The Story Behind Getting Winery Passport & Brewery Passport on Google Play

The first audience I reached out to upon the release of Winery Passport in July 2012 was bloggers. I went after anyone who wrote about wine, figuring their readers would have the most interest in the app. The response was great; however, there was a recurring theme: Android.

I hadn’t created an Android app before, nor was I considering building one. But as the emails rolled in, and months flew by, the questions related to when Winery Passport would find its way to Google Play continued, from the media, users and wineries.

When I first released Winery Passport, we were only in a handful of states. The goal was to rollout slowly as we continued to refine the app. But users wanted more right away, so we spent the first month and a half getting all 50 states in the app, as well as all Canadian provinces — 4,500+ wineries in all. My attention then turned to getting together Brewery Passport, which would launch that November.

With a significant user base on iOS, as well as large support from the winery and brewery communities, I knew I had to make the move to Android. It was the right move, especially for those businesses supporting Winery Passport and Brewery Passport, since we’d be able to expand to a new (and significantly large) audience.

When Winery Passport was initially being built, I made sure the data infrastructure was not isolated to the app itself. The data, from your log in information to winery details, had to be accessible from a second device, if need be. With this in place, development on the presentation layer began in December 2013.

To say the last six months have been crazy is an understatement. We never initially thought it would take this long to get Winery Passport and Brewery Passport out on Google Play. But the Android space is a whole different beast. A lot of the same design principals practiced in iOS don’t translate to Android — e.g. why have a back button as an element when the device has its own. There’s also thousands of different Android devices with unique screen sizes. It’s painstaking to have to create five or six different sizes of each image.

In February, I attended a conference at Google where the Play Store folks discussed what makes a great Android app, and what it takes to get featured. One of the points that stuck out was not to hinder the onboarding process. I’ve written about our reasons for having a “registration” on the passport apps, but knew having users fill in six fields of information was going to hurt more than ever on Android.

I had been batting around ideas about integrating with Facebook log in on iOS. I knew I had lost a lot of potential users because of this necessary gateway. I didn’t want to suffer that same defeat on Android though, especially at first launch. In March, with Winery Passport and Brewery Passport wrapped up, I made the decision to integrate social log in on both apps. Not only did we go with Facebook, but Google+. For Android users, that means one-click sign-up/log-in access to Winery Passport or Brewery Passport. The decision to add social log in delayed the launch of the apps by about two months, but I am confident it was the right move.

While the development process was ongoing, I was working on getting all our digital properties ready to feature our Android versions. The websites were iOS focused, from the device screenshots to text, and so I had to fairly divide the marketing space for both operating systems. Wherever we’re promoting both apps, you’ll now see a Play and iTunes badge, a Nexus 5 and iPhone 5.

The response to our launch on Android from the wineries and breweries has been amazing. Dozens jumped on board to enhance their listings after finding out we were close to releasing on a second platform. I am also taking the time to reach out to all the others who wrote that they loved Winery Passport, but would love it more if it was on Android. That’s going to take some time, but we’re there.

Both apps have a ways to go on Android. They’re far from perfect, but they’re pretty darn good. It took me about eight months to feel great about the UI/UX on iOS. I don’t think it will take me that long on Android, but I’ll never be satisfied. That’s the only way to feel if you’re going to build great mobile apps.

I’d love to here your feedback on our Android apps. Feel free to leave us some comments below, or reach out directly. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

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