Goodbye, Metro

10 months agoReact Native, User Experience

Goodbye, Metro
I shut down my first app ever. A story of being outdone.

Last year, I built an app for the Dubai metro, tram, and monorail. It had all stations on a map, fare information, and news, which I never updated since the first release.

Over time, I forgot about the app. The fares changed, stations got renamed, new things happened. But I never got a chance to update. It wasn't a very well built situation. The app pulled JSON from a server, cached it on the device. Checked for updates on start, but could fall back to cached data if no internet.

Last week, as part of my effort to update older apps, I started updating it. Better UX, newer maps, updated data using Firestore; the works. But then I came across this app: Dubai Metro Interactive Map.

I wasn't a huge fan of the UX, but it has a custom map, which I loved. I used real location coordinates to map the stations and lines, etc, but they followed the printed maps of Dubai metro for their layout. It was pretty cool.

When I built Metro, it was because there were no apps which offered offline support, and most of them looked terrible. That wasn't the case anymore. So I added shutting down useless apps to my list of cleanup activities this year, and removed from both App Store and Google Play. It sucked, but it just made sense.


Learnings

  • Apps are easy to build, but hard to maintain! Especially ones that require paying attention to the news for updates and are about helping people plan their journeys. You can't have outdated information there.
  • Maps UX is difficult to achieve. Look at the terrible icons I used on my map. I hated them, but it was the best I could do then. There was also a lot of markers flickering around the map whenever it resized (thanks Apple Maps!) when showing details about a station.
  • Sometimes, it's easier to get rid of something than to waste more time on it. Now I can focus more on other apps, loads of which I have planned for this year.
  • I need to improve my release process so I can do releases more often than once a year. And maybe only build apps that I really care about so I can update them regularly. Here's to building more useful and fun stuff in 2019.