If you've been following the progress of the film to any degree, there is a chance you've heard us mention that we made a little tool to help with the filmmaking process. One of our sponsors, UserTesting, loved the idea that the filmmakers behind a doc about apps were discovering what it took to create an app themselves. So they teamed up with us to bring you a little of the behind the scenes journey of the app behind App.

Quantify - Rate Time in Realtime

One of the fun things about working on a film about apps and their creators is that you're constantly reminded of the possibilities afforded when, in your pocket, is a tool that can be shaped into almost any other tool. Pair that with one of software's most endearing qualities—if you solve a problem for yourself, your work can solve it for others—and we couldn't resist making Quantify (what we're calling our little app).

Quantify, put simply, lets us rate time in realtime.

Quantify Timeline

As most app ideas do, Quantify came from a problem. As we began shooting interviews, we quickly realized that some simple timestamp data could save us a ton of time, if only we could capture it. We made a quick mockup and ran the idea by our friend, Ryan Newsome, who took a quick look and sent us a working beta after just a few hours of development.

Quantify Early Mockup

We used this tool (long before it was called Quantify) to shoot many of the 46 interviews we've shot for the film. We used it while interviewing the immensely talented Marc Edwards. He noticed the app (in its terribly ugly, then prototype state) and offered to hook us up with a design. We did not turn him down.

Marc's design was everything you hope for in a great app: intuitive, elegant, and fun. With a new look, we could share this tool publicly without being embarrassed. We teamed up with Ryan again to bring the design to life, and Quantify was born.

Enter UserTesting

UserTesting invited us to use their testing service with the instructions "kick the tires, run tests, and share what you think, good or bad". Those were terms we could get behind, so we jumped on it.

UserTesting has thousands of testers that can be filtered down in all sorts of ways to reach your target market. Then you get videos of real people speaking their thoughts as they use your app. You can assign tasks and ask questions to see how easy it is to use your app, website, or prototype.

Though we had a lot of test credits available to us, we thought it might be a more valuable experiment if we approached the tests in the way an indie dev with little to no budget would. With that in mind, we started out with only three tests.

The process of setting up the tests was quick (around a half hour), and gave us a lot of freedom too.

The tests we got back were so insightful. They confirmed something we had been wondering about: adding voice recording. At the time, Quantify was a niche app designed for the needs of filmmakers. With voice recording, Quantify could become a useful tool to way more people.

At $49.99 a piece, these tests are not cheap, but contrast that with the value of the insight that we got back and it feels like a steal. Since we're not iOS developers, essentially we "paid" the equivalent of one hour of development time to get 45 minutes of real world insight from potential users; insight that fundamentally changed our product road map. We were stoked.

What's Next

While we spend our day-to-day moving App forward, Ryan is getting closer to releasing an updated build that we're going to take back and run more user tests on. We'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Want to see Quantify evolve first-hand? Contact us to join the Quantify beta.

p.s. If you're interested, here are the full UserTesting videos we received. Enjoy!