How To Get Ideas for Apps

Ok I am officially completely hopeless. :smile:

I’ve been racking my brain, looking at forums, Reddit, TechCrunch, all places that I might get some ideas for apps, and I’ve been completely blacked out.

Then, just doing the washing up, I remembered that my local city council has an initiative to make a lot of their collected data open. So I’m thinking of grabbing some of that open data and making some apps from it.

That will at least get me started on something useful, but I was wondering:

What “itch” do you need to scratch?

It would be nice to see a list of the things that people have an idea for, and maybe there could be collaboration on a set of apps that can be used as some sort of suite of community apps that newcomers to Meteor could browse, and fork if they felt that “scratched their itch”

I guess I’m coming from the point of view of the example apps “ToDos”, “Leaderboard” etc are great for showcasing certain aspects of the Meteor framework, but personally, I don’t need either of them. I get how they could be migrated to something else, but I’d really rather have a real-world problem to solve or offer.

For example, one of the data-sets that my local city council publishes is a list of public “amenities” - name, and lat/long. I think that could be a good thing to start with - an app (for mobile) that grabs your current geolocation, and places markers on a map that show you the amenities closest to you.

What other app ideas would you like to see / work on?

Thanks, and best regards

I think you have a great idea for the amenities, that would be fun to work on as well as useful to a lot of people. So it would be easy to show off and nothing gives more satisfactions than people finding something you build useful.

I usually find app ideas by listening. Introspection is one way of listening, I think about things that annoy me in my everyday life. Am I standing at the bank too long? why? Was it hard to find the closest pizza place? was there a lot of indecisiveness in where to go to lunch today with my friends? Those are the kind of things I try to pay attention to. Things that might be tolerable but you notice that can be optimized.

A second way is listening to non technical people. This is actually more fun. I usually pay attention to my parents complaints, my sister and friends. As a developer we live in our own world and we have found lots of ways to optimize things that truly annoy us or our fellow developers have built things for that. But in the real world there is a lot of pain. Lots of people deal with things on a daily basis that you could not even imagine bloated excel spreadsheets and al sorts of hacks to solve a simple problem (to you). So listening to people who are not as tech savvy as you is another way i get ideas.

Lastly make a notebook for ideas. I use evernote so I can access it on my phone or my computer. But you will start to get ideas, some stupid and some awesome (but too hard) and over time you will start to see a pattern or the ability for you to merge or simplify some of these ideas.

Hope that was helpful

Thanks Adim for your thoughtful reply - I really appreciate the time you took to think about what you wanted to say, and yes, it was very helpful.

And I like your ideas on how to get ideas!
I will endeavour to put that into practice.

As for the amenities idea, since its based on lat/long, it could be global! Yes, I shall start working on that.

Thanks again

You should make a real time visualization using WebGL or D3.js

Consider something like as follows, but with real time data:

Find some data which changes quickly enough that a real-time visualization would be almost watchable as if it were a movie

I’m not sure if it comes easily to others, but just constantly have in the back of your mind how everything can be done better and use that to make apps

Thanks @corvid !

Wow, what a visualisation!
Food for thought - thank you!


Talk to people who have problems and money and see if you can solve their problems with technology (e.g. a mobile app). :smiley: You can generate value with apps for example by improving processes (includes simplification and automation) and visualization of important facts.

Thanks Sanjo - yes, I did that once previously, but not for Meteor…

Will need to reach out to others that I know and see what they want / need.

Thanks again!

I saw two ideas for tools in this post today. (hint: better asset workflow for designers and a full feature prototyping tool)

Thanks Matthew!
Not quite what I was after, but interesting nonetheless!

@Sanjo This is precisely the approach that I take in my business at There is a huge demand for simplification and automation of business processes. Find a local business and offer to do a technology survey/discovery for free, almost always there is a project that can come out of that process. It’s usually just a question of ROI, but in most cases you can resell the technology to similar businesses, lowering the cost of development per client.

Like @adim86 mentioned, my general theory is that almost any process that is currently handled with spreadsheets can generally be made into software that is more available, organized, efficient, and intelligent (think analytics/reporting). Ask the business about processes that involve spreadsheets, or even paper. Press the customer to describe the pain points in the process, or ask how they accomplish things that really could only be done with more elaborate software solutions, then draft up a plan to make their life awesome with the Meteor app you’re going to build for them.

Also, don’t worry too much about making something “useful” to get started–often it’s better to simply start by playing around with any idea. Whatever you learn through the process will benefit you greatly when a new idea comes along.

Hi Justin @jfols
Thank you for your comments.
I’m going to start with the “amenities” idea - that will involve (I think):

  1. getting the data into a collection
  2. using geolocation to get the user position
  3. use that to find the closest amenities
  4. draw the markers on a map

So lots of things to play around with!

Thanks again to everyone for your input.

The best apps are the simplest things used in every day life except tweaked to make better and/or easier.


WhatsApp- prior IM, text.
Uber- Taxi
Airbnb- Craig’s list or property manager.
Facebook- Friendster, MySpace.

Well, that just took the wind out of my sails :frowning:

Had a look on Google Play, and there are numerous apps that already do this (the public amenities thing)

Oh well, off to get another idea! :smile:

Do you know of any examples using Meteor for real time data visualization with any of those libraries?

I am on the other side. I have too many ideas.

Not all of them would be financially viable, granted. But at least they are interesting

Just few of them