DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd kicked off the App Development phase of its Challenge for Change (CFC) contest with a 36-hour hackathon which took place at its headquarters in Shah Alam.
This marathon session brought together developers and winners of the Ideation phase to fast track the making of mobile app that will benefit society.
The event attracted over 200 developers and the company provided food, movie screenings, gym sessions and sleeping areas for the three-day event, as most of the participants had to stay overnight to get a head start.
Back for more
We spotted last year’s grand prize winners who have now formed their own company — WiredIn Sdn Bhd.
“We’re back this year for a repeat of the excitement we experienced last year and to challenge ourselves. We are going to develop the apps for the Jalan-Jalan and Running Paws ideas for both the Android and iOS platforms,” said WiredIn Sdn Bhd founder and chief operating officer Muhammad Muhaimin Juhairi.
With the Jalan Jalan app, anyone can us the platform to promote their district or town to attract more visitors while earning extra income as a tour guide. While Running Paws intends to make jogging more fun by introducing gamification features such as a virtual pet that will accompany the runner.
The company now has 13 staff, more than double the number when it first joined the contest.
In a male-dominated community of developers, the all-female team consisting of Phang She Chin, Hang Wen Jia and Tham Yih Jiun stood out at the Hackathon.
They want to work on the 1Auto app which will help users with basic car maintenance and also provide handy tips.
“I believe technology can change the world. I am passionate about technology and being exposed to computers early contributed to my interest in programming,” said Hang.
Interestingly, this is the first time the ladies are working on an app for the Windows Phone platform.
“We think that the Windows Phone ecosystem has plenty of growth potential and higher chance of exposure for new apps,” said Phang, the senior member in the team.
All three came are from different universities across Malaysia but met through the Microsoft Student Partner Programme.
“I started programming because it was required by my course (Electrical and Computer System Engineering). I struggled early but my perseverance paid off eventually,” said Tham.
Guidance from experts
Industry experts from Microsoft, Google, Telenor Digital, and Xamarin were invited to speak at the 36-hour programme. Representative from local app startups MyTeksi, Kehmistry and InstaB were also present to share their experiences with aspiring participants .
One of the speakers, Jan Jongboom, was flown all the way from Amsterdam. He is currently attached to the Telenor Digital division and works mainly as a Firefox OS developer and evangelist.
“The session here is more relaxed, fun and entertaining for the app developers. The atmosphere is good with partners, representatives and participants all getting along together. I’m interested to see how the finished apps turn out,” said Jongboom.
As developer for the up and coming open-source mobile Firefox OS, Jan is working on improving the user experience, especially for low-cost devices which have smaller screens and virtual keyboards.
Kickstarting the local scene
“The CFC is aimed at driving the production of mobile applications that are mature, socially relevant and commercially viable,” said DiGi head of communications and corporate responsibility, Joachim Rajaram.
The apps need to work based on criteria such as scalability, commercial viability, differentiation, user interface and user experience.
The winning app will be actively promoted to DiGi’s customer base of more than 4.2 million smartphone users, as well as online app stores, retail outlets and social media, he said.
“We are pleased to see the huge turnout at this year’s hackathon, and we have high hopes that the resulting apps will be those that enable relevant and meaningful usage of the Internet,” he said.
Last year, most of the apps were for iOS but there is a noticeable rise in the number of apps being developed for the Android and Windows Phone platform this year.
For the grand prize, one developer or team will represent Malaysia at Digital Winners Conference in Oslo, Norway.
The selected team will also participate in the Telenor’s Digital Winners Global App Developer Challenge and stands to win 25,000 euro (RM112,000) to build their business and will get the chance to work closely with Telenor Digital as a commercial partner with access to the global customer base.
Other prizes up for grabs include RM25,000 for each winning app in the respective categories, as well as a chance to participate in Google Malaysia and Microsoft Malaysia’s short insight stints and Digital Malaysia’s MSC Startup Accelerator Lite programme.