Unleashing Creativity and Coding Skills in a Playful Way
As an app developer, I often wondered how I could share the magic of my profession with my two boys, Mason (14) and Ryder (10). The opportunity finally presented itself — a chance to bond and teach them a bit about iOS app development.
The Beginning: Simple Ideas, Big Laughs
We kicked things off with Xcode. Considering the visual appeal for kids, I opted for storyboards instead of diving straight into Swift UI.
Ryder’s Trickster App: Ryder’s mischievious nature led us to “teh gaem”, an app with a purposely misspelled button, “totaly not clikbiat”. The gag? A tap on the button would Rickroll the user. Ryder, full of excitement, set up the storyboard and even handled some basic constraints. And I mainly contributed a simple URL redirect in Swift.
Though his brother was too clever to fall for it, Ryder reveled in showing off his creation.
Mason’s Gem: Mason, not to be outdone, crafted “Blinking Simulator”. He found and downloaded a pixelated Minecraft jewel, making the entire screen a button that gradually unblurred the image of the gem with each tap. The goal? Collect gems, with a mischievous twist — nothing else happens at all (even after collecting 100 or 1000 gems)!
From Pranks to Purpose
These prank apps weren’t about creating the next big hit. They were about understanding the iPhone app development lifecycle — from concept to deployment. We navigated bugs, fixes, and countless trial-and-error moments.
The Spark for “Hanglish”
The real breakthrough came when we shifted our focus to a game that could actually make it to the App Store. With my recent endeavor to learn Hangul (the Korean alphabet) we found our muse. The result? “Hanglish”, a Korean/English memory game.
We stuck to a minimalist tile design, avoiding the need for intricate graphics. The game’s core was simple yet engaging: match Hangul tiles with their English counterparts in a 4x4 grid. As the difficulty ramped up, we removed color cues and audio hints, eventually expanding the grid for advanced players.
A Moment of Epiphany
I recently took a trip to South Korea (after we had started developing the game) and I was struck with an unexpected revelation. While (slowly and carefully) reading Hangul on street signs, I encountered a puzzling moment with a taxi labeled “카카오”. Initially reading the two syllables as “ka ka,” I was puzzled — but the moment of realization hit when I connected the dots — “Kakao,” a ubiquitous brand in South Korea. This instance of confusion turning into clarity was exhilarating and became the inspiration for a pivotal feature in our game.
Integrating Culture into Learning
Motivated by this experience, we introduced a new feature in “Hanglish” where players unblur popular cultural images by matching Hangul characters. Each successful match reveals a familiar image, echoing the joy of decoding language in real-life situations. From global celebrities to famous Pokémon, these images bridge language learning with cultural recognition, turning each session into an engaging puzzle.
The Journey to the App Store
After thorough testing on various devices, we were finally ready to submit “Hanglish” to the App Store. This journey wasn’t just about building an app; it was about shared experiences, learning, and capturing the thrill of understanding a new language.
Try “Hanglish” and Join Our Adventure
Even if learning Hangul isn’t your goal, give “Hanglish” a try and share your thoughts. It’s not just an app; it’s a story of family, fun, and the joy of learning wrapped into one.