Since the borders closed and the world went into pandemic shutdown mode we always knew Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) would be something different in 2020, and it sure is.
Tomorrow morning at 3am, hundreds or thousands of Aussies will be up early watching the live-stream to see what Apple has planned for the operating systems that power their popular hardware, among them many developers looking for updates and new ideas, and among them 10 student challenge winners right here in Australia.
Those ten students are among the 350 challenge winners in 2020, who this year don’t get a trip to San Jose, but instead the prestige of winning, and a very exclusive award.
That award is a WWDC Jacket – something all the attendees would have normally received – but this year, it’s just the Student Challenge winners.
Here’s what it looks like.
Ayden Gebran contacted EFTM having met me last year at WWDC and he’s shared a bunch of photos of this awesome product which I have no doubt will be worn with pride – at 3am tomorrow, and for many weeks and months ahead.
As is often the case, the jacket can be switched inside out for a much more fancy look, or to keep it subtle.
And there are some Apple Pins also, again – super exclusive, along with a nice little note in the attached card.
All in all, very cool, and very much coveted by those who win them. Don’t expect to see them on eBay – if you do, those people didn’t deserve to win them:)
Here’s a rundown of all ten Aussie Student Challenge winners!
About James Dale (Melbourne, Australia)
- James is a 19-year-old computer science student at Melbourne’s Deakin University. Interestingly he’s also employed by a different university called RMIT where he teaches/mentors on Swift.
- James has attended WWDC as a Student Scholarship winner in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He was encouraged to apply for the Swift Student Challenge because he loves a challenge and he’s super passionate about Swift as a language.
- For his Swift Playground, James combined his lockdown hobby (coding) with something he missed (gardens & parks) to create a “Zen Space” for people to practice mindfulness during COVID-19.
- His favourite WWDC experience was meeting Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, Lisa Jackson, who inspired him to use the iOS platform to raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage social change.
- Following this and the recent Australian bushfire tragedy, which caused hazardous air quality from bushfire smoke, James decided to build the CleanSky app. The app is designed to educate people on global air pollution issues, as well as provide resources and tips to improve air quality in their homes, communities and our planet.
- James is currently leading an open source iOS development project in collaboration with Stanford University that is tackling issues around the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers at the front-line of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
About Thomas Faulder (Townsville, Australia)
- Thomas is a 19-year-old medical student with 10 apps on the App Store, including his award-winning Vege Out Australia app, which offers essential information for people intending to grow or buy fruits and vegetables.
- Vege Out Australia has 14,000 downloads so far and includes local knowledge from a gardening expert on over 100 fruit and vegetable varieties. All of the photos in the app were taken by Thomas on his iPhone 6s at local markets.
- He was applied for the Student Swift Challenge to challenge himself and be inspired by other students. He loves being able to use technology to simplify difficult processes and solve previously impossible problems.
- By participating in WWDC20, he would like to learn about new technologies that he can use in future projects. Last year he was fascinated by the presentations on ARKit, RealityKit and Reality Composer and plans to use these tools to create immersive games and educational apps.
- Thomas hopes to follow a career path where he can combine his coding skills with his medical degree.
About Yuma Soerianto (Melbourne, Australia)
- Yuma was the youngest attendee at WWDC in 2017 where he was thrilled to receive a special mention from Tim Cook during the Keynote. He also received a WWDC Student Scholarship in 2018 and 2019.
- Yuma is now 13-year-old and in grade 8 at St Michael’s Grammar School where one of his passions is teaching other kids (and adults) how to code. He also has his own YouTube channel called ‘Anyone Can Code.’
- Last year he attended the World Youth Forum in Egypt where he spoke about Artificial Intelligence in front of 8,000 people, including the president of Egypt!
- His favourite programming language is Swift because it’s “easy, fast and reliable” and he’s already launched 8 apps on the App Store.
- His favourite technology is ARKit and he loves using it to create AR games, including Let’s Stack AR!, which was the Game of the Day on the App Store.
- He was applied for the Student Swift Challenge because he loves collecting WWDC pins so he can add them to his hat.
- He is looking forward to embracing the all-new virtual format and he plans to get up at 3am (Melbourne time) to watch the Keynote.
About Will Taylor (Melbourne, Australia)
- Will Taylor is a 16-year-old 11th grade student at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Melbourne. In 2019, he attended WWDC as a Student Scholarship winner for the third time.
- He was encouraged to apply for the Swift Student Challenge because he always learns new things while working on his submission and he enjoys the challenge.
- Will started coding when he was only eight-years-old and he now has seven apps on the App Store with over 30k downloads.
- His most successful app is Terrific Times Tables, which teaches kids their times tables. At WWDC last year he got to speak to UI design specialists who helped him improve the interface for his app. He also learnt about SiriKit and added it to his homework management app, Diary, which uses the API to provide automatic homework reminders.
- At his school in Melbourne, teachers use his Groups App to quickly put students into groups of any size, and his Terrific Times Tables app to teach maths in a fun way. Will also runs a Swift Playgrounds workshop for teachers so they can junior school students Swift using iPad.
- Will was disappointed there is no physical WWDC event, but now he’s really excited to be involved in this all-new virtual format and can’t wait to see what gets announced in the Keynote.
About Euan Traynor (Adelaide, Australia)
- Euan is a high school student at University Senior College in Adelaide. He was inspired to apply for the Swift Student Challenge after watching iJustine’s YouTube video from WWDC19 where he saw one of his classmates (Will Bishop) meet Apple CEO Tim Cook.
- His Swift Playground teaches people how to read Braille. Euan thinks it is a fascinating language and likens it to Swift, which is also full of patterns and puzzles that can be solved.
- Euan doesn’t have any apps on the App Store yet, but he is developing a system to help visually impaired people understand what is in front of them in our increasingly digital world.
- He is determined to become an iOS developer when he finishes his studies. He loves the online community of developers who continually encourage him and help him with code. He’s also very good at finding bugs in other people’s applications.
- It is Euan’s dream to work at Apple one day. He would love to work in a new team of store employees that help developers with code, their developer accounts etc – Apple Store Developer Geniuses.
About Ayden Gebran (Sydney, Australia)
- Ayden is in the 12th grade at Apple Distinguished School, Parramatta Marist High, in Sydney. Last year he attended WWDC as a Student Scholarship winner for the second time.
- He has eight apps on the App Store with 55,000 downloads combined, including a unit converter, a pseudocode editor and a golf scorecard.
- After learning about Core ML at WWDC last year, he decided to create an app called Multi Timer, which is a completely new take on timers. It was inspired by his mum cooking and the need for every dish to be ready at the same end time.
- Ayden’s playground submission is a pandemic simulator inspired by the global coronavirus health crisis, which explains the benefits of social distancing and vaccinations.
- His love and enthusiasm for computer science was recognised by the University of NSW who gave him the opportunity to study computer science and software design despite still being in high school.
- Ayden’s favourite App Store review came after he added accessibility feature VoiceOver to his Coin Flip app. A blind customer explained to him that flipping a normal coin is hard because he can’t see the result, but now with the Coin Flip app he can flip a coin whenever he needs to.
- At WWDC this year he is hoping to learn more about developing accessible and inclusive apps, Machine Learning and AR.
About Jonathan Benjamin (Melbourne, Australia)
- Jonathan is a 15-year-old 10th grader at Haileybury College in Victoria. Last year he attended WWDC as a Student Scholarship winner for the second time.
- In addition to having one iOS game on the App Store – a simple, but addictive game called Vertajump – he has also developed an app for elderly members of his church. It’s called Helping Hand and it’s helping his church community stay connected during lockdown, ask for help with chores, groceries or even just have a conversation.
- He is interested in machine learning for games and is keen to understand how he can use Core ML to create an intelligent game. He wants to create a game that is able to detect the player’s ability and tailor the difficulty of the gameplay accordingly.
- Jonathan applied for the Swift Student Challenge because it has become a yearly tradition for him and he enjoys the challenge of developing a playground in such a short timeframe.
- At WWDC this year he is looking forward to learning what’s new in PencilKit as it is the backbone of a major project he’s working on to help people take better notes.
About Wenzheng (William) Du (Brisbane, Australia)
- Wenzheng is an 18-year-old Brisbane State High School graduate. He starts a Bachelor of Design in Computing at the University of Melbourne in July.
- He started programming when he was 13 and quickly became fascinated with developing mobile games. He would spend every spare minute after finishing schoolwork making games. He recalls feeling like he could build anything with code, like an architect overseeing a grandiose plan.
- Last year when he learnt about WWDC Student Scholarships he taught himself Swift programming language in seven days so he could submit an application. Sadly he was unsuccessful, but this year he decided to try again.
- William has two apps on the App Store, including Ninja Masters, a fighting game with innovative two-button controls that makes it easy to play but hard to master, and InClassifier, an app that uses a neural network to identify objects, intended for use by those with a visual impairment. It uses one of the most advanced machine learning models, Xception, to classify objects.
About Oscar Gorog (Melbourne, Australia)
- Oscar is a 14-year-old student at The King David School in Melbourne who feels like coding is an extension of who he is. He finds it exciting, challenging, rewarding and he is awed by the ability to create apps.
- Oscar has been watching WWDC Keynotes for years and was inspired to apply for the Swift Student Challenge this year to grow as a developer and improve his problem solving abilities.
- Oscar has been learning piano since he was six-years-old and he was inspired to create Musiker, an app that lets people photograph sheet music and store it in a central spot enabling them to access it anywhere.
- Oscar is currently working on version 2.0, which will have superior UI based on Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) and will use more of Apple’s frameworks, including automatic page turning using the True Depth camera and the ability to annotate images using one of these newest frameworks, PencilKit.
- Fun fact: Oscar collect old Apple computers and he has a rare G4 Cube, an old eMate Newton!
About Christian Privitelli (Melbourne, Australia)
- Christian is a 16-year-old student in Year 10 at Saint Ignatius College in Geelong, Melbourne.
- He is a big Apple fan and has been getting up at 2am local time to watch the WWDC Keynote for years.
- Christian started coding in 2015 after watching a video on how to use Xcode to create an app. Ever since then he’s tried to learn more and more about coding languages and the technologies that can help create better apps/programs/experiences.
- Swift is the one language that has really stood out even though he’s learnt all the others. He thinks part of the reason Swift is so enjoyable to use is because of the technologies Apple makes available such as ARKit, CoreML, SwiftUI, UIKit etc.
- By participating in WWDC this year, he hopes to learning more about SwiftUI and how it can be used to create home assistant apps.