By BILL ZAN
Two University High School (UHS) students, Alex Chang (Sr.), creator of GradeCheck, and Calvin Wan (Sr.), have collaborated to create the iOS app NeverLate. The app was named “NeverLate” because of its function: to keep students on time by telling them how much time they have left in class and saving users’ time by keeping track of the bell schedule — in short, to make sure students are never late to their classes. Although the app just came out, students are already expressing their appreciation for it. Dylan Hong (Sr.) said, “The app is nice and I will definitely be using it.”
The app’s design is simple. The user simply chooses a school to load its calendar. Once the user is inside the app, he or she can double-tap the screen to show the schedule, and double-tap again to switch back to the timer. The user can also tap the NeverLate logo on the bottom right to show the settings or change schools. Not all schools are currently available in the app; however, one only needs to send an email to Chang’s website (http://iamalexchang.com/) if they would like to request an additional school. All four Irvine High Schools are currently accessible in the app.
The duo is planning on releasing an Android version of NeverLate. Chang says, “Right now, using the app isn’t much more efficient than pulling out your planner, but we have something in the works that will definitely make a huge impact, so look out for that!” Planned features include wider implementation, including a website for administrators to manage schedules.
UHS Sword & Shield interviewed the creators to learn more about their app.
Sword & Shield: Whose idea was the app?
Chang: Calvin actually had the idea. He handed the app’s layout and features and I ultimately coded it.
Wan: I originally had the idea junior year when I realized that constantly pulling out the planner during class to check when class ended because of the new schedule was very inefficient and annoying. But I didn’t have the resources to make it; so, naturally, I asked Alex Chang to help me with it. I knew he had the kind of skills to program such an app.
S&S: Are there any special features users should know about?
Chang: The app displays “You’re done for the day!” if you’re done for the day.
Wan: You can double tap the screen to see the entire schedule. There’s also a widget in the notification center.
S&S: Do you have any advice for other designers?
Chang: Don’t be afraid to build things, even if nobody else is going to see it. For every one app that I release, I make, like, three more that nobody will ever see (or are for other people).
Wan: Designing this app was basically finding a solution to a problem. Look at you surroundings; there are plenty of problems waiting to be found and solved.
S&S: How did you balance programming with school and daily activities?
Chang: I’ve actually been doing this for quite a while now so I’d like to say I’m pretty good at juggling many things at once. First thing I do is make a list of all the things I want to accomplish in a said day so I can set the pace for the day and have a feel for what I need to get done before I sleep. I’ll usually finish my homework before starting on all the other things I need to do, but if I do have pressing tasks (like urgent client work or emergency bug fixes) I’ll put my homework aside and work on those instead. I guess there’s nothing really special about what I do, it’s all about prioritization, knowing how much I can do in a day, and getting to work.
S&S: What kind of features does your newest update hold?
Chang: One of the features that I just pushed the update for was for the notification center widget for users on iOS 8.1 and newer. It’s really cool and it lets people check the time left without having to open the app every time (and it also works without having to unlock your device). Another thing, which isn’t really an update or feature but is something I’m working on is support for Android devices.
Wan: Features include wider implementation, which means creating a website for administrators to manage the schedule.
S&S: Where did you learn to program?
Chang: I learned to program through trial and error. I started scripting in 7th grade, and that was really through just looking through the source code of other websites which had designs that I admired (mainly Apple.com). Everything was new to me but I was determined to figure out how the sites worked. I started replicating the sites and tweaking them to say what I wanted. When I had a problem I’d either just copy-paste the code and start over or Google it. After trying enough things I’d end up learning what worked and what didn’t and that’s where a lot of my basic knowledge of programming/scripting came from. So, I guess if I had to give an answer to where I learned to program, I’d probably say Google (or Stack Overflow linked from Google).
S&S: Is the app going to stay free?
Wan: The app is free and we intend to keep it, and all its features, free.
S&S: Do you have anything else you want to add?
Wan: All feedback would be greatly appreciated! Just message Alex or me with any questions or comments. Thanks!
The app can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store. NeverLate recently came out with an update to resolve the app’s crashes and include new features.