A few months ago I silently released the iOS port of the Strong Foundation Android app. The release in my opinion was a great success, the app launched with partial feature parity but within a matter of weeks, it received a full feature parity update. Then as you may have seen on here or on other forms of social media, SF got a pretty insane promo ad. A buddy of mine from college shot a killer promo for me and with it, I formally announced SF on every platform I have access to. After releasing the promo video, and sharing it with my network of friends and family, I gained a lot of traction within my small community, but with all the congratulations and mini celebrations, a small problem arose in front of me. Where does Strong Foundation from here?
This wasn’t a question I thought about too much, I knew I wanted to continue to support and maintain SF, but I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with it. (Not having a vision for any product spells out its doom.) Then like Google Ads, someone reached out to me asking to help further the development of SF. A buddy of mine, who attends my alma mater, is looking for senior design project ideas and wanted to know if I would be willing to let his team work on the application. I gave it some thought but unfortunately had to decline to my intimacy with the project. But it did make me think; if I did say “yes” what would I even want them to work on?
Social Media + Health
It’s hard to argue that the invention and concept of social media and social networking is one of the centuries greatest. To be instantly connected to anyone in the world, regardless of distance and time of day has revolutionized how information is presented, observed, learned, and preserved. Every few years a new platform enters an already dominated market but offers a niche experience that further exploits the benefits of the social experience. This evident by the entry of LinkedIn, prior to its existence the only to find out information about who’s hiring, what companies are doing, and where the industry was going, was primary by reading newspapers, having an obscure magazine subscription, or being the industry leader. But now everything “professional” can be found on LinkedIn.
So when my buddy reached out to me and asked to use SF from their project, it got me thinking “what does social health and fitness look like”. I didn’t know the answer to this, and I still don’t, but this is where I think SF can be a piece of the puzzle. None of the current mainstream social media platforms restrict content creators from providing health and fitness advice, routines, etc. but all of them offer other “distractions” that drive users to consume other content on the respective platform. I don’t work at LinkedIn and have no internal knowledge of why they made the choices they did but part of me suggests it’s because they say the same issue. It’s not that other platforms restrict professionals from networking and sharing critical industry information, but the platforms as a whole were not designed with that intent, and thus LinkedIn sought to build a platform that was hyperfocused on bringing professionals together.
This hyperfocus on one workstream is where I thought SF could fit right in. Strong Foundation was built from the ground up with the intention of providing resources to lead to a healthier lifestyle, nothing more nothing less. I believe there are a few health-based apps that have a social aspect to them, but they are very limited interactions, and a lot of comes top-down (meaning: coming from developers to consumers), sadly SF falls into this same camp. But the goal over the next few iterations of SF is to elevate it to the next level on the social ladder. We want content creators and everyday users to share recipes, workouts, diet plans, etc. with everyone in the community. We want trainers to be able to provide full-length workout routines and videos to followers/subscribers, nutritionists to provide strategic diet plans, and meal recommendations to folks looking to bulk up or slim down or just maintain. To accomplish such a large feat SF has to undergo a lot of critical changes and updates.
Ok, what does it all mean?
SF has some big shoes to fill, which means SF has to go through a growth spurt or two. Here’s what you can expect going forward:
- Slower updates coming down
- Most of the updates coming in the near-feature will primarily be bug fixes and stablizing the app
- We may strong-arm updates
- To support this big shift forward updates may need become required inorder to keep things working properly
- The app will always be “Free to play”
- I’m a big believer of freeware and 0 ads
So it’s a small list of items but underneath the hood, there will be a lot of moving parts. As I start to refactor and re-engineer certain aspects of the app’s ecosystem, I will push updates to make sure all the pieces work at each stage, and to make sure no one is left behind I may pseudo-force folks to update the app. SF for the most part can work offline and without access to the backend services (granted some data won’t be available), so if users don’t want to upgrade then they don’t have to.
I’m a big believer in freeware and open-source software, and while Strong Foundation is not open-source, it is built on top of open-source software and in part the reason why I want to remain a free experience for everyone. A lot of applications are “free” to use, but then subject the user to very intrusive ads to offset their costs. There was a point where I contemplated this route as well but didn’t think it was fair to the community and I personally hate ads and didn’t want to burden anyone else with them. But in order to bring SF to the content creator community, it needs to offer creators a way to monetize their content/services, with that in mind I am still at the drawing board on how to deliver on both fronts and keep SF a free to use service., but be rest assured now and in the future, no one will ever have to pay for SF.
That’s all for today folks, we are looking forward to building a bigger and better experience for everyone in the SF community, keep getting better every day.