There is so much info on how to find The Next Big App idea. People have gained and shared their experience about market research, internet is full of articles about solving humanity's urgent problems and getting your well-deserved millions.
Let's suppose you're the lucky one who caught that bright idea and now it's important to come up with a feature set that will actually help your users to make their lives better.
There are several ways of doing this. One of the proven ones is to use your own life experience or ask your friends about their to get brilliant insights. But what if you need some pool of ideas to start with? In my experience this always helps on early stages to either filter out the most viable ones or maybe realise that the core idea itself needs to be evolved.
I'd like to share 3 ways you can come up with a ton of features for your app right now, while reading this article.
Easy mode: Explore your niche on the AppStore
Ok, there is a good chance you're familiar with this approach. If you are — just skip to the mid or hard level.
The fastest way to tell what your users want is to look at what's already being actively used by them. Let's go to the AppStore and have a peek at similar apps in your niche. They might not be super-close to your innovative idea, but try to find something relevant anyway.
In this case we'll pretend to be new fitness app developers. I'm going to go and search some relevant apps right now by just entering "fitness" in AppStore search bar. You can see the results below.
Look at that! In less than two minutes I've discovered some incredible features by just looking through promo images.
You say "I can't just steal features"? Well, don't do that of course. Take inspiration as a basis and bring something completely new, synthesised, improved. That's how the world gets pushed forward after all.
Mid mode: Peek at what's being developed right now
This way is a bit more tricky, but just as fast as the previous one.
A lot of apps nowadays are being built by remote professionals rather than in-house teams due to exponential growth of communication and collaboration technologies, which make development cost a fraction of what it would be for gathering everyone in real office.
What does that mean for us? There are literally thousands of app ideas and specifications posted on freelance websites like Freelancer.com, Upwork.com, PeoplePerHour.com etc. All you need to do is to sign up on these platforms and search for projects relevant to yours.
I'm going to spend 5 minutes and find another features for our fitness app on Freelancer.com website.
Sometimes people post poorly detailed descriptions and keep it all confidential until they pick the right freelancer. Nevertheless, you can easily find some comprehensively described specifications. I've found one immediately.
Amazing! Who knew you could intercept some ready-to-use specifications as a real spy 😎. Just remember — you are here for inspiration, not to copy-paste someone's UX. Combine research of multiple freelance platforms and you'll draft a ton of ideas to multiply!
Hard mode: Scan through Developer Documentation
Relax, there is no need to be tech-savvy for that :)
Let's take iOS platform as an example. You can learn what it has to offer by just going to the main Developer Documentation page. There is a list of everything iOS is capable of at the moment. The confusing thing is that "features" are, well, not as human-friendly named as Apple would make them for customers. These are core tools usually used by developers to bring your ideas to life. But you can spend literally 10-20 minutes filtering them out to shortlist some great ideas.
Let me show you.
I'm going to scroll the page down and find something catchy in the "App Services" section. Look, there is some new "BusinessChat" feature! Sounds promising, let's check it out.
Well, sure there are some buzz words, but overall you've just discovered a potential feature that your app might benefit from!
Do your homework and look through all of the sections. I caution you, there will be some bitter-tasting names if you're not a technical person. But believe me, you'll be rewarded by the insights you get from the ones that describe high-level features.
Note: I'll tell you honestly, Android documentation is going to hurt you much and much more. I recommend sticking to iOS in this approach since they are following each other closely and overlay massively. If you are brave enough — I invite you to the Android Docs.
Whenever my clients come to me for help with shaping their new ideas and coming up with product development strategy, I use this handy trick to instantly throw 10-15 feature ideas in the bucket.
These approaches should populate your pool of feature ideas without much time investments and efforts, so that you have something to start with in the first hour or so.
Even if you're looking for something way more innovative than anything currently presented on the market (aren't we all) — the boost you get from having up-to-date info about market demand and platforms capabilities is hard to overestimate.