Daily by Buffer is Buffer’s new content suggestion app available for iPhone, allowing you to add content suggestions to your Buffer each day through a simple interface. This is how it was built.
While updating Buffer for iPhone for iOS 7 we launched content suggestions within our web app, which give users a variety of posts each day that can be added to their Buffer queue to help it stay topped up. Towards the end of developing the iOS 7 update a few of us developed the idea of building a similar app to Tinder where you could swipe these suggestions to approve/discard them.
Daily is part of a new “Labs” initiative that we’ve started at Buffer, where we take a lean approach to crazy ideas and see if they’ll work.
Joel talks more about “Buffer Labs” and how we stay innovative as a 3.5 year old startup here.
We gave Daily the codename of “Table Mountain,” seen here on our whiteboard, while it was under Labs. It was a stopgap while we thought up a name for the app and also paid homage to our recent retreat to Cape Town.
The aim of the first version of Daily was to validate the idea. Would Buffer users use such an app to keep their Buffer’s topped up?
This is the first “working” version of Daily. It allowed you to swipe left or right to dismiss or add a suggestion but had no other buttons or UI.
Within a few hours of development we had a basic working version set up, albeit minus an authentication flow and a missing dismissal API endpoint.
To send the first build around internally, I hooked up the app to make use of our iOS SDK authentication flow. Within a couple of hours I had a build that could be shared around the team to try out.
In the excitement of getting the first version sent around, I got a bit carried away and started implementing some of our newer features into Daily. Adding Contributions and Feeds as new options but ultimately to keep this as lean as we could we removed those and kept that for when we know this concept would work.
Much of the code has been reimplemented from our iPhone app. However I took the chance to improve some of our recently open sourced projects and made use of our new Buffer Objective-C Kit. We recently added this to our GitHub to make using our API easier by providing methods for each endpoint we have available.
The plan is to refactor the networking in our iOS app to use this same kit so that it becomes feature complete, while that is still a work in progress I implemented the kit into Daily and made the necessary additions to it to get Daily’s functionality working.
One of the last things I implemented was an authentication flow as I could test using an access token from the API. I copied over the relevant files from the iPhone app and switched out the networking code to use the Objective-C Kit.
The styling initially was all based off the iPhone app along with the networking code. We’ve recently implemented a new style guide on web, which has found its way into Daily.
Over the next few versions of our iPhone app, we made tweaks to bring our app inline with the new styling within Daily and our web app.
As with all of our iOS projects, we tested Daily internally and with a group of testers on our Hockey account which we keep in touch with via a Facebook Group. We dropped a sneak peek shot in the group before firing around the first build with a authentication flow implemented.
Our testers seemed to like the idea with a few of them even chatting to me to tell me they had never added so many suggestions to their queue before now.
We submitted the app to Apple with a couple of API-side issues outstanding. We were confident we could fix them up before approval with Apple, meaning we could get some headway within the approval process without delaying launching Daily.
We have a few awesome plans for Daily depending on the initial response we get.
Over the last few weeks we’ve added more variety to our content suggestions with different topics as choices, and we were able to add this into the app recently.
We recently announced Feeds within Buffer, allowing you to add RSS Feeds to your Buffer account to then view the posts and add them to your Buffers. Adding this to Daily would make populating your Buffer from Feeds super easy by simply swiping posts.
Download the new Daily by Buffer app from the app store today, and let us know what you think! We’re excited to make it even better with your feedback.
Do you want to work on neat projects like Daily and the rest of Buffer? Why not join our small team!