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Cutting-Edge Smartphone Applications

Cutting-Edge Smartphone Applications Created by the MICA Community

Posted 09.01.13 by mica communications

Zak Crapo ’16 (graphic design, interdisciplinary sculpture) and Jordan Bradley ’16 (interaction design & art) created the Sendasock app when they were freshmen at MICA.

As smartphones have become increasingly prevalent, members of the MICA community are at the vanguard, using their talents to create mobile applications, commonly known as "apps." Emily Ragle '12 (graphic design) has contributed to apps for the Food Network, National Geographic, Fast Company, the Royal Irish Academy, and more. She works for Joe Zeff Design, a firm in New Jersey that designs and develops apps for publishers,  orporations, agencies, and institutions. Her role includes everything from coding and design to copyediting and bug testing.

"It's been exciting to be involved in such important projects within a short period after graduating from MICA," she said. "The College taught me how to collaborate, which is absolutely essential to the success of our studio."

Out of all of these projects, Ragle said the Food Network Favorites app is the one she uses at home most often.

"I'm a foodie and I love to cook, so looking at beautiful food photography and having access to great recipes are just a couple of the perks of working on the app, but I think all the apps are interesting in their own way," she said.

Ragle isn't the only recent graduate to dive into the world of smartphone software. Another group of alumni and their friends-including Andy Mangold '11 (graphic design) and Anthony Mattox '11 (interaction design & art)-started Friends of the Web, a Baltimore-based company specializing in building websites and smartphone applications, including the newly designed Wikiweb.

"Wikiweb started as an art piece and programming project of Anthony's," Mangold said. "It was originally web-based and very simple."

The application allows users to read Wikipedia and visualize the relationship between articles. It also helps users discover new articles through  unexpected connections.

"We take a normally hidden layer of Wikipedia and turn it into the primary means of navigation, so as you're reading and exploring you're also creating a miniature map of a specific corner of human knowledge," he said.

Colin Dunn '12 (graphic design) has created the app Say What! This app is a guessing game similar to Catchphrase or Taboo, where the object of the game is to get your teammates to say the words on the screen, without saying any parts of the phrase. "Learning Objective-C and how to create native applications for iOS has been a goal of mine for a while. I had the idea for the app after taking a week-long class on iOS development at Facebook. I thought it would be a good first attempt at building a native app as the mechanics behind the game are relatively simple," Dunn said. Say What! is compatible with iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5. It is also available for iPod touch and iPad users.

While some applications are meant for learning or to increase productivity, other apps are just for fun. In the past four years, during which Charles J. Carr '07 (graphic design) has worked at Nickelodeon in New York, he has enjoyed creating a variety of apps that support the company's television programming, including SpongeBob Diner Dash, iCarly Sam's Remote, The Last Airbender, and Nick Jr.'s A-Z with Moose and Zee.

Carr also has a pet project of his own, Z - HEAD, an app he developed with help from his girlfriend, Allison Choi Braun '07 (fiber), who assisted with background art. The game asks users to take care of a zombie head, an undead companion that will ask to be fed brains but will never die, but instead
deteriorates (as zombies do).

Users can tap anywhere on the screen to trigger a variety of reactions from the zombie head. "If you tap the nose, for example, you might get a sneeze or a sniff, or a sneeze followed by the zombie licking the glass in front of him. Tap the mouth, and you might get a kissy face or the zombie might stick its tongue out at you," Carr said.

Students have also found themselves creating amusing apps. When they were reshmen, Jordan Bradley '16 (interaction design & art) and Zak Crapo '16 (graphic design, interdisciplinary sculpture) worked together to create Sendasock, an app that lets others know when you want privacy in your dorm or apartment.

"We designed Sendasock specifically for college students and young adults who live together," Bradley said. "While sharing living space, for the first time in some cases, there is often a strong concern about privacy and how to leverage that in a healthy relationship with those you live with."

Here's how the app works: when a roommate wants some privacy, he or she uses the app and "sends a sock." The user's roommates will instantly be notified and encouraged to honor the "quick and discrete request," as the creators put it.