Friday Afternoon Apps
Students find camaraderie in developing apps for cell phones
After the preliminary round of the International Collegiate Programming Contest was over his freshman year, sophomore computer science major Erick Bauman found himself missing the Friday afternoon prep sessions with math professor Rick Denman and fellow teammates.
So Bauman approached Denman about doing an independent study in which he would spend Friday afternoons working with Denman on developing an application for the popular Android cell phones.
The result to date has been not only the successful development of an application, but the creation of a Friday afternoon group where students get together to brainstorm a variety of other cell phone apps.
“My initial challenge was to develop an application that people would download,” Bauman says. “This semester my challenge is to develop an application that makes money.”
Bauman’s first successful app is called “Elementary Row Operations.” In mathematics, elementary row operations are used to help solve problems by means of rows of numbers known as matrices. While software exists to help people do elementary row operations on computers, Bauman wanted to develop an application that would enable people to do them on cell phones. Bauman programmed his app using a version of Java that was written specifically for Android development.
In order to share his app, Bauman set up a Google developer account, which enabled him to submit his finished product to the Android app store.
To date, Bauman says 5,000 people have downloaded his app, although not all of them have chosen to install it. Once the app was available, Bauman says he also received suggestions from users on how his app could be improved. As a result, he is now working on his 5th version of the app.
Bauman also is working on a new app that will be a game called “Attack and Evade.” He’s also working on a possible app that would be a high-precision calculator.
Bauman is now joined on Friday afternoons by Stephen Brown, who is working on an app that combines math, music and art, and Addision Dean, who is working on an app for the online Scrabble game “Words.”
“A friend of mine likes word games,” Dean says. “I was tired of her beating me every time so I decided to cheat.” On a more serious note, he notes that developing the Scrabble app is the perfect project for him since he is double-majoring in computer science and English.
As for Bauman, he says his eventual goal is to make video games.
“I’d like to have fun with programming,” he says.