Lessons learnt after spending 4 months building an iOS App

Lessons learnt after spending 4 months building an iOS App

Over the past few months I built an iOS app called Drone Trails and wanted to write down some of the struggles involved in building it. The main takeaways for me has been:

  • Building a nice looking UI is hard when you don’t have the knack for it (I’m an infrastructure engineer).
  • No-code tools out there don’t offer much customization capability. If you have a simple CRUD app maybe you’ll be lucky to find something.
  • Two things sell — good looking ui and simple apps (or made to look simple).
  • Finding the right channels to market

What is Drone Trail about ?

I’ll keep this short since this is not the main discussion point of this article. Drone Trails helps recreational and commercial drone flyers find spots to fly. Turns out FAA (USA governing body for drones) does not have the complete list of safe places to fly on their app cause local courts can override the decisions. My solution was to make a crowd-sourced idea (A big no no no) to help navigate this space. There are apps that tell you safe places to fly but the real meat is in the shots you can get and the take-off locations just because of all the restrictions on flying a drone.

  • Where is it safe to fly near me
  • What shots can I get at place X near me
  • What to watch out for and permissions I need

How much $$ spent so far

  • Apple Developers License — 100$
  • Sketch License — 99$
  • Firebase — 0$
  • Notion — 0$ (single developer team :) )
  • Slack — 0$ (mainly chat ops)
  • Bugsnag — 0$
  • PagerDuty — 0$
  • Sendgrid — 0$


Final Thoughts

I enjoy building my ideas. This was fun to build especially hooking up so many tools to make life easier to maintain this app. I also tried to make it as professional as possible with emails, assets and all of the marketing involved. Overall, the app has posts from 10+ countries and has a few hundred users which I did not expect. I feel if my UI skills were much better, I could have nailed the execution better.