Released my fourth React Native app

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After releasing my first three React Native fitness apps, I published my fourth one for Android today: Motivational Alarm Clock

React Native PHUL Workout Log

There are a lot of great motivational videos on YouTube and I thought it would be a good idea to start my day with one of these, instead of a beeping sound. And this is exactly what it does: You set your alarms for specific days of the week and whenever an alarm goes off, it starts playing a daily new inspiring video. You can read more about the Motivational Alarm Clock app on the Google Play store - this post is about the development part.

#How was development?

Smooth. It took me three weeks from the idea to publishing it on the app store, mostly because I was already familiar with React Native, and my current way to structure the app state works well for me. Note that the three weeks also include a lot of non-development work like creating the images, creating a playlist for the motivational videos, doing some keyword research, writing an app store description, testing on an actual device, ... But, let's have a look at some development choices I made:

  • Handling state: I used Redux and seamless-immutable. You can read more about app state handling on my blog, for instance here or here.
  • Material Design: For my first three apps I used react-native-material-design, but it's not maintained anymore and lacks some components I wanted to use, like a TabBar. I switched to react-native-elements which is a great collection of good-looking components, but they don't ship with a Material Design integration. What I ended up doing was to only use the font and color styles of react-native-material-design and combine these with the react-native-elements components. This worked better than expected, especially when I found out it's nicely modularized and you can access just the styling part by installing react-native-material-design-styles:

    import { color, typography } from 'react-native-material-design-styles'
  • Portrait/Landscape Mode: You can watch the video in either Portrait or Landscape mode, but all other scenes should be in Portrait mode. React-native-orientation has a lockToPortrait/lockToLandscape function that you can use to achieve that by coupling it with its orientation-change listener.

I noticed the more experience I get, the more likely I am to build my own React Native modules. I always have this vision of how the User Experience should be, and if I cannot achieve it with existing modules, I end up building something on my own now, instead of settling for a sub-optimal solution with existing tools. The hardest part for me, someone with little prior native Android experience, was actually getting the gradle build system to work in Android Studio - the programming part and figuring out Intents was easy.

  • I created a react-native-app-launcher library using Android's AlarmManager to schedule the alarms in a way that an alarm icon is shown in the Status Bar. The alarms still work when the device is idle or the application is closed.
  • When there is no Internet access, the alarm simply falls back to a ringtone alarm, so I wrote a small SoundManager module in Java that can play / pause the default ringtone and adjusts its volume.

#It's on GitHub

I decided to release the source code for the whole app in the hope that it will be helpful to someone just starting out with React Native. You often only see small code snippets or the infamous To-Do app, but having many components interact with each other poses different challenges again. It's available on GitHub as react-native-motivation-app.

I'm aware that someone could just disregard my copyright and publish the app under his own name, but I feel like it's worth the risk and in the end people are lazy and developers usually have better things to do. And it probably won't earn you any money. So, I'm not really concerned.

#It's on Google Play

Get it on Google Play