Apps from scratch

Students create their own applications for popular smartphone markets.

By: Mitch Donat

Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Draw Something. These are some of the many apps iPhone, Android and Windows Phone users now use daily. But how often does it cross a user’s mind to think about the behind-the-scenes of creating these apps? Ask sophomore Drew Bent or junior Dmitry Simakov, and they will tell you all about the creation process.

Bent has worked on and published various apps on the market since first discovering the development of apps in middle school. “I started making apps for the iPhone the summer after seventh grade,” Bent said. “There were relatively few apps back then, and thus it was a huge opportunity for developers to enter the market.”

So far, Bent has created eight applications in total, which revolve around strategy and word games. “One of my most popular games was called “Jumbled,” a word game,” Bent said. “I made it free for a few days, and it received 15,000 downloads.”

While Bent’s app-developing journey began in seventh grade, Simakov’s beginnings stemmed in first grade from his father’s vision for environmentally friendly education. “My dad and I had three goals we wanted to achieve,” he said. “To make education affordable for people worldwide, create an artificial intelligence tutor that can personally teach and reduce paper use to help the environment.” Simakov’s journey actually didn’t begin with apps, it started before the app store craze with an interactive website. The website, named iTestYou.com, was the beginning of Simakov’s development of artificial tutors, and it served as the basis for their first app. “The first version of the website came online five years ago in 2007,” he said. “We released the first mobile app in August of 2011.”
Simakov’s visions came true when he released his applications onto the iPhone/Android market. Collectively, he has developed three applications in total, named iTestYou, and is currently processing the fourth. “The three apps cover three content channels: K-8th grade math, English and foreign language,” Simakov said.  These applications help with studying for the SAT, ACT and normal tests that high school students go through.

The process for developing apps is a difficult process when working with just one or two people. After forming an idea and the big picture of the application, the programming and development aspect takes a couple months. “Jumbled took a few months,” Bent said. “I was the only developer, so I had to construct all parts of it. I had to work with Photoshop, graphics, music, legal stuff and programming.”
On the other hand, Simakov’s applications have been a cooperative effort between his father and him. “My father does the programming for the application, and I supply the words and problems that tests such as the SAT and ACT will use,” Simakov said.

Both Simakov and Bent are very proud of the applications they have created and hope to continue making them in the future. “I definitely want to continue developing apps into the future,” Bent said. “I’m thrilled to see the response from customers and people who have downloaded my app. Seeing that people are actually using your app that you spent lots of time on is a very satisfying experience.” Simakov feels similarly. “It’s very satisfying to help the environment and help students learn on their own time,” he said.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: