How I Became an Independent iOS Developer and Built the Best White Noise App
Prior to the birth of my son I watched Dr. Karp’s video “The Happiest Baby On The Block” where he demonstrates the 5 S’s. Swaddle, Side or Stomach position, Shush, Swing, and Suck. I even practiced swaddling ahead of time with a teddy bear. I felt as ready as possible to help calm my future baby and put him to sleep. That night, after we were all tired of playing, taking photos, changing diapers, and taking all sorts of medical tests we were all ready for bed. Success! He was asleep. That wasn’t that hard.
I quickly fell asleep on the couch. However, as soon as I drifted off to sleep, he woke up crying and we would have to calm him down all over again. This repeated a couple of times before I googled how to keep a newborn baby asleep. That’s when I learned more about how babies are accustomed to lots of noises in the womb and how the silence of the real world is uncomfortable for them. I immediately downloaded some white noise apps on the App Store and tried them out. While the baby seemed to enjoy the sounds, I didn’t really care for the white noise since it sounded too harsh for my ears. After further searching I found an app with a hairdryer sound that I could tolerate.
We used my iPad as a sound machine with the hairdryer app for a month or so. Then, one week during a business trip while I was away from home I decided to build my own white noise app with sounds that both my baby and I could enjoy. Thus, “Magic Baby Sleeper” was born. I searched some royalty free sound websites, learned how to create sound loops, and couldn’t wait to try them out when I got home. Unfortunately, there weren’t that many high quality free sounds and the one recording of Brown Noise that I liked, my wife did not like at all. We were back to using the hairdryer app. So I purchased a fancy microphone and started recording sounds around the house such as our air filter, fan, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, the rain, the thunder and even a driving trip I took in the rain. Finally, we could now listen to sleep sounds that the whole family could enjoy. Our favorite sound by far was that of air filter and for several more months he fell asleep to that.
One of the extra features that I added to the app was the ability to immediately start playing the last sound played on launch. This was important in reducing the amount of presses one made when dealing with a fussy baby. It truly was magic when the app would start-up and our baby would calm down immediately. Shortly after the iPhone 6s came out, I added support for 3D touch to Play/Pause from the home icon.
Shortly after New Years, the start-up I was working for announced they ran out of funding and we were all laid off. I decided to finish up development of “Magic Baby Sleeper” and publish it to the App Store for everyone to use. Prior to publishing the app I renamed it to “White Noise and Deep Sleep Sounds” in order for it to appeal to a wider audience. After finding the app very useful in helping me fall asleep in a hotel, I felt that it would be great for adults as much as for babies. Two of the more memorable moments after going live on the app store were when I made my first sale and getting my first review.
The Apple TV, 4th Generation, recently came out with its own App Store and I decided to port the iOS app over to tvOS. AppLovin was hosting an Apple TV app contest right around that time and I entered my new app into their ports category. I was very surprised when they emailed me to let me know I was a finalist and that they wanted me to present at their offices in San Francisco. While I didn’t win the contest, the experience was very rewarding and the extra exposure led to an increase in sales. This in turn helped motivate me to continue independent development. Since then I have listened to user feedback, refined the UI and added several new sounds such as Birds and Chimes (which has become a nap time favorite). In addition, I launched the “Deep Sleep Fan” app with the unique ability to control oscillation and fade out.
Both of the Deep Sleep apps feature zero ads and are free to try.
Download White Noise and Deep Sleep Sounds on the App Store.
Download Deep Sleep Fan on the App Store.