App that gets people to set phones aside bears fruit

Republic Polytechnic's winning team (from left) Libern Lin Yue Bin, Fang Ling Qing and Lester Yap Jian Le, all 20, displaying their winning app, Apple Tree, which aims to get people to spend more face time with each other. They won a $30,000 grant at the Splash Awards to develop the app.

A team of students from Republic Polytechnic has been awarded $30,000 to develop the app to stop all other apps - literally.

The 20-year-olds clinched the grant at the Splash Awards yesterday to develop their app idea Apple Tree, which will be released next March to mark the SG50 celebrations.

The contest, organised by the Singapore Computer Society, saw young people from schools and universities across Singapore come up with apps that will bring the local community together.

Apple Tree encourages users to spend more face time with friends and family, instead of being always glued to their phones.

When two or more users put their phones together, the app locks the phones while a virtual apple tree grows on the screens. The longer the phones remain together but untouched, the more apples grow on the tree.

The team hopes to partner vendors such as cinemas or clothing retailers to offer discounts to users in exchange for the apples. Users are also encouraged to raise donations for charities by collecting the apples.

Apple Tree won in the contest's tertiary category, while a team from Hwa Chong Institution (College Section) clinched the top prize for the pre-tertiary category with their app RunSG. The app charts routes for runners using data on traffic conditions and air quality, and encourages runners to meet up and run together.

The Splash awards, which are in their 11th year, saw 63 entries from more than 170 participants.

The Minister of State for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, was the event's guest of honour.

This article was first published on Nov 19, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.