Coming up with a successful app idea

Every great app starts with an idea. Here's our best advice on how to find a successful idea for your app.

Use your hobbies

Do you have any hobbies or interests? Things that you enjoy make great subjects for an app. If you’re going to put time and effort into something, why not make it something you’re already interested in?

Try to think of ways that you can make an app that would be useful to other people with the same interests. What would you have liked to know when you first got started? Would other people be interested in seeing pictures and videos of what you do?

Make an app about your hobby for people who want to learn about it.

Share your knowledge and expertise

Are you an expert in your field? Is there something you are really good at? Do your friends and family value your advice? Turn your accumulated wisdom into a service-oriented app. This could be in the form of written instructions, step-by-step images, how-to videos -- anything that people would find helpful.

Examples: game walkthroughs, car buying tips, how-to videos

What is your passion?

Is there something that really excites you? A subject that you never get tired of? Try to think of ways to share that passion in the form of an app.

Examples: favorite recipes, movie reviews, reading lists

Do some good

Is there a cause or charity that could use your support? Do you feel like you have a mission in life? Try to think of ways that you could contribute, and benefit others by making an app.

Check out what apps are being spotlighted on Google Play. Use the Top Charts and New Releases to give you insight into what kinds of apps are popular right now.

Think about the different categories

Spend some time thinking about the app categories in Google Play. For each category, try to imagine different apps that you could make for it. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the category? What’s the first thing that you can think of that wouldn’t fit inside the category?

Browse existing apps

Look for apps that are popular with users but that you could improve upon functionally or aesthetically. The goal isn’t to copy other apps, but to gain inspiration. What do you like or dislike about the apps you see? What would you do differently? Think about how you could reach the same users with a different kind of app.

Seeing other apps might spark an idea for an app of your own.

Search the markets

Pick a subject you’re interested in, and search for it in Google Play. Are there any apps that surprise you? Are there any apps that stand out? Why?

Now do the same thing for another subject. Do the apps stand out in the same way? Are there any gaps in the results -- apps you expected to see, that aren’t there?

Repeat the search in other app markets. Are there any differences? Are there any apps that are popular in one market that seem to be missing from the others?

Try to find popular subjects that are under-represented.

Provide a valuable service

It helps to think of your app as providing a service to the user. Try to think of ways an app could solve a problem or address a pain the user is having.

Share your expert research skills

Do you have a knack for finding good information? Make an app that provides curated content about a difficult-to-research subject. For example, the best collection of hard-to-find tutorials, or answers to questions that are difficult to describe and tricky to search for.

Don’t worry too much about what is technically possible

Try not to put the brakes on too much while you’re brainstorming ideas. Not every idea is possible without programming, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t something you can do with that idea using Andromo. For example, you might not be able to make a game, but you could make an app for the people who would like that game -- a collection of walkthroughs, or a series of articles aimed at game designers that explores what makes the game fun.

You will develop a sense for what is possible as you start to make apps. For now, don’t worry too much about what is technically possible. Even the craziest, most impossible ideas are okay -- one of them might spark another idea that is possible. The important thing is to give yourself room to explore as many ideas as you can.

Pay attention to current events and take advantage of the quick turnaround you can achieve with Andromo to put out very topical apps. This could be anything newsworthy, from advice on how to prepare for an impending hurricane, to an app that pokes fun at the latest celebrity gaffe. A slip of the tongue by someone famous could spell opportunity for a quick, successful app.

Take advantage of how quickly you can build an app with Andromo.

Anticipate popularity

Try to predict something that will become popular very soon. For example, you could make an app with information about a cool product about to be released. Being the first on the scene of a cool new trend is a great way to get your app noticed quickly.

Timing is important

Some apps become successful just by being launched at the right time -- for example, right before a related product is announced that everyone starts searching for, or a video about your subject goes viral. Although you can’t always predict this kind of luck, it’s worth considering such coincidences when you are coming up with app ideas. If you can think of a lucky event that might occur, you might be able to prepare an app for it, just in case the opportunity presents itself.

Think about your audience

One way to generate app ideas is to focus on a specific demographic (e.g. males aged 20-29). What kinds of things do they like? What kind of app would they be interested in? Research your subject in Google Play to get a feeling for the possible size of the audience.

Target an underground niche

Look for app niches that might not be served because they are too small to justify the cost of development -- if you didn't have access to a tool like Andromo.

Go local

Consider making an app for a specific location, such as the city or country where you live. Take advantage of your familiarity with the subject to make an app that fits the community’s needs, or to inject the apps with local flavor -- something only a person from there would know. Making an app geographically specific can help its ranking when users perform location-based searches.

Be specific

Focusing on a narrower subject might seem like it will limit your app’s appeal, but it might also make your app easier to find when users perform a very specific search. For example, an app about a specific car model instead of about cars in general. By being specific, your app is less likely to get lost in a long list of apps about the same subject.

Think about the ad networks (make advertising easier)

If you're planning to monetize your app using ads, one approach that can help you generate some ideas is to think about what topics, age groups, or products the advertisers would like to target, and then create an app around that.

You might even want to do some research into what types of ads are shown by the network you plan to use, and make apps that will relate well to their ads. In other words, try to make an app that will be easy for the ad network to match up with advertisers.

Try building your app backwards

Another tip for coming up with ideas is to think backwards from the tool to the idea. Go through the list of Andromo activities and think about how you could use them in an app. Try to think of "creative" ways to use each activity. For example, you could use a Photo activity to show a slideshow of information, or an Audio Player to create a pronunciation guide. Challenge yourself to make an app based on each of the activity types.

Be mindful of the terms of service

Be mindful of where you will release your app, and their terms of service (TOS). For instance, Google Play is the most popular app store, and it does not allow nudity or copyright infringement (and neither does Andromo). Make sure that your idea is safe.

Think globally

Remember you have a worldwide audience. Differences in language and culture can have dramatic effects on how potential users view your apps. Try not to limit yourself to a single region when evaluating your ideas for apps.

Try lots of ideas

Andromo makes it easy and inexpensive to try out different app ideas, so don’t limit yourself to just one kind of app. Try different approaches and see what works the best. If your first idea doesn't work, maybe your tenth idea will.

What’s Next?

The next article in this series will explain how to translate your ideas into a working Android app using Andromo. Read on!