Palash Tarneja’s meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook was supposed to be a surprise. But it wasn’t much of one for the former DPS Rohini student. “I kind of knew he was coming… it’s been a trend that he meets some selected student scholarship winners,” says the Delhi boy who just cleared Class XII.
His confidence also shows in his project demo which seems to have impressed the Apple CEO. Tarneja has made a software that translates the audio on YouTube videos in real-time. “You know how Apple is focusing on accessibility and my idea was about linguistic accessibility by translating YouTube videos into the native language of the user,” he says, adding how this will be especially useful in terms of educational content. “He (Cook) said it was a fantastic idea and he will look into it.”
While primarily a web and Android developer, Tarneja chose to develop an iOS model for the Apple scholarship programme. “It took me about a week, I learnt iOS development and made this,” says the boy who has been making mobile apps for over two years now.
Sudarshan Sreeram from Chennai is almost a WWDC veteran and was here last year too. His project, a Swift Playground called Amaze, again focuses on accessibility. “It’s a simple game where you have to navigate your way around a maze within a time limit and college stuff on the way. But the catch is that each time you reach a collectible, your direction symbols flip,” explains Sreeram, adding how the idea was to ensure that toddlers for whom the game is meant don’t become habituated to the movements. The game also comes with features that make it accessible for those with colour blindness and even low motor skills. His next project will be to help dyslexics.
Akhil Tolani, a 21-year-old student at Amity Noida, is on the other end of the spectrum. With his first app acquired by a European music streaming service and over 5 million combined downloads on his creations, Tolani can be called a tech entrepreneur already. However, he’s got the scholarship for an app that shows virtual jewellery or fashion on live videos. “Others do it on still images, but mine works on live camera,” says Tolani who has multiple apps on the xstore even now.
Kanishka Chaudhry is the only girl from India this year. Having just finished her Class X, this girl from Bahruch is working on a social network that is fully anonymous and catering primarily to teenagers like her. “There are many issues with the networks we have now. What if someone is harassing you or trolling you? The app I am working on does not let that happen,” explains the 15-year-old. Chaudhry says she turns to the internet when she gets stuck. “There is a solution to everything on the Internet.”
On the ground, Apple is also doing its bit to nudge children to take up coding and app development. Among the scholarship winners is Jay Firke, a Class XII student from Macro Vision Academy in Madhya Pradesh’s Burhanpur. It’s a very unlikely place to find an iOS developer in, but Firke’s is among the few Apple Distinguished Schools in India, where almost everyone has an iPad. Firke’s project uses Apple’s ARKit to create a shooter game within your environment. “I made an Android application for the school last January and now everyone in my academy uses it for their schedules and calendar,” says the boy who’s ultimate aim is to make an app that helps his father’s chemist business.