WWDC21: Developers in the region share their success stories
May 20, 2021

Apple’s annual conference commences on June 7th.

Weeks before the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference starts, we look at how the growing developer community in the region has produced some of the best apps on the App Store. The increasing interest in app development has grown over the years, with kids, students, and even adults eager to learn more about coding.

Apple’s App Store turns 13 this year and has revolutionized the way people use smartphones. In that amount of time, apps that help with productivity, fitness, or even games have delivered the best experience you can have on a mobile device. 

Apple’s WWDC21 starts on June 7th as an online-only event similar to last year.

One of the few apps from the region that gained worldwide recognition is Waterspeed, an app that keeps track of your watersport performance. The app lets you collect key stats such as speed, angle, pace, distance, heart rate while providing wind and tide forecasts.

The app was developed by Massimiliano Picchi, who saw the inspiration to create Waterspeed when he got an Apple Watch for his 40th birthday. As a sailing fan, he originally wanted to use the Apple Watch on the water but found out that certain apps needed to be tethered to an iPhone for it to work.

Harnessing his skills as a coder 20 years ago, he read blogs, downloaded Xcode and the rest is history. But the journey wasn’t easy he says, citing that experience has been tough. “In my opinion, doing a good app means creating one that doesn’t crash, and that is super easy to use and has a good UI,” Picchi said.

Picchi also said that he has committed to updating the app at least twice a month to keep it updated with Apple’s newest technologies including CoreML which he says should improve the experience of users. He even added that he has 100 active beta testers for Waterspeed, which was an essential resource on how the app is being developed.

Massimiliano Picchi, who saw the inspiration to create Waterspeed when he got an Apple Watch for his 40th birthday.

Another app that is gaining popularity in the region is Collage Maker – Mixgram Editor made by Abdellatif Lyamani. The app lets you create your own collages and add stickers, fonts and various background patterns. Lyamani said that his fascination for mathematics was one of the reasons [for] making the app. “In the early days of the App Store most of the apps in the photo category were very basic, so I saw the opportunity to bring some advanced geometric concepts to photo and video collage. I started this journey learning Objective-C programming in 2012,  then I decided to quit my job as a Quantitative Analyst in 2013 and to start Mixgram and be fully dedicated to it,” he said.

Lyamani also highlighted the support that Apple has given him as a developer, saying that more successful apps are now based in Dubai. “We also have a very active Swift community which is managed by some of the most talented developers in the region,” he added.

Like Picchi, Lyamani faced his own challenges in making his app but he says he was satisfied with the outcome considering what he has accomplished, saying: “Apple offers a great platform for developers and constantly enhances the programming language to make it easier for the developers and help them speed the time to market. This means we have more time to focus on creating value for the end-user rather than developing complex functions.”

Abdellatif Lyamani quit his job as a Quantitative Analyst in 2013 to start Mixgram.

Despite the hurdles, the developers said you shouldn’t hesitate in achieving your goals. “There is room for everyone and it is worth it to try!” said Lyamani. “Enjoy, and care what you are doing. Increase the quality, keep up the challenge, and learn from the Apple experience as much as you can,” concluded Picci, saying that it will be hard and tiring, but it will eventually be rewarding. 

Currently, the App Store houses more than 1.8 million apps worldwide, with more than 175 storefronts in over 40 languages. Apple has also announced the App Store Small Business Program that will see a reduced commission on paid apps and in-app purchases. Eligible developers will get a reduced 15 per cent commission if they earned up to $1 million in proceeds during the previous calendar year.

WWDC21 returns on June 7-11, 2021, retaining its online-only format just like last year and will be available for free for all developers. Apple is expected to reveal the next versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS, and tvOS during the event.

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. When he’s not busy playing with the latest games, Victor usually spends his time collecting Blu-rays and building his own movie library. As the Online Editor for T3 Middle East, he develops and writes content for www.T3ME.com which includes reviews, features, and videos in addition to managing its social media and web content.