At Belmont, now ‘there’s an app for that’

Apple’s App Store reached its 10 billionth download in January, and a student-led application development group is keeping the Belmont community on top of this popular trend.

Andrew Trask, a sophomore finance major, started the Belmont iPhone App Organization in September 2010 to get involved in information technology.

He and four other Belmont students are learning new skills and working together to make iPhone apps.

Trask’s interest in software development began early; as a 12-year-old he helped his father work on a databasing project for FedEx. At Belmont, Trask was motivated to get back into programming when he got an iPhone.

“I became really fascinated with the power and versatility that comes with a little personal computer in your pocket,” he said.

With the help of computer science professor William Hooper, he found several other Belmont students interested in developing apps. Currently, the group is developing an Internet radio station with an iPhone app called Blac Marc.

Because there is no way to listen to popular on-campus musicians, Trask plans to make Blac Marc a radio station to feature independent Belmont artists.

“The real draw to it is that you’ll be able to listen to songs that were written by your friends, in your own location, maybe even about you, which I think is kind of exciting,” Trask said.

His goal is to expand the station to other universities, and he has hopes it will eventually become the next Pandora.

The Belmont iPhone App Organization is also working on other apps. Belmont’s Best of the Best Showcase and Phi Mu philanthropy chair contacted Hooper about application developers, and he was able to direct them to Trask’s app development group.

“A lot of people at Belmont have iPhones, and it’s more exciting to look at your sponsors, artist lineup and bios via application than in a big list,” said Christiana Sudano, associate producer of the showcase.

The Best of the Best app is the first app for a Belmont showcase, and there are plans to update the application for other showcases in the annual series.

The Phi Mu sorority contacted the app group to develop an app for its April philanthropy fashion show benefiting Children’s Miracle Network. Tickets to the event will be available for purchase on the application, and it will also have links to information about the designers and about Children’s Miracle Network.

“If anyone thinks of an app they want, we’ll be happy to make it for them,” Trask said. He also said the group is open to making individual artist apps.

Trask worked as an assistant for Grammy-award-winning producer, Malcolm Springer, and many of Springer’s artists benefit from having apps. Instead of handing out a big promotional pack, Springer was able to whip out his phone and have people in the industry download the artist’s app, Trask said.

The Belmont iPhone App Organization’s ultimate goal is to undertake a social media geo-tagging project.

“The next step is not more Internet connectivity, it’s a better user interface where all the networks holding information on the Internet become a part of daily life,” Trask said. This application would use the camera of an iPhone to show the YouTube videos, Facebook posts, and tweets uploaded nearby.

Look for more things to come from Belmont’s app developers. Hooper described apps as “the shape of things to come.”

Recent numbers support Hooper’s statement. The Apple App Store’s 10 billion-plus downloads come from a current selection of 350,000 iPhone apps and 65,000 iPad apps.

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