Handling Rejection

My recently released app, Audiophone, almost never happened.

Like most, what I experience in my own personal life shapes my ideas and opinions. This applies to software design as well. When I first started working on Audiophone, what I wanted was Music.app with my own streaming music collection. As such, a lot (read: all) of the design “inspiration” came from Music.app’s design. I did change things up in small and incremental ways, e.g. I collapse and expand songs under album headers, because god I hate scrolling through every. single. song. but by and large it was Music.app with a custom backend.

In hindsight, I realize that was foolish, limiting, and lead to a poor product. But at the time it’s what I wanted despite my girlfriend Tanisha (as I’ve said before, she’s lovingly “supportive” of my work) urging me to break away from the Music-cloning interface with my own ideas. Her pushing frustrated me because I didn’t feel like I had any ideas. That should have been a huge red flag for me. Why on earth was I putting time into cloning another piece of software? Was my idea so un-original that I couldn’t come up with a standalone concept? What did I bring to the table? Theses were questions I should have been asking myself.

Still, I labored on. After a few months of work I fooled myself into thinking that I had an awesome product that looked great. And it did; because it looked like Music.app. I submitted it to Apple, giddy with excitement. Then it went into review and I anxiously awaited a response.

Rejected. Now, I won’t go so far to quote verbatim but the choice words were: “[…] your app resembles the official iOS Music.app.”

It hit me like a train. Even though I knew I could be (and probably would be, for some reason) rejected, the fact that I was — and for that reason — left me feeling empty. I was angry and I walked away from the project for a month. I didn’t even tell my testers what had happened. (Actually, I just looked this up and it was more like two weeks before I started working again… but it felt like a month.)

I used that time to sort out my thoughts. It may sound dramatic, but when you’re working on something that is so thoroughly “yours” and it’s rejected, you feel rejected too. Eventually, my feelings came to a head. I knew that I either needed to pick up and keep working on the project or leave it and move on. Letting it sit there “almost ready” (or not, as it was) wasn’t fair to the project itself, me, or the people supporting me.

It was that final bit that pushed me over the edge. I started out building Audiophone for myself, but I quickly realized that I wanted other people to be using it. I put hours into features and details that I wouldn’t have if it were “just” for me. Sure, no one out their knew they needed Audiophone. Most don’t and never will. But for those who do, myself included, I felt that I should finish what I started — and do it right.

Picking back up was as exciting as when I first started. I had ideas, new and old, that I said “no” to the first time but allowed myself to reconsider. I had a vision in my mind that was finally my own and I wanted it to show. I wanted to make an app that I could be proud of and users would love. Hopefully I’ve done that. I guess time will tell.