REU Week 6

Officially done with Week 6! It’s brought about some more shifting and refocusing, but we’re getting pretty accustomed to that. Yay for flexibility!

This weekend I really dove into getting familiar with TableViews, a UI feature that nearly all multi-screen apps incorporate. I also looked at working with Navigation Controllers, and I’ve really found both of these features to be really important this week! After working through a couple of chapters in Molly Maskrey’s book, I had a good starting point on building these features into apps.

I then spent a good amount of time on Monday incorporating these features into our app! Our current feeds page looks like this:

It took a good amount of time to implement and design the features I wanted, but I was really happy with the result!

After looking into incorporating Instagram into our app later in  Monday, I began realizing that incorporating social media may be much more difficult than originally anticipated, particularly due to the apps’ privacy policies and privacy changes. Essentially our app would have to be reviewed by Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to provide the functionality we want to deliver, and at this point, the approval date would almost certainly be outside of the timeframe of our REU.

Because of this, we started to reevaluate our work and plans. We decided we would shift our primary focus to the built-in functionalities of the app: I would tackle the notes app, Michael would look at getting access to the camera roll, and I would focus on the notes/journaling part of the app.

Thus, my week has largely been spent learning how to create a notes app! This has been interesting because I got to learn about Core Data, something built into apps that allows them to save content, such as notes. I did have a bit of a frustrating setback: I started working through a nicely-done YouTube tutorial with multiple videos, only to find out that the author never published the final steps of the project…. Sigh. I’ve now learned, however, to always check a multi-step tutorial to make sure it’s complete!

Thankfully, I found another tutorial that was similar, though without some of the bells and whistles the other was supposed to have. Honestly, though, that’s okay; at this point, I’m more concerned with including basic functionality than small extras and great visuals.

Here’s what it looks like as of the end of this week:

We also had another win this week: it was my turn this week to present at our weekly Friday meetings, and I think things went pretty well! Here’s a picture of me presenting:

A good amount of the time was spent doing a simulation in which I sent everyone out of the meeting room and asked them to document their surroundings, thoughts, etc. for 5 minutes. The trick, of course, was that they had to take all of their stuff with them and only use their phone with one hand conditions I thought might simulate a mom with a child in one arm and a phone in the other. When we came back together, I asked questions about their experience and how their phone abled or hindered them. Overall, I got a lot of good feedback, which I’ll definitely try to incorporate in our app!

Speaking of our app, my goal for this next week is to essentially build the notes application I built this week into our existing app. Before I do that, however, I need to figure out how to build Core Data into our project, since I didn’t have XCode add it when I first created the project. That’s something I’ll probably try to tackle this weekend. Ultimately, I’d really like to embed some neat features into this journaling feature; for example, I was brainstorming and think it would be really cool if the user could get to this feature from anywhere in the app just by swiping left. Like I said, though, it’s better to get basic functionality first.

Timeline for the rest of the program:

  • Week 7: Get audio recorder, notes, and camera functions built into our app, work on back-end
  • Week 8: Customize our app, finish up back-end, debug, build in extra features such as shortcuts
  • Week 9: Start field testing with other ProHealth students
  • Week 10: Devise ways for sharing this app with other students for further testing; ie: first-year SICE students to track their first couple weeks at college; do debugging and other minor adjustments

The team has briefly discussed possible publication options, though these will likely only be possible if Michael and I decide to continue working on the project after the REU is over. We’re currently looking at the CHI 2019 Student Design Competition and the CHI 2019 Late-Breaking Work submission.

Finally, here is our peer review response table for this week.

I’ll be excited to give more updates next week! Have a great week everyone!