On today's auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi, I feel immensely proud to announce that the Indian Birds app, a very first app on Google Play Store by NATURE WEB recently crossed 100K installs. It took around 9 years to achieve this feat. Though, 9 years look a little longer for the 100K milestone, considering the limited target audience (primarily bird lovers interested in Indian avian life), this app achieved it with overall app rating as 4.4 (as on date of publishing this post), 1650+ reviews and very minimal marketing efforts.
The Indian Birds app, our very first Android app, we (Parag & I) published it around 9 years back. Back then, it all started with a small idea from Parag; plus a thirst to learn new/upcoming technology from my side.
Here is the story of the app's journey so far.
Parag and I, thanks to our parents, share this hobby of knowing about birds from our teen-age. I still remember, we used to collect paper cuttings from local newspaper featuring information about birds given by Mr. Kiran Purandare and Dr. Satish Pande, who were our idols. As we grew into adulthood, the "bird watching" continued, only thing was the definition of "bird" was changed as per the demand of time (I guess that's fair enough, agree with it or not but it happens with everyone). Unfortunately, hobby of bird watching (literally speaking) was on side-track for little longer, as we kept running after; first studies and then careers.
Once both of us settled down in our personal as well as professional lives, we got back to our hobby of bird watching (again literally speaking). We started going to birding trails with our point & shoot camera around Pune region. I still remember, how thrilled I was to see White-breasted Waterhen - the first different bird apart from usual sparrows, crows, mynas, pigeons & sunbirds. You might feel old school - but yes there used to be plenty of sparrows unlike today!
Since then we decided to put our photos together with a short information about the bird. Both of us being software professionals, developing a website was a piece of cake. Believe me, the harder part was to finalize the technology to be used for website development. Parag was MS technology fan and I was hard-core Java programmer. I know, that sounds like a typical Bollywood plot, two brothers following two different paths.. 😃 Anyway, the battle was won by Parag on the grounds of being a younger brother (Yeah.. that's the truth! Elder siblings are the ones who are meant for sacrifice all the time). And that's how we published our first website developed using MS ASP.Net. The regional names for birds is the most popular page of the website (even till date). To begin with, we had Marathi and Hindi names for birds but eventually we managed to put together bird names in 14 different Indian languages and still counting.
Being photographers; and amateur birders; we always faced a challenge of identifying birds while on the field and recording them. We felt the need of having an easy reference pocket guide to help identifying the birds. The immediate idea that clicked us was to print a book that can serve as pocket guide which we can carry in the field and will help not just two of us but our fellow birders too. But looking at the estimates that we got from a couple of local book-publishers, we realized that's not the way to move forward and we tried publishing a small trial e-Book on Amazon Kindle.
The mobile technology was just picking up that time. A small idea from Parag came to build an Android app and I was on to it immediately as I was planning to get my hands dirty at Android programming. This time, I had an edge over Parag because Android was supporting only Java language back then. So no battle and we were through with the idea, published the first version of Indian Birds app in late 2011. It was named as - Birds Info. Some of our old users may still remember this but for others, this is how it used look like,
Like our website, the most salient feature of the app was regional names for birds. It was Android Froyo (2.2) OS back then which had zero support for Indian regional languages. Hence, bird names in regional language (Marathi & Hindi) was the OSP for our app, as ours was the only app showing that information in Devnagari script at that time.
As the world was getting squeezed to a smaller screen rather than the bigger screen more & more, gradually the visitor traffic declined on website and at the same time it picked up on the app side.
Since the first version of the app, we had different UI themes for the app before we moved to Material UI (a Google Standard) for the app to give our users, a user experience which is consistent with other Google apps. This is how it looks today,
Besides the UI changes, the app now covers information about 600+ birds and 3300+ regional names (including all 14 languages). In addition to this, we introduced multiple new features to the app. All these years, we were extremely lucky to have wonderful people as contributors for the app. Dr. Raju Kasambe (BNHS) and Mr. Chinmay Rahane (one of the founders of Birds of Pune FB Group), both very humble personalities, wholeheartedly supported this app by their contributions. Others in the list are not so far behind. Mr. Jaideep Kanhere, Mr. Sachin Pawar and Dr. Pragnesh Patel, to name a few.
We have been getting requests from numerous people showing their wish to support the app by contributing to it. We are very thankful to all of them for showing that interest. At the same time, I must mention my apologies to all of them who could not make it to the contributors list. The reason why we could not accommodate all of them as contributors is, we restricted ourselves to accept contributions from people who we know personally. I know it sounds little harsh, but it was done purposefully as validating the contributions was becoming difficult and time consuming. So to avoid getting dragged in any unnecessary copyright issues, we had to take that decision.
In addition to the contributors, Mr. Mayuresh Kulkarni (remember the Orchid Man featured in some of my earlier blogs) and Mr. Makarand Ketkar (aka Tagya or Mak Dada) are all time well-wishers, supporting us in all possible ways.
With all the support from users, contributors and well-wishers, we managed to develop a few other applications as well on the similar lines of Indian Birds. The apps include, Indian Butterflies, Indian Flowers, etc.
One important thing I forgot to mention. The milestone that the Indian Birds app has achieved is without any mention in any newspaper or any other website (at least I am not aware of any such mention). It's all based on the good words spread by the users of this app. So a big thank you to all of you! I am sure you all will keep supporting us in future too and help us in achieving more such milestones.
Keep supporting us and keep spreading the good words, like you always do...
Kokanes - this is for all my non-Marathi friends. At the same time, I am sorry my non-Marathi friends but being a Punekar following line has to be in Marathi, can't help!
कोकणे बंधू ॲपवाले... आमची इतरत्र कुठेही शाखा नाही!