Tuesday, July 9, 2013

CofC student’s Android app is a selfie-taker’s dream

When you gotta Snapchat

Posted by Susan Cohen on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 2:08 PM

click to enlarge William Jamieson - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • William Jamieson

William Jamieson took about three weeks worth of Snapchat selfies on his Android phone before he’d had enough.

The problem with cell phone cameras, whether it’s an iPhone or an Android or what have you, is that the devices’ front-facing cameras aren’t equipped with flash. That means if you’re taking a self portrait in any sort of low lighting, the photo isn’t going to turn out very well. Jamieson was sending a lot of dark Snapchats.

“It was just bothering me,” he says, so he looked in the Google Play app store for a solution. Since there wasn’t an application available for Android, and since Jamieson is a computer science major at the College of Charleston, he decided to solve the problem himself.

Two weeks later, Jamieson’s Front Flash app was completed. Since then it has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, and Android users are no longer in the dark.

While the sophomore hasn’t taken the Android app development class offered at CofC, Jamieson knew enough Java on his own to get the job done, and he utilized other skills too, like object-oriented programming and different computing series. “I got the tools I needed through the curriculum, and then I applied my programming experience to Android development,” Jamieson explains. “You need to be able to code it and make it look good.”

click to enlarge Front Flash screenshot
  • Front Flash screenshot

Once Front Flash hit the Google Play store in June, it was picked up by some app-review blogs, which overall had positive things to say about Jamieson’s project. The app took off from there, and it keeps growing. “I just thought it was be something that a few hundred people would use,” Jamieson says. “Not thousands and approaching millions.”

So far, Front Flash is rated 3.9 out of 5 stars — the app used to crash unexpectedly, but Jamieson has worked out most of the kinks. “I listened to all the recommendations that people put on the reviews, everything, just so I could continue enhancing it to make sure it grows as it’s projected to grow,” he says. “I don’t want anything stopping it.” He doesn’t get too much personal feedback, though. Most of the people he knows use iPhones.

Right now, Front Flash makes money with exit advertisements; Jamieson profits depending on how many people click the ads. Since Front Flash has only been available for a few weeks, its designer hasn’t seen too much profit yet, but if the growth trend continues, he hopes that he’ll be doing pretty well for himself. And once he releases a pro version of Front Flash this summer, which will feature video, image filtering, other special features, and a price tag, the developer should start bringing in a few bucks.

Jamieson plans to spend the rest of the summer perfecting the original Front Flash and releasing the pro version, and then he’ll move on to a new project and come back to school. Now that he has experience as an app developer, he has no plans on taking that Android development class at CofC.

“It’s very basic. It’s more to get kids interested in the program, to see what they could possibly do with it,” he says. “I opted out of it because I was told I’d be bored if I took it anyway. Now I definitely won’t take it."

To download Front Flash, visit the Google Play Store.

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