For many in high school, using a cell phone in class takes stealth, fast typing and a willingness to get caught. But for three senior boys at South River High School, cell phones are what class is all about.
Instead of slouching over and typing in a quick text message, Nic Manoogian, Sanjit Dutta and Michael Lyons are on their phones for an entire period in their STEM class, developing a new app for Android smart phones.
“We’ve developed a ‘shake to shuffle’ app that helps you change songs while you listen to music,” said Manoogian, an Edgewater resident. “It was one of the last features that held over Android by Apple.”
Each of them carry Android devices, but the students said developing their “Shake to Shuffle” app is about more than just making their phones cooler, it’s about filling a gap.
While many students may battle "senioritis," a decrease in motivation during their final year of education, the three teammates took their passion for technology and applied it in the classroom.
The app, the team's "capstone" year-long STEM project, allows users to literally shake their phones as a means to hitting “next” on their device. A quick jerk of the Android phone and the current song stops, changing to another one.
The capability of “shake to shuffle” has long existed on Apple’s iPhone, but it was a glaring absence when it came to the Android, said the three students. While iPhones only carry one music player, the iPod app, Androids possess more than 30 different options, Lyons said.
“The moment we made [‘shake to shuffle’] work for all the players, it was definitely an ‘Aha!’ moment,” said Lyons, a Crofton resident.
It took the three teens more than 50 hours of “coding” to develop the app, but now that it’s almost complete, the tech-wizards have made the app available for download. They posted the app for free and have even received more than 350 downloads since their project began.
“Some guy from Spain or Portugal said the app didn’t work,” Dutta said, as they all laughed with excitement about having an international download. “We’ve gotten messages/requests in other languages, too.”
The young developers are continually adding new features to the app, like changing its shaking sensitivity or adding haptic feedback (the ability to feel a vibration when the phone changes songs).
The guys have also made the app an “open source,” allowing other developers to write new code, allowing the app to continually grow and change even without their supervision.
The students taught themselves how to write code for fun over the years, and both Manoogian and Lyons plan to pursue programming and software development in college. Dutta said he hopes to become an engineer.
Now that the app is downloadable, the boys have been marketing their development throughout school by posting “scans” that if scanned with an Android, it automatically takes the user to their “Shake to Shuffle” download page.
Manoogian said he's unsure if the group will continue to monitor the app after graduation, but was delighted to know his team developed a product people are really enjoying.