10 Burning Questions with Andrew Bares, developer of Power Planner

Welcome to 10 Burning Questions! Today we are talking with Andrew Bares, the 19 year old college student who has created Power Planner, the 4th highest rated app in the Marketplace. Keep reading to learn a little bit about Andrew, his app, and developing for Windows Phone.

1. How did you get started with Windows Phone?

I used to have Windows Mobile and a Zune, and when Windows Phone 7 was released, I knew I needed to buy the HTC HD7 from T-Mobile the day it was released! I came into Windows Phone expecting to be a consumer, but came out as a developer. I needed a good homework planner to manage my school life, and none of the apps on the Marketplace fitted my needs, so I decided to use my new Intro to Java class skills to create my own app.

2. What phone do you personally use?

I use a Samsung Focus S as my main phone because of the incredible camera it has. For testing apps, I use my HTC Radar.

3. What was your biggest challenge in developing Power Planner?

The toughest thing about developing Power Planner was simply learning everything. This was my first app I ever created, and I started off with hardly any knowledge about C# or coding in general. The most frustrating moment was when I was attempting to write things in code instead of XAML (for performance benefits) since there are hardly any code samples of certain UI elements written by code. After a lot of trial and error, I finally got things working.

4. Did you create Power Planner to fill a need in your personal life as a student?

I definitely created Power Planner to fill my own needs as a student. Without my app, my school year would have been quite tougher to keep in track. Plus, when next semester starts, I don’t even have to remember my schedule and room numbers thanks to my app’s live tile that tells you when/where your next class is.

5. Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential? (We know this is a touchy subject and confidential issue, but we appreciate any details you’re willing to share)

In order to make all the time I spend working on Power Planner worth it, I sell the full version for $0.99. I also have a trial/free version that has most of the features (homework, schedule, auto reminders, pictures, etc), since I know that not all students can pay for an app. If the current purchases continued, I would make about $1,500 a year from Power Planner, which is not bad for something that is a side project. About 10% of my users purchased the full version, and I’m at about 6,000 downloads after 6 months of being on the Marketplace

I tried a few advertisements in the latest free version but will probably be removing them since they don’t seem to generate much money. I think the best way to make money from ads is by placing them where users accidentally click them… Which is something I don’t want to do.

6. What do you want to see in Windows Phone 8?

In WP8, I would love more control over live tiles. Being able to only update the tile every 30 minutes isn’t ideal for things like displaying your next class (I handle this elegantly nevertheless). If Microsoft allowed developers to schedule tasks at every 50 minutes or every day, etc, then both battery life and user experience would increase!

7. Do you develop for other platforms and how does Windows Phone compare to those platforms?

I recently was asked to write an Android app for a small business… Android is a dreadful mess. It took me an entire day just to install the developer tools due to all the errors that Google has in their SDK! Plus, I’m stuck writing for the outdated Android 2.2, since so many Android phones aren’t updated to the latest software.

8. If you could give one tip to fellow Windows Phone Developers, what would it be?

I recommend that all developers focus on the SMALL details. Polish your app up. Make sure text is perfectly aligned and everything looks native compared to Windows Phone. When I see an app with text not obeying the 24px margin from the edges of the screen, I know the developer didn’t care about his app.

9. Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

I’m a ninja ;) nah, but I want to be on the show American Ninja Warrior when I’m old enough two years from now! I love parkour.

10. What is your guilty pleasure song?

“You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” by One Direction. I really like the lyrics, since I think a girl who’s a little shy and not flaunting her beauty is cute. The singers themselves? They’re not terrible, but they’re also not excellent haha.

Thanks Andrew! If you need an app to keep track of your academic life like Andrew did you can find Power Planner in the Marketplace for $.99 (and free trial).

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us with the subject”Developer Appreciation Month”.

  • Awesome interview. Can’t wait for his next app.