The Future of Apps In The Hands of Today’s Teens


6.8.11 | Apps of tomorrow are not necessarily being developed in Silicon Valley. We’ve been paying attention to apps designed by young developers and are impressed with what we’re seeing. Really, we can’t think of any group better equipped to design the future of technology than teens themselves.

Consider, for instance, Youth Radio’s Mobile Action Lab. The group, which won a Digital Media and Learning Competition award last year, recently showed off their work for developers at Google. The company is looking to improve on its App Inventor, which enables novice programmers to create apps for Android phones. [See “An App for Everyone.”]

Teens involved with the Mobile Action Lab use the App Inventor in a big way, according to Youth Radio Senior Producer Lissa Soep, who wrote about the work in a recent blog post at HASTAC.

Soep and Mobile Action Lab Co-Founder Asha Richardson showed Google execs All Day Play, an app based on Youth Radio’s online radio station and music site that streams hip-hop/eclectic music chosen by Bay Area DJs, and new and established artists. The initial beta version of the app was created at one of Mobile Action Lab’s App Inventor workshops.

Mobile Action Lab’s youth designers are also working with Forage Oakland to build an app that enables the re-distribution of free fruit in the city. The app will help facilitate a back yard barter network that enables users to sign up to exchange their fruit for their neighbors fruit.

In a recent interview on KPFK’s “Hear in the City,” Forage Oakland founder Asiya Wadud said the project is important because it’s an example of social technology facilitating real world community building.

“Its not just a virtual community,” Wadud said. “The other part of it is really building a community at the neighborhood level.“

Youth Radio expects to release the app this summer, just in time for stone fruit season in California.

Leshell Hatley from Youth APPLAb also attended the Google meetings. Hatley’s program, Uplift, Inc., provides training in software and app development to students in the D.C. area.

She recently posted this great video of her students, some only in third grade, describing the apps they’ve been working on for their peers. Topics range from teaching foreign language and the history of Egyptian gods to skateboarding.

And there’s more to come. The students are working toward their app demo day coming up at the end of the month. We’ll keep you posted. Get inspired below:


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