Before starting up TestFairy we did some really nice mobile apps. We don’t do apps any more, and this is a great opportunity to write about some of the best mistakes we made along the way. These are not the biggest mistakes, just the ones that can turn into a good advice.

Tell Every Single Person You Meet About Your Idea

Before talking about apps, this one is about starts-ups in general and would probably be the best advice I can give to any entrepreneur I would talk to. If you have a new idea, go look for as many people you can talk to and tell them about your plans. Leah Busque CEO of TaskRabbit wrote a beautiful post about it: “Talk to every single person you meet about your idea. Talk until they tell you to shut up. Discover new questions and patterns so you can test and refine your idea. Then find more people to talk to.” I think that her post is a mandatory post for anyone that wants to start anything.

Prepare the best media kit ever.

Think about the blogger you are trying to reach. In order to cover your story he will need to learn how your app works, take screenshots, find the icons and change their resolution, and if he is a video blogger he might even prepare a video by himself. Why don’t you help him? Have everything ready in advance including icons, screenshots, sample images and have them all in more than one resolution. Prepare your video files, youtube links and have your PR ready in a format that allows copying. Maintain a list of all the blogs that covered your story so far, so it will be easier for that blogger to start. For some bloggers this may be the difference between writing about you or writing about somebody else. Checkout these media kits. We made them too late and they are far from being perfect, but still they helped quite a few bloggers to cover our story.

Timing is everything.

Look at the calendar and find the best date for releasing your app. Think about holidays and days of week, make sure that there are no major events on that week that might attract all the media attention or maybe if it serves the purpose, do the opposite and use those events to promote your campaign. In any case, just check the calendar and make a plan, don’t just release the app whenever it is ready.
Two weeks before the official release start your quite launch. Contact bloggers, (email, twitter, Facebook, phone, meetups) send them your 100 words pitch including your youtube link, media kit, and let them try your app (Promo codes in iOS, apk in Android). Ask them not to write anything before the official release date. In our case all the bloggers we spoke to, respected our request.
You can not imagine how I felt when I spoke to a very well known blogger that told me that if StillShot would have been released on a Tuesday she would have covered it, but on a Monday she can’t because she has too many stories.

Use promo codes smartly (relevant for iOS only)

Apple gives every iOS developer 50 promo codes for every app. These codes are valid for 28 days and can be used once your app is approved by the Apple review team. There is a very important trick here that can help you a lot. When you upload your app to iTunes, do not set it for immediate release, but instead set it to be released in three months. Now, once your app is approved, this trick will hold it in the store with status “Pending Vendor Release”. At this point, the app is hidden from the public and is available only for those who have a promo code. This is the reason why promo codes are so important and that’s why you shouldn’t waste them on family and friends. You got only 50 codes, be smart and use them only for marketing purposes. On every app update Apples give you another 50 codes. The ones you get on updates, when your app is already released are the codes you can give away to your Facebook friends, this is the time for generosity, not before.

Have a kick-ass video.

I’m a big fan of video marketing. I think that there are cases where a good video can do a better work than a whole marketing team. Your video must be simple and short – try to keep it below 40 seconds. Make sure the video describes really well the problem you solve (15 seconds) how you solve it (another 15 seconds) and include a very clear call for action – download url, app store keyword or anything else the user should do now. Make it just a little bit funny, so people will like it and enjoy sharing it. There are sites, books and schools that teach how to do it right. Find the right people that know how to do it and hire them. This is the best investment you can do with your marketing budget. This is one of the things that we did right, with the help of the great guys from Clutch animation studio.

Start big.

MivzaSavta1

In one of my favorite movies in all times, there is a guy that explains his secret in winning swim contests. He says “Start the strongest you can, and then slowly increase…” In our case as well, it is very important to start with a big blast. Having thousands of downloads in the first few hours may help you get into the top-25 list in the app store. There are users who check the top-25 list on a daily basis to see what is new. Once they find your app and get it, your numbers may increase and get you to the top-10. Try to make as much noise as you can at a specific day and hour. Schedule your release to 10am EST and ask your friends to post and tweet exactly at that time. Schedule your PR to that hour and if there are bloggers that are friends of yours, ask them to get your story in the morning. All this is just to get you as many downloads in the shortest time interval possible.

Stay around.

The minute you have released your app, is the time when everything starts. This is not the time to go to bed, this is not the time to get drunk. Be there when it happens! Stay online, listen to Twitter, reply to the tweets and get new followers. Google up your keywords (use the “Past hour” option) and see who is talking about you in real time. Your best coverage may come from a reply in a forum you never knew, a comment on a news blog or a new Twitter follower you just met. Make it really easy to contact you: Email, Facebook, Twitter, web contact form, Skype and phone. This is not the time to protect your privacy. This is the time to be reachable.

If you have more tips or any thoughts about this list, the comments below would be a great place for that.

Test tower defense gaming skills with the Battle Towers Android app. You will earn rewards, points, and power-ups, as you construct fortresses, build an army, and attack the enemy. The classic battle graphics, cool interface, and goal-oriented game play create an addictive and fun experience.

 

A tutorial video explains the story and premise of the Battle Towers Android app game. After years of peace, goblins attack “humies,” as the warrior humans are called in the game. A war erupts between the two parties. The soundtrack is ominous and foreboding of ill will and struggle. As the story is introduced in the tutorial video, the gesture controls required to be successful are introduced. You drag towers and focus fire with taps as instructed. A cool touch throughout the game is the narration by the warring factions in pop-ups. The narration can have different themes–instructions, hints, and story elements.

 

battle towers android app review

 

The epic battle graphic style is best described as fantasy meets traditional mideval battle. The home screen is a map where the missions and successes are plotted. In the game screen, the two worlds are placed side by side. With horizontal finger swipes, you move back and forth between the lush, traditionally constructed “humie” world and the parched, dark, and dilapidated landscape of the goblins. It is possible to pinch and expand the game screen with your fingers to zoom in and out for a closer perspective. A neat tool is the screenshot camera to snap a photo of the battle in action. When a stage of the game is successfully completed, point totals are tallied on a “Hear ye, hear ye” style declaration presented by a graphic of a warrior rescuing the damsel in distress.

 

battle towers android app review

 

Prior to each battle, there is a list of goals including building construction, use of power-ups, types of arms and mercenaries, specific battle actions, and time limits. To enhance difficulty, a simple tap on the difficulty icon adds another achievement to the list. Points are awarded for the tasks completed, so adding tasks and executing them helps rack up point totals swiftly.

 

The game play is straightforward and accessible, and the interface is sophisticated. At the top of the screen in the middle, there is an icon that switches between swords and a shield. The battle starts with a tap on the swords icon, and a retreat is initiated with a tap on the shield. In battle, taps on enemy structures and goblins direct the attack. Tap an enemy fort, and the mercenaries run towards it. Tap a goblin, and it is attacked. The items available to enhance your game play are available from the spinning wheel in the bottom portion of the screen. Scroll through the items by drawing an arch with your finger. To select an item, tap it and drag it to the desired position on the screen. If an item cannot be used at that time or in the preferred position, a pop-up explains the appropriate use.

 

battle towers android app review
Familiar tower defense strategy is required for success. Build the best fortresses, heal warriors, and keep structures in good repair; meanwhile, take out opponents and their structures with speed and agility. It is important to remember warrior skills are greatest at day, so a nightly retreat to gain health and energy is vital to success. Power is measured in volume-style bars throughout the game, so adjustments to your items and strategy can impact the game swiftly.
As points are earned, they can be redeemed for a variety of items during the game from the bottom of the screen or selected between battles. After each success, an opportunity to purchase power-ups and advantages with points or in-app purchases appears in a pop-up. In-app purchase prices range from pocket change to a pair of swanky running shoes. A share to Facebook and Twitter from the Battle Towers Android app is also a quick way to earn points.

 

battle towers android app review

 

The Battle Towers Android App is a solid, well-crafted tower defense game. The graphics, soundtrack, and game play are cohesive and thoughtful, but, most importantly, it’s a blast to play.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see the entire test of Battle Towers, click here.

Vine Android app logo

Lets start with a fact:

Vine is  awesome. If you didn’t try it yet, it is never too late, do it now.

Now for another fact: Only 63% of the Android users can actually use Vine.

Why? Because as you can see on the Vine Google Play page, this app is limited to Androids running version 4.0 and above.

 

Google’s official numbers released on August 2013 show that while huge progress was made and 63% of the Android world are already using Android 4.x, 37% of the market is still using old versions, out of which 33% are still on Gingerbread API 10. Will those users ever upgrade? I don’t think so. Even if they knew how (and they don’t), it is not that easy. What is probably going to happen is that these devices will stay there forever, and die really slow. It can take years until they go away, maybe 5 years, maybe 10, but they will probably stay there for a very long time, probably in big numbers.

 

Now why on earth wouldn’t the Vine team work on an app that can serve the Gingerbread users? Isn’t 33% of the Android market big enough for this? I’m not buying it. Android fragmentation is indeed a huge problem but a third of the market is too big to ignore.

 

The Verge reported last month that a Windows Phone 8 version of Vine is in the make. This is smart, and of course, any company that has the resources should go to every possible platform.

 

If I were Vine, I would consider Gingerbread as just another platform.  It doesn’t have to be a full app with all the newest features, it can be a limited version, light, mini, whatever you call it. But ignoring it would be a mistake. Of course, testing is a challenge – TestFairy is here for a reason – but running away from this challenge is a mistake. Face it and make a Gingerbread app. It will bring you tons of customers.

 

Jelly Bean Fragmentation

 

 

Untangle the web and organize your internet browsing with the Pocket Android app.  A cool free download from the Google Play store, Pocket uses the share icon as you travel through the internet, social networks, and apps to save items to read later.  Pocket is filled with cool features, slick graphics, and simple interface for the time you carve out of your day to revisit articles, videos, and more.  As a bonus, the content is available offline for those moments stuck in a waiting room without wi-fi.

 

The Pocket Android app simply requires a username and email address to get started, and it moves you step-by-step through your first share to Pocket.  You exit out of Pocket, and you open any app or web browser on your Android device.  The content is dimmed in the background, and a pop-up gives you instructions for how to save to Pocket.  You simply look for the share icon, touch it, touch share to Pocket, and you’re finished.  You sill likely have more trouble finding the share icon from time to time than you will actually have sharing the desired content to Pocket.

 

Pocket app review by TestFairy

 

When you open the Pocket Android app on your tablet and phone, you will find a neatly organized home screen.  There is a menu bar at the top of the screen with icons to help you navigate, sort, filter, refresh, delete, and access settings.  The default view for the rest of the screen is a matrix of still photos framed by the title and source of items you have shared to Pocket.  Visually, the large photos have impact and add energy to the interface.  If you prefer a streamlined interface, you can switch to a list view with one touch on an icon at the top of the screen.

 

Pocket app review by TestFairy

 

With a touch on an item from the matrix or list, you move to a new screen to access the saved content.  You can read an article, watch a video, and check out an interesting Android app you saved from the Google Play Store.  A new top menu bar includes cool one-touch options.  A touch on the check icon archives the content.  If you touch a star, the item moves to your favorite category.  You may choose to adjust the font size and brightness of your screen for viewing.  You may share the content to your Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and other linked social network profiles.  The icon with the three vertical dots is the home of quite possibly the neatest feature of the Pocket Android app–tags.  The ability to create custom tags transforms Pocket into a Pinterest for entrepreneurs.  You create tags for a specific client, marketing research, motivation, and inspiration for new products.  A boring task like creating an office supply order list is transformed with Pocket.  From the home screen, there is a field to enter a tag search that appears just below the top menu bar after you add your first tag.

 

Pocket app review by TestFairy

 

The Pocket Android app gives you a quick way to save interesting, useful items you run across when you don’t have time to fully appreciate them.  The neat tags make you more efficient and productive–even if you only use it to organize your LOL cats memes.

TestFairy provides an informative, insightful testing service for Android developers.  To see the test of Pocket, click here.

 

When I talk to Android developers and tell them that TestFairy started to help fight Android Fragmentation, they usually tell me about the devices in their lab. Some have 10 devices, some have 20. If it’s a big company they may have 30, never met a developer that has more than that.  The usual reaction is “With the devices we have in our lab we cover 85% of the market, this is enough”.

Well, it is not.

OpenSignal has just released a new report showing 11,868 Distinct Android devices using their app.

android-fragmantation

Besides the beautiful visual effects showing the difference between last year and this year’s stats, this report has some answers regarding how many devices you actually need in order to cover the Android market.

So the answer is:

In order to cover 25% of the Android market you will need 12 devices!

In order to cover 50% of the Android market you will need 60 devices!!

In order to cover 75% of the Android market you will need 217 devices!!!

And (back to square one) in order to cover 87.5% of the Android market you will need 427 devices!!! That’s all.

Now all you need to do is buy 427 and hire the people that will actually operate these devices and make those tests happen…

Or wait a minute, maybe use the crowd and do it with TestFairy? :-)

 

 

Have you heard about DroidCon? Well, if you didn’t and you are into Android, then you should! We have just came back from DroidCon Paris and the event was absolutely great! The lectures were very interesting (well, the ones that were in English…) and the atmosphere was fantastic. The event was well organized and we are seriously thinking about presenting TestFairy in Droidcon London in October. More updates about that will be here soon.

Being on stage was great, the audience was extremely supportive and apparently they loved TestFairy.

Here is a 3 minute pitch we had in BootCamp, unfortunately the 45 minute session that followed it was not recorded

Followed this presentation I was interviewed by the great guys from FrAndroid. There are some serious camera issues here, but at least the audio is clear :-)

And as always, When there are geeks around, Gil Megidish (aka TestFairy CTO, and official Ninja) will always find great friends :)

Gil Megidish DroidCon 2013