If you read that last paragraph and went "how can you say the dev isn't hard" you'll want to see my post on app creation tools. These save a lot of time, and are often worth the investment.
Before endeavouring to actually create a new app you need to perform an ROI investigation to determine whether your new idea is practical/feasible.
Idea Creation Techniques:
Here's what you've been waiting for, a list of ways to come up with app concepts.
Go about your day.
Simply do what you normally do each day, but whenever you have to do something you'de rather not be doing ask yourself "could I write an app for this?"
This could include:
- Paying your bills via some obscure payment method - write an interfacing app.
- Using pencil and paper to track your DnD character stats - write a character sheet app.
- Keeping a fuel consumption log for company reimbursement - GPS + fuel levels + price per litre → automatic log app.
Ask a friend.
This is a lot like the Go About Your Day technique. You ask a friend or colleague about their woes and try to build on those ideas. Other people are definitely going through different experiences each day, so you can get a nice broad spectrum of ideas like this.
Look what's on the market already.
Go to any (or all) of the app stores you can think of. You're looking for apps that don't seem to have any competition, but which are getting used. When you find these you need to ask:
- Can I do a better job?
- Can I do the same thing but cheaper?
- Why is this the only app of this type?
I don't like this technique, but some people do, so here it is. What you do for this is write down some random idea/concept/thing/name on paper, and then draw connections onto it (like a mind map) - and keep doing this over and over. This is meant to get your creative juices flowing.
While in the process of doing this, if you think of an app-related idea go with with it. Keep writing and see what comes of it. You'll get a lot of junk ideas, but there might also be some golden nuggets worth further investigation.
You don't have to be bound by a mindmap-style here. By simply writing this blog post I was able to come up with six or seven possible ideas (now I need to investigate each one).
Read a book or play a game.
There are lots of cool ideas in literature. Read a book, enjoy the story, and when the characters are in a tight situation ask yourself "if they had a phone, what sort of app could help here?". Ideas might include:
- A translator app for alien communication.
- A probability calculator to help in a gambling scenario.
- A password breaking app to help get through that security door.
- A proof of ID app that helps prove the characters are who they say they are.
A last word about app ideas.
Apps don't have to be serious - you'll never make a universal voice translator app. But that doesn't mean that people won't find a joke version amusing.