As we are living through unprecedented times right now, we believe that everyone deserves a bit of happiness in their lives. After seeing the negative effects, especially on mental health that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our friends and family members, we decided to do something about it by addressing one of the root causes of the problem. These days, it can be difficult to think of what we are each grateful for, and studies have shown that gratitude directly correlates to positivity. All three of us enjoy journaling, which serves as a stress reliever to escape from our daily lives, and is the main source of inspiration to develop this app. We wanted to create a digitally accessible way for people to quickly jot down and remember their “smile.y” feelings throughout the day, giving them something to be grateful for and bring back everyone's smiles, and thus we created a gratitude journal!

What it does

Smile.y is the one-stop-shop for all things positive. With COVID-19 affecting the mental health of people, especially teens and young adults, smile.y’s objective is to improve the mental health of its users by boosting the confidence and decrease the stress and anxiety levels that the users are experiencing during these hard times. Smile.y’s main feature is a gratitude journal, where users can jot down their thoughts as a form of self-reflection and find reasons for gratitude in their daily life. Studies have shown that journaling and writing down things you are grateful for can reduce stress and cope with depression. Coupled with a meditation timer, pun, and self-care generator, users can use this app to boost their mood at any time of the day in just a few seconds.

How we built it

We used Swift in Xcode to build our app, and used Figma for prototyping.

Challenges we ran into

The main challenge we faced while working with this app is learning how to use GitHub to share our code with each other. None of us have really encountered the issue of needing to know how to collaborate on code, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, it was impossible to meet up to collaborate. Therefore, navigating the many features of GitHub and the hierarchy of changing code was definitely a learning curve, but it was an amazing opportunity for us to gain this first-hand experience of an integral tool for computer programmers. This was also our first time creating an iOS app using Swift in Xcode, so we were not familiar with the syntax and needed to learn the programming language from scratch. Another difficulty we faced was navigating the user interface to create an inviting and happy experience for users. As all of us are more used to terminal-line programming (such as C++) rather than app coding, it was a bit difficult to transfer and apply our knowledge to a programming language that incorporates many user interface features. However, we were able to overcome this obstacle together, and are all very proud of our results that represent our hard work!

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We are proud that we were able to create a fully functional app with absolutely no prior experience with Swift and Xcode, and it embodied our hard work!

What we learned

We learned about app development, as none of us had experience with building apps prior to making smile.y, and how to used Xcode to build our app.

What's next for smile.y

One important aspect that we believe can really improve the user experience is to incorporate Firebase in our code. With Firebase, we would be able to include a chat feature where people around the world can share their happy experiences and express their gratitude for others. It would also allow for user login and data collection for a more enjoyable experience. Another improvement that would be in the 2.0 version of our app is a “Feed” section, where users are able to share the pictures, quotes, and experiences that made them happy that day. It’s always nice to share small tidbits of happiness with others. We would also like to include daily notifications that the app can send to the user, reminding users of things that they are grateful for or sharing positive messages that can sprinkle a bit of joy into their day, as well as continue to improve the user interface for a better user experience. Finally, we believe that incorporating a drop-down menu in the journaling feature and adding a calendar would improve the journaling experience significantly. By allowing the user to choose from options of what they are journaling about, such as the exercise, meditation, listening to music, etc. activities, we would be able to track what makes the user the happiest and tailor the app’s configuration to their own interests. It would also make for a more organized journaling experience, as the user would clearly be able to see what they have done in the past and therefore be able to implement a healthy balance in their activities. A color-coded calendar based on how the user is feeling from each day's journal entry would allow users to find trends in their mood and mental state over time.

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