Meet the Winners of the App Innovation Contest: Part 2

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Simon Mages and Florian Rappl, two Ph.Ds from the University of Regensburg, have won the Windows* 8 and Ultrabook™ App Innovation Contest. The competition was sponsored by the Intel® Developer Zone to foster innovation and new user experiences taking advantage of touch and sensor capabilities on Ultrabook devices running Windows 8.

Florian is from Regensburg, Germany. He started his programming career with Perl. After programming C/C++ for some years he discovered his favorite programming language C#. He did work at Siemens as a programmer until he decided to study Physics. During his studies he worked as an IT consultant for various companies. Florian is also giving lectures in C#, HTML5 with CSS3 and JavaScript, and other topics. Having graduated from University with a Master's degree in theoretical physics he is currently busy doing his PhD in the field of High Performance Computing.

In this interview, a continuation of the discussion on his win, Florian discusses the marketing plans that he and Simon plan to follow in order to get the word out on their winning application. Part 1 can be read here.

Are you planning to market the app? How?

We already started doing some press releases in combination with winning the competition. That already helped. We were invited by Intel to demo Sumerics in the Intel® Developer Zone booth at Mobile World Congress and we'll see what kind of feedback we get there. In the end it will probably come down to just getting companies as well as Universities to find an interest in an Ultrabook optimized app.

How did Intel engage with the developer community during the App Innovation Contest? After?

Intel provided a lot of help during the contest. They released videos, technical articles and answered questions on the forums and per mail. After the contest Intel is trying to keep the motivation to develop for the Intel AppUp center high.

What new benefits or experience will users of your app gain?

The biggest benefit is certainly that any user can instantly get to see the sensor built into their Ultrabooks in action. For most users the app is nothing but a better calculator with sensor information. However, our target group will actively use the program to make small experiments with some of the sensors. It is also this target group, who will find out that the app is a lot cheaper than similar products, and that the app has been made touch-aware. Therefore it is also a joy to present data to other people - manipulating plots has never been more fun!

Any lessons learned from this experience?

I learned a lot during the competition. Some things just happened to be perfectly in time. For instance, in order to manage our project we used the Team Foundation Service from Microsoft, a new cloud based (and still free!) VCS based on the Team Foundation Server. It is perfectly integrated in the Visual Studio and allowed us to collaborate even more efficiently. I did not know about this before starting the project, so I was lucky that somebody told me at the right time. On the other hand I also learned a lot about building touch-aware UIs. I began to think about touch before implementing any keyboard or mouse actions.

Any advice to others?

There are several pieces of advice I could give, but staying in the world of programming for the Ultrabook my ultimate advice would be: don't try to write applications as if they would be written for a tablet. An Ultrabook is a powerful laptop with a touchscreen and all those sensors. If your app does not benefit from using the keyboard, then you are doing something wrong. If your app can't live without a keyboard, you are also doing something wrong (or you are targeting a different platform). The UI should always be enjoyable by using only the touchscreen. Think about that when designing dialogs, buttons and other user controls. Also don’t ever forget that people choose the Ultrabook for a reason. So in the end it's the desktop mode of Windows 8 they are interested in. Embrace this and try to make an innovative desktop app that looks elegant, can be controlled via keyboard, touch and mouse and contains features which are useful and fun.