Are kids these days really as hopeless and self-absorbed as we claim? Perhaps not.
The next wave of tech extraordinaires seem to get younger and younger, and the app-creating students mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg.
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Check out the apps below from impressive, pint-sized developers, who’ve accomplished much more before high school than most people more than twice their age.
New Hampshire’s Hampstead Academy is a strictly peanut-free zone due to the relatively high number of students with nut allergies.
This inspired the school’s eighth graders to create the cleverly named Chow Checker app, which identifies food allergens to determine if certain foods, from grocery stores or restaurants, are safe to eat.
You can create a profile and select up to 12 allergens, and then search for a product name or scan a barcode. Either option pulls up a list of ingredients in that food, as well as nutritional content.
The app taps into the daily updated Nutritionix food database, which includes more than 300,000 food items. You can add notes about the food for future reference.
Hampstead students worked with the MIT Media Lab to write the app, which was a Verizon Innovative App Challenge winner in 2013.
Available for free on Android.
When he was 14 years old, Robert Nay’s physics-based puzzle game, Bubble Ball, unseated the seemingly indomitable Angry Birds for the iTunes App Store’s top spot in January 2011. Not bad for someone who created his first website in third grade and already owns his own company, Nay Games LLC.
Nay wrote Bubble Ball with Corona tools from Ansca Mobile. It took him roughly 4,000 lines of code.
The app capitalizes on players’ creativity, prompting you to set up lengths of wood and metal, and activate various power-ups to manipulate your bubble for the sake of reaching the goal.
There are 144 official levels, and because anyone can create a new level, the game is constantly evolving. There are already more than 200 community-created levels to explore.
David Singer’s app, Backdoor, removes a key component of communication — identity.
Backdoor, which launched in July 2013, is an anonymous messaging app that lets you reach your friends by signing in through either Facebook or Google+. The app gives you clues to learn more about the sender’s identity. In-app purchases provide additional clues, such as gender, likes, interests and more.
Cashing in on people’s desperation and curiosity? Color us impressed.
Singer, who considers himself primarily a UI designer, was 13 years old when he wrote the app. He’s the same kid behind YouTell, the popular website that allows you to post questions and solicit anonymous feedback.
Available for free on iOS.
Second through fifth graders from Jackson County, Mich., worked with two high schoolers in the same district to create iPad app Things to Think About.
Its premise is to jumpstart and foster children’s interest in writing and critical thinking, as well as encourage dialogue about challenging ideas and issues.
The app asks kids to dream big, think through “what would you do” scenarios and expands horizons past kids’ environments.
The students brainstormed 100 writing prompts in 12 categories, including Friends, Family, School, Fun and Feelings. A student’s original hand-drawn illustration and the option of a child’s short voice narration accompanies each prompt.
Available for free on iOS. An Android version is under process.
Developing apps requires many people, so it’s crucial to establish a workflow to organize the parties involved.
The latest video in our Ask a Dev series looks at ways developers and designers can collaborate. Android director Ajay Pall says teamwork and communication are key when developing applications.
“This ensures fleshing out of concerns from both developers and designers, which enables the team to deliver the application successfully,” he says.
The video, above, also looks at how developers can create links in their applications that open a second application. Pall explains that this function is handled with the intents system on Android.
Similarly, deep linking is another way to link to your app. In deep linking, search results that appear in Google Chrome on an Android device can be linked with a native application. For example, when searching for a movie online, a result using deep linking would automatically launch a movie app instead of its mobile web page.
The deep linking feature is new and available to only a small number of test developers. However, Pall recommends studying the system now, so developers can be ready to use the tool once Google rolls it out to a larger audience.
Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup. The team is eager to answer your questions about mobile, so ping us with your top queries on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskaDev. Don’t forget to check out our Ask a Dev YouTube channel and subscribe.
Google Glass’s voice commands could extend far beyond “OK Glass,” the device’s firmware suggests.
Android Police reviewed the latest firmware update and found a long list of potential new features, including voice commands such as “call me a car,” “translate this” and “tune an instrument.”
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Android Police explains that certain commands may work with specific applications, much like how Glass’ current “take a note” command allows a wearer to virtually jot down thoughts within Evernote.
For example, the newly discovered “find a recipe” command could be used with “KitchMe, an app that currently allows Explorers to send recipes to Glass,” Android Police writes. Likewise, the firmware includes a “play a game” voice command, which could be used with existing Glass apps and inspire more development for games in the future.
In total, Android Police found 19 new voice commands: add a calendar event, call me a car, capture a panorama, check me in, created a 3D model, find a recipe, learn a song, play a game, play music, record a recipe, remind me to, show a compass, start a bike ride, start a round of golf, start a run, start a stop watch, start a timer, translate this and tune an instrument.
In addition to new voice commands, the firmware features new eye commands, too.
“They’ve added a ‘double blink’ detector, potentially for control by blinking twice in rapid succession,” Android Police reports.
We’re not sure what utility a double blink would command, but Glass already allows users to take a photo by winking.
The review also shows an expanded emphasis on music. There’s now a layout for album art, album names, track names and artists’ names, which pairs nicely with the new “play music” voice command in the updated Glass firmware.
Developers have to make a lot of decisions when creating an app. One of the earliest is often which platform it should be built on first.
In our latest Ask a Dev video, iOS Architect Kevin Harwood explains that choosing a platform is really a question of audience.
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“I can’t stress how important it is enough for you to do the proper user research enough to understand the users that you’re building your app for, and make educated decisions off of that data,” he says in the video, above.
Harwood also discusses the best programming languages for aspiring iOS developers. First, he recommends that new developers learn how to program before a they focus on a specific language.
He explains that iOS is developed with Objective-C, which is obscure and is rarely seen outside of Apple. He recommends picking up Ruby as a more dynamic language. Our developer experts are from Mutual Mobile, a leading development and design firm that builds mobile strategies for top companies such as Audi, Google and Citigroup.
Sick of the stacks of paint chips and countless shades of beige? A new Google Glass app can help.
Powered by paint retailer Sherwin-Williams, ColorSnap Glass lets users turn photos of design inspiration — a favorite piece of art, a scene from your backyard — into a custom palette.
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First, a Glass user snaps a picture of their inspiration, which is sent to Sherwin-Williams’ server. The photo’s primary colors are translated into a set of paint colors, so a snapshot of flowers in a garden is reduced to a palette of pinks and reds; a specific shade of green is extracted from a photo of your mint ice cream.
Users can share photos and colors with friends and find Sherwin-Williams stores through the app, too.
ColorSnap Studio, a version optimized for the iPad, lets you change the color of your walls in photographs of your home — a virtual experimentation of colors before committing.
ColorSnap Glass was developed by Resource, an independent marketing agency, as part of Google’s Glass Explorer program, according to a press release. ColorSnap Glass is still in beta,download it now.
Last week, Apple announced that it would be making its iWork for iOS suite available free of charge for new iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. Now, Google has made its Quickofficedocument editing app available for free as well.
In a blog post titled “Freeing Quickoffice for everyone,” Google notes:
Everyone likes free stuff, which is why starting today we’re making Quickoffice available for free, for everyone. With Quickoffice, you can edit Microsoft® Office documents across your devices, giving you the freedom to work with anyone no matter what hardware or software they’re using. Quickoffice also integrates seamlessly with Google Drive storage so you can safely access your files from anywhere. And while the easiest thing to do is simply convert your old files to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, Quickoffice gives you another way to work with people who haven’t gone Google yet.
Quickoffice was acquired by Google in June 2012 and was relaunched by the tech giant exclusively for Google Apps for Business users in December. Now, it has been reopened for free, for everyone.
The new Quickoffice app also features a new app icon, the ability to create .ZIP folders, and support for viewing charts in Excel and PowerPoint files. Further, it boasts improved integration with Google Drive.
What’s more, if you sign in to your Google account from the new Quickoffice app by Thursday, you’re entitled to get an extra 10GB of Google Drive storage free for two years.
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad running iOS 5.0 or later, the new and free Quickoffice app is available now in the App Store.
Note that all other versions of Quickoffice have been removed from the App Store.