What I’ve learned: Releasing a popular iPhone App

A couple of days and a year ago, I released an App. The Little Moments App. I had such little expectations when I released the App that I actually hadn’t thought beyond releasing it. And when I say ‘little expectations’ I don’t mean that I didn’t love it, I was and am still in love with it, I mean that I knew it was awesome and that it was going to fulfill people’s needs and desires {which was what I wanted to do} but I just didn’t know that it would be received so well, or that it would reach so many.

On the night we released Little Moments it went to number one in Australia, and number seven in the USA. It’s still in the top-selling lists in the App store. It’s also been picked as the App Store’s best app for 2014 and has been Editor’s Choice {selected by the App Store worldwide}. This is quite a big deal, and something to celebrate. So, hurrah!

I do get asked a lot of questions about creating and releasing Little Moments so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned over the past year, and in those planning stages too {which just so you know was about six months or more}.


If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this. I absolutely could not have created the App I have without my App Developer partner, Stuart. His brain works in a way that mine doesn’t. He knows functionality, he’s passionate and he just gets it. Without him, I actually don’t know what I would have created. Over the six months we spent building Little Moments we had many phone meetings {we still haven’t met in person which feels like a crime!}, and he’d come to me with concepts and I’d fall in love with what we were creating. I’d mention things that I didn’t think possible, and he’d find a way to make them happen. Stuart had created two successful photography Apps before creating Little Moments, so I knew that he was the right guy. He also understands how Apple works, and how they like things to be… which is a big thing when you want to be one of their favourites. Make sure that your developer has created good things in the past, is easy to work with {understands that you don’t speak tech!} and you’re comfortable with the way they work.

Apps are not cheap, and it’s not just the initial outlay you have to worry about. Apps require continual development to fix bugs, and to keep update with changes that Apple are doing. Thankfully Stuart manages all of this, because I’m just not a technical person. Stuart and I went into a business partnership from the beginning with the App, which meant we shared all financial costs too. This has taken a lot of stress off the project for me. So by play smart, I mean shop around for developers, partner up with people or if you’re in a position to go to a brand and partner with them, that would be a neat way to make your App dream happen.

I’m going to throw this one in here now, because this has happened and will continue to happen. I have cried so many tears about these things, but I’m getting tougher. Firstly, the money people spend on Apps is the equivalent of buying a car, I’m sure of it. Two dollars and fifty cents can buy you half a hot chocolate, and if you didn’t love it {like it fulfilled your sweet needs, but you wanted it to have a marshmallow and a bit more chocolate sprinkle} you probably wouldn’t write the cafe owner an abusive email, would you? I hope not. But Apps are different. Apps are a huge investment for some people, and they have really high expectations. Be prepared for people to share their opinions and thoughts over email, on Facebook, in your Facebook messages, on Instagram, on Twitter or on whatever platform they can find you. There will always be people that want things for free, or always expect more. This isn’t wrong, they are entitled to feel and want this. Just know that you’re not going to make everyone happy.

When creating the App, I wanted to make it for both iPhone and Android devices. This was something that Stuart and I talked about at length. Financially, it was just really difficult to do. In the end we decided not to go down the Android path initially because we were both passionate Apple users, Stuart was most experienced in developing Apps for Apple products, and we’d researched and read case studies and conversations with App owners told us that it wasn’t the best business decision to go with Android to start off with. With releasing an App on only iPhone, we did seemingly involuntarily enter into the Apple VS Android debate, where we appeared to pick sides with Apple. I’ve never used an Android device, but would happily do so if someone wants to throw one at me, so it’s not a platform I’m familiar with, or have anything against. We haven’t ruled out Android altogether, but it’s something we’re wary of business-wise. Nobody wants to make risky business decisions, and at this stage it’s still a risky one for us.

I spend a good chunk of my week communicating with Little Moment App users. As I’ve said above, I’m not super technical {my knowledge is limited} but it’s good to know your basics. It’s very normal for Apps to have hiccups, especially when Apple does an update and things are entirely compatible. Or if we do an update. Most of the time it’s because people’s devices are low on memory {people love to keep ALL their photos on their phones, don’t they?}. So be prepared to spend a good chunk of your week answering emails and getting back to people. Honestly, people can get really upset when things are broken {which they should be!} but responding to them within a timely manner is a respectful thing to do.

If you’re creating an App, make sure you’re fulfilling a need. I knew that Photo A Day was hugely popular and people wanted a way to remember what the prompts were, Little Moments does that. It also makes photos fun and pretty, by allowing people to add filters, words and graphics on their photos. I love that we had a point of difference by including different artists and promoting them in the App. My number one requirement for the App, beyond the concept, was that it had to be easy to use. I wanted the grandmas of the world to be able to pick it up and use it without getting confused or fed up. People don’t use complicated Apps once they’ve bought them, and I didn’t want my App to be unusable.


Time has gotten away from me over this year, so I haven’t had time to update the App as much as I would like. This is about to change. It’s so important to stay relevant, and fresh and exciting.

I love that we have the #littlemomentsapp hashtag so that people can share their photos made from the Little Moments App, and comment/like photos shared by other people. I think people want to extend the experience, and this is a great way to do it. I’d also suggest nabbing the profiles for your App on Instagram and Facebook, so you can continue the experience for your users too.

Lastly, building an App was a dream for me, and it’s awesome to have achieved it. If you have the Little Moments App, thanks for supporting us. If you don’t have it but want to find out more about it, just visit this page.

If you’re building an App, or have an App and want to ask any questions… please do so below and I’ll reply to your comments. I love talking about Apps and am happy to chat.

23 thoughts on “What I’ve learned: Releasing a popular iPhone App”

  1. I love the Little Moments app, and think it’s so thrilling that you were able to fulfill a dream of yours by creating it! I can’t imagine what you must go through every day, though, with some of the stuff that gets thrown at you regularly – I think you must have the patience of a saint! Here’s hoping that some of the people who might have given you grief (especially about the Android thing) take the time to read this post and understand your position. (Though I can’t say I’m holding my breath!) Regardless, thank you SO MUCH for creating such a lovely app for us to play with. 🙂

  2. I’m shocked that abuse is hurled your way! I use the app every day and love candy, joy and Beachy filters…adore the app and it’s great value for money. I’ve purchased extras and recommend it to everyone because it’s so easy to use, pretty and loaded with features. Be very proud of your app Chantelle (& Stuart), it rocks!

  3. congratulations on a dream coming true! i love the little moments app and use it religiously! there will always be someone out there who will try to dampen your spirits or take you down a notch – don’t let them!! it’s not worth it! you should be proud of yourself and all of your hard work! there will always be nasty people out there – stay true to what you envisioned and you will never disappoint yourself! i love to share my moments with the littlemomentsapps 🙂

  4. I had to temporarily delete the app because I was stashing TOO MANY photos on my phone and ran out of memory haha. I have been in the process of moving them somewhere safe, so I can’t wait to re-download the app again. I miss it!
    Congrats on all your success! Such a great concept – no complaints here! xx

    • Ha, you photo-stashers crack me up. I clear mine off every day, or every second day. I don’t understand why you don’t. Why?

      When I was in Disney, one of the women I was traveling with had EVERY SINGLE PHOTO from 4 years. I couldn’t believe it! 😛

      • Lol, I think you should write a post with tips to get your photos of your iPhone. I used to do mine every few months but I haven’t in a long time since my new phone has a bigger memory. I love your app too btw!

  5. I absolutely adore your app. But what I adore (and admire) more are, in no particular order, your tenacity, your generosity, your kindness, your positivity, your resilience, and your cheerfulness. You are an inspiration and I applaud you for what you do, and look forward to seeing more from you!

    I have a good knowledge of how much it costs to develop an app. I’ve been involved with a fabulous new app that was (finally) launched not long ago. The brains+heart+soul of this app is a lifelong friend who has poured $250K into this app – basically, his life’s worth. The app is tracking along, but he needs more help getting the momentum going. I know how awesome and amazing this app is, and I’d love to share the details of this free app with you and your readers if you permit!

      • No, thank you!

        The new app that I’d love to share with you is called Bonzar (http://www.bonzar.com/). It’s an online gift-giving app that allows you to send gifts to anyone, anywhere, even if you don’t know their physical address; all you need is the recipient’s email address!

        It’s super easy to use, there are heaps of gifts to choose from the online store within the app, and payment is super secure through PayPal. Best of all, the app is FREE!!! It is currently only available for iOS users – an Android version is in the making and will be released in the not-too-distant future.

        I love the tagline for this app – Make someone’s day… wherever they are! This is gift-giving of the future, and I’m so honoured to be a small part of the app, and so proud of my friend for his hard work.

        Thanks for allowing me to share the love here, Chantelle! Hope your readers will now flock to see how amazing and awesome the Bonzar app is!

  6. That’s such a great list of advice. I especially like your reasoning for developing for iPhone, I think a lot of people just don’t get it and think that apps aren’t available on both devices because the developers are purposely keeping it from them.

  7. This is great insight on the app process! I would love to have the Little Moments app, but I am, sadly for this situation, an Android user. I understand why it’s Iphone only; however, I hope it will become so popular and you will make so much money from it that you make it for Android. 🙂

  8. I think it was a great decision to create an app when so many take part in the photo a day. I’m not technical either but knowing there are people who are means that app idea can become a reality. Thank you for sharing how it all came together. Well done on creating an app we all love and use.

  9. I’ve got a Samsung phone so personally I don’t have the app but I also don’t know of any female friend with an Apple who doesn’t have your app – so well done you for bringing to life something beautiful and simple that adds to peoples lives. I am so glad you found a good partner in Stuart.

  10. So, first off I wanted to say I love your app!! I don’t participate in the photo a day challenges as I just don’t have the time, I keep saying I will but it never happens, but I do love the app and everything it includes, it’s truly a one stop shop for photo editing. I’ve actually had an idea for an app for a while now, a similar idea to yours but for a niche market. Nothing like it exists currently and I can see it filling a big void. I wonder if you’d be willing to chat to me a little privately and offer some advice? If yes, YAY, I’d be so grateful. If not, that’s cool, I totally understand 🙂

  11. I really enjoy your app, especially seeing the different artists’ work every week for the photo a day list. Participating in the photo a day challenge has been life changing for my website because I have a huge pool of photos I’ve shot to use on my website in just a couple months of participating. My main intention in participating in photo a day was to improve my photography but I’ve also been introduced to a really warm community 🙂 So thank you for all you put into Little Moments and Fat Mum Slim.

Comments are closed.