Chosen as the best App for practising yoga by Mac|Life and selected by CNN as one of the 10 great mobile health Apps of 2012, Pocket Yoga continues to draw praise as the perfect mobile fitness companion. Featured in our Top 5 Fitness Apps for iPhone, Pocket Yoga strives to bring the health and spiritual benefit of yoga to its many users who would otherwise neither have the time nor the motivation to practise yoga due to their busy schedules. TheAppleGoogle spoke to Sergio Tacconi, President and CEO of Rainfrog, LLC, about the success of the App, their inspiration and what lies ahead for the creators of Pocket Yoga.
TheAppleGoogle: Pocket Yoga is quite a unique concept and a brave idea considering how nutrition and athletics–oriented the fitness category of App Store is. What was the inspiration behind it?
Sergio Tacconi: The inspiration for creating Pocket Yoga was partly to solve a problem for myself and partly a work of passion. At the time I had been practicing yoga at a yoga studio for many years, and I was really passionate about it. But I often wanted to practice when there weren’t any yoga classes being taught, or when I was out of town, but this wasn’t easy. Trying to do so I would end up doing only a few poses and then lose focus and stop. I needed an instructor to guide me through, at any time, in any place. I knew that if would commit to doing a 45-minutes class ahead of time I would stick to it and finish without a problem, but if I had to think of all the poses as I went through I would get bored and stop. So I set out to solve this problem. I also thought that if this product could help me, it could also help others. And by doing so bring the practice of yoga to a bigger audience.
TheAppleGoogle: Even in a physical class it’s sometimes very hard to get the Yoga poses right without the instructor having to help you. Did you find it similarly difficult to simulate the postures in the App?
Sergio Tacconi: This was a concern very early on since it’s crucial that the poses are performed correctly. To this end I decided to work with 2 very experienced yoga instructors who were also friends of mine. They were in charge of writing the verbal instructions and the queueing for each pose in the app. They also created the sequencing in all the classes. We knew the audio instructions were very important since it’s often hard to look at your device depending on which pose you are in; at a yoga studio this might be easier since there may be yogis all around you. So we put a lot of attention and effort into the queuing.
Then for the visuals we had another yoga teacher be the model for all the poses in the app. We took a photo for each of the poses, and then each pose was illustrated manually by a graphic designer. Visually we wanted to show only the essentials, without any extra information. So the user could see at a quick glance what was important. This was the reason behind having illustrations versus photography.
TheAppleGoogle: Yoga, as a practise, is quite physical but also very spiritual. This comes across quite nicely in the App. How hard was it to translate the spiritual aspect into an App?
Sergio Tacconi: The first version of the app did not have much of this. Only a bit in a few parts of the audio script. In the subsequent updates we got better at it, and it permeated into many parts of the app. We wanted to encourage our users to keep practicing, so we introduced the un-lockable environments/backgrounds. Basically, as the user practices, he/she is rewarded by earning Karma and being able to unlock new environments. The intention was also that the progression of the environments mimics the user’s yoga journey, from ordinary to extraordinary. The backgrounds get cooler and cooler, and more spiritual as the user progresses. The last one is called Samadhi! And it is very inspirational!!!
TheAppleGoogle: You’ve had yoga instructors help you with the different practices. How did they react when you first approached them with your idea? And what was their feedback on the finished App?
Sergio Tacconi: They were very encouraging, and they were totally on board from the beginning. It helped that they had been friends of mine, and we had gone to many yoga retreats together. As I was nearing the completion of the version 1.0 of Pocket Yoga, they helped me do some thorough testing. We often practiced together at the yoga studio with the app guiding us.
TheAppleGoogle: Which came first: App Store or Google Play? What was your experience with these different platforms?
Sergio Tacconi: The App Store was first because of a few reasons. I was a big fan of Apple’s products, and I wanted to learn how to develop in their platform. The App Store was the biggest app ecosystem in the 2008-2009 time period. And finally, I felt that my target audience would have more iPhones than Android devices.
We are profitable only on the App Store. Every other platform we are in we just basically break even.
TheAppleGoogle: You’ve received a lot of accolade for Pocket Yoga and rightly so. What has this success meant for Rainfrog, LLC?
Sergio Tacconi: The success means that we get to keep working on what we love! What more can we ask? My hope is to be able to keep growing the product and the company. Rainfrog has gone from being just me to now having two full-time employees and four part-time contractors.
TheAppleGoogle: Do you have any other projects planned for the future, other fitness Apps? If so, could you give us a little peak into what they may be?
Sergio Tacconi: We are focused solely on our yoga apps. Pocket Yoga and Pocket Yoga – Practice Builder. One of our biggest ideas is still in development. We can’t say much but please stay tuned!Also, we are very excited about what HealthKit and iOS 8 will bring to the table.
TheAppleGoogle: What advice would you give to budding App developers who wish to create similarly successful Apps?
Sergio Tacconi: There has never been a better time to start a business if you are software engineer. Pick a niche that you are passionate about and try to be the best in that niche. Then focus all your efforts on it. Instead of creating five different apps, create just one that is really good.