The Code Project's App Innovation Contest: Developers Creating Ultrabook Apps

There’s something about developers and contests; dangle a competition in front of a coder and more likely than not, they’ll push other projects aside in order to jump in feet-first. Is it purely for the love of the game? Or is that most developers have just a wee bit of a competitive streak? Either way, these last few months have seen a virtual plethora of fantastic rivalries; anything from the Intel® Perceptual Computing Challenge to the seven-week long Ultimate Coder: Going Perceptual saga to The Code Project’s Windows 8* and Ultrabook™ App Innovation Contest. In this article, we’re going to focus on the App Innovation Contest, look at a few of the submitted entries, and go over what a few of the developers involved offered up as their experiences creating and submitting an Ultrabook app.

About the contest

The premise of the contest – which ended this past fall – was simple. Get an Ultrabook-enabled Windows 8 app into the Intel AppUp store, win a prize:

  • The first 50 successful AppUp store submissions will receive a $1,000 prize for getting their app in the AppUp store
  • All round 2 entrants are in the running for 1 of seven $10,000 cash prizes
  • The final winner gets the $20,000 grand prize
  • Every single entrant also goes in the fast lane for the app approval process.

 Almost any kind of Ultrabook app was acceptable, but the more those developers could show off what an Ultrabook was really capable of, the better. Were developers up to the challenge? Absolutely. Here are just a few of the fantastic apps that were submitted in the contest:

  • App Challenge: Track down your friends using geolocation. When your friend is found, the Ultrabook will begin a random Multiplayer challenge that they will have to compete against each other for bragging rights. If you win a message will be posted on Facebook or Twitter saying that you were victorious. Ultrabook focus: touch, gyro, accelerometer, AOAC
  • My Things: Got a lot of gadgets? This app can help you create and maintain an inventory list, which will help you keep track of all items, help with insurance, and organize yourself. The app gives you the ability to tag items, take pictures, geo-tag, offers intelligent theming using ambient light sensors, as well as encrypted SkyDrive backup. Ultrabook focus: camera, geo-tagging, ambient light sensors
  • Wheels on Traffic Alert: This one sounds like fun: “Often, one is in a rush leaving home and heading towards a recreation or business destination. Now, with Ultrabook one can quickly fire up laptop by spinning the Ultrabook like a steering wheel and it will pop up Caltrans quick map traffic alert based on user’s current location. It will give users a quick idea of what roads or freeways to avoid while heading to their destination.” Ultrabook focus: quick start mode for Ultrabooks, motion gestures
  • CloudBurst: “Cloudburst is a game with very simple gameplay, yet enough depth to keep players engaged for long periods of time. The gameplay consists of getting your character from the ground level up to a certain height by bouncing him off clouds while also managing some other hazards (described in detail below). The character is controlled using the accelerometer and gyroscope for horizontal movement across the screen, vertical movement happens automatically based on how the character is bounced. The game will also have a reward and upgrade system to improve your character over time and to make it possible to complete the game.” Ultrabook focus: touch, accelerometer, gyroscope

 It’s not just about the contest

 While all the entries for the App Innovation contest were pretty amazing, there’s even more information for developers that came out of this intriguing competition. The Ultrabook Article Competition (yes, another contest – what is it about developers and contests?!?!) gave developers the chance to share their hard-won knowledge with the community:

 “You've waded through the docs, you've battled code signing certificates, you've puzzled validation and you've sworn at your Ultrabook until you are blue in the face. Now take that passion and write up an article that teaches others what you've learned about writing applications for the Ultrabook. Include as much code as possible. Include downloads, demos, full applications. The more you round out your entry the better your chances. Write about the sensors, about designing the UI, about always on, always connected, write about the AppStore SDKs, code signing, the submission process, the tips and tricks and the pain you went through. Anything goes, but you need to provide code (where appropriate) and focus on teaching, not just doing.”

 And share they did! A couple of examples:

  •  Sumerics: “In this article we will go through the initial creation steps of a touch enabled numerical computing environment, i.e., one that is optimized for touch enabled computing devices.”
  • Those Magnificent Men: This article is extremely detailed, giving out code samples, images, and much more: “he game is written in AGK (App Game Kit) which is a multi-platform language. It has two tiers of implementation, a high level, BASIC-style language (Tier 1), and a higher level, native language (Tier 2). Both tiers enable the developer to export the compiled code to a number of platforms such as Windows, iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc. See the AGK website here for more information on specifics of the development environment itself.”
  • UltraDynamo: This article is a five-part series on Ultrabook development and actually was a prize winner in the competition: “In this article, I will hopefully take you through the various aspects of developing the application, as well as looking at some of the finer detail within the code. “

 Contests spark Ultrabook innovation

This contest might be over, but there’s always room for more advances in Ultrabook development. What’s your favorite Ultrabook or app development advancement right now? What did you think of this contest and the submitted entries? Got a favorite? Share with us in the comments below. 

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