24h Project: Create and Release an App
In order to counteract my structured and methodical approach to creating things I’ve been trying to quickly make stuff and then make it better (or move on and make something else). The idea is to be more creative and to get things finished rather than get stuck trying to do everything exactly right. I’ve therefore been giving myself 24 hours from idea to go-live to fit things around my workload and Get Stuff Done.
Follow me on Twitter if you want to know about my next #24hourproject.
Creating the App
I wanted to create an App to aid creative thinking and to help make brainstorms more productive. I was inspired by Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, the I-Ching and cringeworthy lateral thinking quotes. I decided to call the App ‘Lepus’ which is Latin for Hare as hares are fast and agile – they might be creative too but I’ve never got close enough to one to find out.
After a quick Google it became apparent that the best free option for creating a simple app was to use MIT’s App Inventor. There are some big limitations to using App Inventor but having never made an App before I found it pretty easy to use. It’s probably equivalent to building a site in Dreamweaver but you’ve got to start somewhere!
App Inventor has two main screens: Designer to create the interface and Blocks (see below) to create the process which sits behind it. My App works a bit like a magic 8 ball so the blocks are very simple – when you click the button a sound plays and a piece of text from a list is randomly returned. I bought an icon from thenounproject.com for $2 and chose a simple orange background colour. The ‘click’ sound effect was free from Flash Kit.
Releasing the App
Adding an App to the Android Play Store is pretty straight-forward although you have to pay a $25 registration fee to get a developer account. Next you upload the .apk file from App Inventor and fill out the Play Store listing with screenshots and a description. Updating the App when you realise that you haven’t included an icon is not really possible – each time you save a version from App Inventor it seems to have a different package name. Because of this the Play Store won’t let you update the existing but you can create a brand new listing, there are apparently ways around this but I haven’t got them to work yet.
Seeing my App in the store was a great feeling and well worth the $27 spend. If you have a mobile running Android (or a tablet) and you want to install Lepus you can find it on the Play Store.