Coding the future

Start with an idea. Translate it into code. Bring that code to life and share it with others. These are the steps junior Anson Huang takes to develop his own unique iPhone apps.

Huang began creating apps for iOS only a few weeks ago, when he saw the competitive Mobile App Development event for Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and decided to give it a try. Within the past month, he has already designed three apps named HelloWorld, YardSale and 24.

“I’m taking AP Computer Science right now, but before I started making apps, I knew nothing about how to make them. When I saw there was an FBLA event for app development, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s kind of interesting’ and just looked up how to make an app and tried it,” Huang said.

After familiarizing himself with the process of designing by developing HelloWorld, a simple app that displays “Hello” followed by words typed into a given text box, Huang made a second app named YardSale and submitted it for the FBLA event. YardSale acts as a platform where people can view photos, conditions and prices of items others are selling locally.

“An app needs to be practical, so when I need an app that can help me do something, I’ll try to make it,” Huang said. “I think the first priority for an app should be intelligence and practicality. It has to have the function that the user wants. Secondly is appearance, like when the user is using your app, do they like what they see? Do they like how the buttons are placed, do they like the tabs? I put function as my first priority, and then I try to make the app look nice.”

Huang uses a free Apple program called Xcode on his laptop to design the iPhone applications. By watching YouTube tutorials, he taught himself how to put in images, insert text and use code to design the interface.

“This software is super intelligent so it saves you a lot of time, and it’s free. I design everything in the app, like the launch screen and everything the user can do. For an app, you need code to make every button work and to make small things like the scroll work—all of that needs code. You don’t just put it in, so it actually takes a lot of work,” Huang said.

24, his most recent app, is a math game in which users are given four random numbers and must use the four basic math operations to get the number 24. Huang often plays the game with his friends as a cognitive exercise.

“We usually use cards, but sometimes when we forget to bring the cards then we can’t play. If I have the app in my phone, though, then we can play anywhere,” Huang said. “If I want to upload it to the app store, I need to buy a developer license, which is like $100 per year, so I don’t plan to do that. But it would be awesome if I could get a developer license later if it’s necessary, and I’d be very glad if someone else downloaded my apps.”

Though Huang started coding for apps only recently, it has quickly become one of his budding interests.

“I think it’s cool to make an app that I can use and hopefully others will use, too. It’s pretty cool that you design what the user can do,” Huang said. “You’re the one who controls what they see and what you want to show them, so it’s like writing or creating something for others that they can use. I think making apps will definitely be one of my hobbies that I’ll keep doing later on.”

By Jo Ann Sun, Staff writer

Photos courtesy of Anson Huang