Sparks of Inspiration: The Best Simple App Ideas

  • by Mduduzi
Sparks of Inspiration: The Best Simple Mobile App Ideas

Not so long ago, the idea of right or left-brained people was debunked. This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t people who have a higher propensity for creativity than they do for logic (or vice versa). The science is just a little more complicated than what was initially proposed.

Nevertheless, you may find that you have all the logic and ability to create your very first commercial application. But you’re stumped for ideas because you just can’t find the creativity right now.

That’s where the following guide comes in. In it, we’ll cover some of the best simple app ideas to start you off on your professional mobile software development journey.

Top 10 Simple App Ideas

A common mistake that most developers make on their first foray into commercial app development is tackling an app idea that may be too complicated to fully execute successfully.

However, even executing the simplest of app ideas takes a bit of planning and forethought. We wouldn’t advise you to jump into the deep end and create something paradigm-shifting on your first attempt.

Instead, take it slow. Understand your options and research how much it will actually cost to publish your app. Don’t go through all the trouble of building your application only to find out you don’t even have the budget to publish.

Plan for the long term. Most app developers understand that the development cycle doesn’t end after you publish the application. You’ll have to refine your app and add new features over time.

This obviously depends on your app’s complexity, your goals, bugs, and user response. Your ideas for an app may start out simple but they always have the potential to become complex as you tack on new features and develop new ideas. You need to understand that this is all part of the learning process and what you learn from your first app can be transferred to your future endeavors.

It’s also always important to read the respective store’s terms and conditions. For instance, once you publish an app as free in the Google Playstore, you cannot switch to paid. Which brings us to our next point. You need to ensure that you plan how your app will be monetized.

If you feel that you’re not very good at UX or UI design, then it’s okay to consult with someone that is. Once you understand all the intricacies of building and launching an application, you can then decide if it’s truly worth it. If the answer to the question is yes, then here’s a list of helpful app ideas to get you started.

1. Exercise Regiment Building Application

In a 2019 IHRSA report, it was estimated that the fitness industry had generated around $94 billion in revenue. There is always more room for another fitness influencer to show off their abs and peddle more supplements.

It’s much the same with fitness applications. There aren’t a lot of good ones that allow you to create exercise regiments and schedule them in a flexible way. Furthermore, none of them allow you to save your regiment or exercise calendar as a printable document.

The beauty of building an application like this is there’s a lot of room for expansion. It’s one the simplest of app ideas but can grow into something more elaborate as your skills as a developer grow.

Your first version can feature the essentials. Each new iteration can branch out with new features. This will help you learn how to effectively work with third-party APIs while understanding how the version publishing process works with various app stores.

It works on a simple premise that’s easy to understand and work with.

2. Amateur Bird Spotting Application

Ever spotted a bird and wondered what species it was? Imagine an app that identifies birds from the pictures you take with your phone’s camera. You may not think that this technology is available but apps like iNaturalist perform a task very similar to this.

iNaturalist has open-source APIs that you can incorporate into your application and even modify. You don’t even have to start working with these APIs right away. You can simply allow users to take pictures and plug them into a Google Images search.

Or you can forgo this portion of the application and start with writing a bird guide, where users can search for bird types using a description that they input into the application. Once you feel that you’re a more competent developer, you can start integrating more complex features into your application.

Again, it’s one of those app ideas that start off simple but has the potential to be complex. As you become a more competent developer, the more you’ll be able to revise and refine the application. This is an app that can grow with you.

3. Task / To-Do List Application

You can’t write a list of simple app ideas without including a task or to-do list. However, you may be thinking that there is already a slew of to-do or task lists out there. Yes, it is true that the market is a bit oversaturated with apps like these but the problem is they all have their weaknesses.

For instance, most Android task list applications don’t have good widgets. A prime example of this is Google Keep. You can’t create shortcuts to your favorite lists and you can’t really create a widget for one particular list. You can create a widget for your labels though.

Google Tasks’ widget is decent but needs a bit more extensibility. One of the biggest pet peeves is that you can’t leave comments on tasks. From our experience, the only task-list application that comes close to perfection is Todoist but you’ll need to get the paid option to benefit from all of its best features.

So why is it worth writing a list application? Because it’s very easy to do (no pun intended). You can write a bare-bones list application in an hour. Designing and plugging it into a widget might take a bit longer.

If you’re looking for something quick and easy to experiment with, then this is your best option. In addition to this, it will help you polish your research skills. You can create an amalgamation of the best list applications out there.

4. Unified Music Streaming Application

Tidal, Spotify, Deezer, Soundcloud, Apple Music, YouTube Music, etc. There are a lot of great music streaming services out there and most of them offer free subscription plans, as well as exclusives.

What if you’re an audiophile subscribed to more than one streaming service? Juggling between streaming applications on your phone can become a little tedious. What if you could access all your favorite streams and playlists from one unified application?

Furthermore, what if this app could serve as a media player for your local audio files? That’s where your expertise comes in. To wet your beak, you can start by developing the offline media portion of the application and plug-in all the streaming platforms on an incremental basis.

The media portion of the application will require you to work with databases, mobile file systems, and storage permissions. You’ll need to integrate all these streaming services into your application in a way that feels natural and makes sense. This will increase your experience in UX design.

App ideas like these are simple enough that they won’t take you long to build and publish but also complex enough to challenge you and help you grow as a developer and publisher.

5. Calorie and Macro Counting Application

There are three types of macros (macronutrients): carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Keeping track of your macros and balancing them may be crucial to fat loss and muscle development.

Some nutritionists and coaches such as Greg Doucette believe that tracking your macros is a waste of time. It’s more important to track your calories while keeping your diet simple. You may disagree, especially when starting out or experimenting with new foods in your diet.

In addition to this, what if you find yourself in a new country and you want to try their cuisine? However, you want to stick to your macros and ensure that you’re getting enough proteins and fats.

Constantly consulting Google is hardly efficient, especially when you’re about to eat a meal that consists of different foods. Why not create and use an application that allows you to enter the ingredients or foods a meal consists of and allow it to calculate the macros and calories for you.

It can include other information as well. For instance, the vitamins, nutrients, and benefits of certain ingredients. If you hope to execute this idea successfully, you’ll need to do quite a bit of research and maybe even consult with a nutritionist.

Again, the user experience will be an important part of developing this application. It’s straightforward in concept but complex in execution. This is what makes it one of the best simple app ideas for new devs.

6. Affirmation and Mantra Application

It may seem like woo-woo to some people but there’s a science behind positive daily affirmations. That’s why they’re prominent parts of treatment methods for mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If you’re trying to exercise some self-help in cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy, the use of daily positive affirmations can be crucial to the efficacy of these practices. It’s about breaking yourself out of negative self speak.

The best part of an application like this is it can be a one-of. It’s quick and easy to build and is perfect for anyone who’s trying to create their first application for educational purposes.

Although it’s one of the most simple app ideas, you can still add a bit of complexity to it. For instance, you can allow users to set their own affirmations and mantras and integrate text to speech for guided mantras and affirmations.

7. Meal Building or Preparation Application

If you’re planning to cook or eat at home, choosing a meal to prepare can be a little tricky, especially if you’re part of the poor working-class or a student. Eating noodles or left-over pizza won’t cut it.

Maybe you have a limited supply of groceries but would still like to make something awesome like a contestant on the Food Network’s Chopped. When you’re devoid of creativity cause you’re starving, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app that could help you create a delicious meal with what you have available in your pantry or fridge?

The concept is simple enough. It should work for users who want to bake, cook or make quick cold foods. You’ll have to work with offline databases as well as online. Once again, you’ll need to pay great attention to the user experience. An app like this will also give you creative partnership or monetization options.

You can incorporate a feature for grocery shopping and work with certain brands or shops for rebates and advertising. It’s another simple app idea that has the potential for greater usability and growth over time. This makes it one of the best simple app ideas.

8. Habit Tracking and Building Application

Once upon a time, it was believed that it takes an average of 21 days to form a new habit. While this hasn’t been completely debunked; the truth is that it’s possible to build a habit in 21 days but this isn’t the average. The average is closer to 66-days.

Another myth that is still touted to this day is Malcolm Gladwell’s 10 000 hour rule. The theory is that it takes an average of 10 000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master of any field. However, this is a domain dependant. The logic here is that some things are harder to learn and practice than others.

Yet, even though these myths have gone through soft debunks, they can still be used for guidelines and motivation.

We have extremely busy lives and sometimes a new hobby or habit becomes hard to fit into our schedules. It isn’t just because we don’t have time. Sometimes we procrastinate, forget or simply aren’t motivated enough.

This is why an app that helps you form new habits can come in handy. It can be a feature that’s integrated into a To-Do or task list but it would be easier to create a standalone application. Something that’s minimalist but has a calendar and reminds you to perform certain tasks daily.

Using a set of graphs or charts, it can show you the strength of your habits. It can also present you with data that shows you on which days you’ve broken your habits.

This will teach you to work with complex user interface elements as well as Calendars. You’ll also need to work with push notifications. It would be great if the app could plug into Google calendars. You’ll obviously need to learn how to integrate it into Google as well.

9. Drug Guide Application

Have you ever been prescribed a medication by your doctor but still wanted to know more about it? Some medications help treat more than one disorder. For instance, a doctor may treat ADHD with medication used for narcolepsy.

Generally, most drug guides for nurses and doctors aren’t written in easy to understand English. Most don’t even detail how common some of the side effects are.

Why not build a more accessible drug guide; one that can help you identify pills and capsules by taking pictures of them or searching for them by description. A sort of Pokédex for drugs.

An app like this has so much potential. It will require you to perform a lot of research. You’ll need to decide if you want to host all the information offline or on a cloud server (or both). You’ll need to pay great detail to the user interface and experience. It needs to be easy to use.

Aim for simplicity and minimalism. It’s a simple app idea but this doesn’t mean it won’t require some work from you.

10. Energy Usage Calculation Application

Are you dubious of your utility bills? Maybe something doesn’t seem to add up? Does it look like you’re using more electricity than expected? What if there was a way to see which appliances and electronics are using the most energy in your home?

The concept is simple. You input a list of all your appliances and electronics as well as how long they’re connected. The app then calculates the amps and/or wattage and gives you a close estimate of what you can expect to spend on power per day, week, month or year.

An application like this would be useful to people trying to track their budgets while making their home’s energy-efficient. You’ll need to build a database of appliances of electronics with accurate wattage and voltage.

Eventually, you can add more advanced features like meter readings. It’s simple enough to build but will require a bit of time, forethought, and effort. It’s a great way to test your abilities as a developer. This makes it one of the best simple app ideas for neophyte developers.

Final Thoughts

In this guide, we tried to include as many diverse app ideas as possible. Sure, we could have included some that made use of augmented reality or your phone’s other sensors but we decided to keep it as simple as possible.

The app ideas in this guide may be conceptually simple, but they’re complex enough to challenge you to learn and grow as a developer. We sincerely hope that one or two of the app ideas in this guide can inspire you to create something world-changing. Check out our guide for what to do once you have an idea for an app. As always, thank you for reading and happy coding.