Apps with Appmum

Writing apps with Appmum began because I like living in Far North Queensland and love the Atherton Tablelands. Not wanting to move to a big smoke but keen to get into the forefront of technological development and opportunities, I decided to “get into” writing apps.

My day job – Cath’s Computer Solutions

This was something I could do and stay living in Herberton in the hills.

Apps with Appmum
View from my verandah

Computer sales and repairs have been my livelihood for twenty years but It would be good to do something more challenging and something that could bring in more money. I first went into computers because I wanted to do computer graphics and programming but got a bit side-tracked with raising 5 kids and family life . When my youngest child Abby started school, I decided that now was the time to get into app development. I could not afford to give up the day job of travelling the Tablelands and solving computer problems. I called the new app writing business AppMum. Click on link for AppMum website.

Apps with AppMum (my other job)

Hurdles and Hoops

It is over three and a half years now and the learning curve has been steep.

Xcode

The first hurdle was to learn the programming language for Apple Store Apps. At the time you had to write apps in what was called Xcode (objective C and then Swift). Xcode could only be done on an Apple Mac computer so I had to get an Apple Mac computer. I had done coding and programming when I was at James Cook University in Townsville but I was a bit (or a lot) rusty. I did a lot of on-line tutorials (only the free ones) and produced some basic apps after a few months.

Graphics and Sound

As well as programming I needed to learn how to produce good graphics and images so I trained myself on Photoshop and Illustrator and did some work on animation. The first app was an “Australian Matching Game” where the player had to turn over cards to find two the same. There were animals, flowers and places. Abby who was four at the time said the words to match the images. We had to learn about recording and reproducing sound. 

Apple’s App Store

The next big hurdle was getting the app on the App Store. This was like jumping through a hundred hoops. Progress seemed to be being made but then Apple announced something was wrong or in their words “there was an issue”.

Registered App Developer

You have to be a registered developer which again costs money. You have to sort out GST if you are selling in the Australian Store. Because children are likely users of an app you have to have a Security and Privacy Policy. These things have to be submitted to Apple. 

Bugs

Once the app is on the store and people start using it, you find there are bugs in the program and a revision is needed. All of this is time consuming and often frustrating.

Some Success

I did produce a few apps which had some success. I did a Homework Helper mainly because getting my son James to do his homework was a pain. The Homework Helper tested the weekly spelling lists he got from Herberton State School and also tested his times tables. This meant he could do his spelling and tables on my phone or on an Ipad when he was in the car or on his way to footy practice. 

Another app was for use at Livestock Auctions. This calculated the price of beasts when the price per kilo was entered and kept track of purchases. I did this app for overseas countries as well which meant using imperial measures for the USA. I also had to adjust for local currencies which meant using exchange rates.

The app I spent most time on and have developed into a sophisticated app is one based on SBS’s Letters and Numbers or Countdown as it is known is the United Kingdom. The game tests spelling and numerical skills and uses anagrams and conundrums. You can play against your own device, or other people or compete against the world.

Google Play Store for Androids

I decided to try to get Letters and Numbers onto the Google Play Store as well as the Apple Store. This was a whole new ball game. Google Play Store operates in quite a different way to the Apple Store and I had to learn java script and the c# programming languages. Lots more hoops to jump through. 

Social Media

For both stores it is necessary to publicise your app as much as possible. You have to use Social Media to get people interested. Your web site needs to be professional and attract as much traffic as possible and one of the ways to do that is to write blogs. Then you have to know what keywords you should use and what keywords people type in when they are looking for information. If you get this right more traffic comes your way.

I attended a Google Seminar at the Cairns Convention Centre in early April and all the pitfalls were outlined. It was beneficial but Google emphasised the importance of paid advertisements. I will advertise and pay for an ad but not until I am sure the app is working and is bug free.

Apps with AppMum – What Now?

Is it worth it? It is for me because I love the creating of something people enjoy playing or find useful. And I love to code. I wish that I hadn’t left it so long before getting back to what I started so many years ago at uni. So it is worth it for me and I am still hopeful that I can eventually make a steady income from developing apps. At least I am expanding my horizons and can still work in an area I love. I work from my home in Herberton and also from my mum’s place which is between Tolga and Atherton. This is one reason why we want to stay and run the business from its present location.

Apps with app mum
looking east June 1 2019

Dawn looking towards Mount Bartle Frere from mum’s place.

Below are some of the fauna we have seen from our office – it is certainly not Silicon Valley.

Seen from AppMum Office

Below is what they are:

Try out Caths’ Apps

Download Letters and Numbers App
Letters And Numbers
School Spelling Lists
Livestock Auction Calculator

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