BEIRUT: When 18-year-old Samir Ghobril didn’t like the iPhone contact application, he decided to make his own. It was this undertaking that led to “Mingle,” a gesture-based iOS application made public on iTunes about a month ago. Taking Ghobril about eight months to complete, Mingle not only looks different than the standard contacts app, but it also connects people via different social media accounts, such as Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, in addition to featuring commands for standard phone calls and texts.
“[The original iPhone app] looked kind of ugly,” Ghobril said. “First, I just wanted to make it look better. But then I said, ‘That’s not enough of a feature to make a whole new app.’” So Ghobril added the alternative social media options.
“It came out of experimentation,” he added. “So I liked the idea and went for it.”
The high school senior has never received any formal education in software or app development. Instead, he relied on online tutorials and Internet forums to teach him how to create apps. This is not the first time a young Lebanese has made local news for being app savvy. In April, 12-year-old Jake Mir got his 15 minutes of fame for creating iOS games Emoji Escape and Emoji Go.
Mingle is just one of several projects by Ghobril, who plans to study computer engineering with a focus on software. He created two other applications, Circular and Jesus and Mary School, before launching Mingle. Circular is an app that crops pictures into circles, while Jesus and Mary School keeps track of his school’s weekly schedule and yearly exams and events.
“I made the other two apps to kind of teach myself,” Ghobril said.
Although Ghobril mainly considered his two previous projects practice, when he launched Mingle, he emailed several technology bloggers asking them for feedback.
Tech Crunch’s Sarah Perez reviewed Ghobril’s app, listing both positive and negative features. She described the app as a “cleaner and less sluggish type of contacts app” and said it was “clever in its design.”
However, Perez also noted some faults in the app, mainly, that it does not allow a user to view a person’s information fully, which can be a problem if their details are incomplete. Perez added that this fault could be corrected by adding a contact card feature.
“This change would make Mingle more usable, I think,” she said.
Ghobril has also received feedback from users who downloaded the app, and he said all feedback, negative or positive, had been “taken into consideration.”
Mingle costs $0.99 in the App Store during Ghobril’s limited launch sale currently, and will be sold for $1.99 when the update, Version 1.1, is released. So far, Ghobril said his app had received around 3,000 downloads. The downloads will likely continue to increase, as Mingle reached No. 1 on the productivity app list in the Lebanese App Store.
Ghobril, who keeps a list of application ideas, said he was thinking of creating an app for Mac computers in the near future, a change from creating applications for phones.
“For now, I’m going to focus on improving Mingle and adding some features. ... But I’m definitely thinking about making other apps,” Ghobril said.
“It’s always fun.”