How I started with mobile development

This is not a technical post, it’s just me rambling on about how I got into mobile development and why I love it so much. So if you’re looking for technical information on how to start with Android or iOS development, this is not the post for you. If, however, you’re prepared to spend a few minutes reading about my journey into mobile app development, please read on. And please leave a comment to let me know what you think, or share your story about how you got started.

I had been in the IT industry since university, and generally enjoyed the work. Most of my development experience was on Windows, client/server, relational database systems. Back in 2011 I was developing a casino management system for several large casinos. This was a traditional client/server system and was working very well, but we decided a great way of improving the usability of the system would be to enable data entry from around the casino floor with some sort of mobile device. This would be particularly useful for the pitboss (I love that job title – I’d like to be called a pitboss), who would walk round the tables every hour and then return to the pitboss PC to enter the data.

I decided the best device for the job was an Android tablet, and so I started to learn Android development in my own time. To learn about Android I read many blogs and tutorials, one of which was a beginners tutorial where the author described how he built a flag and country quiz app (apologies to the author but I have long ago lost the link to your post). The app was very basic but it gave me the idea that the best way for me to learn would be to do something similar. So I decided to build a cricket quiz app for Android (cricket being one of my passions, along with F1® and football).

By the way, the reason I put the ‘registered tm’ symbol next to F1 was because of my run-in with Formula 1 Management’s legal department when they discovered I had the audacity to use ‘F1′ in the title of one of my apps – that story could be the subject of another post.

The app took me a couple of months in my spare time. It was very basic (wish I still had some screenshots from it to show you and for my own amusement), it had about forty quiz questions with multi-choice answers. It wasn’t great visually, but it worked and was stable. Edit: I’ve found a screenshot from an early version – stylish eh?

cricketscreen2

It was almost an after-thought to publish it to the Google Android Market (as it was called in those days). The goal of the exercise has been to learn Android, not to publish an app. But I did publish it, and after a few days I thought I would have a look to see what was happening with it. I was amazed to find that it had been downloaded about 100 times, and had got a couple of reviews.

This was an epiphany moment for me – not only was I developing something that people wanted, but it was immediately available to them, with no marketing at all.

From there I started to get serious about Android development. I improved the app numerous times – UI, UX, scoreboards, game play, push notifications, and many other things. And I added ads to it, not that I thought I would make a fortune, but just out of interest.

I also produced the casino management mobile data entry app, which was a great success and is still in use today. And, of course, I have written many other apps, both my own apps and on contract for many large companies. I learnt iOS development and have written apps for the iPhone. In fact mobile development has been my full-time career, passion, and bread-winner since that time.

I’ll leave it there for now. Must go and water Mr Plant, he’s been staring out the window watching the rain and thinking ‘I want some of that’.

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