Poly Capture

A macOS timelapse recorder.

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User problem

It takes a lot of work and wastes a lot of storage to make a time-lapse on macOS. Before my app, users had to:

  1. Use QuickTime to record their screen, then…
  2. Export the file to a video editor to create a time-lapse.

Business opportunity

Online creators and indie makers increasingly build software in public, and video tutorials on digital skills are a booming business.

Posting time-lapses of your design, development, and editing work is an engaging way to share your work and help others learn.

Research

A. Creator communities like Indie Hackers, Makerlog, and WIP.co β€” I spoke with members and floated the idea. They were enthusiastic.

B. Competitor research β€” There were a handful of existing apps in the App Store, but they were either expensive or had bad reviews. I thought the app itself shouldn't be worth more than $10, and the options in that price range were very poor.

C. Engineering requirements β€” Could I make this? I had no experience with SwiftUI, but had been wanting to try it out. Other designers, like Jordan Singer, were able to do a lot with it quickly, which gave me the confidence I needed to try it myself.

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Hypothesis

Online creators would buy a lightweight macOS app that removes the friction from making screen time-lapses.

Makers who work in public want to share their work in interesting ways.

Audience

  • Designers, developers and other creatives who work with visual software and want to share their work progress and process online.
  • Those same people πŸ‘† some of whom also create online tutorials.

Success metrics

Sustained interest and purchases after ProductHunt launch, without any ad spending.

Design

I jumped between between Figma and SwiftUI for most of the project.

  • I used SwiftUI for most UI work.
  • I used Figma when the interactions and user journey become complicated.

Earliest build

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Move to the menu bar

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UI polish

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Complications

As I progressed, I appreciated how even the simplest flow can become complicated. The app has to give the user feedback at key points in the recording process:

  • While recording, the app has to confirm to the user that the screen is being recorded, and show the user how much longer the recording is scheduled to last.
  • After the recording is complete, it can take up to 5 seconds for the video to process and be ready to save. If the app doesn't provide some messaging during the interim, the user may assume something is wrong.

Promotional material

Ahead of my Product Hunt launch and App Store submission, I prepared the following promotional material:

  • App store promos, which I repurposed on PH.
  • A website.
  • A blog post outlining my experience making the app over the course of 2 months.
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Success metrics

βœ… Sustained purchases

βœ… Long tail interest thanks to PH, the Medium and dev.to posts, and from being an active member in the community I built this for

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