These guys just put Singapore on the map by winning Apple Design Award

Apple, in its 20th iteration of the Apple Design Awards, has rewarded Singapore-based partnership Clean Shaven Apps for its beautiful currency converter, called Elk.

According to Apple, the annual awards ceremony that happened on Wednesday (June 7), celebrates "the talent, artistry and creativity of developers who set the standard for ideal app design".

The pair is the first not just in Singapore, but the whole of South-east Asia, to win this award.

Photo: Apple

Clean Shaven Apps was founded by Malaysian-born Singapore permanent resident Mr Muh Hon Cheng, 36, and Singaporean Mr Lin Junjie, 31, in 2015.

Mr Muh attended the conference alone, however, as Mr Lin was not able to attend due to cost issues.

Mr Muh collecting the Apple Design Awards trophy.Photo: The Straits Times

Speaking to The Straits Times. Mr Muh, who collected the award, said that he has been attending the annual developer's conference from 2010.

According to an email interview with the paper, Mr Lin said he was surprised but delighted with the award, saying: "It is surreal that a modest team of two, working out of a study room in a Housing Board flat, can be recognised at the highest level alongside top developers and designers from the United States and Europe."

Elk, or the Travel Currency Converter according to their page on the Apple's App Store, promises a quick way to convert foreign currencies conveniently.

Let's look at how sleek it is:


Photo: Alvin Kosasi

The conversions can be done in values of 1, as we can see from the screenshots above. The value can be increased or decreased by swiping left or right.

By tapping on any value, more values in between will appear. For example, if you tap on the 230 bar, a list of values from 231 to 239 will be available for view as well.

There is also an option to swap the position of currencies for better comparison.

The application will intelligently infer the location of the user based on the timezone the phone is in along with GPS data. From its location, the app will be able to automatically select said location's currency so users do not have to manually select.

When the phone is offline and not able to fetch the latest rate from the internet, users can always set a custom rate from the last known data and convert accordingly.

The application is available on the Apple Watch too.

Elk on the Apple Watch.Photo: Alvin Kosasi

In this more compact form, users can adjust the values using touch and the watch's digital crown to convert currencies on the fly.

“We actually think the Apple Watch is more natural for the app, because you can do it discreetly and you don’t have to take out your iPhone,” Mr Muh told The Straits Times.

Elk can be download from the App Store for free. However, users will only have access to six popular currencies like US dollar, Euro and Japanese Yen. Users can opt to unlock more currencies by paying S$5.98 but they can try it first with a 14-day free trial.