Issue #8 - Caddieapp
This week, we're taking a look at Caddieapp, created by Doug Burns. Caddieapp is not just an iOS app that can run on the Apple Watch; it's designed to be primarily used on the watch. I was surprised at how well the UI works and how readable the maps are. While I'm not into golf, I can see the benefit of having access to course information and scores on your wrist. This shows what can be achieved with a watch app now and it doesn't have to be tied to the phone.
What is Caddieapp?
Caddieapp is a golf app designed to run independently on the Apple Watch. It allows players to view course maps, measure distances, and keep score.
Where did the idea for Caddieapp come from?
I have used other golf apps for years, many of which had companion watch apps. While I appreciated the watch functionality, I was frustrated with their dependence on a connected phone. Most of them utilized the phone's GPS for measuring distances. However, as my phone often wasn't near me (in the cart, my bag, etc.), the distances were incorrect. A few apps offered the option to use the Watch GPS, but they left it on the entire time, which drained my battery before I could complete a round. All the apps required that I use the phone app to view course maps or measure the distance to a specific point, such as a pond that I'm trying to hit over. For etiquette and convenience reasons, I preferred not to use my phone on the course. I believed others might share these frustrations, so I decided to create a Watch-first golf app.
What’s one stand out feature you’d like everyone to know about?
A distinctive feature of Caddieapp is the ability to view and scroll hole maps clearly on the Watch. Overcoming limitations of the small screen was challenging and required the development of new scrolling techniques not found in other golf or map apps. It's something that readers will probably have to try in order to fully comprehend.
Did you find different watch sizes a challenge?
I've centralized the code for handling various sizes, so it's not a significant challenge from a development perspective. However, it is time-consuming from a testing perspective, as I need to validate changes on three watch sizes and two iPhone sizes. My wife and I use the app regularly. She has a 40mm and I have a 49mm, so we have the extremes covered with our daily wear devices. This has helped to uncover any fundamental issues.
How do you promote Caddieapp?
I just launched it a month ago, so promotional strategies are still being worked out. So far, I've used Facebook/Instagram ads and Apple Search ads. Having launched and addressed the first few bug fix releases, I am now focusing more on marketing. I'm using Gabriel Weinberg's and Justin Mares' book, TRACTION (the blue one) as a guide for identifying additional promotional channels.
Have Facebook and Apple ads worked for you? Would you use them again?
I am receiving traffic from both, and the installation rate is satisfactory. The traffic from Apple Search is expensive, but it might be worth it if it converts well. Their 'You may also like' traffic is less expensive, and it appears to perform similarly in terms of installations. The traffic from Facebook is cheaper, but the overall quality seems to be lower. I'm still in the early stages and don't have a lot of data to base decisions on, but it's something I'll continue pursuing for now.
How did you decide on the pricing?
For initial pricing, I surveyed competitors and tried to align my pricing with theirs. I considered that I offer fewer features than the larger competitors and that my target audience is a niche group of Watch users. I'm only a month in, and if necessary, I'll adjust pricing based on what I learn.
How did you launch Caddieapp?
With a beta version ready, I presented at a trade show in March 2023, and compiled a list of beta users. They tested beta releases throughout early spring, and I officially released the app on the App Store at the end of June. I notified the beta users via email about the launch, and posted it on my social accounts.
How long did it take to get to the first version?
About 3 months to beta, and 6 months to release.
Is there anything you’ve learnt that stands out?
Nothing specific to this project, but generally in my career, I've learned to anticipate problems and adapt when they arise. A few "show stoppers" cropped up during Caddieapp's development, and I had to adjust accordingly to get it across the finish line. An advantage of being a small, independent developer is the ability to adapt faster than larger competitors.
Any tools or apps you would recommend others check out?
I was initially skeptical about using ChatGPT for help with coding and other tasks. However, it has become an essential tool for me. It has been a force multiplier, and I believe it gives independent developers an edge over larger competitors who may be slow to adopt it. I've also been a long-time user of the Due app, which is essentially my brain, and the only way I remember to do lots of things.
What do you use ChatGPT for?
I mostly use it for writing 'Starting Point' code, researching topics, and proofreading/editing.
For the 'Starting Point' code, I provide a detailed specification of what I want, including functional requirements, naming conventions, implementation details, etc. It generates some initial code, and we usually iterate back and forth a bit to refine it. I then copy and paste that into Xcode to verify that it compiles and functions as expected. Once it creates something generally acceptable, I incorporate it into my project and make manual adjustments to turn it into exactly what I want. An added bonus is that I've learned some coding styles and syntax from it that I otherwise wouldn't have been aware of. That's particularly helpful as an indie, since I don't have a team of developers to learn from.
I've also used it to research various things, ranging from algorithms to taxes and marketing strategies. In response to your question about accuracy, it sometimes provides inaccurate information, so you can't just trust what it says. However, it does provide a good starting point for research and has helped me uncover things I never would have been able to with a search engine alone.
It does an excellent job of proofreading and editing, and I run most of what I write through it, from emails to social posts, etc. This has been a huge time saver for me, as I used to re-read text repeatedly to ensure I didn't miss anything. I still need to make sure it doesn't change anything meaningful (which it usually won't if I instruct it not to), but that's usually one pass versus many.
Where can everyone go to find out more?
Playpen by Josh Holtz - Mastodon, Twitter/X
Playpen is an app created by a father who found that simply giving their kid an iPhone locked to an app with Guided Access* wasn't enough. Kids soon get bored of playing the same game or looking at the same photos, and sometimes giving them unfettered access to YouTube isn't something parents want to do. Playpen is the answer.
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