Recently I had the opportunity of meeting a teenage mobile app developer at the Cincinnati Home School Convention. His name is Matthew Russell and he’s 18-years-old. If you ever thought becoming a mobile app developer, read the conversation we had below!
How old were you when you first started developing Mobile Apps?
I first began experimenting with iOS app development when I was 12 or 13, but wasn’t sure how interested I was at that point. I didn’t do much for the next three years until I received my first Android device in December of 2011. The low developer fee made Android (one-time $25 fee) development a little more appealing to abeginner versus iOS (yearly $99 fee). In May of 2012, I contacted the Institute for Excellence in Writing about a possible app opportunity, leading to the development of the IEW Writing Tools Lite app, which was released for Android in August 2012 and iOS in December 2012. I was 16 years old when this app was released.
What got you interested in App Development?
I’m not entirely certain, but I guess it was something else to try. I loved mobile devices and it was a great opportunity to actually work on programming one. I also have an uncle who is very much involved in the app development business in Palo Alto, CA. He encouraged me to keep working at it and pointed me to a few resources as well.
What do you enjoy most about developing Mobile Apps for clients?
The initial design/development phase. This is where the most action happens, designing the user interface and experience and figuring out how to store thousands of data entries in an easy-to-access manner. It’s a little stressful sometimes, though, since it isn’t easy to change the structure once you actually start coding the app.
What do you LEAST enjoy about developing Mobile Apps for clients?
Let me put it this way: if I had any employees I could delegate tasks to, they would all be doing data entry. Data entry is how all the text and formatting were actually entered into the IEW Writing Tools apps. I developed a few tools on the side to help me, but a lot of the word lists and descriptions were simply typed manually into a large XML data file.
Also, the last month or two before release is also not quite as fun. Most of this time is dedicated to working out bugs and tweaking data to make sure everything is just right for the product’s launch.
Do you see yourself continuing your business after high school, why or why not?
As long as there are still development opportunities, yes, I can see myself continuing my business in the future. As a career, probably not, since I am also very interested in other fields of engineering that are a little
harder to commercialize (like space exploration).
Do you have any advice for other teenagers who might be interested in developing mobile apps?
Contact me! I would love for anyone interested in app development to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The learning curve is fairly steep at first, but it can be done. If your stuck with some problem or don’t understand how something works, send me a message, and I’ll see what I can come up with. As for beginner resources, there is a lot available online. As with any other computer science-related field, Google truly is your best friend.
Below is a list of all the mobile apps that Matthew has developed
The Debate Timer
IEW Writing Tools
IEW Writing Tools Lite
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