Need a Calculator for your iPad? I know just the guy…

You may have noticed that even though I have two kids, they don’t often make appearances here. I don’t post photos or even mention them without their permission because, you know, they’re not the ones writing a blog and they have the right to some privacy even though Mom’s an author.  But today I’ve been given rare clearance to blog about something cool in the life of my 14-year-old son.  After months of teaching himself how to write code for iPhone and iPad applications, one of his apps has been approved by Apple and is for sale now in the iTunes app store!

If you know anything about writing apps, you know it’s kind of complicated. As a matter of fact, I looked into it a while ago, thinking I’d write a quick application to go along with my skating book, Sugar and Ice. I looked into it…for about ten minutes, discovered there is no such thing as "a quick application," and promptly suggested to my son that he learn to write apps so I could hire him to write one.  He did. (He’s working on it, so the Sugar and Ice app will be forthcoming, with fun stuff for skaters, a book excerpt, and an audio file of me reading Chapter 1!)

Watching the boy go through this process has been fascinating and not entirely unlike the process of writing a book. There have been false starts, times when he thought he had everything figured out, only to load code onto a test device and have it crash, and times when he submitted an app and had it rejected. He’s learned not only how to write code, but also how to try, fail, and try again. He’s turned to the Apple Developer Forum online for help and had conversations with fellow developers, most of whom are adults and had no idea they were talking with an 8th grader at the time.  We were amused by one response he got that included the line "…and then the rest is pretty straightforward. I mean, a 15-year-old could probably figure it out."  He attended a week-long tech camp on writing apps at MIT this summer, and most recently, he’s learned about reading multi-page legal documents and deciphering international tax codes, since Apple only handles taxes for countries that have tax treaties with the U.S.

Yesterday,  his first app went on sale in the app store. It’s a full-screen calculator he developed for the iPad (which doesn’t come with one like the iPhone does) with a customizable background. He wrote code that allows a user to choose any image from his or her photo library to use as the background.

Pretty cool, huh?  And yes…this is one of those proud-mom posts.

So…if you are in need of a 99-cent calculator for your iPad, you can follow this link to the boy’s app page online and then click "view in iTunes" or just search the app store for "calculator with custom background" on your device, and you’ll find it.  But you won’t be the first download…

The boy woke up yesterday and reported to my husband that he’d had one download, before the app was even listed in the "Newly released" section. Suspicious, he checked my iPad and confirmed his suspicions. "It was Mom."  I couldn’t resist being his first sale.