How to make a smartphone app in 45 minutes
Ever wondered how an smartphone app gets made? Which? went along to the latest ‘Mobile App Smackdown’, where four teams of industry workers are pitched against each in other in a contest to come up with the best smartphone app concept in just 45 minutes.
While in reality the process of coming up with apps can take months rather than minutes, the event run by the Realtime Project aims to work as a smartphone app melting pot that helps developers come up with exciting new ideas. Here’s how it went.
The app briefs
For this particular ‘smackdown’ the four teams were given a choice of two briefs to come up with an app for the ‘CNN Cities’ brand.
- Brief 1: Create an app for a family of four travelling abroad. The family have booked their hotels but need advice on what to do in a foreign city.
- Brief 2: Create an app for the CEO of a company who is travelling for business. They have everything booked but they have an afternoon free and need an app to help fill it.
The teams were then given 45 minutes to come up with an app to suit their chosen brief, with the emphasis on creating a new and creative solution.
The app judges
While the teams got to work we had a chat with a couple of the judges to see what they were looking for when they assess the quality of an app.
Ben Smith, tech consultant and blogger, said it was all about user experience:
‘I’m looking for people that can think about the real world and come up with something that can genuinely solve the problem rather than get distracted by the technology.
‘The best apps are the ones that really have a clear idea of what they want to achieve and help the user. It doesn’t matter if it’s full of features, if it is hard to use.’
Benedict Evans, a former investment banker and group strategy analyst at Orange, was also looking for a focus on user experience, but he was wanted to see a bit of business savvy too:
‘If you look at the various app stores it’s shocking how you see such terrible applications from well known brands. Travel apps without a search function so you could look up restaurants and only order them by distance from you and not by type or price.
‘The challenge in creating an app is to do something that is both technically useful, but also presents content in the way people want it and lets them use it the way they want to.
Pitching the app ideas
Here’s the first team’s pitch of The One Thing for CEOs:
The second team took a more overarching, ambitious approach:
The third team wanted to give a VIP experience, bundled with a business class ticket:
And the final team wanted to give CEOs a flutter, with their city roulette:
And the winner? Find out in the video below.
The judges claimed Team 4’s creative approach to the task proved the most fruitful, going beyond the regular travel app mould to create an enticing service.
While this obviously isn’t how an app is actually made in the real world, it is exciting to see what ideas can be created in such a short time and it’s interesting to see the thought process that goes into creating an app.
What do you think of the judges’ decision? Who would you have picked as the winner?
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