12 Apr 2023
Inspired by David Smith’s wonderful Launch Diary episode of Under the Radar I tried something a little fun last week and recorded an audio diary of my experience launching the big Dark Noise 3.0 update.
My original thought was that it would be a member-only episode for the Launched Patreon, but after listening I decided I wanted it to be a little more accessible than that. The episode is available to listen to for free and Launched members will see it automatically appear in their podcast player if they’re subscribed to their member Launched Pro feed.
Hopefully you find this helpful, or at least interesting! If folks like this type of thing I’d like to do more things like this for patrons in the future. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.
You can listen to the episode (and become a member if you want to support the show 😉) on the Launched Patreon.
02 Apr 2023
Today Dark Noise 3.0 is finally released on the App Store.
The biggest change in Dark Noise 3.0 is the introduction of a new free tier. This free tier includes access to 8 free sounds, as well as full support for infinitely looping sounds, Shortcuts, Siri integration, the Timer, and all the deep Apple integrations you’ve come to expect from Dark Noise. This makes the app more accessible than it’s ever been before!
For those who want more features and sounds, there is Dark Noise Pro. This optional subscription or lifetime in-app purchase unlocks over 50 sounds, the ability to create custom mixes, alternate app icons, and alternate premium themes. With Dark Noise Pro, you can customize your white noise experience to your liking.
I’ve been working on this update for quite a while, and a significant portion of that time was spent ensuring existing customers are taken care of. Customers who purchased Dark Noise before this update are called Dark Originals. At launch, they will have all Dark Noise Pro features unlocked automatically. There may be features introduced in the future that require a Dark Noise Pro subscription, but for now Dark Originals will receive all of the same features as Dark Noise Pro.
Dark Noise 3.0 also begins the process of improving the experience of Dark Noise with headphones or nicer speakers. This update includes 4 high quality stereo remasters of existing sounds: Rain, Thunderstorm, Beach, and Airplane Interior. Future updates will include more remasters as well as a new focus on increasing the variety of sounds in Dark Noise.
As always, this update includes a plethora of small enhancements and bug fixes including:
- Newly updated App Icon
- Rewritten theme picker
- New Aurora premium theme
- New Aurora alternate app icon
- Mac window size restores from previous session
Dark Noise 3.0 is available now on the App Store to download for free! I can’t wait to hear what you all think. If you’re press you can find an extensive press-kit and more details on the release on darknoise.app.
01 Mar 2023
I recently added some analytics into Dark Noise using the new(ish) privacy-focused analytics tool TelemetryDeck in preparation for my big update that will be adding a free tier. I want to get an understanding of how many users I might be dealing with going forward and some of my future plans lead me to want to understand what features, and sounds users are using most within the app.
It’s been a couple of months now so I have enough data to share some metrics with you all. I think it might be fun to see what changes when I switch to a subscription business model with a free tier. As always, this is meant to be helpful! I don’t know if these numbers are higher than average, or lower than average. This is just one data point that’s hopefully helpful to see, especially for other indie developers.
Alright, let’s start with the high-level stuff.
It’s only been a couple of months, but so far Monthly Active Users have hovered right around 11,000 to 12,000 unique users. For reference, App Store Connect’s “Active Last 30 Days” analytics (which are limited to only users who opt-in) shows 4,300 users.
The Daily Active Users is surprisingly consistent at around 2,300 to 2,500 unique users.
The Hourly Active Users very clearly show peaks around nighttime in North America with a smaller peak in the morning confirming my assumption that a large portion of users are probably playing these sounds to go to sleep. The smaller peak in the morning is most likely because most people pause the app in the background or use the timer feature to automatically stop the sound.
Looking at device info, about 1/5th of sessions came from Macs vs iOS which I have to admit surprised me to be that high. Good to keep in mind that the Mac does represent a significant portion of my app’s use.
A little over 90% of sessions came from the latest iOS 16 or macOS 13. This will be interesting to watch as I add a free tier. I think there’s a chance that a more accessible app will get a higher adoption among the less tech-enthusiast crowd which may actually increase the percentage of users I have on older OSs. Also, hello there iOS 17! 👋
Noise Play Counts
Wow… Brown Noise is king apparently 😅.
I expected some popular sounds and then a long tail, but I definitely didn’t expect Brown Noise to be that dominant. It’s cool to see custom mixes are very popular though. I get a lot of positive feedback about that feature, but I always wondered how popular it was to use by most people.
Here are a couple of extra metrics I found interesting. There’s not a lot to analyze here other than it’s nice to have confirmation people really are using these features.
I’m definitely glad I finally added some light analytics back in the app. I think this will be really helpful in guiding decisions on what features or sounds I should focus on going forward. And while TelemetryDeck is still a little young and rough around the edges, I feel confident in that team’s focus on privacy. And even in the short few months I’ve been using it they’ve dramatically improved the reporting UI.
Hopefully, this is helpful for you all! At the very least I think it’ll be an interesting data point to look back on in a few months after my update to subscriptions and having a free tier. As always, if you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them on Mastodon or Twitter.
31 Dec 2022
2022 was a bit of a weird year for me that I think kinda breaks down into 3 distinct parts.
- A break
- A breakthrough
- And… a breakdown?
Since switching to iOS development and launching Dark Noise in 2019, I’ve been working pretty consistently hard on side project work. I wanted to establish myself in this platform and this community so I could avoid getting pulled back into web development like previously always ended up happening. Dark Noise and my podcast Launched were both mechanisms to keep pushing on both the technical/product side and the community side of things. This was especially important when the pandemic showed up and made connecting with the community much more difficult.
But 2022 was different. I was finally able to travel. We had just bought a new house at the end of 2021. And maybe I was a little burnt out? I’m not quite sure the full alchemy of reasons, but from the beginning of the year to the end of the summer my side projects really took a back seat.
I did keep producing Launched thanks to a schedule that pulled me along and a lineup of guests I was, quite frankly, extremely proud to have on. But Dark Noise development slowed to a crawl. I spun up a couple new app ideas that I ran out of steam on and never released.
And it had an impact! Dark Noise sales were down pretty significantly the first half of the year. I had no major releases in that period and being a paid up front app meant that really hurt.
Dark Noise yearly proceeds (released in August 2019)
This might all sound negative but I took advantage of this break and honestly I think I needed it.
I finally got to travel! I finally met coworkers for the first time in San Diego, vacationed with my wife without kids for the first time since the pandemic, went to Europe for the very first time (with the kids!), and finally got to meet folks in the iOS community in person at WWDC 😱.
My Flighty Passport showing all of my 2022 flights
Also in between traveling, Apple reached out asking for a demo version of the Dark Noise Mac app. And now every Apple retail store in the world has a demo of Dark Noise pre-installed on all of their display Macs! 😱
Two things happened at the end of summer that changed my side project trajectory.
Dark Noise Returns
The first is simply Apple’s OS release cadence. The nice thing about Apple’s release cadence is it sort of forces me to get a release pulled together by a certain date. This year, that meant I needed Dark Noise to be ready with iOS 16 support and features like the new Lock Screen widgets in September with a follow up release in October to support the new Dynamic Island and Live Activities.
This release kind of woke me up from the side project blues and got the gears going again with regards to Dark Noise development. This was partially fueled by extra time I now had because of the other breakthrough I had at the end of summer.
Launched With Help
In August I decided I needed some help with Launched. Editing the show was simply taking too much of my limited side project time. I wanted to hire an editor, which meant I needed money. I didn’t want to take on selling sponsorships myself given I was already stretched too thin so I started putting together a pitch deck to see if I could find a network that would let Launched join.
Looking over the pitch deck stats I basically chickened out thinking the numbers were probably too low for anyone to consider and never even reached out to anyone. Instead I simply tweeted them out and moved on.
Surprisingly, this ended up paying off! Jonathan Ruiz had recently ended his show, Everyday Robots, and reached out to offer to edit the Launched. I took him up on the offer and every episode since has been edited by Jonathan.
I cannot express how big of an impact this has had. I am pretty precious with the edit of that show, but Jonathan has been outstanding. And the time it’s freed up has allowed me to pour more time into growing both the podcast (I’m gearing up to start taking on sponsorships) and turning Dark Noise into a potentially fully viable business into it’s own.
Note: ok this headline is a pretty hyperbolic for the sake of keeping the “break” theme but you have to admit it’s pretty catchy yeah? 😅
The end of 2022 has been… turbulent to say the least. The tech industry has suddenly gotten a little unstable. And Twitter, the platform that the hosts the community I’d invested so much in, was imploding. There are also some personal career things I can’t discuss here that put me, an extremely risk averse personality, into hardcore de-risking mode.
I started putting together action plans. What do I do if I get laid off? How much runway do I have to find another job? Can I grow that runway if my side projects are making more money? Could my side projects be the other job?
This brewed a pretty weird concoction of excitement mixed with anxiety that’s launching me into 2023 with a pretty clearly defined set of short term goals.
- Switch Dark Noise to a subscription model.
- Monetize Launched with a combination of sponsorships and membership/Patreon.
- Invest in the local (St. Louis) iOS community by starting some kind of meetup.
I feel like my goals have usually been more high-minded and “personal growth” focused in years past. It feels a little crass for a major theme to essentially be “make more money” but this is where I am. We’ll see where 2023 takes me, but either way I’m at least coming into it with a side-eye towards handling uncertainty.
05 Oct 2021
Dark Noise 2.6 comes to the App Store today with full support for iOS 15!
iOS 15 introduced a new widget size exclusive to iPad and Dark Noise 2.6 adds support for these new big sizes. Now you can fill your iPad with 16 wide button noises, or a whopping 32 square button noises in a single widget!
And of course these widgets support all of the themes and customizations you’ve come to expect from Dark Noise widgets.
Due to limitations in iOS 14, Shortcuts actions with parameters could not play audio without opening the app up in the foreground. This led to a confusing array of Shortcuts actions provided by Dark Noise. Shortcuts actions with parameters for setting up a timer or volume (began with the word “Start”) had to open the app in the foreground to start a sound, and shortcuts with no parameters (began with the word “Play”) were limited but could play sounds in the background.
With iOS 15 things are dramatically simpler. New “Play [Noise]” Shortcuts actions can play noises in the background and have parameter options for customizations.
There is also a new Shortcut action called “Find [Noise]” for advanced Shortcuts users. This action accepts a string parameter, searches Dark Noise for a matching noise, and outputs a Noise object that the new “Play [Noise]” action will accept as an input.
This allows for more advanced automations where you want to dynamically pass in a string for which noise you would like to play. To be honest I’m not entirely sure what the main use case for this is, but I’ve recieved enough requests for it that I thought it was worth adding. I’d love to hear from anybody who uses it to see what they’ve built!
Bug Fixes and Improvements
A new timer view using iOS 15’s new half sheet popover and some minor bug fixes round out the update. This year’s iOS beta cycle has been… busy to say the least (I moved into a new house!). Things are finally settling down and I’m getting back to work on Dark Noises next major feature!