When I first started my main YouTube channel back in 2018, I tried posting a variety of videos about my development on BestPhotos. After a handful of times, the videos started to feel repetitive and not something my audience was really enjoying, especially considering the time it takes to film and edit a vlog style video. At this point, anything I do with content for this channel is coming at a lower priority than developing BestPhotos, and my main YouTube channel. While it might still be important, it can’t take lots of time (more on this later).
Since 2018, I’ve paid close attention to what other developers, designers, and app creators are posting online, trying to decide what, if anything, I should share next for my work with BestPhotos. Over the years at various jobs, I’ve always enjoyed the concept of a showcase. This is where teams demo the work they’ve done recently to a larger group within the company. I find it very entertaining to watch showcases from other teams, and see a product evolve over time, giving feedback along the way.
The Development Cycle
Depending on the scale and nature of specific apps, this cycle might look a bit different, but in my experience the same general steps in the diagram apply. While I’ve been working on BestPhotos 3 on and off again for the past year or so, I haven’t gone around the loop even once with a public release. With the breaks I’ve taken, and software development always being more complicated that you expect up front, BestPhotos 3 has taken way, way longer than it should have. Ideally, an app can keep the development cycles short enough to be able to react to what the users actually want. While the changes I’m making in BestPhotos are large and what I want, going this long without shipping a release risks that I’ve taken BestPhotos 3 way off in the wrong direction from what my users want. On the flip side, I wouldn’t want to rush a half-done version of the app to customers. By sharing videos on my YouTube channel and creating a public beta soon, it will bring aspects of that cycle into my development, refining the eventual public release.
What about competitors?
Apple has traditionally been very secretive about new products. One of the key reasons they do this is to keep competitors from copying them. Most independent app development is done this way as well for a fear that a larger, better-funded competitor can rip off what we’re doing and clobber us. Sharing features early certainly increases the risk of copycats. Even while sharing demo videos, I might not discuss all BestPhotos 3 features publicly before the launch…we’ll see.
As an independent app developer, it’s also arrogant to assume competitors are salivating at the thought of copying my features. Sure, there might be some of that, but ideally, posting regular updates about my app will create social content that will help get more people interested in my app to begin with. From what I gather about the App Store in general, very few people actually read the release notes on updates. My hope is this will give users a better understanding of what I’m building than just the release notes. I also hope this will peak the interest of existing users, and add new ones. Both potential outcomes are ultimately more important to me than the risk of features getting copied.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)
One of the biggest problems with my earlier “devvlogs” as I called them was how much time they take to produce. Given that I already have a main YouTube channel and video production stuff already setup, it’s relatively easy to turn on my camera and ad lib about my recent work. Back to the competitors, I hope to use the fact that this is easier for me as a competitive advantage. We’ll see how it goes…
Goals for the release
I would like to release on day one with iOS 14 App Stores (probably in mid to late September), but as you can see in the video, I have a lot to code between now and then to make that a reality. In the meantime, I’m going to keep making these quick videos as regular updates. Once I release BestPhotos 3 to the world, I plan to evaluate this YouTube experiment and see if it makes sense to continue alongside my regular development on the app.