wwdc 2020 | Technology

Meet the 15-year-old Vizag developer who won at the WWDC Swift Student Challenge

Manas Malla, 15; his app EcoFun in the Google Play store   | Photo Credit: by arrangement

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“I believe we can all collectively rejuvenate Mother Earth to her past glory while having fun!” exclaims Manas Malla, a 15-year-old developer in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, during the virtual Swift Student Meet on June 22 for the Worldwide Developers Conference — affectionately known to netizens as ‘Dub Dub.’ Manas is one of the 2020 winners of the Swift Student Challenge hosted by WWDC.

The conference kicked off on a socially-minded note amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. That said, many of the young developers taking part in the Swift Playground Student Challenge have put forward app ideas which aim to make a change, small or large scale for their peers and surroundings.

The Swift Student Challenge called for developers to craft an interactive scene in a Swift (a development environment for Swift created by Apple) playground that can be experienced within three minutes. To build upon their ideas, the competing developers used graphics and animation to elevate their environments. As a result, there were 350 Swift Student Challenge winners from 41 countries around the world. Winners of the challenge often go on to work in jobs at companies such as Microsoft, Airbnb and Disney.


Manas started experimenting with Swift Playground when he was nine years-old. Having tuned into WWDC for the first time in 2018 and learnt about the student scholarship program, he decided to apply for the Student Swift Challenge with the hope that, should he win, he will get an opportunity to interact with Apple engineers and gain invaluable insights and guidance and also connect with accomplished student developers from around the world.

A screenshot of the virtual Swift Student Winner Meet for WWDC20

A screenshot of the virtual Swift Student Winner Meet for WWDC20   | Photo Credit: Apple

Currently, Manas has a family-friendly gamified app on Google Play Store called EcoFun. Released on May 17, it helps people to measure the carbon footprint, and encourage users to plant more trees in order to balance the carbon dioxide emissions. As an added bonus, it also enables users to stay fit in the process.

EcoFun comprises a three-dimensional world where animals are endangered and trees are being cut down. Ultimately, the player feels the responsibility to collect the artefacts based on the app’s earned ‘green points’, save the animals and avoid the randomly-generated monsters that pop up. EcoFun uses the Android’s Activity Recognition Transition API to acquire user’s activity data.

15-year-old Manas Malla, from Visakhapatnam

15-year-old Manas Malla, from Visakhapatnam   | Photo Credit: by arrangement

Ahead of WWDC20, Manas stated, “We can’t get through a single day without having an impact on the world around us. What we do makes a difference and is a step in being the change we want to see in the world. I believe that WWDC is a platform which guides us in developing stuff to make such changes. I hope it will also be a fun day getting to chat and interact with Swift Student Challenge winners and hear their stories! It’s going to be a fantastic week!”

‘Empowerment with justice’

During the Swift Student Meet, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, explained why she was inspired by the students. “Your resilience, your spirit, your ability to see problems as solvable, and your impatience to be creative and thoughtful in [your] approaches to creating tools for some of the world’s challenges... You’re our future leaders and inventors and educators and environmentalists and so I know you will leave the world better than you found it.”

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives   | Photo Credit: Apple

“You may not know where you’re headed. I certainly didn’t. I didn’t know for a very long time in my career how all the pieces would come together. But as I look at it now, it was always a result of following the fight for justice, be for the planet or for people... and also [having] a strong belief in empowering people,” says Lisa.

That said, Manas — who has won numerous awards at Cyber Olympiads and in March 2019, and also won the first place in World Ocean Science Congress in Miami on his submission of EcoFun — proposed a game app that will help spread awareness about COVID-19 for his WWDC essay submission.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 7:41:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/manas-malla-15-year-old-developer-from-visakhapatnam-on-his-app-ecofun-at-wwdc-2020-swift-student-winner-meet/article31914475.ece

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