A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Mobile App Ideas and Turning Them Into Reality

22 May 2018
11 min
author avatar
Vitaly K.
Technical writer

Prospective tech companies get fame, millions of funds, and unlimited opportunities. Who can refuse all this? Enthusiasts try to invent the next big thing but eventually only 20% of all startups get to the launch point. Frankly speaking, the modern tech market is so overcrowded with software solutions that it gets hard to even find worthy mobile app ideas. Not talking about the rest of things. 

For 6 years on the market, we've worked with hundreds of startups, seen a lot of exciting cases, and heard dozens of stories about how one or another idea for an app came to stakeholder's mind.

We decided to write a comprehensive guide for you based on our experience. It's intended to help you find out how to come up with an app idea as well as understand whether it's viable and perspective.

How to come up with an idea for an app?

First things first. If you have a strong desire to found your own tech company but have no ideas, there are several ways how to find worthy app development ideas.

1. Find users' pains and treat them

Mobile apps are created to make our lives simpler. Don't forget this.

To succeed, your new app development ideas should solve specific problems of users and do it better or differently compared to existing solutions on the market.

There is no one-size-fits-all way to run into a genius idea solving all the problems of humanity. Look around, study mobile apps focused on something you're good at (e.g. work or hobby), think critically about your favorite apps. Is there something they don't cope with well enough? What exactly would you like to change to make them better?

For example, the founders of Airbnb Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came up with the idea after their move to New York. They were unemployed and were having some problems with rental payments. Once, they noticed a local conference attracts so many visitors that all apartments in the city are booked. They saw this as an opportunity to earn some extra cash, bought several airbeds, and quickly built a website called AirBed and Breakfast (initial name of the company). As the name suggests, they were offering a place to sleep and have a breakfast for their visitors.

In fact, there were a lot of booking services in 2007. But the Airbnb's founders had seen the problem from a different angle and chose the right way to solve it.

The point is, don't give up if you have found mobile apps covering the problem you wanted to focus on. Instead, try to analyze them and understand how to improve them.

2. Browse through app stores inside and out

Another way to come up with new mobile application ideas is to study app categories you are interested in. This way, you will be able to identify what problems other solutions try to solve and how they do it. Use Google Play or App Store for this purpose.

In case, you're unsure concerning what type of app to choose for brainstorming the mobile application ideas, you can check the Top Grossing Apps chart. This section is present in stores for both platforms.

Look for app ideas on app stores

Mobile app ideas: Explore the Top Grossing App chart in the App Store or Google Play 

If you have already decided what niche to pick -- browse apps by categories to see their representatives as well as understand preferences of your target users.

In general, the work with app stores brings you a lot of valuable insights. For example, the feedback from a target audience (comments & ratings), list of features, monetization models etc. All this may serve as a good ground for further stages.

3. Hold a hand on pulse of the tech industry

Sometimes great app ideas aren't hidden in plain sight and you have to dig deeper to find one. Which means, you should go beyond app store research and immerse into the news and events of the tech industry. There are a lot of ways to do so, but we recommend the following:

Keep track of projects

The best way to understand what app ideas are interesting for the audience is to see their feedbacks. Fortunately, there are a plenty of resources that allow to do so with ease and grace. You can browse app ideas and estimate their chances for success using Kickstarter. However, it's worth mentioning that users of this platform more actively pledge money for devices rather than software solutions. That's why you can also turn to ProductHunt. It's the perfect place for finding interesting software ideas as users don't invest anything, they just upvote products they like. So, this platform more clearly shows the level of interest to one or another idea.

Track investments in tech projects

Again, this gives you an image of acceptable mobile app ideas. In fact, you get even more valuable insights doing this as investors won't fund dead-end startups. How to track them? Check the websites of VCs and accelerators (e.g. Y Combinator) from time to time. Also, you can use the AngelList platform to see the funding history and other details of a concrete company. And of course, read mass media like TechCrunch to be aware of the latest deals and events in the tech sector.

Visit dedicated meetups and conferences

By attending such events you don't only communicate with people working in tech sphere and gain experience but hear about creative app ideas from other people. Even if meetups won't result in the app idea inception, you'll get valuable information and make use of it in future. There are lots of platforms that help search for local meetups. But the most popular one is Meetup.com

4. Look into the future

That's the last piece of advice we can give you concerning finding successful mobile app ideas. Brainstorm a bit about the future needs of customers as well as of technologies that will be in use. Think of what kind of apps will be used in 5 or 10 years from now.

Of course, it's barely possible to predict what technologies exactly will be used in future since they're evolving extremely fast. However, you can move forward based on today's trends. AR, Internet of Things, wearables, blockchain, AI and so on.

The same thing with mobile app ideas. If you can't decide what category to jump in, just explore the trends. They'll help you to define the most perspective one. Here are the latest statistics on what kind of apps are popular nowadays:

Look through the top app categories in app stores to decide on what kind of app idea to focus on

Top Apple App Store categories as of January 2018 (Source: Statista)  

How to validate an app idea

You've got the mobile app idea. Well done! It's high time to check it's viability. What does this mean? You should get more information and weight pros and cons before getting to mobile app development itself.

Validation is a vital stage and you shouldn't skip it to make sure the time and money you're going to invest in this project will pay off.

Here is how to validate your app idea:

5. Define a target audience

Now, you have the app idea and you should be ready to answer the question 'Who's going to use this product?'

Most apps are targeted at a specific audience. Even if yours isn't one of them, it's still a good idea to narrow the circle of customers. At least to better understand what direction you should move.

There are two ways to identify the target audience of your app:

  • Explore general facts;
  • Conduct a secondary research. 

Let's say, it's a fitness app allowing to find and build running routes in the US. Taking into account these general facts, we can claim the app's target audience is US citizens who want to keep fit. However, who exactly?

During the secondary research, you dig deeper and analyze any information you find valuable (e.g. app category, existing competitors). For example, you can make use of statistics related to users' gender of popular fitness apps and draw conclusions.

Find out the target audience to validate your app idea

Mobile app ideas: Finding the target audience 

6. Know your competitors

We bet you've spotted a lot of apps that match somehow with your idea. It's time to analyze them. That's needed to understand how to position your app and benefit from it.

For this purpose you can use the following services:


Initially, this is a platform for app store optimization which is intended to help increase rankings of mobile apps. However, another part of it's functionality stands for app analysis. This way, you can scan whatever app you want and get some valuable information about it. How does it help to validate an app idea? If you see an existing solution that resembles your idea and gets good 'marks' (e.g. downloads, ranks), it's worth a try. 


That's one more way to see whether apps of your competitors were funded (read as interesting for investors). Again, investors don't give their money to projects they don't believe in.

Apart from that, pay attention to how competitors fill their apps' pages on app stores. Take a closer look at icons, descriptions, screenshots, videos etc. This may save you a lot of time in future.

7. Consider keywords

We've already touched on app store optimization. It's time to understand how it works. Spoiler: a lot depends on the presence of keywords in title and description.

Don't forget about ASO to better reach your audience

Ranking stats: Apps with a keyword in a title (Source: Tune

So, think of 5 keywords that fit good for describing your mobile app development idea. And here are a couple of tools that will help you to analyze those keywords:


This ASO platform will help you to check the search popularity of keywords you've come up with. If those stats are good (30-40+), that's another sign your application development idea is valid. 

Google Keyword Planner

This well-known tool gives you more details about keywords. For example, it can show you the number of searches of a particular keyword per month.

What's next?

Now, you have the app idea and understand whether it is good or not. The next step is development and you still have some work to do.

Pick a platform

Which platform to build for first? That's one of the most frequently asked questions.

The answer is everything depends on your target audience. Android works best for developing markets like Latin America, Asia, and Africa. While, iOS is a good choice in case your app targets young audience from such regions as Western Europe, Australia, and North America.

It's worth mentioning that iOS users make purchases more frequently compared to Android users.

Validate app idea by calculating the purchase activity

Android and iOS users: Statistics on payment activity 

In fact, many startups develop an iOS app first. It's simply a cheaper and faster option. Android development is harder and more expensive due to it's fragmentation (a lot of OS versions and devices).

However, it's worth mentioning that Android app development is more flexible in terms of features and customization.

Find a team

There are two ways:

  • Form an in-house team;
  • Hire a software outsourcing company.

The first way is pretty hard and more expensive. You need to take care of many things like office space, equipment, salaries etc. Many young companies simply can't afford this or haven't much experience.

The second way is cheaper and more reliable. A lot of startups hire software outsourcing companies from other countries to build the product's MVP (like Skype did) or the whole product. Such companies guarantee workability of the final product and provide the full support within a certain period of time after it's release. So, you don't have to waste your time on searches of competent developers and other related things.


Which is the best country for IT outsourcing? Read why US customers choose Ukraine as software outsourcing partner or watch a short video below

Why Americans Choose Ukrainian Outsourcing Companies? 5 Reasons!

Nowadays, Western Europe is considered to be one of the best options for software outsourcing due to it's value for money.

If you have any questions -- contact our managers. They can also help you validate your app idea and estimate the cost of it's realization.

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