Tag Archives: I Make Apps

#IMakeApps: One developer’s life on the road

Sterling Udell and his wife Teresa always loved to travel and the opportunity to hit the road full-time was a dream for them. At some point, they realized that software development was a remote-friendly job, and decided not to put off traveling any longer. Check out more #IMakeApps stories on g.co/play/imakeapps.

What kickstarted your nomadic lifestyle? 

I’ve always loved travel, and my wife and I used to dream about someday making it work as a lifestyle. Then, a serious health issue brought home that there might not be a “someday.” I was already working remotely as a programmer, and we realized that it would be possible to kit out an RV to support doing so on the road. So we took the plunge!

How do you juggle your lifestyle with your work as a developer? 

Being an independent developer gives me lots of flexibility in how I work, and we’re pretty flexible in our travel as well, so it’s not too difficult to fit the two together. Our preferred mode of travel is to park up for a few days in one location, where I’ll tend to work on apps most days, with some time off for getting to know the area as well. Then we’ll pack up and move on to somewhere else⁠—seeing the sights along the way⁠—and start the cycle over. 

Does your lifestyle inspire or influence the types of apps you create? 

Absolutely. We spend a lot of time outdoors, and that makes you very aware of the natural passage of time: day into night, summer into winter, then back around again. Not to mention, if you’re spending time outdoors, there’s a practical side to knowing what time the sun will rise, or when the daylight will fade. This was the basis of TerraTime, an app that displays the natural flow of sunlight, clouds, seasons and beyond, accessible in the palm of your hand. And Lunescope works  similarly, but for the phases of the moon. Both apps are focused on showcasing the world’s  natural rhythm.

What app are you working on at the moment?  

I’m currently working on a major update to TerraTime Pro, adding a feature that many folks have requested. The focus of the app has always been to help people connect with the world we live in, linking our human understanding of time with the natural cycles that underpin it. Without giving too much away, the new feature should further that goal⁠—on a global scale⁠—as well as making the app more useful day-to-day.

What has been your experience creating apps on Android and distributing them through Google Play? 

I was drawn to developing for Android specifically by unique platform features, like widgets and live wallpapers, that I wanted to include in my early apps. As my portfolio has grown, I’ve continued to leverage such features into apps that wouldn’t be possible anywhere except Android. I think that’s what’s kept me on the platform for the last 10 years: the unique possibilities that it offers. 

Source: Android


Bringing the art of movement to the world

Rosa Mei is a professional dancer and martial artist who creates apps to teach movement: 7 Minute Chi, Meditation Moves, Taichi Temple, Gymnast Fit and Super Funky. Check out more #IMakeApps stories on g.co/play/imakeapps.

What types of apps do you make?

I make apps that teach busy people how to move and meditate. Even if you only have five minutes a day to train, you can progress. People can do moving meditation in seven minutes, learn a new dance in one minute, learn all the fundamentals of tai chi in two hours, or train like a gymnast in a rigorous 10-minute set. These short, yet high-impact training sets let people fit them into their hectic lives. They can also customize their training to what they enjoy most. 

How did you get into dance and martial arts? 

I always had too much energy and was gumby levels of flexible. My parents were engineers and really didn’t understand why I wanted to dance. I got full scholarships to study electrical engineering and Russian linguistics, but I chose dance because it fascinated me more than anything else in the universe. My mom was an IBM engineer and was so embarrassed by my career choice, she told her colleagues her daughter studied “dance law.”  I said, “What’s that, ma? Gravity?”

What eventually interested you in technology and making apps? 

Before I made apps, I worked in multimedia design for about 15 years; I’m a compulsive creator. I’m really great at making site-specific dance operas and in a sense, apps are the ultimate site-specific tool.  You can train in your kitchen while making coffee, or on top of Mount Kilimanjaro. 

How do you balance your dance and martial arts passions and your app business? 

I practice my dance and martial arts training really early in the morning and  teach classes and workshops in the evenings and on weekends. I design my apps during the day and work with additional software engineers pretty much around the clock.

What has it been like using Android and Google Play to create and distribute your apps?

Google Play is an amazing platform for developers because it really gives you complete freedom to create—and then your product gets put in front of a worldwide community. And Android devices are affordable and state-of-the-art, giving developers  a wider reach and impact.

Creating stargazing apps and the perfect loaf

Editor’s note: Maurizio Leo is a software engineer-turned baker, and co-founder and developer of SkyView, a stargazing app that uses your camera to identify objects in the sky. As a part of our I Make Apps series, we talk to him about developing his app, as well as his baking side hustle. 

1. Tell us about SkyView. How is it useful to people? 

SkyView is an augmented reality app we created to educate and inspire others to explore the universe no matter their location, night and day. There's a magical and exciting universe out there to explore, and SkyView's aim has always been to make exploring the sky as effortless and approachable as possible. Just point your device up to the sky and discover a new star, find a new planet, or spot the International Space Station streaking across the sky.

2. How did you get into baking?  

I grew up in an Italian household that always emphasized food made by hand. And while I went into computer science because of my curiosity surrounding computers and software, I think cooking and baking has always been a big part of my life. About ten years ago, when I was given a book on baking sourdough as a gift, I was immediately taken by the marriage of craft and science needed to bake a loaf of bread. The precision behind baking bread spoke to me, and the science behind fermentation piqued my logical side. After creating my first sourdough starter from scratch and baking my first loaf, I became obsessed.

3. How do you juggle baking and making apps in your daily life as a developer?

Working from my home office on our app SkyView allows me time between writing lines of code to hop into the kitchen and weigh, mix, or shape a batch of bread dough. It gives me an opportunity to relax my mind for a few moments or perhaps explore a possible solution, much like taking a walk would offer. Sometimes some of my best code breakthroughs were achieved when I was in the kitchen with my hands covered in flour and water! In the end, being an app developer who works at home has allowed me to simultaneously work on software I'm passionate about and explore my dedication to the craft of baking bread.

4. What are the similarities and differences between baking bread and making apps? 

At first glance, writing apps and baking sourdough bread seem a world apart—but they have more in common than one might initially think. Both pursuits benefit from a sound plan, precision, adjustment to changing inputs, and iterative improvement. Software certainly is a more analytical and tactical pursuit, while working with something tangible like bread dough satisfies more of my artistic side. For me, these two offer a delicate balance, where software lets me build imaginative structures and baking bread fulfills my desire to slow down and work with my hands. With naturally leavened bread, time is the best ingredient.

5. What has been your experience creating apps on Android & distributing them through Google Play?

We've been working with Android since the beginning (that's over ten years!), and it has always provided us with the right set of tools to help bring our ideas to reality. With modern language constructs, good editing, debugging and reporting tools, and a thoughtful testing framework, we've been able to update and release SkyView with more functionality to delight our users. And, Google Play allows us to quickly deploy our app, reaching millions of people, and keep with our mission to get as many excited about space as we are.

Source: Android