Happy Monday, everyone!
We made it to Issue #46! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️
And also… happy WWDC week! This is my favorite week every year 😊 There are so many new announcements, community events, and new APIs/features to plan for. But one thing to remember is try to not feel overwhelemed with everything going on. Take the news and community events at your own pace 😇 Donny Wals has a great guide to WWDC21 over on his blog that explains more about this.
I also want to give a big congrats to Aaron Pearce, who was featured in Issue #33, for his big release of HomeRun 2 🥳 If HomeRun wasn’t already the best way to control HomeKit from your watch (which it was), it definitely is now! It even comes with improved ways to control HomeKit from phones home screen with widgets. Make sure to give Aaron Pearce a second round of Indie Dev Monday love on his big release of HomeRun 2!
Newly Released and Updated Indie Apps
Here are some newly released and newly updated apps from this past week! If you would like to possibly see your app in this list, please submit your app to the look at me form 👀
Today’s Spotlighted Indie Devs
📆 Today I’m featuring Will Taylor.
👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.
1) What is your name? Where do you live?
Hey there, I’m Will Taylor! 👋 I currently live in Lincoln, Nebraska and will be moving to either central Tennessee or northern Alabama once my wife finishes grad school in August and gets her first job as an SLP. 👩🎓
2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?
I graduated with a degree in computer science from TCU in 2017 (go frogs! 🐸) Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of writing code for several incredible companies. I’ve spent the last two years working as a mobile developer for CardFlight writing SDKs for iOS and Android that make it easy for apps to process credit card transactions. While I’ve loved my time at CardFlight, I’m beyond thrilled to be starting a new challenge at RevenueCat in June this year working directly with app developers of all sizes to find the best ways to monetize their hard work with subscriptions.
When I’m not writing code, you can usually find me on long bicycle rides with my friends! I regularly go on several 10–40-mile bike rides a week. There’s something about feeling the gravel crunch under your bike tires that’s hard to beat. 🚴♂️
3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?
It’s interesting - my idea of what it means to be an “indie” developer has changed a lot over the last decade. I used to think that the term “indie” was reserved for the most upper echelon of small developers - those who had made apps by themselves from the ground up and then found crazy success with millions of downloads and fans. The idea of being “indie” was an aspirational goal for me, one that I wasn’t sure I’d ever reach. Over the years though, I’ve seen so many incredible people that started off not knowing how to write: print(“Hello, world!”), that have been able to bring their idea into the world and have changed the way we play, create, and work. To me, being “indie” isn’t about how big your project is or how many people or dollars your project brings in. It’s about that spirit, determination, and passion to build something that brings joy into peoples’ lives and might even change the world, no matter where in your programming journey you may be. In that sense, I like to think that I’ve become an indie developer and I know that if you’re reading this, you can too.
4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?
For me it was video games! My first app on the App Store launched in 2013 and was a SpriteKit app where my cat, Goldie, was the main character. Goldie could fly across the screen, and you tapped the screen to make him move up slightly, just like Flappy Bird. Your goal was to eat as many cheeseburgers as possible before touching the ground. It sounds simple, but each burger that you ate made the cat larger and heavier, and eventually you must tap the screen several times a second to stay afloat! The app got removed from the App Store years ago since the APIs became deprecated and I didn’t update the game, but hey, if enough people ask, I might bring it back! 😄
5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?
This is the hardest part of being an indie dev and is something I still struggle with! Most of my development time happens during lunch breaks and on the nights/weekend when my wife is doing homework for her grad program. I do my best these days to keep my weeknights and weekends open for family life and hobbies - nothing is more important than family to me!
6) BP Bot - Congrats on your recent release of BP Bot!! I think I remember seeing that you’ve been putting work in on this for the past year. What’s the origin story of BP Bot? What were your initial goals when starting?
Despite only being 26 years old, I’m already facing high blood pressure due to my family history. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a scary thing and can really sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention. Given my background in computer science and math, I figured that the best way to tackle this problem was to find as much data as I could about my blood pressure and how my body’s blood pressure reacts to various stimuli. Research tells us that things such as exercise, salt intake, sleep, stress, diet, etc. can heavily affect our blood pressure, and I wanted data to tell me which of those my body responds to the most. If I can statistically show correlations between my lifestyle and blood pressure, then I can make informed changes in my life to lower my risks of high blood pressure!
I looked around the App Store and was shocked to find that most of the apps out there don’t let you do this and are more focused on creating a “journal” of data, than showing you statistics derived from the data. BP Bot was born out of this desire to arm myself with data in the fight against this part of my genetics!
6) BP Bot - The artwork and graphics inside of BP Bot are amazing! I stopped on the welcome / onboading screen to admire them for a while. The ones one the insight screen are also 😍 Did you create these yourself? Either way, these really level up the app! Please take this 🏆 for some beautiful graphics!
Thank you for the kind words! As much as I wish I could take credit for the artwork, they were actually created by the fabulous Meng To and his incredibly talented team. If you’re interested in art like this, please check out his great websites designcode.io and shape.so to license some of the art yourself! Since hypertension can be very sensitive and stressful, I wanted to make sure that BP Bot was aesthetically pleasing to help put users at ease while they’re in the app.
7) BP Bot - The charts on the insights page are so great looking! But to be honest, I’m not very informed on blood pressure. I feel like I really should start paying attention though 🙃 Why is blood pressure so important and what can it tell me? How can someone use these insights to improve their health?
Your blood pressure is a very good indication of the overall health of your cardiovascular system (heart & veins). The blood pressure itself measures the amount of pressure that the blood exerts on the interior walls of your arteries. The systolic (top) number shows the pressure when your heart is beating, and the diastolic (bottom) number shows the pressure when your heart is resting between heartbeats. Having a high blood pressure is one of the biggest factors of having heart attacks or strokes later in life and so it’s a good idea to try to keep it in a normal range if possible.
I explained some of the value that the insights provide above, but my ultimate hope is that the app’s graphs and insights can help users identify whether their blood pressure is at a place that they and their doctor are comfortable with, whether their pressure is trending up or down, and if there are any statistical correlations between their lifestyle and blood pressure.
All of this said, I am not a doctor and BP Bot can’t make diagnoses or provide medical advice. If you think your blood pressure is too high (or low!) please consult with a medical professional! 👩⚕️
8) BP Bot - The only way I know on how to get my blood pressure is by going to the doctors 😇 What are the best ways/products that me and others can take our blood pressure at home?
Going to the doctor is probably how most people take their blood pressure. That said, you can buy blood pressure monitors at most supermarkets and drug stores - you can get a quality one for anywhere between $20-$50 USD. Though there are some significant challenges, I hope that one day we’ll be able to take our blood pressure from our Apple Watches!
9) BP Bot - What were some of the development hurdles you came across while building BP Bot? Was there something that you found a lot of fun? Was there something new that you learned that you’ll take forward to other projects?
I learned a lot while building BP Bot! This is the first app that I’ve made where I’ve fully used SwiftUI and Combine-based view models for each and every screen. Writing SwiftUI is SO much fun and I can’t wait to see what goodies Apple has for us come WWDC this year.
Building the persistence layer for BP Bot was by far the most difficult part. I started off building my own sync engine that would sync across any combination of HealthKit, CloudKit, and a local CoreData store depending on the user’s settings, but the overhead of the engine got to be a lot and I wound up using NSPersistentCloudKitContainer combined with some extra logic for HealthKit. I’m…. still not sure if this was the right choice or not. 😅 While the programming is a lot simpler, it has been the only source of crashes in the app so far and is lacking in a few key areas. Despite its shortcomings, I’m confident that Apple will address some of the issues in the next few years and I look forward to getting those benefits without writing additional code.
10) BP Bot - What’s next?! Do you have any fun future features that you can share with us?
I’m working on a feature that my doctor asked for - a time-based analysis of the users blood pressure! Blood pressure is naturally highest in the morning and slowly lowers throughout the day, and doctors really like to see recordings from all times of the day, so I think it’s something that our users and their physicians will enjoy! I’ve also got quite the backlog of iOS integrations that I’d like to include - Spotlight search, Siri integration, shortcuts, widgets, the list is endless! I hope everyone is looking forward to these features as much as I am. 😄
11) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What the most fun part of being an indie dev?
The hardest part of making apps for me is marketing, 100% hands down. Building apps is a difficult but solvable issue for me, but marketing and bringing the app to a large audience is something that I still haven’t cracked yet and hope to work on. The most fun part of being an indie dev is seeing how my hard work changes peoples’ lives for the better. I am beyond humbled that people would download, use, and sometimes even pay for the software I build, and I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every one of you. 💜
12) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?
I’m a HUGE Nintendo fan and can’t wait for the release of Breath of the Wild 2! Here’s hoping that it’ll come out sooner rather than later 🤞
13) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?
I’m always inspired by the great work by other devs on Twitter! I’m not sure if he’s been featured on this newsletter yet or not, but I’m a huge fan of Dan O’Leary’s work on Run Roster. It’s so much fun to see how he fights through weird CoreLocation bugs that make it looks like his runs go straight through lakes! 🐟
Thank you to everybody who made it to this footer! You either spent the time to read or took the effort to scroll 😊
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