Friday, August 13, 2010

For Former York Teen, It’s All About Apps

By Betsy Caron
Staff Columnist
Harrison White has a Mac. He’s had all the latest Apple gadgets over the years and uses iTunes every day. But 14-year-old White isn’t carelessly spending hundreds of dollars on Apps — he’s creating them.
“Back when I was about 2 years old, I enjoyed taking things apart and explaining to my parents how it worked,” said White, who added his favorite subject in school is math. He even used to ask his mom for multiplication tables on his napkins for lunch.
Now, the former York, Maine, resident lives in Burlington, Iowa, and has four published iPad and iPod applications for sale online in the iTunes Store, each of which he programmed himself: iPiano Player, BigText, Scrambler and Conversation. Each App sells for $.99.
“The very first step is to think of a good idea that people would like,” White said. “Something that people would be interested in downloading to their device.”
White has been creating and programming Apps for about a year. His first App, iPiano Player, was rejected by Apple the first time it was submitted, but White refused to let one failed attempt stop him and his creativity.
“I wasn’t completely devastated,” he said. “It got rejected a couple times. The first two were for name issues. Afterward it was just a user interface problem. They have these guidelines for what your applications should and should not look like when presenting the interface. I just made a small correction on that.”
IPiano Player serves as a virtual piano for the iPad and was officially released on April 20, 2010.
“It’s like a life-size piano so the user can feel like they’re actually playing the piano,” White said. He has perfected the App with a recording feature, visualizer for playback, metronomes and pedal features. “With a lot of other piano Apps, the whole interface takes up a lot of the space and I wanted to make this as realistic as possible.”
Although modest about his musical talent, White has taken piano lessons since he was in Kindergarten and said his piano teacher was excited about the virtual piano. Other friends and family are also impressed with his achievements.
“A lot of people have always known that I’m pretty good with technology and a lot of people were excited that I made this accomplishment,” White said.
While he’s already successfully completed programming for Apple, White said he doesn’t have a set career path in mind yet, and may even consider following his dad’s footsteps in the medical field.
“I’m not quite sure what I want to do when I grow up,” he said. “I definitely have an interest in [computers], but I’ve only been doing this for about a year so it’s a little iffy.”
A few weeks ago, White received his first payment from Apple: a $280 check. But he said the money isn’t the reason he invents his Apps.
“You can actually use what you know to make something useful,” he said.
In the end, whether White ends up as the next Steve Jobs or as a piano teacher, he certainly will have come a long way from the kid in school with math problems on his napkin.
Photo caption: Harrison White, formerly of York, has published four apps for sale by Apple. (Courtesy photo)