wwdc 2021 | Technology

Young Indian developers get candid about what they need from the tech industry

Imagine the world’s problems could be solved by apps. If only it were that easy! Developers (or devs) are in a unique position to leverage code and tech to solve the problems they experienced.

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There are many developers’ competitions that highlight landmark applications: Android Developer Challenge, MIT App Inventor Coronavirus App Challenge, and Apple WWDC’s Student Swift Challenge. On June 1, the winners of the Student Swift Challenge were announced ahead of this year’s virtual WWDC (Worldwide Developer Conference) which kicks off on June 7 and runs till June 11.

Read More | WWDC 2020: Past Indian-origin Swift student winners on tech vs. the lockdowns

MetroPlus speaks with Indian origin include U.S-based Abhinaya Dinesh, Hyderabad-based Sai Ranga Reddy Nukala, Delhi-based Yugantar Jain, Chennai-based Swapnanil Dhol and Bengaluru-based Muhammed Sahil Arayakandy.

Muhammed came up with a specialised time app, which offers something that native time apps do not. He recalls the genesis of his app Timewave, “I found myself in front of the screen a whole lot more than before the pandemic; I was straining my eyes. So I started working on Timewave, to help me follow the 20-20-20 Rule [where every 20 minutes spent using a screen, look away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds].”

Abhinaya Dinesh, creator of Gastro at Home

Abhinaya Dinesh, creator of Gastro at Home  

Abhinaya Dinesh, who resides in New Jersey, created the app Gastro at Home, after she went to a gastroenterologist and was diagnosed with a pelvic floor disorder — but was told nothing about how to get better. She explains, “The entire goal of Gastro at Home is to make communication about the stomach, intestinal, and digestive issues much easier and less stigmatised. Currently, Gastro at Home provides a way to learn about everything related to your condition, including common symptoms, ways to treat it at home, and possible medical treatments along with their price point.”

Abhinaya adds she is on track to quickly develop a way for real people to talk to each other and share their experiences and questions with others of the group.

Sai Ranga Reddy Nakula, creator of U R SuperStar

Sai Ranga Reddy Nakula, creator of U R SuperStar  

A serious cinephile Sai pondered a collaborative social platform for the entertainment industry. Finally, he created U R SuperStar, because, he says, “ the idea of giving an online presence to any individual to showcase their creative talent has excellent potential. I strongly believe that the mobile experience plays a vast role in the entertainment industry.”

Plenty to achieve

Sai is a self-taught coder and developer; ask him for advice for other budding devs wanting to learn informally and he responds, “Before start learning the code, each person should ask themselves, ‘What did I get inspired by?’ A website, an app, or some challenge. I hope that question raises both interest and passion. Once they are clear, they can start learning from the free online resources. I also recommend people change their initial perspective of learning code to playing a game or solving some puzzle; that helps maintain consistency and build strong interest over time.”

He is empathetic about the hesitation many may have, and he shares, “The hardest part of learning from online is the need to be aware of the right resources like freeCodeCamp, Hash Code, and official documents. The best way you will know if the resource is accurate or not is by asking questions and connecting with people of the same interests on social media. Finally, start small and be consistent!”

A lot of the young developers have a career bucket list. For example, Abhinaya wants to make the most of data science and Artificial Intelligence. She is planning a product that “standardises the Artificial Intelligence pipeline with a strong emphasis on the data being used,” she says. “I believe that a lot of bias occurs in AI models that have weak or skewed data, and I’d like to make a platform that enables developers to use pre-created models while changing their data to get fault-resistant models. I’d also like to create a product that enables anybody building a model to see how much bias they have in the dataset, and how that is represented in the following predictions or analysis of the model.”

What developers and the industry needs

Being in the thick of the industry during a peak time for tech, some of the devs explain this is the time to act and create based on the problems they pinpoint.

Muhammed Sahil Arayakandy, creator of Timewave

Muhammed Sahil Arayakandy, creator of Timewave  

Muhammed points out an expansion across different ecosystems to empower young devs to work across different platforms with ease, “For Swift Developers, access to good tooling is dependant on having Apple devices at the moment, which I think is a hindrance. But, the Swift Team at Apple are moving toward improving this with undertakings like Swift on Windows, Swift on Linux, SourceKit LSP, etcetera. So I’m optimistic.” He also wants the developers community to have more designers who code and coders who design, “as those two fields interacting creates amazing products.”

Meanwhile, Abhinaya observes a considerable gap in the intersection of healthcare and technology, which has been made even more apparent during the pandemic. That said, she explains, “Based on personal experiences, I can see that medical education is falling behind a lot of the latest technologies, and many older doctors are unable to use technology to its fullest capabilities. I definitely want to work towards a community in which medicine can be improved alongside technology, and both are used to find treatments and diagnoses to prevalent conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder and cancer.”

Yuganta Jain, creator of QuickNotes app

Yuganta Jain, creator of QuickNotes app  

Yuganta created the QuickNotes app which promises more interaction and flexibility for someone wanting to be more productive. But he wants the industry to keep zeroing in on privacy. He feels “no one is truly secure until everyone is secure.”

He goes deeper, “It is like the pandemic in that way; a lot of data is shared among a lot of people, all having different kinds of devices and platforms with different security levels. Even if our device has strong security, our private data and information can still be vulnerable. I think it is important that the whole tech industry at large works on security and privacy and make it more convenient to manage it (or be in control), and I feel the momentum for that is there too.”

Read More | WWDC 2020: The 15-year-old Vizag developer who won at the WWDC Swift Student Challenge

He has made it a point to examine these issues on the ground too. “Security and privacy have become a major consideration in consumer buying decisions, and I think that that is pushing a lot of companies to do more in this area. Even when I go to events like a hackathon (where we have to build a prototype in less than a day) the questions about security and privacy loom large: whether the devised solution respects user’s privacy or not, how can we protect the private data of our users, is [all of this] creepy or not, and so on.”

Swapnanil Dhol, creator of Neon and XKCD

Swapnanil Dhol, creator of Neon and XKCD  

Having created apps Neon (a real-time colour and gradient picker) and XKCD (a comic viewer), Swapnanil is ready for the industry to include a declarative framework because a lot of apps out there have more than 2000 lines of code written in their framework.

With this in mind, he points out a prevalent resource scarcity, “The major void I see right now in the industry is training the next generation of developers who will enter the fields of computer science and software engineering. We also need more tools, awareness, and resource personalities in the industry to create a smarter generation and a generation that rises to the challenge of creating software that enriches people’s lives and solves their problems.”

He elaborates on the community, “Multiple helpful people across the Internet provide free, rich, and easy-to-navigate content that helps students and anyone who wants to get into this industry and publish their first app. I am expecting, as the reach of the Internet grows, to see more such resources being put out there soon and I hope to be able to contribute my share in that as well.”

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 5:54:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/wwdc-2021-swift-student-winners-from-india-interview-developers-tech-industry/article34751539.ece

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