The Lumia Geek 8-week Challenge was a competition for budding mobile app/game developers to create something new or significantly updated for Windows Phone 8 in an 8-week timeframe. There were several winners, and we’ve caught up with some of them to find out what it takes to create a winning app.
Winners were split into different categories. Three were awarded the Overall Winners, while a further two won the Technology Showcase and People’s Choice.
The first overall prize winner, was Rudy Huyn, creator of TVShow. Watch the video above to hear Rudy talk about app development.
“TVShow is a TV program tracker. It’s an app that lets you manage all your favourite shows, much like a TV guide. Instead with this one, you can set reminders of the shows you want to watch and your phone will remind you, as well as provide you with the synopsis and Live tiles.” explains Rudy.
Winning a competition must feel like a great achievement, as lots of time and effort goes into making an app in such a short period of time.
“Like any developer, I took part mostly for the challenge. Plus, I’ve always loved Nokia for their products and developer support. And with the thought of being able to attend Mobile World Congress, I had to take part. I can’t wait!”
What now, after winning the Lumia Geek 8-Week Challenge?
“Ahead of Mobile World Congress (MWC), I’m going to continue developing apps for Windows Phone. I’ve already clocked up over a million downloads from all of my content.”
“Developing for Windows Phone is a genuine pleasure. I’ve just finished two new applications and have three others in progress.”
Winning the second overall prize was Andreas Jakl, creator of NearSpeak.
Andreas didn’t work alone, though; he had help from a friend from university Bernhard Aufreiter.
“With NearSpeak you can record a voice message and store it on an NFC-tag. You can place that tag anywhere for anybody to listen to it. It could be a message for your wife, a reminder to yourself, or a message to a stranger. There’s also a translation function, so you can hear it in different languages.”
When talking about the Lumia Geek 8-Week challenge, Andreas tells us that to create a successful app, you need to concentrate:
“The best way to create an app is to focus. Decide that your app needs to do one thing and make sure it does that really well. Then, if you have time, you can add to it.”
He also offers some advice for anybody wanting to develop apps that make use of the NFC functionality in Windows Phone 8.
“There’s a lot of information over at http://www.nfcinteractor.com/. There are presentations, how-tos, and plenty of open-source code examples for people to use.”
AppoinTile won third in the overall winners, created by Jandieg Barcla.
What does this app do, and why do you think it stood out over some of the other entries?
“AppoinTile is an extension of the basic calendar that you find on Windows Phone. Rather than just showing you one upcoming appointment, this app gives you greater visibility across your calendars and shows you up to four appointments.”
“As for why I won? I think it was because my app is more of a tile than an app. On most apps, tiles are accessories, but AppoinTile is mostly viewed from the Start screen from the tile. Maybe, because it’s a productivity app people find it really useful as they can use it every day.”
When a developer sits down to create an app or a game, what drives them to do it? Is it for the love of developing, the fame, or the money?
“For me, it’s the love. I only develop for Windows Phone and I’ve never felt tempted to develop for any other platform – it just doesn’t inspire me.”
Besides winning the competition did you learn anything from the experience?
“I learnt most about people. My users; they all think differently. They use the apps differently, they suggest, complain, they’re from different cultures speaking in different languages, etc. Writing software is not just about “writing it”, the hardest part is to be able to engage the user with it, so it is usable not from the technical perspective but from the “natural” way doing things.” concludes Jandieg.
This award went to TouchMountain, created by Andre Meyer who was unfortunately not available to comment on his app.
However, here’s a bit of info about his app.
TouchMountain is essentially a companion app for skiers, snowboards, hikers, or anybody frequenting the rocky/snowy peaks around the world.
Rather than just offering a basic map to show your position, this app details your elevation, and distance to the peak.
You can also read about the mountain you’re on or other local information using the Wikipedia features within the app.
As for making the app experience a little more real, Andre included an augmented reality view. By using this feature, you can see where the nearest peak is, by using your phone’s camera viewfinder.
When it came to the People’s Choice winner, Yasasri Sampath won with his entry, Photo Signer – his first ever app.
“Essentially, it’s an image editing app. Once you’ve taken a photo, you can crop, resize, add some writing to the image, or add filters to that photo. If you want to remove all of the colour, except one, you can do that with Photo Signer”
By day, Yasasri studies at university and it’s at night time that he gets to develop. However, he has visions for the future:
“Although I develop at night or with any spare time that I find, I wouldn’t say it’s a hobby. Soon, I plan to make developing my profession; it’s a part of me.”
“For me, I do it because I love doing it and I really enjoy C#. Ever since I dreamed about developing something like Photo Signer, I’ve been driven by my love and passion for the idea.”
If you’re a new developer, or thinking of developing, Yasasri recommends that you take a look at https://www.coursera.org/ and http://www.lynda.com/. Both offer tutorials and help on programming. Also, http://stackoverflow.com/about is great for question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers.
There’s also a whole raft of valuable information available at http://www.developer.nokia.com, such as wiki articles, blogs and discussions with everything you’ll need to create an app from start to finish, as well as business and marketing tools and developer programs.
Most of the winners will be present at the Nokia App Developer Conference in Mobile World Congress together with other developers to hear from Marco Argenti and other Nokia experts.
Congratulations to all the winners. Be sure to test out all their apps.