Windows Phone Resources
Meet student developer Aleksei. His award winning app, City Transport, currently supports over 50 cities in Australia, United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Europe.
How did you become interested in developing mobile apps?
Compared to most of developers who spent a time with computers since the childhood I'm actually quite new to it. I have a logistics bachelor’s degree in Russia, but I never liked my profession and didn't see an interesting future in this area for me. The idea to become an IT specialist came in 2009 together with decision of moving to another country. I started to visit programming courses trying to understand what it is in general. Being artistic and creative person by nature, it was not easy for me.
I thought smartphones and the entire app boom was all about "tweeting", "instagramming", "liking" and social networking, which I personally don't like. I changed my mind after I enrolled in a mobile devices unit at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) where my teacher showed me the fascinating world of mobile innovation technologies and explained the idea that we are not limited by existing apps but we can build whatever we want and a mobile device is only a tool with powerful functions.
About City Transport app development
I started developing my City Transport app in August 2012. It was my final Master’s project at QUT where we showed our development skills and created something innovative. After a few days of self-brainstorming, I came to idea to create a handy mobile app for tourists or city guests, which helps them to use public transport in unfamiliar cities. In particular, it shows notification on approaching to the destination stop.
The idea is based on my personal experience, since I’m not a native here and taking bus to any new place made some difficulties. The first part of development was the most difficult, as it mostly not just a coding but designing the entire concept with its targets, structure, underlying data, interface, etc. As a creative and meticulous person. I couldn't do it messily. I put a lot of attention to interface design and user experience, as behind the main idea it was important to me to develop a simple, intuitive, lightweight and at the same time informative app.
The first prototype was created in around 3 months and was called "Bus Stop Navigator". It worked only with buses and only in Brisbane city. The course coordinator organized a Mobile Apps Showcase where all his students could show their results to people from industry, IT companies, and other interested guests. At this event I was really surprised of how people react on my app, almost everyone said "WOW, that's a great idea, it is so useful!" Thanks to those people, I received first place in the event. In short, the presentation encouraged me to finalize my app and bring it to the store. I spent another 6 months working on an improved version, which became not only a "navigator" but public transport information hub which works offline and in multiple cities. Currently it supports over 50 cities in Australia, United States, Canada, New Zealand, and some Europe countries, and with the modern trend of companies to open data for developers, the number of supported regions always increases.
As I mentioned before, the most challenging part was to combine functionality, design, and simplicity into one complete product. Microsoft presented a great vision in modern digital design, which impressed me so that I spent some time learning this concept and guidelines. It’s a known problem that a lot of current apps are a good idea but lack friendly design. Other apps are nice and functional but too complicated to use. Harmony is important! In the rest, I don't remember I met any problematic issues. Thanks to Microsoft and DreamSpark, they provide a huge learning environment and support for developers.
I’m continuing to work on the City Transport app, and have number of features in my head, which I want to implement. I also came up with an idea to build the Windows 8 version with some specific functions. Of course, it all depends on feedback I receive from users, as it always important for developers. I like to play with the Windows Phone 8 SDK and experiment with its new features.
I have in mind some ideas of apps based on speech recognition, so soon I'll work on them. One of these apps is a simple voice and gestures controlled music player called "Playme" which will be useful for drivers and others. The first version is now ready for release and will appear in store very soon. Check out soom screen shots below:
I’ve also been asked to be a tutor of Windows Phone apps development course at QUT. It's a great chance to share my knowledge and experience with students, discuss new ideas, and just be in one circle with interested people
Message to students
Strive, read books, and watch video tutorials. The latter I found really helpful for me. Once you get the basics, start build something. Don't be afraid of big plans and ideas, just do it step by step and you'll be successful. Experiments are always welcome and people like them.
How can student developers contact you?
I have a City Transport Facebook page where you can leave questions and comments. Or on LinkedIn.
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