Mobile Application Development - FAQ

CS 4520 / CS5520
College of Computer and Information Science
Prof. Stephen Intille

Thinking of taking Mobile Application Development? Here are some frequently asked questions.

Where can I learn more about the course?

Take a look at the most recent syllabus, which you can find from here.

What operating system is used in the course?

Android. Why?

Do I need an Android phone?

No. Although having your own Android phone can be helpful, Android has a good emulator, and slow but adequate loaner phones are available for testing on real devices. It probably will be helpful to have friends with Android phones, because they can help you test your apps.

Will it be too much work to take this course at the same time as PDP?

This is a question only you can answer. Mobile Application Development is an intense programming course. If you take MAD and PDP at the same time, you will be quite busy coding. Historically, most students who try this actually end up dropping MAD and taking it later, but some students have managed both courses simultaneously. The courses are quite different. The work in PDP is quite prescribed -- that is, you will generally be told what problem to solve and the methods you can use to do it. In MAD, you will need to come up with your own ideas and there will be mutiple ways to solve most problems. The open-ended nature of this can be challenging for some students; other students quite enjoy it.

Can I audit the course?

No. This is a project-based course and to truly become a strong mobile developer, you must actually work on creating apps. I also feel it is important, as an instructor, that I spend the limited time we have in class focussed on helping students who are registered for the course and working on all the assignments.

In the past students programmed a Boggle-like word game. What is the game this semester?

The individual app created in the course (before a team project) is usually a word game, but the specific design goals change from semester to semester and will be described in the first or second class. We have done games based on Boggle, Letris, Dabble, and Bananagrams.

Can I pick my project topic?

Yes, but within a set of predefined categories that are all loosely related to health or wellness. One of the challenges in the course is to design a new app around a set of constraints, and one of my goals is to do all I can to help you end up with an innovative app by the end of the term. This is best done by constraining the projects to a set of categories. This will be discussed further in the first or second class.

What are the project topic categories?

These change each semester and will be discussed in the first or second class meeting.

What is the difference between the grad and undergrad versions of the course?

Graduate students must use sensing in their individual apps and final project apps, and expectations for the quality and scope of final projects are higher. An optional text for the undergraduates is a required text for the graduate students.