🥳 Happy Monday, everyone!

We made it to the fifth issue! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️

📆 Today I’m featuring Jonathan Ruiz and Emmanuel Crouvisier.

Jonathon is the creator of LockneApp and the co-host of Everyday Robots podcast. Lockne is an iOS app that helps you create the perfect wallpaper and lock screen for you iPhone or iPad. I know I always struggle with making my photos align perfectly for lock screens 🙃 I saw Lockne appear in my Twitter timeline earlier this year and I was blown away but its simplicity. I highly recommend you check it out! Oh, and also go give Everyday Robots a listen!

Emmanuel is the creator of CardPointers. CardPointers helps you get the most out of your credit cards by making sure that you always use the right card for every kind of purchase. Its available on iOS, web, and as a PWA. To be honest, I wish I would have discovered CardPointers a long time ago. I’ve always been confused by credit card bonuses and when its best to use each card… But I had no more questions after the first few minutes of using CardPointers 😊 It’s such a pleasure to use and all of the informaton is clearly displayed. This app is a must if you are about to sign up for a credit card or are looking to maximize the usage of the cards you already have!

👉 Please make sure to follow them or support them anyway you can! 😇 I’m excited to share their indie dev stories.

Indie Devs

Jonathan Ruiz

Los Angeles, CA, US

Barista and part-time indie dev working on Lockne and Everyday Robots podcast.

Emmanuel Crouvisier

Miami, FL, US

Indie dev working on CardPointers

Jonathan Ruiz


1) What is your name? Where do you live?

My name is Jonathan Ruiz and I live just outside of Los Angeles in California.

2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?

I have a business degree and graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016. At the time I was getting more interested in computing but never started programing till after college. My day job at the moment is being a barista at a local coffee shop. When I’m not coding I’m probably playing some video games, guitar, or watching some anime.

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

I do! It makes me happy to say so one of my biggest motivations to learn iOS development was to be like some of my favorite indie devs.

4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?

When I first saw Swift it gave me motivation to finally get into iOS development. I had always wanted to understand how iOS worked on a deeper level. But when Swift came out it was the turning point from being an enthusiast to wanting to be a developer.

5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?

This is a hard one especially having a work schedule that changes. I am really lucky that I have friends and family close by. Usually I take things week to week. I have a lot of different projects and try to take them on one at a time. Wednesday’s kind of anchor the week because I record and publish my podcast those days. I keep projects in Things for my apps so I’ll have a feature list to work through when I am gonna spend some time on those.

6) Lockne - I saw Lockne a few months ago on Twitter and I was so 🤯 I’ve always struggled getting perfect lock screens. How long did it take for you to realize you needed to make an app to solve this problem?

I never really thought to make the app till very recently before it was released. I was with my fiancé one day at the park and was trying to take a new photo of us for my lock screen. After lots of attempts I couldn’t get one I was happy with. I wanted a camera app to see a real time view of how the photo was going to turn out as my wallpaper. On the drive home I thought why don’t I try to solve this problem ?

7) Lockne - Where did the name “Lockne” come from? I think I know the “Lock” part but that’s it 😉

This one was kind of a reference to a video game 😅. As I was developing it I initially had the name “Lock View” in mind. At the same time I was playing through the game Death Stranding, in it there is a character named Lockne. As soon as I heard it I knew its what the app should be called. It wasn’t taken on the app store and so I went with it.

8) Lockne - How difficult was it to make Lockne make the perfect size photo for each iPhone/iPad screen resolution? Do you have to make fixes for any devices that come out?

It was definitely more work than I thought it would be initially. Essentially the first part was getting the UI for the lock screen and home screens pixel perfect. I would create the views with storyboards and use some auto layout adjustments. Sketch was my invaluable app because I would use it to make sure the icons on my app matched what would be on the devices themselves. Each size class of phone needed different adjustments so I have the app read what device its on and make adjustments as needed when loading the app.

After that was the hard part getting the viewfinder to zoom in the correct amount. One of the biggest problems is how iOS zooms into the photo when setting a wallpaper. For this part I had to get my hands on lots of iPhones because in working on it I realized each size class zooms in a different amount plus this type of development couldn’t be done in a simulator. I probably took a thousand photos comparing and making adjustments to get things just right 😅.

Now if Apple decides to make a new size class of phone I will need to get one to make sure I account for it in the app. Luckily iOS 14 didn’t change anything with wallpapers so the app works on it as is. However I was a little bummed those new wallpaper API rumors didn’t come true maybe next year 🤞.

9) Lockne - Do you have any easter eggs in your app? I tried tapping on the app icons when taking a picture for the “Home Screen” but I don’t think I saw anything 😛

Not yet haha I wanted to do a special about screen with an Easter egg but it didn’t make the 1.0 version. Maybe in a future release I will add one. I tried to have some fun with the fake Home screen icons. One is called debug and its kind of similar to the Spider Man logo.

10) Everyday Robots - I actually just discovered this podcast a few weeks ago! I love it ♥️ What’s the story behind the podcast? How do you come up with the topics and guests?

Glad you like it 😊. Everyday Robots is a show I have wanted to make for a long time. Ive been a huge fan of podcasts for years. I just never met the right person to be my cohost. Eventually I met Mark Fransen at a Swift Developer meetup in Santa Monica. We hit it off and became friends really quickly. After I asked him if he wanted to do the podcast and he said yes.

Everyday Robots is a weekly show where me and Mark get to chat about the Apple/tech news of the week. As well as other things that are going on in our lives. We also interview people in the iOS/Apple community its been super fun meeting so many amazing people.

11) Everyday Robots - I’ve always wanted to start a podcast but I’d imagine there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. What all happens behind the scenes at Everyday Robots that we don’t know about?

It was definitely a lot of learning at first but now that the shows almost a year old I’ve learned a ton. Since the show is just me and Mark its pretty easy to schedule one day and time to record. I do the edits for the show and post them. Podcasts could have so many formats and i’ve been super happy with what we have now. If it were solely a guest based show there would be a lot more work with scheduling and making questions. But we try to blend the two together we will record at least once a week and sometimes if a guest is booked we will do an extra episode.

12) What’s next for Lockne or Everyday Robots? Or what’s next for you? Got anything else in the works? 🙃

I know I definitely want to update Lockne’s home screen view with some cool iOS 14 style widgets. With Everyday Robots I’m looking forward to the show hitting its one year mark in September. There is also a new project I have been working on I published a new blog called Abstraction. I’m really excited about it I built it with John Sundell’s Publish framework so its using Swift and is a really cool static site generator. You can find it at https://abstraction.dev.

13) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What the most fun part of being an indie dev?

I think the hardest part for me so far has been meeting other developers. If you’re just coding by yourself and don’t know anyone else who does it can be really challenging. Luckily Mark and others I have met online have given me lots of help and support. Having friends who also code and can give advice is invaluable.

I think the funnest part of being an indie developer is getting to work on whatever interests me 😅. I can work at my own pace and try out whatever ideas come to mind.

14) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?

To be upfront if you’re reading this and are hiring or know of iOS developer positions feel free to get in touch. While I love working on my apps I definitely am looking to make that jump to being a full time iOS developer 👨‍💻.

Emmanuel Crouvisier


1) What is your name? Where do you live?

Emmanuel Crouvisier, and my home base is Miami, FL.

2) Introduce yourself. Education? Background? Main job? Interests outside of tech? Interests inside of tech?

I grew up in a tiny suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and when I was about 5 or so I first discovered computers as my Dad had a home office. Within a few years, modems opened up a whole new world to me, and I eventually started my own BBS called Harvest Moon which was focused on helping art groups like iCE and ACiD distribute their monthly art packs (basically huge, extravagant ASCII art pieces, most of them made for other BBS’s which they liked). That ended up leading me to programming, as I worked on my own BBS software which I eventually distributed to other folks until I got to high school, when the internet was finally coming into its own.

High school is around the time when my story takes a bit of an unconventional path. My family is French, though I was born in the US, and so I grew up watching Formula 1 with my Dad (himself an ex-rally driver) on many Sunday of the year. Every chance I could I’d go karting with him, which eventually lead to me wanting to become a racing driver. Once I was old enough to get my driver’s license, I was doing as much track time as I could, literally spending every dollar I made on racing, throughout high school and college. My parents always pushed me really hard on the importance of education, and so I didn’t pursue racing full time until I graduated from Northwestern University with a Computer Science degree. After that, all bets were off, so I worked my ass off the summer after college, sold pretty much everything I had, and moved to France to pursue my racing dreams.

Once in Europe, I competed in 4 different championships and had some of the most memorable moments of my life, but moving up in the racing world gets extremely costly, and with most of my funds raised by selling space on the car through eBay auctions and rebuilding + restoring cars (yep, really), I wound up returning to the US and pursuing my other passion in life, programming (and really, anything tech related!)

Shortly thereafter, the Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, then a bit over a year later the SDK, and I was then working at a publishing company and pitched the idea of building a Media Kit app which would be used to showcase the magazine’s offerings in a unique way. That company was eventually bought out by a larger publishing company with 5 really large magazines, and then the iPad came out, which was another game changer for me. I was determined to help get my new employer’s primary titles in Newsstand with this crazy new iPad device, and after a long summer, we were there on day 1 — and most of those apps stayed in the Top 10 Newsstand apps for nearly 2 years along with multiple features by the App Store team.

The iPad launch is where I learned the importance of being there on day 1 and building apps to showcase Apple’s latest technologies. That’s the strategy that I think is largely responsible for CardPointers’ success today, as I launched the iOS version with iOS 13 and the app featured all of the newest APIs - Sign In with Apple, dark mode, independent Watch App, etc. I had three friends send me screenshots of the app being featured in the App Store on that first day at nearly the exact same time; it was surreal!

3) Have you ever considered yourself an indie developer?

Absolutely, and I’m very proud of being an indie, and love to see others find so much success in doing things differently. I strongly believe that being an indie is a huge advantage in the App Store space in particular as it allows us to follow the plan I described above — integrating the newest Apple features in our apps while the big companies are probably still having meetings about what to do and how to do it!

4) What got you started/interested in creating your own applications outside of your “normal” job?

Developing native apps just feels so different from doing web development, which I still do as well. Something really magical about holding a device in your hands, especially one which I use so much normally. When that first SDK was released and I compiled my first app onto the device, I just couldn’t stop staring at it.

5) How do you balance your time between friends/family, work, hobbies, and indie dev?

In the summer months after WWDC, I really struggle to do anything but work. During the keynote, State of the Union, and various sessions, I take a ton of notes and screenshots and put together a to-do list of things to explore further, new APIs which I want to explore, etc, but getting through that list ends up taking up nearly every day up until the next big iOS release.

During the rest of the year it’s a lot easier, as I try to set core hours during which I’ll work on CardPointers so that I can actually enjoy the other things that life has to offer. And having built an app which is focused on helping people travel more (and for free), I make sure to do as much of that as I can (well, pre-pandemic that is; no travel plans for the foreseeable future, sadly).

6) CardPointers - First… this is amazing! Credit card rewards have always been confusing and CardPointers makes it so easy to compare. What got you interested in creating an app for credit card points? Was this originally a personal project?

That’s awesome to hear, and that’s exactly why I built the app! The banks throw a lot of offers our way here in the U.S. between sign up bonuses worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, to recurring monthly/yearly credits, etc, precisely because they know that most people won’t take advantage of all of them. There’s too much information to track, it’s hard to remember which card has that 5x spend bonus for a specific category for just one month, etc.

For the last few years I’d been helping my friends and family to learn to fly for free by signing up for the right credit cards and taking advantage of the aforementioned sign up bonuses. Some cards offer 100,000+ points just for signing up and spending a fixed amount of money on them in the first few months. Sign up for a few of those cards in a year and spend money that you’d be spending any way, but on the right cards at the right time, and you’ve just gotten hundreds of thousands of miles for free. And as it turns out, you can fly in real style for not a lot of miles — 50k points will get you from Miami to Paris on a direct flight in Business Class for example, and that’s only half of the bonus which I got from signing up for one card!

Keeping track of the cards and knowing which card to use when, and the other details a about a card, was quite a pain before I launched CardPointers. I used to help my family and friends by printing labels to put on their cards, and sending them new ones when bonus categories would change on their cards and such, but that model obviously doesn’t scale to hundreds of thousands of users. But an app is perfect for that… and so CardPointers was born.

7) CardPointers - Its hard enough finding this information on banking and credit card websites. You don’t need to reveal your source but how difficult was it to curate this information? How do you keep it all up to date?

Keeping everything up to date is a Herculean effort, to be honest. I wrote a lot of automated scripts to keep things up to date, and I also integrate with a few different sources to get official data from some banks. Keeping up with special offers though is really done through good old fashioned manual labor though. A small part of that is from reading a ton of different blogs in the space, but the majority is actually from my users who are extremely passionate about this space and use the various places in the app to notify me of any corrections to be made on a card or new offers that are available. It’s curated user-generated content in a way, and I am so thankful to all of my users for being so helpful in that regard.

8) CardPointers - Not really a question but I love your marketing screenshots in the App Store. The first three iOS images are gorgeous 😍 It really makes CardPointers stand out. I always think of screenshots as an afterthought but seeing this makes me want to rethink how I do screenshots. Thank you for improving my future apps 😊

Thanks a lot! I was inspired by another indie dev, Curtis Herbert, who makes Slopes, and has shared a lot of his screenshot ideas on Twitter. That’s another part of what makes Indie Dev life so great, I think we all find inspiration in each others’ work, and we’re all the better for it.

9) CardPointers - Have you learned anything fun or interesting about credit card rewards from working on CardPointers that you didn’t know before?

Looking at the data in aggregate from my users, I’m utterly amazed at how many people have the Apple Card, it’s by far the most popular card across all of my users. I guess that makes sense since most users are using the iOS app, and Apple’s done a hell of a job marketing it and providing perks which are better than many other cards on the market. Having said that, the Apple Card is almost never the best card to use for purchases, and there’s no welcome bonus of 50,000 points for example, so in nearly every case, users would be better served getting some other credit cards first.

The other big takeaway is that a lot of users have cards which I assumed no one would really get — cards that carry an annual fee but have no actual perks, for example. So the next big phase of work I’m aiming to do is to help educate those users more on how to improve their credit card portfolio and stop wasting money on cards which don’t make sense.

Oh, and I’m also discovering a lot of new credit cards, which is a huge confirmation to me of how the app is built and recommends cards. I’ve signed up for 2 more cards myself which aren’t normally covered in the blogs thanks to the category recommendations in the app. Who’d have thought that a card called Ducks Unlimited would offers 5% cash back on gas year round and carry no annual fee? That one was a no brainer (and sadly, that offer is no longer available).

10) CardPointers - How does the revenue model work? Does CardPointers get a kickback from each credit card signup that happens from within the app? If so, I’ll make sure my next signup happens from within the app 😉

I am working with a few affiliate companies at the moment, so you will see Advertiser Disclosures alongside a number of card offers in the app, and for those I do receive a commission when you sign up for them using the links in the app. In total, the app has over 3,000 credit cards in the database, but only about 50 of those are involved in any of the affiliate programs, but the app makes no distinction between them. Instead, the app will recommend the best card for you every time, not the one which makes me money.

Ultimately, I wanted to build the best tool possible to help users navigate the credit card world, to keep more of their hard-earned money, and to encourage them to travel the world more thanks to cheap/free travel, as I truly do believe that travel and experiencing new cultures helps us grow and improve ourselves.

11) CardPointers - I just noticed that you have a web app and an installable PWA for Android. I love that this is usable across all platforms ♥️ I always forget about PWAs on mobile but I love seeing them. What prompted the choice for going with a PWA for Android instead of a similar native app like iOS?

One of the pitfalls I’ve always fallen into, and I’d imagine many other indie devs are in the same boat, is that I love building, but I hate marketing. To help change things with this project, I made myself build a proof of concept at the start of 2019 as a web app (built using Vue and Nuxt as a PWA) with just one of the core components of the app (helping you see which cards you have and knowing which one to use for every type of purchase) to test things out with real users. Then before I would invest more time and energy into building more, I would make myself focus on testing the market fit and marketing the concept, and set a target of 5,000 users before I would “let” myself build the iOS app, which was what I really wanted to do as native iOS apps have a special place in my heart.

As luck would have it, I hit that goal just 1 week before WWDC ‘19, and when SwiftUI was announced, I went all-in on that as I fell in love with its declarative nature and didn’t have to worry about backwards compatibility since I had no pre-existing app (besides the PWA users).

I’ve kept the PWA going as a way to help out Android users and my original users, and I plan to submit it to the Google Play store in its current form in the near future, to make it even easier for those users to discover and install. PWAs really are amazing these days, and the app works completely offline, also supports Sign in with Apple, etc. It doesn’t have the integration points of the native iOS app though, of course, so on iOS I don’t think PWAs are as important as they are for Android users. I’d love to explore native Android development more, but as an indie, I just don’t have the time to do so, unfortunately, but I am very thankful to have a solution for that subset of users.

12) CardPointers - What’s next for CardPointers? Do you have any new features planned that you can share about? 😁

I’ve been working on a ton this summer as I’m getting ready to launch a huge 2.0 update alongside iOS 14. I’ve finished up 200 items on my to-do list which I created during WWDC this year, and have just a few left. Some of the highlights that are now available via TestFlight:

  • Completely new layout using tabs for iPhone and the new sidebar on iPad
  • Catalyst version launching on Mac (so much more performant now with Big Sur)
  • New Dashboard view with quick access to information about your cards, offers, and your top categories
  • Widgets! View your expiring credits/offers to make sure you use them and customizable Best Card widgets
  • New native color picker for customizing your cards
  • New watchOS layout with tabs in the Offers section, primary action buttons to replace Force Touch, and more
  • Complication families are now supported along with great new SwiftUI complications
  • Automatically-updated relative dates throughout iOS and watchOS
  • Support for the PS4 gaming controller’s light bar (yes, really!)
  • App Clips (help users filter down hundreds of cards to find the best card for them)
  • Selectable special offers and fully customizable category bonuses

13) What’s been the hardest part of being an indie dev? What the most fun part of being an indie dev?

I still struggle with marketing, and much prefer building, but I really thrive on having a large userbase and hearing their feedback. As such, I need to literally force myself to spend time on marketing, but I still don’t think that I’m very good at it. If it weren’t for the App Store promoting CardPointers at various times throughout the year I just don’t think that I’d have the users that I have now, and for that I am extremely grateful. It’s definitely not the same as the early days of the App Store for discovery, but being featured in “Apps We Love”, “Great on watchOS”, or in any of the various categories still drives a significant amount of eyeballs to your App Store listing.

The most fun part of being an indie dev is not having to have a single meeting to discuss whether you should do something or not. Take for example the PS4 light bar support that I built into the app a few weekends ago. In a larger company, how could anyone justify that? Well when 2.0 releases soon, if you have a PS4 paired with your iPhone or iPad, you’ll see the light bar change color as you navigate through the app, light up with the color from the best category card as you browse categories, and going into disco mode when you get approved for a new card. Actually, I’d love to see someone pitch that idea at a big stuffy company meeting just to see every jaw drop to the floor!

14) Is there anything else you’d like to tell the indie dev community about you?

I loved these questions! Sorry for going a bit long in some places but honestly I had a ton of fun writing out these things. Thanks again for the opportunity!

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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