While on the bus ride home, we were brainstorming ideas for the competition. While looking through various apps and social media for problems to solve, we came to the realization that spending too much time on social media itself was a problem. Despite there being many productivity apps on the Play Store, many require payment, have ads, track/sell data, run too many background processes killing battery life, or are just too complicated to use for a productivity app. Thinking back, we all procrastinated on our work on our phones and stayed up all night doing work instead of sleeping. So, we decided to make a brand new app to help with productivity that is free, lightweight, and easy to use. It aims to solve the problem of procrastination and getting off task when using our phone during work.

Our Solution

Our app, ReflectPad, is designed to help people track their time management skills and help maintain a productive workflow. There are three main features of our app:

  1. A productivity score - a number on a scale from 1 to 10 that lets you know your average 'productivity score' with a 10 being the most productive and a 1 being the least.
  2. An activity log - a log for your activities to help you see where your time is being spent
  3. A daily planner - a planner built to help keep track of everything that needs to get done

Our solution is unique because it puts many different services together into one, free, easy-to-use app that requires little to no background processes. A simple interface ensures that the user stays on task and doesn't get distracted by other unnecessary features of the app.

How We Made It

We used MIT App Inventor to create the app. Although this wasn't ideal due to the many limitations of this platform, it helped us make a basic version of our app for a proof of concept. Our head programmer, Tyler Murphy, prefers a platform called React Native, which is used for coding mobile apps in JavaScript that works for both Android and iOS. React Native: link.

Challenges We Faced

Due to the limitations of MIT App Inventor and the Scratch programming language, we couldn't make the app track your activities automatically like we wanted to. Also, we wanted to add to the GUI to help make ReflectPad look a bit more polished but sadly, they aren't supported in MIT App Inventor Other challenges we faced were scaling issues. It took lots of tinkering to be able to find a way to have the images scale correctly on different devices with various resolutions.

Next Steps

We would like to add the functionality of push notifications and automatically tracking app usage, but that is most likely not possible with MIT App Inventor and using React Native would help us achieve our goals for ReflectPad. Integration with other services such as Schoology are also something we'd like to add.

Lessons Learned

This was a new experience for our team as it is our first time participating in such a project. We saw the challenges of not just making the app, but the challenges of marketing and figuring out what people want. We learned just because you can write an app, it doesn't mean its any good; a strong marketing and research team are just as crucial to the app-building process. Teamwork and effective communication are what it's all about. We used a SWOT analysis to find out what was helpful and what was harmful. In the end, we came up with ReflectPad, an app ready to improve the lives of many people.

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