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Teen SA app developer heads to Apple’s core

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An Adelaide Hills teenager whose apps have been downloaded more than 300,000 times has been handpicked to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in California next week.

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Will Bishop is among 350 rising stars and one of seven Australian students to win their way to the San Jose conference.

The 17-year-old was inspired to build apps when he discovered he was getting an Apple Watch for Christmas in 2017 and started to look into the available apps but found them lacklustre.

So he decided to make his own using an Apple Watch simulator on his computer.

All three apps so far have been optimised popular platforms for an Apple Watch.

The apps are free but offer in-app purchases.

Will released Nano for Reddit in April 2018 followed by a Twitter app called Chirp for the Apple Watch in June.

Nano for Reddit has had 110,000 downloads while Chirp hit the top of the US App Store and has now had 192,000 downloads. Both apps have a 4.3-star rating out of five.

“It was an 11-day process where I pretty well neglected all my schoolwork for that time, from the second I got home to the second I went to bed, I actually spent developing,” Will says of Chirp’s development.

“If I have an idea for a project or an app and if I am invested in the outcome I am going to spend a whole lot more time learning how to do it.

“When it’s something like a school project, and I can do the bare minimum and pass that way, that’s the way I’m going to go because I want to spend time doing stuff I am actually interested in.”

Developed in an eight-week period over the summer school holidays, Will’s third app Mini Wiki is an Apple Watch version of Wikipedia. It launched in February and has had 25,000 downloads with an impressive star rating of 4.9.

“I found out that Wikipedia had an API (application programming interface) and then I just started playing around with it, I started making an Apple Watch app for it – that was pretty cool,” he says.

“I used it as an opportunity to learn a lot about developing for IOS.

“I spent a lot of time on the design, the animations, the user experience, the transitions and all that.”

Will is the only South Australian student to win a scholarship to WWDC 2019. He secured his place by developing an app using Apple’s app building software, Swift Playground, in just 10 days.

The scholarship program is open to students from high schools and STEM courses across the globe. The top 350 are invited to one of the world’s biggest gatherings of app developers.

“I made an educational game that was focussed on early education, and five levels of the game focussed on different aspects of childhood education – literacy, numeracy, geography, music, and critical thinking,” Will says.

Held from June 3-7, WWDC is Apple’s biggest event of the year and will bring together the world’s most innovative and creative developers.

Will, who has 40,000 Twitter followers of his own, says he will use the opportunity to meet Apple software experts, and to network with other app developers.

“I should take advantage of their labs where you actually get to go to talk to the engineers and they can help you with bugs in your apps and you can meet a lot of people that way,” he says.

“The week after I’m staying in San Francisco for a week where I’m just going to mainly be a tourist, and then go to Twitter’s office and meet some people there, which is still up in the air.

“In the lead up to it, I am trying to get my schoolwork done.”

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia.

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