Each year alongside WWDC, Apple runs a contest for students worldwide to create great app playgrounds using Swift code. This year 375 coders won, up from the previous 350. They’ll be among WWDC23’s virtual and in-person attendees.
“We are amazed by the talent we see from the young developers who enter our Swift Student Challenge,” said Susan Prescott, Apple vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations.
“This year’s submissions demonstrated not only the next generation’s commitment to building tools that will improve our lives, but also a willingness to embrace new technologies and tools, and deploy them in original and creative ways,” she added.
375 Swift Student Challenge winners to attend WWDC 2023
Here’s how Apple described this year’s crop of winners and what three, in particular, did:
Their app playgrounds represent more than 30 countries and regions, and cover topics as varied as healthcare, sports, entertainment and the environment. But there is one thing all of the winners have in common: They are using coding to share their passions with the world. For first-time winners Asmi Jain, Yemi Agesin, and Marta Michelle Caliendo, coding is an opportunity not only to forge a unique career path, but also to help others along the way.
Asmi Jain: App helps strengthen eye muscles
Challenge winner Asmi Jain designed an app playground to help users strengthen their eye muscles. That came about when the Medi-Caps University student in Indore, India, wanted to help a friend’s father suffering eye misalignment and facial paralysis after brain surgery.
In her app, a user watches a ball moving on the screen. The app tracks eye movements. Jain hopes it can help strengthen eye and facial muscles for those suffering a variety of conditions.
“It was important for me to create an app playground that could positively impact the lives of people like him,” Jain said. “My next goal is to get feedback and make sure it’s effective and user-friendly, and then release it on the App Store.”
“Ultimately, I want to expand it so that it helps strengthen all of the muscles in the face, and I hope it can one day serve as a therapy tool that people like my friend’s uncle can use at their own pace,” she added.
Yemi Agesin: First-person baseball game app
21-year-old Kennesaw State University (Georgia) student Agesin’s app playground incorporates sports and filmmaking in a first-person baseball game. Agesin is currently writing a film about a baseball player that he will produce this summer.
“Coding gives me the freedom to feel like an artist — my canvas is the code editor, and my brush is the keyboard,” Agesin said. “For my next two projects, I’m designing a sports game where you compete against other players in real time in a team setting.”
“And I’m also planning an app that will use augmented reality to help filmmakers visualize their graphics and effects while they’re shooting on iPhone,” he added.
He said he looks forward to learning about ARKit and RealityKit at WWDC23 so he can turn his ideas into apps that make a difference.
“By using code, I can build worlds that people can use, and at the same time, build a career for myself that brings together my passions,” he said. “I feel blessed and lucky that I live in a time and age where I can do that.”
Marta Michelle Caliendo: Dinosaur fossil memory game
Caliendo’s app playground uses anatomically correct pictures of dinosaur fossils in a memory game. Unsurprisingly, the 25 year old is really into paleontology.
“Dinosaurs should be a constant reminder to all of us to preserve biodiversity,” said Caliendo. She studies at the Apple Developer Academy in Naples, Italy, while going for a natural sciences degree at the University of Naples Federico II. “Coding helps me find new ways to express and share that message with others.”
For the app, Caliendo drew dinosaur fossils in Procreate on iPad. And she learned Swift in September, making pretty quick work of her mastery.
“My first experience with Swift was when I started at the academy, and it was beautiful because it was so intuitive and simple,” she said. “I really love this programming language because it lets me share a part of my personality through my code.”
Going forward, she hopes to build apps that help protect animals — reptiles and amphibians — and their environments. She’s already planning one that will help people track and protect sea turtle nests along Italy’s coast.
Swift Student Challenge winners get WWDC23 outerwear, AirPods Pro, a customized pin set and membership in the Apple Developer Program for 1 year, Apple said.