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Ideation for Android developers – how to dream up the next big app

It’s easy to advise people to take up coding, or to become developers. It’s even relatively easy to teach them to set up Android Studio, code in Java, or design a great UX. The problem though, is that none of this is going to be much use if you don’t also have an idea for the app you want to make in the first place. It’s like having a car, knowing how to drive but not knowing where you want to go with it. So it’s often only once you have a real vision for something that will help make people’s lives better (or at least amuse them for 10 minutes) that you can find the passion needed to follow through and actually build an app.

But can you teach someone to have good ideas? Or do you need to wait for that bolt of lightning to strike when you’re not expecting it? While there are no sure-fire methods for coming up with new apps (and certainly not good ones), there are definitely some strategies you can use to improve your chances of striking gold. Let’s take a look at some of them things to consider that might just help…

One piece of advice that writers often get is to ‘write what they know’. That means not only writing about a subject they’re familiar with but also writing about characters and emotions that they can relate to. This way, they stand a better chance of creating something genuine and authentic and that really adds value for the intended audience.

The same is true if you’re trying to make an app. If you’re a fitness fanatic, then making a fitness app makes a lot of sense because you’ll understand the demands of your market and you’ll hopefully have the passion to follow through to completion. Likewise, making an app that’s relevant to the industry you work in is also a great option. For example, I know someone who made a lot of money with an app specifically aimed at stage lighting professionals!


This then also allows you to ‘scratch your own itch’ too. That means looking at your own lifestyle, hobby or workflow and then identifying where the pain points are. What are the fiddliest and most time consuming things you find yourself doing regularly? How could they be fixed? In other words, create an app that you would want to use and that would save you a lot of time. This will be something that you’ll understand how to make and if it’s something you need, chances are that other people will need it too. In general, ‘solving a problem’ is a very good way to go.

Scratching your own itch, like the times when you tried dividing the bill between ten of you and then on the 5th time get the idea for a bill dividing app, is one method for coming up with ideas all on your lonesome and in a flash of intuition. But according to Steven Johnson, who gave a very good TED talk on the subject, this is not actually how ideas tend to arise. Instead, they tend to take the form of a ‘slow hunch’ and then develop over time. This was true for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and it was true for Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (itself an extension of his Special Theory of Relativity).


So don’t be alarmed if your idea doesn’t come all at once. It’s more likely you’ll have lots of ‘semi good’ ideas but if you write these all down and keep mulling them over, they might just evolve into something amazing.

In the same talk, Johnson also mentions the importance of discussing ideas and how groups can help to evolve and adapt ideas. We tend to be very protective over our ideas because we’re worried about intellectual property – but you really shouldn’t need to worry about your friends and family stealing your app ideas! Even just talking about your idea out loud can help you to get some new perspective and this is invaluable when trying to have your breakthrough. You can watch the talk below:

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