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Students explore app creation

Becky Robinson

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Cheyenne Paiva, a junior majoring in biology, is designing an app that will make it possible for users to send a text at a specific time and date.

“I’ve written a couple databases and coded some programs for school-related things, so I figured it’d be fun to build some apps and websites on things that I personally find interesting,” Paiva said.

Paiva is minoring in computer -based honors, which gave her the opportunity to work with various professors on campus.

To create her app, Paiva downloaded the iPhone Software Development Kit from Apple Inc. If Paiva is successful in creating her app, she will have to pay $99 to distribute it in the Apple App Store.

In addition to the developer fee, Paiva said there are other costs associated with creating an app.

“I might have to pay into advertisement programs and buy Photoshop to make the app look pretty, so I honestly don’t know how much it’ll cost,” Paiva said. “Could be more than $1,000. I really have no idea.”

She said it is best to create apps on Mac products, so Paiva includes the cost of her MacBook Pro in her app creation.

The number of apps available to the public through companies like Apple and Google is consistently increasing. Apple’s App Store has more than 900,000 apps, while Google’s Android Market has more than 700,000. Jeff Gray, associate professor of computer sciences, said there are two steps to creating any app.

“You have to know how to write a computer program, so writing apps means writing a computer program,” Gray said.

Gray also said writing an app program is not much different than writing any other computer program. Additionally, the app designer must have knowledge of the different phone components.

Someone creating an app must program the computer software not only on the phone, but also on a server, which connects to the phone to store information.

Most computer languages are free to users, but some companies, like Apple, require payment.

“Apple’s is more closed. You have to pay extra,” Gray said. “[They’re] not as open or friendly as Google is. Google literally gives you stuff; they’ve given us a lot of money to promote some of our things.”

Gray teaches two app developing classes, one for non-majors and one for computer science majors.

Elizabeth Williams, a doctorate student in computer science, took Gray’s course, where she had the opportunity to develop her own app.

“Designing an app is exciting because you usually get to see an idea from start to finish,” Williams said. “Almost everyone I talk to seems to have an idea for an app they want. So I think that there is an unending stream of ideas for apps.”

Williams created an app called “Digit-Eyes,” which allows people with vision impediments to safely navigate around buildings. Users scan a barcode at the entrance and the app then speaks about points of interest and rooms in the building.

When it comes to publishing an app, each company is different.

“With the Windows phone, we had to go through a painful, extensive process of creating all sorts of accounts just to test our app on a personal phone,” Williams said. “Android is the easiest. You don’t have to do any sort of licensing or anything to test your app on your own phone.”

To publish an app through Apple, users have to go through a licensing process and pay a yearly fee.

While creating an app has the potential to become expensive, there are rewards in the long run.

“If all goes well, then Apple will buy me out for millions, and I won’t ever have to work a day job,” Paiva said.

 

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Students explore app creation