Happy Monday, everyone!

We made it to Issue #65! Thank you to everyone who read last week’s issue ❤️

I totally forgot to write about this last Monday but I was just recently in the UK for the SwiftLeeds conference hosted by Adam Rush. I also had the great honor of being a speaker 😁 This was for sure one of the best conferences I have been to. Not only did I get to meet some of my heroes I’ve looked upto for a long time (Antoine and Donny) but I got to meet a bunch of indie deveopers! I meet a few indies who have already been featured like Jordi and David but I also got to meet Hidde (who you’ll read more about in this issue). And… I got to meet Martin Jeret who sponsored Indie Dev Monday with codemagic.io in September. It was so so amazing being able to talk to these people in real life ❤️

But the reason I’m bringing this is up Jordi gave an excellent talk on “How to go (partly) indie before 2022” 🙌 I would argue this is a must watch for anybody thinking about indie or starting to go indie already. I know I learned a lot from this talk and I can’t wait to apply some of those things to my current apps and any new apps I create 😉

Today’s Spotlighted Indie Devs

📆 Today I’m featuring Hidde van der Ploeg.

Hidde is the creator of Vekt, Brush, and Volo. Vekt is a simple and strong weight tracker designed to help reach your goals delightfully. Brush is an Apple Watch app that helps you time your toothbrushing sessions and saves them inside the Health app. Volo is Hidde's newest (and not released yet) app for kitesurfing. Hidde's app are truly something special. You can tell that he has mastered in the fine arts of simple design. Vekt and Brush, yet simple, are beautiful and provide the the exact amount of functionality that is needed. Brush has even found a new permanent place as one of my Apple Watch complications on my watch face 😁 As you'll find you as you read more, Hidde has just recently become a fulltime indie developer. This makes me really excited to keep my eyes on Hidde to see what he'll release next! Check out Vekt and Brush and support Hidde if you can. We need to keep these fulltime indie devs going 💪

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

Indie Devs

Hidde van der Ploeg

Amsterdam

Fulltime indie and creator of Vekt, Brush, and Volo


Hidde van der Ploeg

Q&A

1) What is your name? Where do you live (city or general area)?

👋 Hello there! My name is Hidde van der Ploeg a 30 year old dutchman from Amsterdam.

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

I’ve accidentally rolled into the world of apps as a designer. I was doing a study into multimedia design when the iPhone launched in the Netherlands. I immediately fell in love with how apps looked and felt because of the big responsive touch screen. So I started copying Apple’s work to understand the how’s and why’s of app design. There weren’t many UI or Product designers back then, so I started freelancing and dropped out of school quickly as I got offered a job at a fantastic agency that mainly did mobile apps. Outside of tech, I’m a big music nerd (500+ vinyls now, I would say) and recently got into cycling (as a sport, been cycling my whole life to commute here in 🇳🇱, of course)

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

I got started in building my apps because I wanted to learn how to program. As a designer, I always had loads of ideas but always needed a companion developer to build them with. So one day, I decided to start, and after doing many tutorials, I thought it would be good to start with my project, “a simple weight tracker” which became my app Vekt. I highly recommend to everyone that’s learning to set a goal for yourself.

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

I went full-time indie since September, so the balance has gotten a bit easier as I try to keep it to a regular working schedule. Before that, I always looked at indie dev as a stage to learn new things, so I mainly spent evening hours where possible and where I wanted to on my apps back then but always intending to learn something new.

5) Modum - Modum is the name that you release your indie apps under and I really love your principle of “Superlative apps that keep things simple.” 😁 These are the apps that the app store needs and people love! When did you start building apps for Modum? Where do you get your ideas from?

Thank you so much! Modum is a re-brand I did about a month ago. As I was planning to go full-time indie, I realised I wanted to re-brand a bit not to be “Hidde van der Ploeg”, but a brand people could connect to apps with a similar approach under a name that’s pronounceable for the world haha. Regarding ideas, I always write all my ideas down in notes, and often I start experimenting a bit before I begin to spend time on it (actually quite a similar approach to Jordi’s 2-2-2 method. Now and then, I start a project focusing on learning a new API just for good fun and to see what’s possible.

6) Brush - I don’t know why I haven’t thought of using a toothbrush timer on my Apple Watch but I love this app! It’s so nice looking, simple to use, and I always have my watch on me when I’m brushing my teeth 💪 Did you originally make this as a personal app or did you always plan to ship it? And I super love the marketing site! It’s so clean and professional looking 🙃 Did you design that yourself too?

Haha, exactly my thoughts when I was building it. I noticed I’ve gotten sloppy with the time of my toothbrushing, and my toothbrush didn’t help either. It was one of those ideas I wrote down after WWDC19 introduced toothbrushing to HealthKit, and I wanted to learn SwiftUI + building watchOS standalone apps. So I spent like a week building this during the first lockdown (had the designs ready from when I wrote down the idea) and had a lot of fun doing so. For this project, I re-used a lot of what I’ve done for Vekt (HealthKit logic and even the website structure is similar), so yeah, I did design the website myself too (although I should update it again to reflect recent changes 😅)

7) Brush - I’ve been wanting to make a standalone watch app and this is such a good use case. What has been your experience with making a standalone watch app? Do you have to use a different mindset compared to an iPhone or iPad app?

I think building watchOS standalone apps is super fun to do as you’re forced to really embrace the watchOS environment. You’re less tempted to throw in a hundred functionalities you actually won’t need (keeps things simple). However, for everyone looking into standalone apps, I would advise considering even a simple iOS companion app because the discoverability on watchOS only is not great. I do get a lot of emails stating to have purchased the app on their iPhone and not being able to see the app on watchOS (I always have to ask them to install it via the watchOS App Store), which isn’t great. You also need a basically empty iOS target in your project to submit the app to the app store.

8) Vekt - Vekt, just like Brush, really does keep the principle of keeping things simple! I often feel like trying to design apps to be simple and look good is one of the hardest things but Vekt is so 😍 What is your process like for designing and building apps Have you always had an eye for design? Do you have any tips for other developers that want to make simple and nice looking apps?

It really is! And the annoying part about keeping things simple is that it looks simple to do. I benefit a lot from having worked as a product designer for apps for about 11 years, so I guess design is my nature by now. A good practice to do is (at least what I like to do) is to always keep in mind what the goal of the view is and try to limit it as much as possible, throw away functionality until it feels broken and then add back the things you’re really missing.

Keeping the focus on your views will force you to let your app to stay simple in UX by doing one thing well. Regarding having them nice-looking, try giving colours a function (e.g. brand colour is used for titles that communicate, Green is used to save data, Blue is used to save preferences) and don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Use simple patterns that your users are familiar with, and if you do diverge from that, help them and communicate.

9) Vekt - I absolutely love being able to enter the weight through a reminder notification directly. I’m super lazy when it comes to doing repetitive tasks like that so not having to open the app is 💯 Was this a feature that you thought of or something that a user requested? Either way I forget this is a thing I can do as a developer so it blew my mind 🤯 Have this trophy! 🏆

Same! I think being lazy is what made me a designer/developer in the first place haha. It was something I built after it got announced. My goal for Vekt was to be the fastest way to update your weight, and I thought nothing would be faster than adding your latest measurement directly from the lock screen. Unfortunately, I removed it in the newest release 🙈 as even Apple forgot that this is a thing. I believe it feels a bit neglected, and I don’t think many users used it (It’s really hidden for the user). I am planning to add it again once the API’s for it get updated

10) Volo - Volo isn’t launched yet but I heard there is a big need for an easy to use app for kitesurfing 🙃 Do you kitesurf often? What are kite surfers looking for in an app? Do you have any teasers you can give us about Volo?

Yess! Volo is my next app, of which I shipped the first beta to a hundred kitesurfers on Friday. I’m actually not a kitesurfer myself (although I really should now), but the idea came from a friend who asked me if this was possible, so I spent 2 hours building a prototype to see if it was and did some research on what was on the market. The big challenge here is to get the best readings in altitude possible from the watch. I use a combination of GPS and the Altimeter, but I feel there’s a lot to tweak on that end (open for any tips).

Regarding what kitesurfers want, most of them want to know how high they have jumped and how fast they went. Currently, many of them use alternative workouts or apps that haven’t been updated in a while. The biggest competitor sells a little puck you need to put on your board for accurate readings (which cost $180), and even their app feels like it’s a side-project for them. So I want to bring the quality of my other apps to the kitesurfing world. The only teaser I can give is that If someone reads this and thinks, “WOW, I want to try this”, they should slide in my DM’s for beta access.

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

I think the most challenging part is that there’s a lot to it. It’s not just building apps; it’s Marketing/Development/Design/Business Logic and way more. But the absolute best is that you get paid to do what you love with the freedom of doing it anywhere at any time.

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

Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@hiddevdploeg), where I ramble about development and design and other random facts or discoveries, and follow Modum (@modumhq) to get updates about current and new products I’m building

13) Do you have any other indie devs that readers should follow / lookout for?


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 👀

Rokuyo Newly Released
Rokuyo is a simple menu bar app that will let you know today's Rokuyo (六曜). The rokuyo/rokuyō (六曜) are a series of six days calculated from the date of Chinese calendar that supposedly predict whether there will be good or bad fortune during that day. That's all. We hope you enjoy one of interesting facts in Japanese culture.
Wynk Newly Released
Wynk gives you a canvas you can share with friends and draw on together. They can be viewed on your iOS device using widgets and update for everyone when anyone makes a change.
Popcorn Movies Updated
Version 1.3.0 features lots, lots, lots of new features, including: • Liked Lists • Full Cast and Crew • Extended Search • Improved Browsing • Richer Info for Movies and People pages
* This is a major redesign of the app, with a new layout and visual design, with a focus on clarity and access to power-features * The main app sidebar now contains Contact Tags and Groups for quick filtering * The Maps page has new option to filter by Pin Color * New App Icon * Runs as a native app on M1 Macs
Christmas Guide Updated
- Accessibility improvements. - App redesign. - Carols. - Characters. - Events. - Premium in-app purchase addition. - Who Am I? interface changes. - Who Am I? machine learning model update.
SwitchBuddy Updated
New theme inspired by the new Switch OLED and new icon. Also some minor improvements and tweaks.
MusicSmart Updated
MusicSmart now integrates with Shazam, so users can easily see the liner notes of songs playing around them. It also added "Now Playing" and "Music Recognition" as Home Screen quick actions to conveniently access these features right from the Home screen.

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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