2016 Cool App Winners


When we first launched our Cool App contest, we knew there would be some stiff competition. The winners represent some truly amazing innovations that are helping people live and work more creatively and compassionately. I want to congratulate all these great developers for their innovative use of Embarcadero tools. If this year is any indication, I truly can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2017.
The very first entry to the Cool App contest was 1Password for Windows. This is the premier password and identity manager, and many of us already used it and were fans, but we didn’t know it was written in Delphi. When interviewing the Stefan van As, the developer of 1Password for Windows, it was really clear why he used Delphi: it has a great collection of encryption libraries, fast native code, and everything you need to make amazing user interfaces.
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Our next Cool App winner already have a few other awards to it’s name, notably a Technical Achievement Emmy award. And that winner is FrameForge Previz Studio. If you’ve ever seen behind the scenes of a movie you’ve no doubt seen them working with storyboards. A real low-tech way of working through the story and framing before filming begins. Well that has all changed with the introduction of FrameForge 3D pre-visualization software. Not only does it make it much easier to create the storyboard frames, but it understands things like camera spacing, perspective, set layouts and more.
A little back story. I’m a big fan of the TV series Orphan Black, which is about a bunch of clones. This means the main actress plays a number of different roles, and is regularly in scenes where she is interacting with herself. From the very beginning I was impressed with how well the scenes worked. So much so that I checked the credits to see if she was quintuplets or something. When I was interviewing Ken Schafer, the developer of FrameForge, he mentioned that FrameForge was used in the production of Orphan Black. It all made sense. It is only with a tool as powerful and versatile as FrameForge could something so impressive be pulled off so well.

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I come from a very musical family. Both of my parents released music albums and all my siblings play a couple instruments by ear and sing beautifully. I’m the one they call when they have computer trouble, but I’ve never been musical. I tried. Took a couple classes, but never really got it. That is where the next winner of our Cool App contest comes in. Introducing EarMaster for the iPad. This is the app for people who want to learn music theory like rhythm and the ability to carry a tune. I downloaded EarMaster and installed it on my iPad and I kid you not, within a few minutes my wife noticed a difference. I’m not ready to release an album yet, but I’m planning to work with EarMaster some more.
Hans Lavdal Jakobsen is the lead developer behind EarMaster. He developed the original EarMaster for Windows in Delphi, and when it came time to create an iPad version he wanted to use Delphi. A few people told him it wouldn’t work, but the end result was he shared 97% of code with the Windows and macOS versions, got to market quicker and had a fantastic native app for iPad.

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I was starting to think nothing else could impress me as much as these first few winners. I was wrong, and I’m OK with that. Expresii is the most impressive paint program I’ve ever seen. It uses the GPU for real-time physics simulation of watercolors. I can watch their showcase video over and over again. It is mesmerizing the way you can reposition the tablet to control the flow of the paint as the water flows down the canvas – in real-time! I’m starting to wonder if there is any reason to use paper anymore at all! Nelson Chu tells me that the GPU simulated physics are powered by GLSL and GLScene, and he uses the built in sensor components that come with Delphi to determine the tip of the tablet. He is looking forward to using the new parallel programming library to simulate a split brush in parallel.

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Our most recent Cool App winner is something completely different. Built by two sixth grade girls, Suresh and Safalta, from Sherwood Middle School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, HOP is designed to help prevent both hunger and obesity. The idea is to help people understand the relation between their caloric intake and obesity. So those who are overweight can reduce their caloric intake, and then donate the money they would have spent on food to feed the hungry. It is a brilliant idea.
The thing I love about this story is Suresh and Safalta’s school taught them to use Java and Python for app development, but they were not satisfied with the selection of tools they saw. Until they tried Delphi. As they put it, “Embarcadero provided [an] easy button tool for compiling codes for multiple devices including android, iOS etc. which helped us to develop app quite faster. We are planning to recommend the use of Embarcadero [Delphi] to other kids interested in developing apps.”

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We have an impressive collection of apps as contenders for future cool app winners, but we are always looking for more. Maybe it will be your app. Enter today and you could win the opportunity to be highlighted in a future newsletter, blog post and press release, not to mention receiving a $500 Amazon (or equivalent) gift card.

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