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Junior takes on app design

Lawn+Mower+man%2C+an+app+developed+by+Warner%2C+has+a+4.9-star+rating
Lawn Mower man, an app developed by Warner, has a 4.9-star rating

Lawn Mower man, an app developed by Warner, has a 4.9-star rating

Lawn Mower man, an app developed by Warner, has a 4.9-star rating

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Looking through the app store, one might come across two apps called Quarticolor and Lawn Mower Man. Though the developer is named as Jeff Warner, the one behind it all is junior Jonathan Warner.

The idea for Quarticolor was the first of the two apps to come into fruition. The app, which was released in January of 2018, is a color matching game that requires both speed and precision. The goal is to swipe colored squares into their matching-colored receiving areas, with each correct pairing earning points, and score as high as possible. As the user wins more points, the game gets more difficult. Warner first got the idea for this while on a Virginia bike trail.

“I thought of it while biking on the Virginia Creeper trail. It’s this very long downhill bike trail and it gets boring quick if you have nothing to think about,” Warner said.  

Lawn Mower Man, the 4.9-star rated app which features a character mowing lawns to earn money and buy upgrades, was originally thought of by Warner’s friend, junior Brendan Carter.

“[In seventh grade] we were chatting about something and he started talking about this lawnmower man who drove around on his mower wrecking havoc mowing lawns, and it proceeded from there,” Warner said.

Through boredom, he decided to take this idea and create it on Scratch, an online programming community for beginners that allows users to create games and share them. By using the custom block language programming, Warner was able to create the game and watch its number of views and likes increase until it was even featured on the Scratch website.

“I wasn’t aware that it happened until much after the fact. I was a bit surprised I guess,” Warner said. “I logged on and someone had commented that [Scratch] curated it.”  

To bring both of the apps into existence, Warner decided to start by doing research on how to do this.

“I found out that if I wanted to develop for iPhone, I would need to download Xcode. Xcode is only developed for Apple operating systems, but since my family has always been Apple users, we had a spare Macbook lying around that I could download it on and work on,” Warner said.

After downloading Xcode and making games using the single view application type, Warner found this to be limiting and made the switch to Apple’s game development library called SpriteKit.

“This gave me much more freedom and allowed me to create some fun little test apps while I was honing my skills,” Warner said. “Once I was satisfied that I understood how things worked well enough to create my more complicated ideas such as Lawn Mower Man and Quarticolor, I began to work on those.”

Though he got of them to a semi-completed state during the winter of 2016, Warner put off the task of actually uploading them to the app store until a year later.

“I procrastinated about a year until the winter break of 2017 when I finally coughed up the 100 dollars necessary to create an Apple developer ID and submit apps to the store. I then proceeded to follow Apple’s not easy or user-friendly process of uploading all of my apps,” Warner said. “Apple has strict regulations for all apps that are submitted such as workability on screen sizes and other general things to make sure ugly apps don’t make it through.

After creating a support site, a website with developer contact information, answering questions about the app regarding encryption, advertising identifiers, ratings and the app’s description, taking screenshots of the game content in very specific sizes and sending the apps to Apple where it’s decided if they’re worthy to be put on their app store, Warner and his two apps made their debut on the app store.

Though he doesn’t have any clear ideas in mind at the time, Warner does hope to develop more apps in the future.

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