Kenny Chapman, one of Applico’s Android developers, talks about his participation in the Apps For Septa Reloaded hackathon in Philadelphia earlier this month as well as a development milestone.
Kenny, what was the purpose of the hackathon?
The hackathon started on Friday night and ended on Sunday afternoon and was sponsored by Septa, which is the transit system of Philadelphia. Septa has open data – a lot of cities are opening up their data to the public as well – and they sponsored a hackathon because they want developers creating apps that use their data. I’ve already created an app that uses their data, but I had another idea that I wanted to implement specifically for this hackathon.
Were you working on a team or solo?
It was a mix of both. Some people were there as individuals and some people were there on a team. Some people came just to see if they could help out on a project.
What was your app idea?
Foursquare has this new feature called Connected Apps, which works as follows: whenever you check into a venue, if you are connected with that app, they’ll send you data with your check-in that you can view on your screen. My idea was that whenever you check into a subway stop, you will automatically get the next train leaving in both directions at that stop on your check-in screen in foursquare. When you check in, it sends your check-in data to my server, then I get the next train time and send it back to Foursquare. All of that happens within 3 seconds.
What was the result of your app, SeptaSquare?
Well, I came in third place! It’s a complete app, start to finish, done in two and a half days. I went home to sleep, as I’m a Philadelphia resident, but I was there from sunup to sundown. Some people slept there overnight, but I went home.
Is the app going to be available in the Google Play store?
I still have a to clean it up a little bit, but I do plan on releasing it soon. If anyone is interested, the source code is available in case anyone wants to help out or improve on it. That’s kind of a thing about hackathons – it’s collaborative – I’m not doing this for a profit. It’s a public utility and was a community thing, but there was prize money involved in this project.
What about the other app you created? What does that app do?
That app is called SeptaDroid – it was the first thing I worked on when I was learning Android two years ago. I released it and since then it’ s become better and better over the years as I’ve become a better coder. Just last weekend, it went over 100,000 downloads. The app does a lot of things. You can find your next schedule time, for one thing. There’s a feature where as you approach your next station, you can set the app so an alarm wakes you up if you have a long train ride. You can see the buses and trains where they are at in real time, and if there are alerts on your particular line about service disruption, it will send you a push notification.
How long have you been here at Applico?
Since October, coming up one year. It’s been a really great experience so far. The Android team is really close – we collaborate a lot and work together very well.
As a developer for Android, what are you interested in next?
A couple of months ago, with Thomas Karam, our Lead Android Developer, I started learning OpenGL, and I really want to learn more OpenGL stuff – maybe create a game. At Applico’s hackathon, I made the tank simulation game and the Simon Says-type game – if I could flesh those out and spend some serious time on that I would be very interested in seeing where that could take me.
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