MEET THE DEVELOPER
This man will make you enjoy bad weather
Brian Mueller can make anything hilarious. Even drizzle.
From sardonic weather to brutal workout ‘support’, the Carrot brand has become a popular tonic to more polite or straightforward apps. And that’s down to one man, Brian Mueller.
Mueller codes, designs, illustrates, and writes all of the dialogue for his wisecracking apps, which focus on an ill-tempered AI, Carrot, and fall into categories that typically don’t have much personality: to-do lists, alarm clocks, calorie counters.
To call his style droll would be an understatement. For instance, Carrot Fit implores you to, “Jump flabby human, jump for freedom!” in a deadpan robotic voice.
Carrot To-Do is equally cutting (“It’s been 18 hours since you did anything useful”), while Carrot Weather takes liberties with its forecasts: “It’s a beautiful day! Ha ha, just kidding. It’s raining.”
A sarcastic to-do list app might not seem like the big idea that would let you quit your day job. And Carrot’s success surprised even Mueller. “I still can’t believe sometimes any of this caught on,” he says.
Working from a spare room in his Philadelphia-area home, the former aspiring screenwriter has penned thousands of lines of dialogue for his apps, which he constantly updates to nod to current events. (A recent one-liner from Carrot Weather: “I have read the memo. Not only does it discredit the Russia investigation, it also proves that flat earthers were right all along.”)
Mueller’s mother, sister and wife – all of whom tease one another relentlessly – have been a major inspiration.
“A lot of the dialogue for Carrot is drawn out of stuff that we’ve actually said to each other,” he says. “Every time my wife says something funny, I write it down for the apps. Sometimes she gets annoyed by that, but she’s a lot funnier than I am.”
Despite now being a prolific app developer, Mueller had no background in coding. “I love to write and create characters and tell stories, but I had no real idea of what I would do with my life,” he says.
His first instinct was to hire a developer. “I didn’t want to sound like a jerk when talking to a programmer, so I bought a book on iOS programming for beginners, just to know what terms to use,” he says. As he read iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide, Mueller was surprised by how easy it is to make an app. A month later, Carrot To-Do had launched on the App Store.
I love to write and create characters and tell stories, but I had no real idea of what I would do with my life.
Brian Mueller, founder of Carrot
A couple of years and a few more apps later, Carrot found a broad-enough audience for Mueller to become a full-time developer.
Mueller has now built seven iOS apps as well as iterations of Carrot Weather for Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac. And having recently taught himself how to add an AR component to Carrot Weather, you can see the surly AI hovering in your surroundings. She turns red if you annoy her.
Being a one-man app shop isn’t easy, but Mueller enjoys it. “When I hit a road block with coding, I can take a break and switch to writing or doing some design work,” he says. “It’s a weird way to work, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it allows me to make exactly what I want.”