It’s another one of those iOS productivity apps we see all too often, promising to help us improve our daily tasks.
However, not many come with an ‘Or Else’ threat attached to clearing your to do list.
The app’s tone of voice is what sets it apart from the crowd. But how do you get the voice out there when you sit in an overcrowded store which doesn’t lend itself to your ‘personality’? You create app-advocates. [Appvocates? Apdvocates?]
Some app’s go viral through word of mouth and online social sharing, others through advertising. CARROT doesn’t strike me as an app that has millions for marketing itself so it takes a personal approach on Twitter (easier to do with fewer followers of course).
In a world of boring press releases and even worse, lists of update bug fixes, it’s refreshing to read a developer blog that comes across about genuinely caring about developing the app, albeit in a passive-aggressive AI kind of way.
Meet CARROT’s ‘Maker’, Brian Mueller. Mueller, based in Philadelphia, who shed some light on the development of his first iOS app when I first caught up with him.
Where did the inspiration come from?
I started off just wanting to make a very simple todo list with gamification elements.
Most todo lists are so packed to the gills with features like priorities, multiple lists, due dates, etc, that they’re a chore in themselves to use. I don’t want to have to click through 5 different screens just to add a single task. Getting stuff done is already hard enough – your todo list shouldn’t slow you down even more. So I wanted to create something that was simple, clean, and elegant. Just pull down to add a new item, swipe right to complete it. That’s it.
The other problem is that todo lists are inherently boring. They’re a chore to use. So I wanted to create one that gave you a reason to keep coming back. That’s where the gamification elements come in.
As for the central character for the app, I was originally going to use a snobby corgi named Sir Waffles as the main character. What a mistake that would’ve been! Luckily, doing the animation for Waffles would’ve been too difficult, so I came up with this sadistic AI personality named CARROT instead. She basically wrote herself – and she’s proven very popular.
How long did it take to build the first iteration and then 1.0?
1.0 actually didn’t take all that long to develop – it was live in the App Store just a month after I first started on the project. Of course, I was staying up until at least 3am every night, so that certainly helped speed up development.
What background do you have in development?
I only just started learning how to program a few months ago. So, basically zero background. It’s been a great experience so far, though.
Is there an Android version coming soon?
I hope to get started on an Android version pretty soon. There’s been a lot of demand.
Where do you think CARROT can go in the future
I have big plans for the app in the future. 3.0, which I recently submitted to Apple for review, will include several of the most-requested todo list features: reminders/due dates, recurring tasks, and Siri integration. 4.0, which I’ve already started working on, will include some fun in-app purchases and a significant expansion to CARROT’s storyline. After that version’s done, I’d like to get iCloud sync and an iPad version out there.
Do you have another project lined up?
I have a couple ideas for my next app, but I probably won’t be able to start on that for a few months.
Any favourite apps yourself?
I’m a big reader, so I’m always using the Kindle app, Instapaper, The Magazine, and Mr. Reader for my RSS feeds.
Finally, will the cat survive the server room?
You’ll just have to wait until Chapter 3 to find out!
CARROT has proved to be the one to-do list app I’ve returned to again and again, albeit partly through fear, but most likely because its unique tone of voice truly sets it apart from the rest.
You can find CARROT in the iTunes store.