A Penn student has utilized her programming skills to build apps that fit a unique niche in the market.
Engineering senior Ayaka Nonaka has built two iPhone apps — one for the weather and one to-do list — for fun in the past month. As a computer science major, a teacher for the half-credit course Computer Science 195 and one of the organizers of PennApps, Nonaka has had extensive experience in programming but wanted to use these projects as “an exercise in programming, design and product development.”
One of the apps, Relative Weather, has a simplistic idea: to indicate to users today’s weather relative to yesterday’s weather. As an infrequent user of weather apps, Nonaka said that this simplistic design caters to her own needs.
“Nothing like this exists right now, which is kind of rare,” she said.
“Relative Weather is the only weather app I’ve ever actually used. I usually don’t check the weather at all, but “4 degrees colder than yesterday” is digestible enough for me to use without having to think,” Wharton junior Alex Rattray said.
Nonaka built this app in just one and a half days and launched it in the Apple App Store after waiting for a week to get it approved. Currently, it is sold in the App Store for 99 cents to support the costs of providing weather forecast information. She has marketed this app to her friends and contacted technology blogs like Technically Philly to promote it.
The other app, Gouda, is “a little harder to pitch,” Nonaka said. She is personally not a big fan of to-do lists and built this app to make it easier for users to store and find ideas when needed.
“Sometimes I think of really good, random snack ideas … so I just put it in my app,” she said. To demonstrate, Nonaka put the word “snack” into the search bar, and several previous stored notes tagged with the keyword “snack” showed up on the app.
Besides being her favorite type of cheese, Gouda, as the name of her app, serves as an inspiration for the app’s interface. The app description is also “riddled with cheese references,” stating that “Gouda is an extension of your mind where you can store thoughts and quickly retrieve them later when the time is right … There are no commitments, no rules, except that the Gouden ratio is 6:1.”
Nonaka is primarily an iOS developer and found Android development to be “a lot more painful.” However, she does not rule out the possibility of building Android versions of the apps if there is a significant demand for it.
After graduation, Nonaka will be working at Venmo, a social payment app company where she interned the summer of her freshman year. Tasked with the job to build something cool using Venmo’s application programming interface, Nonaka built a Foursquare and Venmo mashup app.
Currently, she does not see herself building apps independently as a career in the short term and sees these two apps as more of a small project.
“I guess I was just having a little fun,” she said.
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