Ever had the idea for an app, but felt like the lack of programming and design ability was a bit of a non-starter? Well, 13-year-old Daniel Singer has made an app. He’s the designer of Backdoor, a chat app that lets users chat with their friends anonymously, trying to get clues to guess who they are. It’s available now on the App Store.
This isn’t even Daniel’s first thing that he’s helped to design: he helped create YouTell.com, an anonymous feedback site. He says that helped lead to the creation of Backdoor. “One day during a meeting, I was kind of thinking about how you reply to feedback, and if you reply a lot, that turns into a conversation. And from a conversation, the best platform to do that would be a messenger, and [on] iOS. And that’s kind of how it all started.”
While he has a limited iOS programming background at the moment, he’s more a design person, and he just started mocking up Backdoor after having the idea. “I’m primarily a UI designer, so I immediately kind of hopped into Photoshop and just started messing with that.”
How’d he get started with design in the first place? He says “a few years back” (keep in mind that he’s thirteen, almost fourteen years old) that he “wanted to create a gaming youtube channel, because I was in to it at the time, so you had to like make a website and a channel design and all that, and so I had to learn the skills to do that, and from there I wound up liking the skills more than the actual YouTube page, and I kind of pursued those further, primarily with design.”
In speaking over the phone with Daniel, his youth is apparent, both from the way he speaks like a typical teenager, and in how he describes how he uses Backdoor: “One of my friends played a prank on me, which was quite funny, which was, I was sitting down at a table and they said “look behind you, it’s me” – and it was complete strangers and I looked behind them, and it was funny. I ended up using clues and I kind of guessed that it was someone I knew and not some random stranger. That was fun.”
But also, he has a maturity to his voice – his voice was deep enough that I was a bit skeptical if he was still thirteen, which he technically is – he turns fourteen soon – and of course, what he’s doing is something that people twice his age are trying to do with startups. He also has a youthful optimism toward what is available with technology that he an do with it: “The skills and the resources are pretty widely available and free as well to the most part. To learn programming and design, in 30 days of your Photoshop free trial, you can learn quite a bit, and then if you’re into it and go ahead and get a student plan, which is not that much. It’s really openly available to learn.”
“I tried looking for a teacher, and there really aren’t for design as far as I was able to find, unless you went to art school, but that’s a college, a conventional course. I ended up teaching myself a lot about design.”
And by going out and learning how to do all of this himself, he’s way ahead of even many adults who have the inkling in their head “Maybe I could create an app…” because he just did it.