Students dive into crafting world-class apps

By MA SI| China Daily| Updated:  January 26, 2022 L M S

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Students participate in the 2020 Mobile Application Innovation Contest co-organized by Zhejiang University and Apple Inc in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo/China Daily]

Chinese students are showcasing their enthusiasm and innovative thinking about mobile applications in coming up with a string of innovative apps to solve societal issues and help enrich lives.

Li Xiang, a student at Zhejiang University, developed a mobile app with two schoolmates that can help users develop good habits by building and feeding virtual electronic pets.

A unique digital pet is generated in the app Weier, which sounds similar to the English word "well", through an algorithm. A user's daily behavior is used to help it grow.

"When users complete their daily exercise goals, their unique electronic pets will also be full of energy, and when they go to bed too late at night, their pets will have black circles under their eyes," Li said. The digital pet is like a projection of the user in the virtual world. But unlike the previous digital avatars that focused on the similarity with the user's appearance, the app is more of a projection of the user's inner character and behavior, he said.

"The app is designed to enable users to better know themselves and help them form good habits," Li said.

The app is one of more than 1,400 projects developed by students from more than 500 universities that were submitted to the 2021 Mobile Application Innovation Contest, co-organized by Zhejiang University and tech heavyweight Apple Inc of the United States. The contest concluded in mid-December.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said in a post on social media platform Weibo that it was great to see the talent and ingenuity on display at the contest. Students designed winning apps that help tackle important issues like improving access to healthcare and technology.

"Many of these young developers have gone on to become entrepreneurs, developers and teachers in their own right, and they are using the skills they've learned to make the world a better place," Cook said.

The contest is part of a broader push by the company to encourage innovation in China. Apple said its developer community in China, over 4.4 million and counting, is growing rapidly, experiencing a 76 percent increase from two years ago. The company said it is committed to doing even more to support and nurture the next generation of developers.

"Every student should have the opportunity to create something that can change the world, and we've seen firsthand how coding has transformed the global economy, creating entire new industries and supporting millions of jobs," said Isabel Ge Mahe, vice-president and managing director of Apple Greater China.

At the innovation contest, students also designed apps to help resolve societal difficulties with accessibility, preserving traditional culture and caring for family members.

Apple is also stepping up its push to help Chinese apps go global. One example is miHoYo Co, a Chinese video game developer and animation studio based in Shanghai. It was founded in 2012 by three students-Cai Haoyu, Liu Wei and Luo Yuhao from Shanghai Jiao Tong University-and draws on their shared love of anime.

It has become one of China's biggest gaming companies with over 2,000 employees. Liu Wei, co-founder of miHoYo, attributes much of the firm's success to its decision to develop an open-world game. That type of game has a virtual world in which players have fewer restrictions and can explore and handle challenges freely. The company's Genshin Impact, released in 2020, has become one of the biggest Chinese games globally to launch on the iOS App Store.