This week, we received the final posts from our developer contestants, bringing six weeks of incredible, innovative app development to an end. Our judges’ work is really just getting started now, as apps are being submitted for the difficult work of judging and picking an Ultimate Coder Winner. Let’s take a look at what happened in this final week of the Challenge.
Lee: Lee gives us a nice long detailed post on this last week of the Challenge, with a meaty video demo of Love Hearts in action. I do believe that Lee managed to integrate every single possible Ultrabook feature into this app, a seemingly impossible feat. He also gives us information on his experience with the Windows Store Share button, something that will be implemented in a later release of Love Hearts. Monetization, the elephant in the room for many app developers, is definitely on Lee’s mind this week, and he chooses to use in-app tokens in the Windows Store to start making his millions, using his Freedom Engine platform to create in-app purchase codes. Lee also goes into great detail regarding app submission using DirectX and webcams, various driver woes, Ultrabook social features, and figuring out how to integrate the Ultrabook’s built-in camera. A long laundry list of everything he’s done in the contest is shared as well, making it clear that Lee is definitely a coder to be reckoned with. You can read Lee’s post here.
George and Suresh: If there were an award for sheer number of words written in this Challenge, I do believe that George and Suresh would be the top contender! In this, the final week of the contest, we hear from the Blue Innovations team how this contest really was more about what they learned along the way rather than “just” a prize to go after. They give us a detailed look at how they integrated NFC into their MoneyBag app, making it possible for users to take down transactions on their smartphones or other mobile devices and transfer these items seamlessly to their Ultrabooks at end of day. App packaging and distribution is discussed in detail, with the intriguing statement that sometimes this step is “more complicated than the actual development process”! George and Suresh also give details on how to implement a license framework in an Ultrabook app, how to deal with automatic updates, data flow across a variety of devices, and a final release of their finished app. All their work in Ultrabook app development over the past six weeks is now available on their new venture, Ultrabook Labs, in order to help other developers on the way to creating great apps for this device. Nice work, guys. You can read George and Suresh’s post here.
Shailesh: Making biology exciting was Shailesh’s goal for his BioIQ app, and I think he nailed it. In his last post for the Ultimate Coder Challenge, Shailesh shows us a few of the final BioIQ screens, with informational call-outs for all the different Ultrabook features that were implemented in the app. Touch is the number one feature leveraged in BioIQ, and it’s definitely apparent – this app makes great use of touch design standards. The Clef Software teams also implemented the Windows 8 live tile feature, making this app even more helpful to parents and educators. The Windows 8 and AppUp versions of BioIQ are ready to submit, and Shailesh is pleased with how it’s all come together (as he well should be!). You can read Shailesh’s post here.
John: You really can’t go wrong with robots and football, and the team at Soma Games made the most of that. Ending six weeks of intense coding on a reflective note, John writes that at first it was somewhat tricky to get their heads around all that an Ultrabook had to offer, let alone come up with an app that took advantage of that in a meaningful, user-friendly sort of way. However, they didn’t just stick to checking off a list of Ultrabook features – they also made Wind Up Football optimized for multi-platform deployment with plenty of room to make WUF bigger and better (what in the world are “Bok Choy Boys”?). They’re happy with how their app turned out, especially since Gree has picked it up as part of their iOS launch (nicely done!), and view it as a first step towards a whole new world of app development. You can read John’s post here.
Sagar: After six weeks of hard work, the team at Althea Systems has made Shufflr into one of the most innovative social video apps available for the Ultrabook. In this last week of the Challenge, Sagar talks about AOAC (Always On Always Connected) and push notifications for the Ultrabook. With AOAC, new videos come to Shufflr in sleep mode, something that sounds like it was sort of tricky to implement (the phrase “went rogue” was used, an interesting choice of words!) since they had to unearth a 64-bit desktop driver for ISCT. However, they ultimately wrestled this beast into submission and made it possible for network updates to come every 10 minutes. A few last-minute dragons to slay, sounds like, but Sagar and team are ready for Judgment Day. You can read Sagar’s post here.
Andreas: We need to give props to Andreas for being the Lone Wolf in the Challenge – he’s the only one-man coding shop contestant, and that deserves some recognition! His vocab training app got even more polish this last week of the contest, as he added a fun word training/flashcard game and semantic zoom for an even better user experience. Andreas signs off with his thoughts on converting an HTML5 app to Windows 8 UI in a short six weeks; basically, it’s not as easy as it looks. You can read Andreas’s post here.
Steve “Chippy” Paine: Chippy notes that this Challenge has been one of the most “interesting and educational” that he’s taken part in, and that the bulk sum of all that’s been learned and shared is going to be a wonderful resource for future app developers. He is intrigued by Althea’s use of AOAC, Lee’s monetization and social networking strategies, Andreas’ thoughts on true multi-platform portability, Blue Innovations’ use of NFC, Soma Games’ discussion on marketing and monetization, and Clef Software’s integration of Windows 8’s live tile feature. He also offers a bit of promotional goodness on Ultrabook News for all Ultimate Coder Challenge contestants – very generous! You can read Chippy’s post here.
Chris: If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Chris’s updates over the last few weeks, you’ll want to go back and check them out – that is, if you enjoy dry, geeky wit! Chris keeps his summary to a bit of a minimum this week as judging starts soon, but still takes time for each contestant. He’s impressed with Lee’s level of dedication (“this is a man possessed”), George and Suresh’s triumph over the somewhat clucky process of Windows Store distribution, Shailesh’s write-up of the store verification process, John’s thoughts on user experience vs. technical expertise, Sagar’s hacking of AOAC (“territory that angels fear to tread”), and Andreas’ struggles with HTML5 app conversion. You can read Chris’s post here.
Helena: Helena is anticipating testing out all the great apps that have been developed over the past six weeks on a reference design Ultrabook running Windows 8 RTM. She likes the “quirky” feel of Lee’s Love Hearts app, is impressed with George and Suresh’s new Ultrabook Labs venture (“do these guys ever sleep?”), likes the use of live tiles in Shailesh’s BioIQ, notes that Andreas has added a Word Card game to his vocab trainer, and appreciates the discussion from Soma Games around Ultrabooks and user experience. You can read Helena’s post here.
Jon: With all the amazing innovation and sheer hard work that has gone on these past six weeks, Jon is having a hard time picking a clear favorite (and I’m sure he’s not the only judge that feels this way!). Jon is amazed at Lee’s intensity, likes how Blue Innovations is continuing to use NFC to innovate, and really appreciates how Soma is looking at the big picture beyond the Challenge when thinking about adding to their WUF app. He congratulates all the teams on the amazing work they’ve accomplished in such a short time. You can read Jon’s post here.
That’s a Wrap!
While the developers’ work is done, the judges’ work is just getting started. Over the next week, the final version of all six apps will be submitted and judges will make their call on who wins the Ultimate Coder Challenge. Winners will be announced on October 8, 2012. Stay tuned to see who will win!