Mediumrare founders use creativity to develop transit app

Mediumrare creative director Leigh McDonald, developer Sam Lu, and art director Bryan Maniotakis are the creators of iPod applications including their "baby" Next Stop. Next Stop gives people the ability to track the schedules of their choice of public transit with the touch of a few buttons. PHOTOGRAPH BY: James MacKenzie

Mobile applications are quickly becoming a big part of our lives. But few people know the challenges of developing efficient and convenient apps to help us accomplish everyday tasks such as catching the bus. Directors of Mediumrare in Calgary, SAIT alumnus Leigh McDonald and Bryan Maniotakis, former SAIT new media production and design student, say creating an app with useful components is only half the battle.

The real challenge is in designing a program that holds its useful features in an aesthetic, user-friendly package and still adheres to the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) laid out by Apple.

“(The market) is going to be so saturated with applications that only the best are going to stand out. “Either the apps that are original, or have amazingly clean design and usability are going to be the ones that prosper,” said McDonald.

McDonald and Maniotakis begin with a creative idea that will help solve a frequent problem and embody it in an app.

“Design is solving a problem, and creativity is what makes that design happen,” said Maniotakis. Here’s the basic process:

McDonald and Maniotakis begin at a whiteboard, mapping out every layer of an application to ensure it flows smoothly from start to finish.

Using software design programs, the Mediumrare team creates a mock version based on the original plans, and sends it to Apple to be inspected. Apple approves the program with the HIG in mind.

If it’s approved, final development of the app is complete and it’s released in the Apple app store.

The Mediumrare team has developed an app called Next Stop, which will help city transit patrons figure out when their next bus is coming, instead of using Calgary’s Teleride service.

In later stages, they hope to include a GPS component in line with City Transit GPS plans.  This feature will enable consumers to literally track their bus around Calgary.

While applications have been around for 25 years, the devices that employ them are changing, said SAIT software development instructor Randy Kaltenbach.

“The only thing that is different is there is no keyboard and the screen is smaller,” he said.

“Portable devices are definitely the way to go… they are the future,” said McDonald.

He says in a world that is becoming more mobile by the minute, the potential of mobile applications is increasing.

McDonald and Maniotakis plan to direct Mediumrare towards the mobile application field, and aspire to create products that stand out in a saturated market.

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