My WWDC 2017 Feelings!

The original article is published at my Apple News channel. Click here to access Apple News.

“Keep making apps; the world is depending on you.” — From Apple’s WWDC Appocalypse Video.

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I am Shunzhe Ma, a high school student, and a young developer. It is my first time to win a WWDC scholarship, and it’s also my first time to attend WWDC. I have a wonderful experience there, learning new technologies, talking with fellow developers, Apple designers, developers, and App Store Department. And I am so excited to share all my experiences!

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It’s been an exciting week at the world’s biggest technology event — WWDC, the worldwide developer conference of Apple. Here, different people meet each other and share their minds. Each year, there’s a special WWDC Scholarships reward, which provides talented students and STEM organization members the opportunity to attend the conference. This year, applicants need to submit a Swift Playground that shows creativity.

I have made several apps and games and uploaded them to the App Store before. Some apps are even featured by U.S App Store. But I only used Swift Playground for a few times, mainly for demonstrating how to use Swift. So it’s a big challenge, either to develop or to even think about and learn what Playgrounds could do.

I have been brainstorming for days, and so do other scholars. In the group chat we created, I could see how nervous we were thinking about a topic to do. We all thought that Apple would follow last year’s rule and let us submit an app or a game. And some scholars even prepared ahead of time making their apps and games. But when the new rules for 2017 WWDC scholarship came out, we all felt surprised, and we have to come up with an idea and make a Swift Playground. I was just like them, didn’t know what exactly I should do. But after talking and brainstorming with several classmates and club members of the IT Club, I got some brilliant ideas. But playground is also pretty new to me. So I spent a few days checking the documents of Apple, learning everything about the Playground. I have finally decided to make a playground demonstrating the universe we are living in, the planets that’s in our solar system because people are all interested in that and they want to know more. And, what’s better is that Swift Playgrounds can provide much more rich experiences like 3D using SceneKit, so I started to scratch on paper and to start to build this Playground. It’s also my first time to build a Swift playground since I only programmed games and apps before.

I have finally made it, and I was ahead of time! I am so excited and cannot wait for the submission.

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Here’re some pictures of the Playground I submitted.

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To introduce this topic, the first page is a 3-dimensional model of our solar system, using Apple’s SceneKit technology to make it smooth and accurate. You can zoom in, zoom out, or rotate to change the side of your view.

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On the second page, you can put the solar system in order by dragging the different planets. After you arrange your own solar system, you can take a screenshot and share with other friends by clicking a button at the top. I used UIKit, which can make my display smooth and beautiful; I used functions, which can let me use the same function several times without writing the codes again; I used UI Graphics, Gesture recognizer and File Manager to save users’ solar systems allowing users to share it.

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Here you get different facts about planets.

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The remaining nine pages are descriptions of different planets in our solar system, which are the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, which are listed in the order based on their distance from the Sun. There are interactive games where you can put a picture of a planet together and guess the number of elements in each planet. To make this playground accessible to different people, all the figures in these pages can be converted to other common units just by clicking on them.

So after the submission started, I spent some time to write the essays and submitted all my work on March 28th! Days and days of waiting, until a Saturday morning.

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I still remember clearly when it happened. It was a Saturday morning, so I typically would sleep until the sun rises to the center of the sky when my mom calls me for breakfast. But the night before, I found myself hard to sleep. And when I woke up at around 6 A.M, I couldn’t sleep anymore; it seems that something is calling. My SAT scores? The grade for my project in AP Biology class? Or, the Scholarship? I quickly reached my phone and opened my email. As the email app opened, BOOM! I saw an Email with title shown “You’ve won a WWDC 2017 Scholarship” I felt so excited, and my heart beat increasing. I found hard not to believe I was dreaming at that time. I hope I had a spinner in the Inception movie that I could tell if I was dreaming or not. I got out of my bed, checked on my iPad, Mac again and again. And finally, I found out that I have won a scholarship! WOW! I jumped up and down, just like what I said in the Telegram applicant group “If I earned a scholarship, I would jump out of my house. (I am living on the first floor, so it’s okay). 😉 ” because I thought it would be impossible. But now the email was there. I was so happy, and couldn’t wait to attend this ground conference.

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It’s finally the day. I have been to SFO before but never to San Jose. It takes approx. 1 hour to drive to San Jose to SFO.

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As I was getting close to the Mc Energy convention center, I saw more and more signs, flags of WWDC, and the crowd. The official check-in time is 9 A.M, but I already saw a line of people waiting at 8 O’clock. I know all the people’s excitement about this. I joined the line early. As the time approaches slowly to 9 A.M, with all the applause from the Apple Staff. We entered the check-in area and got our badge. There was also some delicious food and drinks available here. Apple is just so sweet!

We, the 350 scholarship winners, got an exciting start. We joined a special Scholarship orientation, and we learned a lot deeper about Apple. We also felt so excited to know that Apple had reserved seats for us. In the insights, Apple engineers introduced us the Apple Pencil, which is a “pencil” (not a normal stylus, keep that in mind) that we could (not put into a pencil sharpener) draw and write on an iPad just like writing on paper. What we might notice is the conciseness of using. I used Apple Pencil a lot for taking notes on classes, and I found it was handy since it was highly responsive. But what we might not realize is the effort Apple put in making this pencil. From the insights, we got to know the efforts Apple put to put the latency as low as possible. Apple even uses prediction to foresee what users are drawing, and even the forces will be, and pre-draw the line. And when users draw on that line path that has been predicted, the line will be updated, so there will only be a few change since the prediction will already be close to the actual line drawn by the user. From this insight, I learned one important design principle, ” We need to put all the efforts on developing, using advanced technologies and complex codes to provide the best and most concise experience for users.”

We met Tim Cook after the insight talk, and then we were all excited for the keynote.

It’s finally the Keynote day! Apple releases a lot of new technologies.

 

 

The one that left me the most impressive is the ARKit because we could use the ARKit framework directly in our apps and games directly and efficiently. And we could display 3D objects on a surface. I got a lot of new ideas and cannot wait to download the new XCode and started to program new apps and games.

The remaining few days at the WWDC are for me to meet friends, and a lot of Apple engineers, designers, App Store team. I talked a lot and made a lot of friends. It was so exciting.

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Time goes fast; it’s the last day at WWDC. This year’s WWDC changed me a lot. It gave me a lot of new perspectives, it also made me more outgoing, and willing to make more friends and communicate with others, and it got me a lot of brilliant ideas!

I love WWDC, and I love San Jose! It’s an exciting event this year! I will, of course, apply for a scholarship next year, and hope to see all others again!

After WWDC, I would like to share my coding knowledge, and my passion to program to all the people around the world. I will share more and more experiences and my stories through Apple News. And I hope everyone could Write the Code, and Change the World! And I hope I could use my magical programming power to change the whole world!

By a high school student and a young iOS developer. More Updates follow.