Every year during the Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple presents a task to students worldwide, with the opportunity for them to construct a unique app playground utilizing the Swift coding language and exhibit their interests to the global audience. This year, Apple expanded the count of victors from the previous years’ 350 to 375, enabling a greater number of students to participate in the event and receive acknowledgment for their creativity and resourcefulness.
In 2023, the app playgrounds originate from over 30 countries and regions, encompassing a wide range of subjects such as healthcare, sports, entertainment, and the environment. However, all the winners share a common trait: they employ coding as a means to convey their passions to the global community. We caught up with 5 of the winners that showcased their winning apps, with valuable insights.
Tay Kai Quan, 15 – Culture Speedrun
Kai shares, “My winning playground is a game named Culture Speedrun. The inspiration for Culture Speedrun is my childhood, when my family would move between countries every few years, experiencing the culture of many regions. I centred the app around three minigames based on the countries I felt had the most significant impact on me.”
Kai started programming during the pandemic and currently works on his classroom apps for school and also uploads GitHub packages. He also shared that this was not the first app that he did, with his previous ones getting canned, adding that not giving up was very important and not to be afraid. His future plans include branching out to building apps on MacOS.
Gilbert Goh, 14 – Earth Laundress
Earth Laundress, is an educational laundry app focusing on environmentally sustainable laundry practices. It has a compilation of laundry guides on the Internet, unit convertors and a laundry to-do checklist which make it a helpful companion in doing laundry.
According to Gilbert, “I was inspired to make an app about sustainable laundry after seeing an article about common laundry mistakes. Leaving laundry in the washing machine for an extended period of time after the cycle ends, overfilling the machine, and incorrectly inserting the laundry soap into the machine are some of these mistakes, and I find myself occasionally making them too.”
Tristan Chay, 15 – StudyLog
Tristan’s app StudyLog allows students to stay on top of the how much revision time is being put into different subjects, colour-coded for easy reference. StudyLog offers a visual representation of students’ work progress in the form of a pie chart, showing the student the amount of ongoing and overdue assignments they have left. This feature enhances students’ awareness of their workload, enabling them to catch up on tasks more efficiently.
The main inspiration behind StudyLog is the issue of ineffective studying and frequent distractions that I personally experience when trying to study. The app offers a variety of useful features to enhance the studying experience. These include count-up timers which enable students to monitor their study time effectively, and countdown timers so students can keep track of the amount of time they have left if they are attempting a timed practice paper.
Wang Zerui, 16 – Graph Theory
Zerui had the most surprising insight across all the winners, who shared that he had to relearn everything since it’s been a while since he last coded. His advice is to go beyond, and beyond he went, successfully becoming a winner for the Swift Student Challenge.
His app aims to help people learning complex concepts like graph theory into simple graphics instead of text heavy learning materials. According to him, “I created this app in hopes to help other visual learners like me to make it a more engaging experience for others. By allowing the users to add nodes and simulate a searching algorithm by themselves, it allows visual learners to quickly grasp the concept unlike in a traditional classroom.”
Jiang Tongyu, 17 – City Nights
Tongyu’s hand-drawn experience coupled with a self-composed soundtrack, sees the player lives through the eyes of a stressed student on her way home through the rain, completing challenges such as drag-and-drop Math problems and multiple-choice questions to keep up with her busy schedule. When she falls and slips on the wet pavement, a friend with an umbrella finds her in her breakdown and offers a shelter from the storm. It is during this moment of connection and vulnerability that the student learns to take a step back and take care of herself, and that it’s okay to lean on her friends for support. She hopes to remind the player that it’s okay to take a break and accept help from others when things get tough, and it’s the small moments of love that makes life worth living.
Tongyu is one of the few female programmers that’s participated in the Swift Student Challenge and has self-learned Java at the young age of 11. When asked for an advice for other girls who might feel intimidated to do coding, she shares that it’s important to have a community of support and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals.
Congratulations to all 375 winners of this year’s Swift Student Challenge across the world! To read more about Swift Student Challenge winners from the region on the App Store, click here and if you’re keen to get started with Swift, you can find the resources here.