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The Snapzu Android app - I'm sorry

EDIT 2: I have just pushed an update to the Play Store which removes the ads. It should be live in a couple of hours.

Hi all,

I'm being the Zusnap for Snapzu android app, and I'd like to take this opportunity to explain my reasons behind creating the app, and to apologise to the many of you who are disappointed with it, me, or both.

Firstly, when the shit hit the fan over at the place that shall not be named I began to look for alternatives, first I found Voat, then I found Snapzu, and whilst Snapzu has some rough edges I really liked the community feel it gave off. So this is where I've set up my new go-to happy place.

I've always been more of a lurker than a contributor (like I suspect most of these type of website visitors are), and I wanted to be able to enjoy the experience on my mobile. So naturally I looked for an app, but none were to be found. So, as a budding app developer I thought this was a great (but challenging) opportunity.

I managed to get my app "working" and hastily sent it to the Play Store. It barely worked, but that same night I submitted my first update which helped a little. There have been a total of 10 releases of the app on the Play Store since Friday, each bringing updates that I hoped would improve the usability.

A lot of you seem extremely disappointed in Zusnap, and I am extremely sorry for that, I really am. I did not create this app to upset anyone, or to 'scam' anyone. I sincerely made this app to provide an easier experience on mobile that using your browser. With the latest update (version 1.5) I have added text zoom controls to the action bar. I now feel that the app is in a position to provide me with a better viewing experience than through a mobile browser, and I am happy to be using it daily to view Snapzu. This does not mean the updates with stop, I fully intend to continue with app updates to provide a better experience.

Again, I am very sorry that I've upset so many of you, that was not my intention at all. If the community feel that I have done the wrong thing in releasing this app I will remove it from the Play Store and only use it personally.

Snapzu, I'm sorry.

EDIT I forgot to mention: There is no API available for Snapzu, so implementing features is incredibly difficult. However I will continue pushing updates and improving the app as best as I can.

EDIT 2: I have just pushed an update to the Play Store which removes the ads. It should be live in a couple of hours.

2 years ago by internethermit with 50 comments

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  • benoliver999 (edited 2 years ago)
    +44

    You built a free app, that works, with no API. I wouldn't be so hard on yourself, people feel entitled to stuff but at the end of the day, they didn't build the app!

    Couple of mistakes maybe:

    - Putting ads in (I'm guessing there were ads, based on the comments?) - this makes it feel like a cash grab
    - Making the app at all, without an API. Your intentions were noble, but you are going to get this sort of negative feedback since apps that are simple a web view tend to fare worse. There's a lack of Snapzu apps for a reason, maybe?

    • internethermit
      +14

      Thanks for the reply, I'm certainly considering taking the ads out for the next build, at least until the UX is much improved.

      I have tried to incorporate as much functionality as I can into the webview; a menu for tribes, login, and frontpage layouts. As well as introducing text zoom options, which I thought helped a lot. Maybe I'm just seeing the app in a kinder light because I made it...

      • cunt
        +9

        I would suggest having a donation option, more people are likely to spend money that way - less likely to get annoyed with your app.

        Wait for the API to arrive and you'll be a lot better off developing the app

        • internethermit
          +9

          Thanks for the suggestion, /u/cunt.

          Couldn't resist ;)

        • double2
          +5

          oh. my. god. when I was trying to select a username, this was exactly the kind of thing I was trying to find in my mind, instead I gave up. I am severely disappointed in myself.

      • xg549
        +3

        I think that as a rule of thumb you should never include ads on an app that is merely a platform for a service that isn't yours. If you built and published a game, reference tool, etc, by all means insert ads, but in this case it's kind of unfair to snapzu for you to be profiting off adviews while users visit their site. A donation option is fine for people who appreciate your app, but you shouldn't impose monetization.

      • jmcs
        +2

        Just one question because I never done android development. How easy/hard is it to inject user styles in a webview?

        • redalastor
          +1

          Roughly the same as in a regular browser.

        • internethermit
          +1

          It depends on the website, I've been trying to inject JavaScript to change the styling of certain elements but it's breaking the entire page every time. I'm still working on it though, I'll be trying to incorporate JSoup soon, hopefully that might be the workaround I need.

    • shadow1515
      +6

      Point two is really the reason I haven't fully transitioned to Snapzu yet. 90%+ of the time I have access to the Internet it is through my phone, and Spanzu is a bit of a nightmare to use in a mobile browser (when it even works at all). This severely limits my ability to even use the site. I realize the admins are doing this for free and don't owe us or me anything, but I would very much appreciate at least an API so other people can work on better mobile solutions for the site.

      • redalastor
        +4

        The admins are currently working on the API. Be patient.

        • shadow1515
          +3

          Yay! I am patient, it's just something I sorta hoped for, I didn't know it was actually in the works. That's fantastic news and I'm really looking forward to it.

  • FrootLoops (edited 2 years ago)
    +18

    Hi,

    i think your options right now are limited without an api.

    Anyway, here are my suggestions on how to handle your situation:

    1. Remove the adds, you will never earn any money with it, the user base is still much much too low. Besides that it gives a bad impression cause, lets be honest it's just the mobile page with an app skeleton around it and people know that. I think making money with that is not justified.

    2. Even if it's just the mobile page, i like it in a separate app. Makes it easier to access and there is no way other sites can track me.

    3. To make this app really useful you could inject custom javascript / css to make the mobile snapzu experience better. Lets be honest, the mobile page sucks. The filters are not visible, the elements are to small and the whole interface is not made for mobile devices.

    4. The font size changer is a great idea but it fucks op the page in a lot of places. You should limit the font size change just to the parts that look good with a bigger font size.

    Hope that helps.

    Greetings

    • internethermit
      +9

      Thanks for the advice, ad's will be removed on the next build (within 24 hours I would think).

      With regards to point 4. I've been wrestling with that for days, I've been trying to inject JavaScript to change the styling of certain elements but it's breaking the entire page every time. I'm still working on it though, I'll be trying to incorporate JSoup soon.

      • miyakohouou
        +5

        If you're going to remove ads and give up on the idea of making money on the app you might consider open sourcing it. There may be others that would be interested in contributing to a mobile app.

        • internethermit
          +6

          I am considering open sourcing it. To date all of my programming / scripting projects have been entirely my own work, and I have hacked together my own version control systems I work with, so I need to take a look at learning git.

          • HauntedCryme
            +3

            If you're using Android Studio (which you should be doing if you're using Java hint hint), then Git integration is very nice, and I would definitely consider open-sourcing it. I for one would definitely look at helping you in any way I can if there were a git open :)

      • FrootLoops
        +2

        I see, sounds good.

        I have no experience with JSoup but maybe injecting an additional javascript file is even easier. You could use jquery what is already available on snapzu and go from there. Here is how you do that: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/21552912/a...nject-local-javascript-file-to-remote-webpage

  • picklefingers
    +12

    Honestly, the biggest problem was that you put advertisements. There were absolutely no features on the app, so people feel that you are profiting from absolutely nothing. And to be honest, you really were. All it was was a simple web view. None of us knew what you were planning to do with the app. All we saw was a person making money off of an app that was a browser.

    Consider open sourcing the app. You have a large amount of programmers (including me) who are dying to get working on a snapzu app. We would all gladly dedicate our time on making the best of what we have and converting the app once the API is released.

    • TheLordMelkor
      +4

      IMO the Adds first, functionnality later was a bad move.

      as a budding app developer I thought this was a great (but challenging) opportunity.

      We all make mistakes starting out, people probably will not mind the adds (as much) once the app contributes to the snapzu experience significantly.

    • internethermit
      +2

      You're certainly right about the way it could have been perceived, and looking back I released the app far too soon, before even the basically functionality I wanted was there. I do believe now though that it's in a very basic functional state, I have been using it today myself and have about 100 ideas of what I want to do with it, I just need to work out which is the most important to do first.

  • Spooky
    +10

    Hey man, you gave it a shot when no one else has. Waiting for the API would've been a better idea, but you worked with what you had and it (sort-of) didn't work out for you. Don't be too hard on yourself.

    • internethermit
      +5

      Thanks for the support. I certainly plan to upgrade it drastically once the API is out, I just wanted to create something relatively useable in the meantime.

      • Spooky
        +5

        If you have the skills to eventually make a Snapzu equivalent of stuff like Sync for Reddit, you'll be a god among Snapzu users

  • Vind
    +7

    Hey man, I'm sorry I wrote a bad review. I was just really disappointed in it just being a browser instead of a native app. I'm removing my review immediately.

  • zaywolfe (edited 2 years ago)
    +5

    From one developer to another. I think you should temporarily remove it from the app store until the API is released and you can make your own improved interface for mobile. The low ratings you're getting while it's up could artificially lower your app's rating even after it improves. I'd also think about rebranding it too to give it a fresh start.

    I'm totally for you putting ads on your final app. Many people love to get things for free, but forget the time and effort required to make these things. And I'm sure most people wouldn't mind you getting a return for the hard work you do. The problem with the ads on the current app is people didn't think it was justified with the webview. I would also not remove the ads, but remove the whole app from the play store while you improve it. (like I mentioned above) If people get used to not having ads they might not like it when you bring back ads after you've done enough work to justify them.

    Lastly I'd make a tribe for your app so you can keep a dialog going with your users. The shitstorm that happened I believe stemmed in part from the lack of communication between the users and yourself. I think this thread is a good example of good transparency and healthy communication.

  • ClarkKent
    +5

    You know what? You get it going good, you have a IOS user that would use it if you ever release it for IOS!

    • internethermit
      +4

      I've not done any iOS / OS X development before, but I do plan to, just need to get my hands on a Mac.

      • HauntedCryme
        +5

        Windows 8/10/Phone, Android and iOS developer here. Feel free to message me about any help you're wanting, etc :)

  • utesred
    +5

    That takes some serious guts to come and open yourself up to discussion after seeing the comments about your app over the last couple days. It really says a lot about you that you'd be willing to do so.

    I'm also really impressed by everyone here, who isn't completely giving you hell. That too is a pleasant surprise. Coming from reddit, I imagined something much worse when I saw the title of the snap.

    Kudos for everyone; but especially you, internethermit.

    • internethermit
      +3

      Thanks for your kind words. I really only want to help the community.

  • UnicornCommando
    +4

    Why would you make an app for Snapzu if the API wasn't released yet? But you tried and you seem to have good intentions.

  • VoyagerXyX
    +3

    I'd just like to take a second and personally thank you for even considering Windows Phone. I truly appreciate it.

    • internethermit
      +5

      I'm quite a fan of Windows Phone to be honest. I'll start work on a proper app for Windows Phone once I've upgraded to the consumer release of Windows 10.

      • VoyagerXyX
        +4

        Not that I know anything about development, but I highly suggest a Universal Windows Application, you'll knock out all Windows PC's, Tablets, Phones, and Xbox with more or less one swift blow.

        • internethermit
          +6

          Yeah that's what I'm planning, the current Windows app is more of a placeholder, I should be up and running with universal apps in 4 or 5 weeks.

          • VoyagerXyX
            +3

            Have you, as a developer, heard anything about the release schedule for the Snapzu API?

            • internethermit
              +3

              All I know is that it's being worked on. I've not made any direct inquiries though.

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  • Anorak
    +3

    Why the hell are you apologizing?

  • ObiWanShinobi
    +3

    Thank you so much for making this! I'm going to download it immediately.

    I am in game development, I know how much work goes into programming, and the fact that you did this, by yourself, with no API is pretty impressive! I'm sure once the admins release the API you'll be in a prime position to implement it.

  • Zuke
    +2

    Without a doubt the app still need some work. I know that you set a goal to improve it, but did you consider open source? I'd think that the community would be very interested in helping out.

    • internethermit
      +3

      I am considering open sourcing it. To date all of my programming / scripting projects have been entirely my own work, and I have hacked together my own version control systems I work with, so I need to take a look at learning git.

  • newuser
    +2

    Hey, so I just gave your app another try and its way better now! However, I would suggest adding a loading animation after tapping a feed to give immediate feedback that the tap has been registered.

    Thanks for making this app!

  • Pockets69
    +2

    Not complaining its free, and somewhat works... i think it would be best for you to wait for the API i believe @drunkenninja said it would come out soon.

    • internethermit
      +4

      Thanks. I definitely plan to upgrade it drastically once the API is out, I just wanted to create something relatively useable in the meantime.

  • Epigram
    +1

    A webview was really the only way to go without an official API available. It would still be cool if you could inject styles that optimize it for mobile devices. I know that on my phone I can't see the sidebar on any tribes, and private messages barely work. Perhaps you could focus on optimizing these.

  • Jupiter7
    +1

    I'd say get a donation option with no ads. There will be time for ads later, and a pro option or something to remove them. But for now, I know its basically just a web page in an app, but I like it because the alternative is to keep a chrome tab open. I like having it sort of separate from the rest of the web stuff I do on my phone. I also like the tribe list - but it doesn't look like the login option on the app really does anything, I'm not sure if that's a bug or what. But I can still login via the webpage it has open so that's good. When logging in on the app does work, I'd suggest changing the list of tribes in the drop down to ones that you actually follow. Good first steps, especially without an API.