In the crowded smartphone app marketplace, getting noticed is about as important as developing a solid program. If that attention comes from Apple, it’s like winning the app lottery.
That’s what happened to a pair of 16-year-old Boulder High School juniors last month after they released an app called Finish to help with a problem most kids deal with: procrastination.
“I came up with the idea during finals week of 10th grade, a little over a year ago,” said Ryan Orbuch, who developed Finish with his buddy, Michael Hansen. “I had seen myself and so many of my friends struggling, getting really stressed over finals and getting really stressed over school in general.”
Hansen coded the program, and Orbuch worked on the user interface and user experience, essentially the design and marketing side. The stand-out feature in the app is its sliding timeframe system, which allows users to assign near-term, mid-term and long-term dates to tasks.
Short term is up to three days, mid-term is four days to one week and long term is anything beyond that. When a task creeps up, the app automatically notifies the user.
“It really lets you get both the immediate close-up view of what you have to do today and tomorrow, and the mid- and long-term, the farther out (stuff), so it’s pretty much impossible for anything to sneak up on you,” Orbuch said.
The folks at Apple caught wind of Finish when tech blog TechCrunch wrote about the app shortly after it was released Jan. 16.
Apple threw its marketing weight behind Finish, promoting it in the productivity section of the App Store and reaching out to journalists about Orbuch’s and Hansen’s story.
How significant is the recognition? There are more than 1 million apps in the Apple App Store, and research firm Canalys estimates that two-thirds receive fewer than 1,000 downloads in the first year.
“When we speak with app developers, many are concerned about monetization or platform fragmentation, but the number one problem they face is getting their apps noticed,’ Canalys senior analyst Tim Shepherd said last summer.
Finish, which requires iOS 5.0 or later, is available in the App Store for 99 cents. Finish has scored an impressive 4.5-star average out of 170 ratings, with 123 users giving it the full 5 stars.
Orbuch said the app has received 16,000 downloads as of Monday. Operating under the company name of Basil, Orbuch and Hansen are considering releasing an Android version and perhaps hiring developers, though they would need to raise some capital.
But first, prom is just a few months away, not to mention senior year.