Taxi Explorer is a taxi fare calculator for iOS. It supports over 50 big cities around the world. Usage is pretty simple – select city, tap once on the map for pick up location, tap again for destination and the app calculates trip cost by taxi, by Uber and by other ride sharing services if available. Trip time is taken into consideration so the estimates are based on the correct tariff – day, night, or holiday. There are neat views for cost breakdowns, tariff schedule and booking info. “Live mode” is a useful feature which utilizes GPS to calculate taxi fare as you go, so you can double check the indication of the taximeter device is correct. See more details at taxiexplorerapp.com or get it from the App Store.
If that brief description sounds like an ad – it is. I hope it makes you install it. This is a side project I’ve started in the spring of 2015. At the beginning it wasn’t intended as a side project at all. Mrs Good Bad Vlad was interested in exploring mobile development. She had read a book about iOS programming and she was ready to get her hands dirty coding. She could either build something from scratch or take the easier path of building upon an existing project. By the same time I stumbled upon Stuart Khall’s App Store experiment – implementing an app and launching it in just one day. This great article inspired me to build an app. I know that launching an app so fast is doable only if you already have 10 apps submitted in the App Store and this is your eleventh app. However I realized it would cost me few weeks of my spare time to implement version 1.0. Then my wife takes over and I’m done with it.
There were neither ideas brainstorm nor market research. I rushed after the first idea that came off the top of my head. A simple app that tracks car trips. It would measure distance, trip time and waiting time (the time the vehicle was not moving). Its purpose was to verify taxi driver wasn’t cheating. My initial estimate was I’ll be ready after about 2 to 4 weeks. Remember these are not full-time weeks, just an hour or two a day when I have the time for it. I started working right away.
By the time I was finishing the app I began having second thoughts. Who the hell would use such a simple app? Who needs a taxi app in the age of Uber? What was I thinking when I started this? To make things worse, Mrs Good Bad Vlad had other responsibilities to care about and she had to give up mobile development. Her involvement in the project up to the present day is helping with testing the app, answering a few support emails and Apple’s development certificate in her name.
I was at a crossroads – submit the simple app or never release it. I took a month off. During that month I got ill from a widespread developer flu, called “add more features”. I decided to stick with the app, but make it more appealing to users. That’s how I came up with the concept of cities and predefined taxi tariffs and Uber comparison and so on.
As I was happily coding the new features, the summer almost passed. There came a new distraction. How would I launch an app without a landing page. God forbid! That would be unprofessional. Add few more weeks for my first encounter with WordPress. After I took the decision to buy a theme, the page actually got ready quite fast.
After spending some more time in final touches and testing, Taxi Explorer was finally ready at the end of September. It was a free app, no in-app purchases or ads and fare estimates for 10 cities – I chose them among world’s top travel urban destinations.
The app was released on October 1st. So today I have a birthday to celebrate – one year in the App Store. I’ll reveal what happened during that year in my next post.