocket change’. Maybe if I tried selling ‘yet another FOOBAR soundboard’ or yet another dumb ‘sexy asian anime girl live wallpaper’ or ‘super sexy solitaire cookie cutter game’ spam, I’d make more, but I’d rather not. :-) )

  • http://wyldtek.com/ wyldtek
  • http://twitter.com/coder_phil phil bray

    I put up my new game RockDrop which although unlikely to knock angry birds off its perch is my first attempt.It definitely qualifies in terms of downloads.
    Please take a look.I continue to update it.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bray.rockdrop

  • trueautonomy

    Apple rejected me- they have no sense of humor.  It’s sexy but no nudity.  Now I’m learning this world.  Ouch!  I tried to create a unique twist on a puzzle app-  Free download- 16 free puzzles. Watchya think? Could really use some advice. PuzzleBody   https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.puzzlebody&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS5wdXp6bGVib2R5Il0.

  • Casey Vockrodt

    Hi, I’d like to pitch my app, SMS scheduler.I know there are many SMS schedulers on the market, but my app is free and does not contain ads. I’ve used the ActionbarSherlock library so the action bar is available to users on gingerbread and froyo.  This is my first app, and I am very proud of it, but like you and  your app, I have grown really frustrated with its lack of traction and I feel that those statistics are only listing my friends phones. I don’t have the money to advertise, as I’m still a student.

    Please help me out and mention my app, imo it is the best SMS scheduler on the market..see for yourself.
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.destructionlabs.Sms
    Thanks very much