DEV Community

Cover image for How to not launch an empty app
Tom Nijhof
Tom Nijhof

Posted on

How to not launch an empty app

Many applications are currently displaying content in various forms. Reddit, Facebook, Masterdom, Yelp, and CaffeineCritics are just a few examples of apps that offer content in one way or another. While the technology behind these apps may not be particularly groundbreaking, it is the content they provide that truly gives them value. However, a question remains: how can app developers fill their new apps with content without violating copyright laws?

Just make it

If you need content, it's worth investing the time to create it. A great example is Artturi Jalli, who developed an app for finding Finnish cottages. He dedicates a significant amount of time to writing blog posts to promote his web app. Please note that this article tells us he spent 6 hours coding and more than 1000 hours of blogging.

woman writting

Generate it

Using artificial intelligence to create content may seem like a dream come true, but it's not as simple as it sounds. While AI can certainly assist in the creation process, you are still ultimately responsible for ensuring the quality of the content. Moreover, users are becoming increasingly aware of AI-generated content, so it's important to approach this method with a mindset of "make it yourself with the help of AI" rather than relying solely on machine-generated output.

Robot writting


Data scraping can be a useful tool for collecting information from various websites. In my case, I utilized this technique to gather data on coffee and tea offerings from numerous webshops. By scraping data from these sites, I was able to accumulate a sizable collection of drinks without requiring users to manually input reviews. This approach not only saves time but also makes the app feel more dynamic and alive! However, it's crucial to be mindful of copyright considerations when engaging in data scraping.
At Mastodon, you also see this a lot in the form of twitter-bots (or x-bots I guess). They copy tweets and toot them on Mastodon. However, this might* be copyright infringement, so it may not be the best if you are a business.
*might be because there are thousands of governing bodies that make laws. Ask a lawyer, not a blog post if you have questions about it.

Woman shopping groceries

Wait for users

In the world of app development, it's (sometimes) possible to launch an app without any users and wait for them to fill it. This approach is often used by online games that become more enjoyable with more players. However, by incorporating NPCs (non-player characters) and storylines for solo play, developers can create an engaging experience without the need for others.
Apple has taken this approach with their new VR headset (that they do not want to call VR headset), which comes with a few basic apps and has ported many iPhone apps to work in the VR environment. While the initial value may come from Apple itself, the true potential lies in the creativity of other developers who will bring innovative apps to the platform. However, if not enough people will make Apple VR apps the project will be killed.

Woman waiting


In conclusion, filling mobile apps with engaging content while respecting copyright laws requires a careful balance of strategies. While shortcuts like AI-generated content or data scraping may seem appealing, prioritizing original creation, as seen in examples like Artturi Jalli's Finnish cottages app, can lead to greater user satisfaction.

Top comments (0)