Q4 2021 – User auth, Chinese dictionary, SRS algorithm...
November 4, 2021
We are trying to tackle some of the larger structural problems Lockcard will face as it grows. Emphasis on 'trying'.
New additions to team
August 2021 - now
The two most recent additions to the team are Pranav, a senior at high school who released his own SAT Prep app, and Keval, a Mechanical Engineer by education who's recently found a passion for iOS development.
Since our previous developer (Davis) made it clear he wanted to be the only one touching code, we asked Pranav to contribute on the marketing side at first.
TikTok: Pranav would scout for and connect with relevant TikTok influencers everyday for a month. He got Lockcard featured twice so far, each time bringing in hundreds of new users. The goal of this task was to experiment with paid social media, and establish an early work flow for getting it done (email template, follow-up, fee negotiation...). This type of work is currently 'on pause' because Lockcard has a low retention rate, and so it would be a waste of money to pay for influencers if users ultimately didn't stick.
App Store Optimization: it's not until we got our app reviewed by ASO specialist Steve Young that we realized how little we paid attention to our App Store profile (and other things like copy). So we tasked Pranav with researching new keywords, and rewriting the description of the app. We are currently tracking that, and it's still a bit to determine if it has had a net positive impact. We went from using dictionary-related keywords, to more english vocabulary-related and competitor used ones. We also set localized keywords for the first time for China and Mexico.
iOS Development: [WIP]
Keval, on the other hand, has ultimately taken the lead of development as Davis left. The most recent notable contributions include fixing critical bugs related to notifications and releasing our first iOS widget. More details below!
Our first Widget
Three main reasons why widgets were built this early:
Widgets offers another opportunity for users to learn and review during fragmented moments of downtime in the day. The incessant and often purposeless swiping we perform when we are bored might turn into active recall when we stumble upon the widget.
Beautiful design is at the core of Lockcard's brand, and since iPhone home screens are the new canvas of expression for many Apple users, giving them a beautiful widget increases our chances of staying at the top of their mind. To my surprise, there is a pretty active twitter community of people who talk, buy and share resources for cooler iPhone widgets and screen backgrounds.
Using new iOS technologies increases your chances of getting featured and noticed by the Apple team.
The Firebase Fail
Sooo we were looking to finally get a backend to store all of our data there because we wanted more information about our users and the individual data they generate from using the app. Naturally, we turn towards Google's Firebase solution. After 2-3 weeks of design and development work, we had user authentication built.
Well guess what? Mainland Chinese users could not sign-up, even when using their Apple ID because all that data was ultimately stored and retrieved from Firebase.
So to all people out there wondering if Firebase works as a database for Mainland Chinese users, the answer is NO. Do not trust this article.
As a result, we are not exploring other backend solutions, including not having one, or using Apple's CloudKit. The latter would however prevent us from easily branching to Android and web.