How I got to the Top AppStore with a simple currency rate app


I want to talk about how I created a completely ordinary and not at all innovative application that objectively became the best of its kind and even stayed at the very top of the top for some time. This is not a success story or a guide to action. I just want to tell you how I managed to make the most popular application in my segment.

The main points are as follows:

  • If you clearly realized that there is no worthy solution to your real problem on the market, you need to seriously think about creating such a solution;
  • The graphical user interface is the most important part of the application;
  • Even the simplest application can become very popular;
  • Even the simplest application can be profitable;
  • Do not spend money on reviews in the AppStore;
  • Advertising in applications is not so bad.

That's probably all, welcome to cat.

How I decided to make the application

My wife and I are going on vacation abroad. Once again, I faced the task of buying currency at a favorable rate. The difference in the price of a dollar or a euro to 1 ruble gives 1000 rubles saved for every 1000 dollars or euros bought. Therefore, every day I spent some time monitoring the exchange rates of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and commercial banks of Moscow on the exocur website. The Central Bank rate set the general trend, and in commercial banks it was possible to make a real currency exchange. If the currency became cheaper within a few days, I went to the bank with the most favorable rate for the purchase of foreign currency.

My wife used a PC, a browser and Yandex, which was wild for me, because a mobile phone allows you to update information, not including a computer, and in general you are a programmer’s wife. For some reason, only last year I guessed to see what the AppStore offers to solve my problems. You know, at different periods of my life I had several different ideas, the attempts to implement which I abandoned after finding a dozen ready-made services or applications. But this time I did not think to create an application, I just wanted to solve my problem. And I could not even believe - in the AppStore there is no decent application for tracking exchange rates! (Hereinafter, I express only my own opinion in relation to other people's work, and it may differ from the opinion of other people. I only describe my emotions).

Such a strange state of things, I noticed only among the calculators for the iPad, everything is also bad there. Standard Stocks has a terrible interface. For example, to get the dollar against the ruble, you need to enter the unfriendly string RUB = X, and the euro against the ruble - EURRUB = X. Other applications are either just paid or limited free, but they ask for money for each one, or with advertising. Some applications have not been updated for more than a year and are stuck in the era of skeuomorphism, while others are free, but they work unstably, as the reviews say, "the student made the course."

I immediately realized that here it is, the moment. I want the application to show the dynamics of the course (graph) and the current value, well, and a calculator for calculations. I already see all 2 or maximum 3 screens of the application. I know for sure that the application will be the best, because I sincerely believe that existing analogues are worthless. I am full of energy and determination.

Of the Convention

I decided that it was not the most difficult task before me, but it was necessary to approach it with all seriousness. Therefore, I, having read Habré and business books, identified the basic rules at the time of development.

  1. It’s too early to come to work;
  2. No matter how much I come, leave at 17:30, a maximum of 18 hours to get home wide awake. If in doubt, the desire to recycle for free, remember what is more important for me and put the doubt away;
  3. Every weekday allocate an hour and a half, and preferably 2 to work on the project;
  4. Do not work after 22, or at least 23;
  5. Do not pick up from colleagues at work when I am not at work;
  6. To find out from relatives what they will need from me at the weekend and agree on what time I will go about my business.

  1. Work in git;
  2. Designing a system is beautiful and ideologically correct. So that such a code is not embarrassing to show the future employer, so that the code is flexible and understandable;
  3. No interface builders;
  4. The interface should be dealt with by the designer. I am not a designer.

I probably got excited with IB, but I'm not worried. It's all the same taste. You need to be able to work with both code and IB. I did not immediately contact the designer for help. And that is a lot of stupidity. Everyone must do their job. My business is coding. Well, come up with different things. And I don’t know how to draw.

General requirements
  1. No advertising;
  2. The application should be easy and fast;
  3. The application should be minimalistic and solve one problem - to show the dynamics of the exchange rate;
  4. The application needs to be done quickly. If I stall somewhere, I need to simplify / hammer: I will finalize in the next update;

Lack of advertising is my competitive advantage. The size of the source is also. I don’t know if a lot of people pay attention to size, but I think that the application should provide the ability to be downloaded in the subway, on the street, on 3G, and with Edge. Many times I was faced with the inability to download the application not at home. It may be wrong to say this with respect to games, but a 10 MB exchange rate is not normal. Minimalism is peculiar to iOS7 and iOS8, here Yahoo Weather application influenced me.

How i did it

Pareto's law worked with me. About one and a half months were spent before the first release. Until now, I have not told anyone - I was shy. Most of the time wasted wasted trying to independently design and implement the design. Stupid idea. A couple of days I was waiting for the designer from the designer a picture for the launch screen, which in the end I made myself in 5 minutes. Another bunch of time has gone rearranging views in places. In a word, you need to immediately seek help from a professional. Especially since I was going to make the best of its kind application.

I turned to a familiar designer for help, explaining how I see the design of the application, and he started building classes for network interaction, a data model, parsers, etc. All kinds of ideas that came to my mind, I tried to write to a text file as quickly as possible. He also wrote down bugs so as not to forget anything. After a while, the designer prepared several options for the icon. The result was better than my expectations, and it added enthusiasm. And impatience. I did not wait for the design of the main screen.


I repeatedly violated my own agreements. He didn’t work every night, he hung up a couple of times until late at night. But I can’t say that rare violations of the rules greatly reduce effectiveness. If you have a headache, it is better to spend the evening on a walk. And if you are already thinking about your project in the toilet, and on the way to work, and before going to bed, well, let yourself work.

To track crashes, I integrated Crashlytics. To collect statistics used Mixpanel. What to do with statistics, I did not know then. I just wanted to know how often users launch the application. Tip: hammer on the statistics if you do not know what to do with it. When you come up with what you want to know about users, then add.

I spent several evenings learning how to implement some of the details of the design interface. Then he remembered his conventions and realized that these details cost me dearly. Delayed their implementation.

I had some ideas for customizing the application. Including I did not know what color to choose for the background, what period to choose for the chart, whether to display dates on the chart. I decided to give users the opportunity to choose these settings for themselves. But the implementation of such settings took time. Then I decided to postpone these tasks until the next update.

Release and Results

At some point, I decided that the minimum allowable functionality was implemented and you can press the button to submit the application to the store. When the release happened, I posted an icon on Instagram, made the corresponding posts on Vkontakte and Facebook. I wrote messages with links to friends and acquaintances of the developers. I asked my relatives to write 5-star reviews.

The first version existed for about a month and was downloaded about 4 thousand times. In the ranking of the "Business" category, I was higher than other free converters. It was inspiring. However, other people's reviews were with Gulkin nose. My exchange rate was displayed in new applications in the AppStore, which increased downloads.

Crashlitycs and friends with playful handles found a couple of falls in the style of range check error. In addition, I still had many unrealized features. In the next update, I finalized the user interface, but already flew out of the new ones. The application has become more beautiful, and downloads have decreased.



I also decided to add the ability for users to write me letters with questions and suggestions. I created an email account on Gmail and added an account to my phone. This made it possible to very quickly answer people questions, mark complaints and suggestions and increase user loyalty. In particular, many expressed dissatisfaction with the rarity of updating the course. For such users, I added the item "About the program", which described how the application works and explained that the Central Bank rate is updated once per business day.

I admit, I never really was interested in the rating of applications in the AppStore, but after the release of my own application for several months, I probably checked my rating and, at the same time, the rating of others on a daily basis. During this time, I saw a lot of applications that pulled out of nowhere to the 1st place of the “Business” category top, received a lot of reviews, and after 2-3 days disappeared from the top forever. This is probably paid reviews, I thought.

I asked how much such a pleasure costs. I found out that about 1 $ -3 $ for 1 installation plus 1 review. I have heard more than once that you need to get into the Top by any means, that Top is a vicious circle from which it is difficult to get out. Well, this is nonsense. After the release, your application falls into the "New" category - and this already promotes it. If the result does not satisfy you, paid reviews, in my opinion, are the last thing to think about. Fly out of the top is not at all difficult. It’s better to pay for a review on the Internet.

In-App Purchases

I noticed for a long time that in the top of the cash registers is Viber, which sells stickers. It seemed to me a strange but indisputably working solution. I decided that it’s possible to make paid the ability to set the theme color for the application. At the same time, I blocked the period setting for displaying the chart and setting the date display on the chart.

Worrying about the small number of reviews in the AppStore helped me come up with a scheme. Sell ​​these 3 settings for 66 rubles, and if the user appreciates the application, then he will be given a 50% discount. Brilliant, huh? Apple wrapped my super idea, threatening to ban for dishonest rating cheating.

I lacked the seriousness of my product. It seemed that 33 rubles was expensive. So to unlock these 3 settings, you had to pay 33 rubles. Such a built-in purchase brought in from $ 36 to $ 64 per month. To be honest, I was hoping that at least 20 thousand rubles would be obtained.

Subsequent versions for about 3 months were downloaded 2000-3000 times a month. I was saddened by this result, comforting myself with thoughts that it was just a converter.


At some point, an advertising agency came out with a proposal to display ads in my application. I did not want to spoil my application with ads, but after thinking a bit, I thought that this could bring about 3000 rubles a month. And in general, I experiment a little. 3000 rubles - a lot in comparison with the income from built-in purchases and very little in comparison with the salary and the cost of at least living.

In the next update, he added 2 more in-app purchases: disabling ads for 33 rubles and full access for 66 rubles, which aggregated two 33-ruble purchases. KDK advertising agency worked terribly. They displayed some kind of stub, but impressions did not track. But! Income for 1 month exceeded $ 150, and for the second - $ 200! It was a success! I understood a few important things. Firstly, those who liked the application are willing to pay 66 rubles. Or maybe more? Secondly, advertising, if it is not made very annoying (I see it when I launch the application, and not every time I raise it from the background), also bears fruit.

I figured out the advertiser and his KFOR and soon began to make a profit from advertising. If users do not stop running the application, their number only increases every day, therefore, the number of ad impressions also increases. This means that for advertising you will receive a profit according to a very rough estimate no less than for the previous period. As a result, by the end of the year, advertising began to bring from 1,500 to 3,500 rubles daily.


In November, a rapid devaluation of the ruble began. This fueled interest in all similar applications in the store and in my application in particular. I was in first place in the top of the free category "Business" and began to loom in the top of the cash registers. In December, the rate of change in the ruble exchange rate went wild. Download and application downloads. At first I got into the Top 100 free of all AppStore, then I noticed that the daily income exceeds $ 100. Then acquaintances began to joke that people have sorrow, but I feel good. The take-off was truly stunning! Pictures instead of a thousand words:



I note that users have a special relationship with applications from the top. Bugs and shortcomings are considered almost as personal insults. Many popular applications (VK App, Yandex applications, Facebook) receive hundreds, thousands of stakes and angry reviews. So my app with an average rating of 4.5 stars was only 3.5 stars. The above does not mean that you can relax or that rating does not mean anything. The client is almost always right. And many of the cola and deuces in my application contain legitimate criticism. It's just that Top is getting more serious. There is no right to fall or glitches.


I am not a businessman or a marketer. But sometimes I communicate with them. One such friend voiced his comments. Purchases should be offered to the user on the spot. Disabling ads should be offered when displaying ads. Unlock settings - when you try to click on a locked cell. There were other tips to increase conversion.

The conclusion is banal: communicate and learn from successful businessmen.

In addition, users have long been asking me to make a widget. Pushas practically work, but a friend who helps with the server side has stalled. I'm already thinking in the direction of specialized services. In general, there will be pushies.

Some users ask for a course of raw materials (oil, gas). There is something to ponder.

In addition, invaluable experience was gained in developing the application from scratch to the top (albeit not financially), which can be used in other projects.


I had a simple problem. The existing solutions did not suit me and I created my own solution, which became the best. The solution is the simplest, we can say primitive. But very useful. It is very nice to realize that you have done something useful, something for people.

I have formed the opinion that if you have a problem, and you find existing solutions not convenient enough or frankly unsuccessful, this is an occasion to think about your own bicycle. The main thing here is to clearly understand why the existing solutions are so unsuccessful that you should show everyone how to solve such problems.

I hurried with the release, not paying due attention to design. Getting into the "New" section gives tangible help.

I have changed my attitude towards advertising in applications. It allows a simple developer to get at least a small, but profit. It’s important not to overdo it.

Built-in purchases, with skillful use, can bring in enough money, at least for self-sufficiency, and in the long run for a tangible add-on to your income.

And the application itself, even the simplest, evolving can bring tangible income.

As a result, my application holds the first place in the Top of the Free Business categories for more than a month, 2 days it occupied the first place in all categories. I was even offered to sell my application. About 2 applications were written about the application, one of which was called one of the best in the past year. There was even one clone that I swear at the momentI'm in correspondence with Apple.

Life shows that the ability to sell correctly, at the right price, at the right moment, can make a profit even for the simplest application.

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