...to Becoming a Mobile Developer!

Month: October 2011

New Android app: Medical Student MCQ App

So, after being bitten by the Android Publishing bug with my first app, the Irish Lotto helper app, it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to create a 2nd app, when the opportunity came knocking.

My 2nd app, which has just been published, is called Medical Student MCQ App.

The purpose of this app is to aid Medical Students who are in their final year of med school, by asking them a difficult multiple choice question (MCQ) once per day, for the entire duration of their college year. The theory behind it is if they can learn that one piece of information each day, then by the end of the year they should fair much better in their exams!

The idea for the app came about when my brother, who is an experienced paediatrician, asked me if it would be possible to make such an app. I responded positively and we decided to take it from there, with me doing the technical side, and him writing the questions.

For this to be as efficient as possible, I had to write a basic web form in PHP, using a MySQL backend. He could simply fill in the form with a question, 5 possible answers, a radio button representing the correct answer, and a textarea at the bottom for him to fill in the “tip”. The tip pops up when the user gets the correct answer, and gives them an expanded explanation of why the answer is correct.

Anyway, due to time constraints, we had to enlist 2 other doctors to help with the questions. This worked out well as now we have a team of 3 doctors, each with their own specialised field, able to write relevant and helpful questions.

On the client side, I had to choose between including the full database, or forcing the user to download the database on first run. I chose the latter, and for good reason.

Due to the number of questions, it is possible that errors could sneak in somewhere. Rather than releasing a new app version for each spelling mistake, and hoping everyone upgrades promptly, I thought it would be better to have direct control over the content they see every day. To achieve this, I have put in an “update” button in the menu, whereby the user can download the latest database at the touch of a button. This will include all the updated/refined questions, without forcing an app update through the market. Also, if we want to add new questions, or remove questions completely (maybe due to curriculum changes) I can do so through my little web front end that I built for this.

Medical Student MCQ app, available for 4 euro from the Android Market

The app is available now, for a small price of €4, and is available for download from the Android Market here:
Medical Student MCQ App


New Android app: Lotto Helper IE

So, after dipping my toes in the Android water over the summer, I began working on my own app.

I took me roughly one month to do it, from start to finish. Admittedly, I slowed down once college started, but that’s to be expected since I did have to learn Python, and Django, as well as how to parse websites!

So, what does my first app do exactly? Well, its called Lotto Helper IE. It is an app to show the user what the most common lotto numbers are in the Irish lottery since its inception in 1988. I basically parsed a website with all the numbers, put them into an XML file, and from there I counted each number and sorted them in order. The problem with this method is that, in 1992 the Irish Lottery Commission added some new numbers, extending them from 35 to 38. The Bonus ball was also added. A few years later, the numbers were then extended to 42. Now, based on frequency alone, this would lead to inaccuracies, since the draw began in 1988 and some numbers were only added 4-6 years later.
To counter-act this, I’ve made a few tweaks. Firstly, I counted how many draws were missed by each new number. Then I subtracted that from the total amount. I could then work out an accurate percentage and sort the numbers by this.

On top of this, I have also added in support for the Euromillions. Similarly, I parse the numbers, store in XML, and then do some calculations. The result gives me an ordered list of the monst common numbers, and how many times they’ve come out.

On the Irish Lotto website, there is a number checker. I’ve checked my predicted numbers and they seem to be doing well. Over the last month, anyone who had played these numbers would have netted themselves over €30! Not bad for a free app!

Apparently, there is big business in betting shops where people can bet on number pairs to come out in each lotto draw. I’m hoping to extend the app to include a feature like this. In the meantime, I’ve a “stats” screen, which displays the raw data for each number in both the Irish Lotto, and the euromillions. I’ve a few hundred downloads so far, which is cool, ranging from Ireland, the UK, and America to Eastern Europe, China and even Brazil!

Lotto Helper IE available for free from the Android Market

My first personally publish app can be download, for free, from the Android Market here:
Lotto Helper IE