Chances are good that you have quite a few apps on your smartphone, and use at least several of them daily. While some of your favorite apps were likely designed by people employed by giant tech companies — from Apple to Google to Facebook — many other excellent apps have been developed by independent developers and designers at startups around the world. And some of these developers haven’t even reached their twenties yet.
Check out our favorite pieces of software made by teens. Some of our picks are strictly mobile apps, while others take the form of websites, and still others come with a broader range of tools in addition to a mobile app. But all are truly impressive, especially when you consider that they’re likely just the beginning for the innovative teens behind them.
1. Cosmos Browser
Cosmos Browser, created by Rohith Varansi, enables users to browse the Internet via SMS without a data or WiFi connection. Cosmos is a fully-featured browser which enables you to browse around, follow links, and visit any website that you would on a desktop computer. It provides an Internet connection in places where you wouldn’t otherwise have one, and enables you to browse the entire Internet even if you’ve used up your data for the month or don’t have a WiFi network connection. “If you can make a call, you can get online,” the project’s website explains. Fast Company reported last year that Cosmos Browser is a “smart idea for the dumb-phone world,” pointing out that the software could become an essential workaround in parts of the world where a data connection or a WiFi network is hard to come by. The browser requests URLs, captures and simplifies the source code, then unpacks the results and displays them via SMS.
Finish is a “to-do list for procrastinators,” available for the iPhone and iPad. It began as a project by two 16-year-olds, Ryan Orbuch and Michael Hansen, and TechCrunch reported in 2013 that the idea originated during their tenth-grade finals, when they wanted a better way to stay on top of all the work they needed to complete. With Finish, the app’s website explains, “time is an elastic concept.” You can define what Short Term and Mid Term timeframes mean to you, and when you set the due date for a task, the app will categorize it automatically. You can opt to receive notifications when tasks slide from Mid Term to Short Term or when they become due. “Once you’ve added a task, Finish keeps track of how much time has elapsed, and auto-manages your tasks by sliding them into the proper timeframes and sending optional notifications.”
FlightCar is a service that provides travelers with free airport parking by enabling them to rent out their cars to other travelers. The Washington Post reports that the service got its start when a trio of teens — Kevin Petrovic, Rujul Zaparde, and Shri Ganeshram — realized that they could reduce the number of cars sitting idle in airport parking lots by connecting inbound travelers in need of cars with outbound travelers who need to park them. Every rental is insured up to $1 million, and renters are pre-screened. FlightCar members get free parking, a car wash, and get paid if their car is rented out. Members who rent a FlightCar vehicle are guaranteed to get the lowest rental rates, with free insurance and no fees. The service operated in 14 major U.S. cities at the time of writing, with more locations coming.
HomeSwipe, founded by Jason Marmon, Michael Lisovetsky, and Dean Soukeras, enables you to find a new apartment to rent in New York City via a Tinder-like interface on its website or via its iOS app. You can navigate rental listings through the swipe interface, swiping left to “pass” and right to “save to favorites.” You can fine-tune your search with filters by price, pet-friendliness, neighborhood, number of bedrooms, and whether a property has features such as a doorman. With the tap of a button, you can chat with an agent about a listing. You can also choose to subscribe to HomeSwipe Hotlist push notifications, which alert you if there are new apartments, open houses, or price drops that match your filters.
Nightingale, a suite of apps and tools created by MIT students Eric Bakan and Delian Asparouhov, helps healthcare professionals practicing evidence-based therapy for patients with autism. Clinical and school administrators can use Nightingale’s cloud-based technology to standardize data collection and access data from any device. Service providers, including ABA therapists and SLPs, can use the tools throughout the data capture and analysis process, and parents can use Nightingale’s tools to make the therapy process more transparent by keeping track of whom their child is interacting with, what he or she is working on, and how he or she is performing. According to Nightingale’s website, it “interprets data to provide actionable insights and guide practitioners in achieving the optimal outcome for every individual.”
Notion is an iOS app that is “like YikYak, just more relevant.” It’s an anonymous posting app for social issues, offered by a company called Ecoviate, which was founded several years ago by Param Jaggi. The rules of the app are simple: “Play nice” and “Get controversial.” Users can choose from among a number of different topics to post about — abortion, climate change, the death penalty, gay rights, gun control, healthcare, and marijuana — and post anonymous messages on their thoughts on the topic. They can upvote and downvote others’ posts, and post replies. Browsing a topic, they can also filter posts by what’s new and what’s hot.
Ponder, created by Tyler Mateen and William LeGate, is an app that enables you to “see the world’s opinion” on any content you post. Ponder functions as a social network where you can post content and receive crowdsourced ratings from your followers and from the people around them. As the app’s AngelList profile explains, “Ponder is a fun and interactive way to get feedback on your content. Choose photos or text and put them up for your friends to vote on and discuss. Or, for more intimate content, post anonymously and get honest feedback from those around you. Getting a second opinion has never been easier.”
Represent is a site that offers “a better way to resume,” from Shipp, a team of developers and designers that consists of Brandon Jacoby, Jordan Singer, and Jeremy Goldberg. The site enables you to create a beautiful and professional resume in minutes. Goldberg wrote on Medium last year that “creating a resume has often been a laborious and outdated process,” as many people don’t know where to start, still rely on offline tools, and rely on external platforms like email and social networks to share their resume. So Goldberg and his friends “decided to build the experience that we ourselves wanted,” building Represent as a tool to create resumes that work the same on the web, in PDFs, and on mobile devices.
Workflow is an iOS app from DeskConnect, a company founded by Nick Frey, Conrad Kramer, Ben Feldman, and Ari Weinstein. Workflow enables you to create automated workflows on the iPhone or iPad, connecting apps and actions together to automate the tasks you complete on your device. The app includes more than 200 actions for your device and for your apps, and you can create a workflow by dragging and dropping these actions. You can even “make your own apps” by adding workflows as their own apps on the home screen, enabling you to launch them with a tap. Workflow also features a gallery, where you can discover advanced workflows that other users have made, and share your own workflows with the community. You can also create extensions that plug in to other apps, enabling you to make PDFs in Safari, add voice memos to Evernote, or upload a photo and get a Dropbox link in a single step.