Snap Search completes one year today 🥳

To be absolutely correct, it’s been a year since Version 1.1.1 went live on the store, I’m not even sure when I started working on it – but I assume at least 1 week before release.

This has been an amazing journey. I’ve made many apps/websites/products before – but never have I been so committed to something for so long. I usually get ‘bored’ after releasing and barely hold on for a month or so.

I’m going to try to share as much as I can about the inception of the idea, the process, what I learnt, future plans and then some numbers 📈

BUT, before I start – if you don’t have Snap Search and you have an Android device – consider downloading it: Google Play Store.

Why a Browser for Android??

Building a browser for Android was never the plan. Snap Search did not start as a browser. The idea was born as a browser extension. I’ve made many apps before, but it was the first time I was making an extension. I had so much fun making that, I literally just wanted to make an Android version of Snap Search because I wanted that thrill. The extension currently follows the exact same format:

  • Select your website/search engine
  • Enter your search term
  • Results will show in Incognito Mode

However, on Android I could do much more. Incognito mode alone is not safe for browsing. I went a step ahead and did a lot more on Android because it was technically possible for me.

The Process ♺

Honestly, I do not have any process. May be if I had one I’d make better stuff or may be this just works for me – I’m not sure and I doubt I’ll ever find out. I’m more of a build first guy than plan first guy. This is a comparison of what the first version looked vs what it looks like now:

Home screen for Snap Search before vs now
Before (left) v/s Now (right)

There were a couple of things I knew from the start about what I wanted this app to be and how I wanted it to be.

  1. I knew I wanted a Proxy Mode/VPN ability for those users who really wanted to be safe on the web. Doing so wasn’t going to be easy or cheap – and so I had to introduce a ‘Premium Mode’. Now, 27 releases later there are multiple reasons to buy a premium plan for Snap Search.
  2. The app should NEVER ask for permissions. No storage, no location, no gallery, no contacts – nothing. If any feature required it, I would have to find a way around it or Snap Search would just have to be a browser without it.
  3. No ads on Snap Search. Personally, I hate ads.

And so, I just kept building.

Most app updates involved introducing New Features and UI Improvements. I made myself understand a few things beforehand:

  • It needs to look good or people won’t use it.
  • It needs to be unique or people won’t use it.
  • It needs to work as promised or people will hate it.

I guess these are standard points for any application/platform/service. However, that doesn’t make it any less important. In fact, I made sure to remember the same every time I sat down to write code or work on the app.

Deciding What To Do Next

Have you heard of a concept called the “Writer’s Block”? I was scared I’d face something similar – like a “Developer’s Block” or “Maker’s Block”. After every update I’d sit down and think – Do I have anything to do for the next update?

I always had the option of just improving what is already there – which is a good thing to do obviously, but I wanted something new to add, whether it was a new feature or an update to the UI. The current browser is a result of just that. I didn’t think of the current design at the start, it came to look like this after changes again and again. The original browser had the standard options of:

  • Close
  • Minimize
  • Copy URL
  • Share URL
  • Open URL using External Browser

Today, the browser has over 26 actions one can do! Here’s the before version and now version of that:

Browser for Snap Search before vs now
Before (left) vs Now (right)

What I Learnt 📚

There are 3 important, fundamental concepts one must be aware of. These apply to all walks of life though:

  • Focus
  • Perseverance
  • Hard Work

Only with a healthy mix of all 3 have I been able to build Snap Search and get it to where it is today. I admit, it is probably nowhere close to a general measurement of success, but I wouldn’t have even come this far if I hadn’t focused on making it better, persevered through all obstacles, and continued to work hard towards my goals.

Another important thing I learnt is people are willing to try new things. When you think of a browser, it’s actually a pretty saturated market on its own. You got Chrome, Firefox and Safari leading the pack. Brave and Edge are catching up and then on Android, there are thousands more. One would think building a Browser for Android isn’t a smart idea, and that this is going to be really difficult to get into. But it turns out not that difficult too.

Future Plans 🕞

iOS! That’s all I’m going to plan ahead for. Yes, bug fixes and performance improvements and all that too. I need to focus on the iOS version now. Building a Browser for Android was fun, building one for iOS is going to be a challenge for me though.

Numbers 📈

Let’s get into it.

  • Monthly Active Unique Users: 6.2K
  • Total Downloads: 20,000+
  • Total revenue: $1.4K

To be fair, most of the growth has come in the last 4-5 months. January – December 2020 report will probably be much much better than this one. Initial growth was very tough.

Thank you for reading such a long post. It’s really hard to describe a year long experience in words, specially when you’re still coming to terms with it yourself. All I know is I’m grateful for it, and even more motivated for the coming year!

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