St. Andrew’s middle schooler Charley Hutchison had planned to buy one of 5,000 available tickets to the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, which starts June 10.
Charley, a 13-year-old who will enter the 8th grade this fall and who last year became one of the youngest app developers in Apple history, had saved enough money to pay for the ticket himself, and had his browser pointed to the purchase page when they went on sale. He also commissioned his dad to do the same on his office computer.
It wasn’t enough. The tickets, which are issued only to those who have developed an app for Apple devices, were gone in fewer than two minutes. “I’ve heard estimates that they were gone as quickly as 45 seconds,” Charley said.
Turns out he won’t need a ticket.F
Charley received an email May 16 notifying him that he had been awarded one of 150 scholarships Apple gives to student developers across the world. That guarantees his attendance at the conference in San Francisco.
“We thought it was a shot in the dark,” Melissa Hutchison, Charley’s mom, said in an interview Wednesday morning. “We were really surprised, because we told him it would be a good experience but we didn’t really expect him to get it. So now we have a week and a half to get plane tickets to San Francisco.”
Said Charley: “I was very surprised because I don’t know how many (applied for the scholarship) but since it was international I’m guessing a lot of people entered.”
About 50 of Charley’s fellow winners – students from the U.S., Singapore, Australia, Germany, Malaysia and the Netherlands — formed a Facebook group, and are planning a picnic in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge before the conference starts. Winners range in age from 13 to 28, the oldest being a doctoral student. “That’s really going to be good for him, to be around kids from all over the world who are interested in the same things he is,” Hutchison said.
The WWDC gives developers an up-close experience with Apple’s latest operating systems, and offers hands-on training from Apple engineers. The conference runs from June 10-14 at San Francisco’s Moscone West convention center. Tickets are $1,600 apiece. Last year, Apple lowered the minimum age for developers in attendance from 18 to 13.
Charley had to develop an app to apply for the student developer scholarship. The app had to showcase his previous development projects, his educational and professional background, technical ability and his interests. Applicants had five days to put the app together.
Charley developed a game app set up to where every time the user got a point, a fact about Charley was revealed. “I knew I wanted to develop a game app, so I had to move pretty quickly because of the 5-day window,” he said.
Last spring, Charley developed FriendsforFlickr, an app that that allows users to connect their contacts with their photos from Flickr, a photo-sharing app. It was Charley’s second app, and his first for Apple devices. He was 12 at the time, making him one of the youngest developers to have an app make it through Apple’s rigorous approval process and onto the shelves of the company’s App Store.
At the conference, Charley will attend technical sessions designed to educate developers about whatever systems update Apple will reveal. Industry speculation has said that it’s not likely a new product will be unveiled at the conference, though it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Security will be tight. Charley and other attendees will have to sign non-disclosure agreements and will not be allowed to bring cameras or other photo or video recording devices inside the convention center.
“I’ll be learning to use stuff that’s brand new,” Charley said.
Charley will have several projects to keep his summer full once he returns from the conference. They’re all in the early stages. Charley said he’s still working on some of the codes and figuring out if he’ll have to outsource some of the work for them.
“There’s nothing that’s close enough to completion that I can have a firm date as far as a timeline,” he said. “Once I get farther along, I’ll have a better idea when they’ll be ready.”