PooPal

PooPal

PooPal


PooPal

PooPal

PooPal

PooPal

PooPal

PooPal

This is a case study about PooPal, an iOS Widget

PooPal   is a side project I started in the summer of 2021. I set out to solve a personal inconvenience and built a no-code, shareable solution to my problem. I also discovered my entrepreneurial side.

ROLE

Tom Kurzeka IRL

DELIVERABLES

iOS Shortcut + Widget

Imagine you’re walking to the cafe on a Saturday...

It’s a beautiful summer morning. You're up early while it's still cool out. Just you, your dog, and the anticipation of a fresh cup.

About halfway to the cafe, your dog stops for a poop. Being the good citizen you are, you pick up the poop with a plastic bag and put a knot in the top.

Then what happens? Do you carry the poop into the cafe with you? Maybe you leave it across the street in a planter. Will you remember to pick it up?

My Problem

I don’t want to carry my dog’s poop bag around any longer than necessary.

When I leave the poop bag somewhere in the middle of an activity, sometimes I forget to pick it up.

Ideate

& Learn

Ideate

& Learn

Ideate

& Learn

Ideate

& Learn

Ideate

& Learn

Ideate

& Learn

Ideate

& Learn

I wanted to create a utility that would remember where I placed a bag of poop and remind me to pick it up.

Around this time, I was hearing a lot about prototyping in SwiftUI. I signed up for a few tutorials to learn the basics.

After researching maps, location, and notifications in Apple’s iOS documentation, I discovered the thing I needed already existed: a geofence. With that knowledge, I put together a rough user flow and a set of technical requirements from what I knew so far.

I found Ray Wenderlich’s tutorial site and did a few of the walkthroughs on Location Management and Geofences.

I ran build after build after build, troubleshooting code and trying to grok the fundamentals of iOS development.

Brand Exploration

At the same time, I was playing around with color palettes and poop-emoji inspired logos.

Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping

I’ve long admired the simplicity of the Shazaam app. It is built on one interaction with a satisfying  animation. Similarly, the Chipotle app has a pay button that requires a long-press to submit.

Inspired by that interaction, I prototyped a larger product experience in Figma.

Then I wrote a simple Add Reminder interaction in SwiftUI that reveals a map view and a details container.

In later research, I was unable to find a way to determine the nearest cross-streets from a given set of coordinates. I think the colloquialism would contribute to a brand voice as both unique and useful.

Get Real

After a couple weeks of tutorials, Googling, and Stack Overflow hunting, I had to ask myself, “Is the point of this to learn how to write an iOS app or to solve a problem?”

I set the idea of writing PooPal from scratch aside and took a look at no-code app builders like Bubble and Adalo.

I wasn't particularly inspired by either of these services.

iOS Reminders App

Then one day, in the summer of PooPal, at the dog park, my friend’s phone chimed.

She mentioned it was her Reminders app. She went on to say that she swore by it to keep her life in order. Curious, I took a look when I got home.

If it wasn't the very utility I needed, factory-installed on my iPhone!

iOS Shortcuts App

I was familiar with iOS Shortcuts. I dove into the Apple docs to see if I could make use of the Location Reminder utility from the Reminders app in a Shortcut chain.

In just a couple of hours I was able to drag-and-drop-program a functional PooPal prototype.

iOS Shortcuts are shareable via iCloud. This means that not only did I have a working piece of software, I could share the solution with others and learn if this pain point was unique to me or commonly held.

In the spirit of no-code solutions, I created the PooPal iOS Shortcut and shared it to iCloud.

Notion Page - Easy to publish, no-code landing page giving some background about PooPal.

Then I used Notion to make a public landing page and walk-through on how to download the PooPal Shortcut and configure it as a Widget.

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

But Apps Are Cool!

I roped in a friend and experienced Javascript engineer who was keen to learn something about iOS development. We spent a day eating pizza and figuring out how to work with CoreData.

I broke down the technical requirements from the earlier user flow into smaller chunks and created a board to track our work.

I know, I know! - I have a Notion problem

By the end of the day we were able to register a set of coordinates on button-press and have that record persist after the application closes.

Syncing CoreData - on press, a record is made of the user's current coordinates. If I close the app, the record persists.

Since I'll create a Reminder, then put my phone back in my pocket, the PooPal app needs to remember my coordinates, run in the background, and respond to location events (re-entering the geofence).

Reflect

Reflect

Reflect

Reflect

Reflect

Reflect

Reflect

Reflect

The PooPal journey was a flurry of inspiration, research, and creativity that ran about three or four months.

Beyond the immediate user problem, I investigated a number of monetization strategies, dove into the world of startup incubators, read a ton of Y-Combinator resources, and attended some virtual meet-ups for the petcare space.

I discovered an entrepreneurial side to myself that I hadn’t known was there.

Best buds - I'm just a man with a dog and a message: you don't always have to carry that poop around.

But the best part is, when I’m out walking my dog Bird and he takes a poop within the first ten minutes of leaving the house, I use the PooPal widget.

That way I don’t have to carry the poop bag around for the next sixty, seventy, or eighty  minutes. And for me, it’s totally worth it.