I developed ZipShare as an app to solve a carpooling problem I was having in my school. As a high school student who lived far away from my school and had two working parents, it was hard for me to go to school every day. For this reason, my family thought it would be a good idea to start a carpool group. However, even though it did fix my problem organizing carpools between three families was the hardest thing to do. Every week one parent would send an email to the group informing each other about who would be driving and where we would meet. However, another parent would respond to the email saying that the schedule proposed wouldn't work for them. This parent would then send another email with a new schedule. This process would continue every week and about 10-15 emails later a decision would be made. During this process, I thought there must be a better way and that's when I decided to use my coding skills to create ZipShare.

What it does

ZipShare is a carpooling app that targets schools across the United States. The app uses three main features to make this possible. Upon opening the app the user is greeted with a map. Within this map, a user can see other students who go to their school and where they live. This information then allows the user to create carpool groups with students who live closest to them. Within these groups, a user can send messages and also schedule carpooling rides using an inbuilt calendar. ZipShare is currently on the app store available for free!

How I built it

I used multiple different developer tools to build ZipShare. ZipShare needed a back-end system to store user data and find students who go to the same school. For this reason, I used firebase. In order to show students who went to the same school as the current user, I used the google maps API. I implemented the messaging system and the 5-day calendar by myself without the help of any API's. Lastly, I also integrated global push notifications within my app through an API system called One Signal.

Challenges I ran into

One of the major challenges I faced was my technical ability and how it matched up to the features I believed were required to make this app successful. At first, messaging seemed like a daunting task but after I took my time to understand and think about the back end structure I became confident and was able to execute. Another challenge I faced was making sure that the app looked beautiful. Even though as a developer I believe the core features are the most important, I knew that if the UX/UI was no good it would be hard to market the app. Lastly, even though this is a challenge I am still going through, I am trying to figure out the best way to get my school to implement ZipShare as the main carpool system.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

I am very proud of my app. I feel like I have learned a lot. Mainly, I am proud of the inbuilt group messaging system and the algorithm I used to group people who went to the same school. I am also proud that I was able to complete an app that could make lives easier within my school and as an added benefit possibly reduce traffic and pollution.

What I learned

ZipShare was the first app I built. Therefore I learned a lot from basic iOS development to complex techniques. I learned about the usage of different API's, dependency managers, UX/UI standards, backend structure, step by step product development, debugging, and the importance of user testing. In the future, I hope that this app can teach me techniques when it comes to marketing and onboarding users.

What's next for ZipShare

I have both a technical and non-technical plan for ZipShare. On the technical side, I plan on adding a new feature where the driver in a carpool group can start a ride. Upon starting the ride all other users in the group will be able to track the driver. This way everyone is always up to date on where the driver is going and if everyone makes it to the destination on time. As for the non-technical side, I hope that I can on board my school and other neighboring schools within the app. I also hope that I can convert this app into a business by taking it to a startup incubator like Catapult or MIT Launch.

To Testers

When testing my app use an account I have setup for you. I say this because my app requires users dependent on your school address. For this reason, I have setup a test environment for you. Here are the account credentials:

Email: Password: hello123

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