It’s Day Four of #6DaysOfiOS, and we’re giving away six Apple devices: two iPhone 6s, an Apple TV, an Apple Watch Sport, an iPad, and a Macbook Air! If you enroll in a free trial of the Beginning iOS App Development Nanodegree program between October 13th at 12pm ET and October 26th at 12pm ET you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win!
The projects you build are at the heart of your Nanodegree program experience, and there is no clearer evidence of the skills you’ve mastered than the tangible work you produce. This is why we’re always especially thrilled to highlight amazing apps build by our amazing students! Back in August, we highlighted new work from three Udacity Nanodegree program graduates: Linda, Paul and Spiros. Today we introduce iOS Developer Nanodegree program graduates Raphael, Ryan and Umar, each of whom has created an awesome new app that we highlight below! We’ll tell you about what they built and how they built it, and we also encourage you to check out Student Swift Blogs, where you can really dive deep into some clever, candid, and seriously educational stories from our students who are programming in Swift.
And with that, meet Raphael!
I recently graduated from the iOS Developer Nanodegree program from Udacity. I’m incredibly passionate about iOS development and figured the program would help me better utilize my creative skills and interest in computer science.
As I completed the projects in the Nanodegree program, I felt more and more confident about my programming skills and ability to write high-quality code. I was able to learn new frameworks on my own and knew where to look for helpful information and documentation. I was particularly pleased that an emphasis was put on networking and data persistence, which are the cornerstone of almost every app.
Building on these new acquired skills, I was ready for my final project. I wanted to demonstrate my skills but also provide a meaningful, responsive and nicely designed app. I developed the app Around Me, which displays recent pictures posted on Instagram, in real-time, around the user’s location on a map. The whole process was really exciting and it was especially gratifying to release it on the App Store.
After that, I continued to improve my iOS skills with online videos from Stanford, completing all the assignments along the way and posting my solutions on my Github page.
I’m currently contributing to an open-source iOS app called Time for Coffee (you can explore it on my LinkedIn page), and exploring all the new exciting capabilities of WatchOS 2.0 for the iWatch while working on my own projects.
I decided to give Udacity’s iOS Developer Nanodegree program a try because online education is up-and-coming. Personally, I think it’s great. It’s prevalent now, and it can only get bigger in the years to come—it allows everyone the freedom to learn from the comfort of their own home.
Enrolling in Udacity to learn iOS development, I found that the instructors in the Nanodegree program compiled and presented their material brilliantly. They had my best interests in mind because they knew where to start, what information and models were appropriate to teach and what kinds of projects to assign based on the course material.
I was hoping I would not get spoon fed cookie-cutter solutions to problems, as I think it’s fun to write creative solutions. It helps me realize that there might be a better way of solving a problem. And that’s exactly what happened!
I created a health and wellness iOS app called [pro]Gress for my final project. It allows you to track your body’s information, including food and nutrition intake, fitness goals that depend on tracking your weight, along with athletic performance. I came up with the idea because I wanted an easier way to track my progress in many wellness areas without having to calculate and implement changes to my routine in a spreadsheet.
The app is a more practical version of Google Sheets. Instead of tracking and reading numbers in tables and trying to analyze changes in weight, nutrition and training, I thought it would be neat to create an iOS app that could do the same thing but make it easier to use. When something is simpler to do, making it a healthy habit becomes that much easier. When tracking health and fitness data becomes easier, pro(gress)ing becomes easier. See what I did there?
The coolest part about completing the Nanodegree program is that it’s now easier to start a project from scratch and iterate exactly how I’d like. In other words, I can expand my portfolio by extending the Nanodegree Capstone project (which is what I’m doing), or make several mini-projects, where each mini-project has the potential to scale. I believe employers will love this.
Pretty early on in the iOS Developer Nanodegree program we were introduced to The Movie Database, and I thought it would be really cool to work with the API. I think it’s interesting to see where certain celebrities are from or where they grew up. For example, I know a lot of comedians are Canadian, and it’s fun and surprising to search for a few actors and see exactly where they’re from in Canada. Even more surprising is when the locator zooms to a completely different continent altogether!
So for my final project in the Nanodegree program, I created an app called Where Are They From?, which includes a giant map with a search bar. You can search themoviedb.org for any actor, and the map will geolocate, zoom into their hometown and drop a pin. By clicking the pin you can read a short bio of the actor.
Projects built during the Nanodegree program are essential for software engineers. My brother is an artist and I like to make the analogy that programmers are artists in the same way that we market ourselves. An artist needs to have a strong portfolio filled with projects that are not only completed, but also perfected to the last detail. You never see an artist trying to present a half-finished painting with the promise that it’s going to turn out to be a masterpiece.
The same goes for software. For a portfolio, it is much better to have a handful of completed projects with neat, extremely readable code than some partially completed projects that, while often interesting if completed, are a mess. The Nanodegree program projects were a perfect way to learn how to structure your code. By submitting the app you not only get feedback on how the app is functioning, but you also got a lot of feedback on how the code looks and works. This was a great way to learn early on what the standards are for writing code.
I think there is going to be a major shift in the upcoming years toward online education. College is simply too expensive. I don’t believe I made a mistake giving up an ECE degree with one year left. There are enough resources and programs online that I can learn from and build up a portfolio to present to future employers. At the end of the day it’s about the things that you have accomplished, not the status of the education you have. That being said, Udacity’s Nanodegree program is a top notch curriculum that allowed me to establish my iOS foundation, and now it’s my turn to build off of that foundation and create things I’m truly proud of.
I want to close this post on a personal note, and tell you a quick story. We host an all-hands meeting every week at our Mountain View office. Agendas for these meetings run the gamut from product announcements and new hire talent showcases, to metrics reports and food drive campaigns. Some agenda items pass by quickly (metrics reports), some engender many laughs (new hire talents), a rare few elicit company-wide support (food drives), but only one kind of agenda item sees everyone cheering out loud. We had just such an item on the itinerary last week. Three of our students presented a new app they’d successfully built. It was amazing. Everyone cheered. For a long time. When the meeting was over, there was a line to congratulate them. They seemed genuinely happy, and even somewhat overwhelmed. It was a great, great day.