With what felt like a couple of hours after 3 pm – the appointed time – the interviewee finally arrived, and we went straight off to the coffee shop downstairs of the student culture building. At first, since it was the first time seeing each other face to face after countless phone calls on when to do the interview, we were quite awkward at the beginning, but after a few questions, we were laughing almost as if we had known each other for a long time.
At arriving at the coffee shop ‘Tomoka’, to help relieve ourselves of the awkwardness, the interview was begun straight away with question asking for a short introduction, “My name is Yun Hyun-gook, I graduated CAU at February and have majored in Computer engineering. I am currently working at Pantech.”
Yun Hyun-gook is the proud maker of many apps for the android phone, such as the ‘Library seat info’ app, the ‘cauin’ app and the ‘yViewer’ app. He is especially famous for the ‘Library seat info’ app for it is currently used by hundreds of thousands of people this day.
How did you learn to make apps?
Well, I learned how to make apps by getting ready for the application competition. In the process, I mostly read books and searched the internet for the things I didn’t know. I didn’t have anyone to ask any questions, and I believe that learning to make apps is something that one can do by oneself easily enough.
Could you please briefly explain why you started to make the 'Library seat info' app?
Well, at first, I really didn’t have any intentions to make an app that would currently be used by so many people. In fact, the idea came from a friend and since I thought it was a nice idea, I decided to make it. When I began, I was not really planning on launching the app, but just to make it for experience. So I first asked CAUIN to whether this idea was OK, I received a positive reaction, so I began to make the app.
Herald has heard that you also made an app called ‘yViewer’, why did you decide to make this one?
That one was also because of a complaint from a friend. He came and said that when he downloaded a novel and uploaded it into his Android phone, he couldn’t read the text. So to settle the matter, I made a simple app as a solution, but unexpectedly, quite a lot of people downloaded the app.
Most of your apps seem to be freeware, how do you manage your operation costs and the income structure?
Well, the CAUIN app has a server of its own, and I have to pay for that by my own expenses. The 'Library seat info' app has an advertisement at the bottom, so I manage that app’s expenses by the income of the ads.
When you made the ‘yViewer’ app or the 'Library seat info' app, It’s sure that you did not do it all by yourself. Who helped the most and in what way did he or she help?
The first person who made a complaint was a CAU student. He tested the app himself and told me the things that had to be changed. So actually I ended up changing and improving those factors. As a result, he was an invaluable tester.
On the case of the 'Library seat info' app, in the early version, the app icon image was a photo of the CAU central library, but it changed. The image of the icon led to many protests because people thought that the image wasn’t very pretty. So a student from Hong-eek University said that he would get a better design for it, and he did. What I did not expect was the person that designed it was his girlfriend. That is the reason why when you download the 'Library seat info' app, in the icon where it shows the people who contributed to the app, there is a couple listed together. Under the couple, there is a list of people each with a university in front. These people reported parts of the app that were not functioning properly and as the result I was able to fix the bugs.
Are you currently making an app, or is there any app that you are planning to make in the future? Or what kind of updates are you planning on the current apps that are already made?
To begin with, I am planning to update the 'Library seat info' app. (In what terms?) Well, to begin with at the current speed, without a Galaxy 2, the speed is quite slow. So that definitely needs to be adjusted. Also, in the case of the local libraries, when there are many users, there are sometimes many people cued up waiting for a place to open. But the app currently has no functions that tell how many people are cued up. So there have been many complaints that for instance they checked the app and found two places spared, but arrived at the library just to find that about 60 people were waiting in a cue. This could be very frustrating. In addition, I am planning to add the opening time and closing days, on what floor the reading rooms are at and what type of reading rooms(teenage, adult, male, female etc.) they are. The information is already all inside the app, the only problem is that it’s not visible yet. Therefore a simple update should do the trick. After doing the updates, I am planning to make the iphone version of the current apps.
If you were to sell your app development rights, how much would you sell it for?
Well, surprisingly enough, there was actually a case where someone wanted to buy it. This person who was a venture enterpriser left a letter in my visitor’s book saying that he had interest in the apps that I had developed and he wanted to buy them. I ignored it completely. (laughter) To set a price would be difficult because you cannot really earn much money with this particular skill, but since there are many users, it would not really be cheap either.
Finally, there are many people attempting to make apps out there. Could you say a word or two that would help them?
To begin with, never begin making apps with an intention of earning money. Or because everyone else is making an app or because it helps you get employed. Only begin if you really have interest in making apps. When you have made the app, never give up on the app and always feel responsible about it. Actually, I have a few that I do not really care about much, but that was because I made ‘yviewer’ which is a better one. (Then why did you not update the first one instead of making a new one?) Well, the algorithm itself of the app is extremely important. In the case of the first app, the algorithm was a little complex, and the others were comparatively easy. So, if I were to make adjustments to the first one, it would be much more difficult. But the decisive factor was that not many people were using it, and there were not many comments either. So as a result, I slowly started to push that app out of my mind until I almost forgot about it altogether. (Oh, so when people use it, write a review or a comment about it….) yes, when those factors keep on coming in, I can really do my work in an enthusiastic manner. But actually the 'Library seat info' app hasn’t had a single comment for about 1 month… (laughter). So I am currently a little depressed on the app. A comment or two is a very powerful source of energy to me. It’s what makes me keep going.
After this, Herald had the liberty of asking some personal questions such as what he did in the summer and winter holidays and it turned out that he participated in a lot of competitions.
You said that you participated in a lot of competitions, what I felt a lot in this interview is the fact that people can only see the app – not the effort it took for the app to be made. Herald thinks that because people who make brilliant apps have the passion for it – that’s why they succeed.
(laughter) Yes, people do not really recognize how difficult the process is so some people even demand for a certain app to be made. I suppose you have heard of the person who made the Seoul bus app? (Of course, Yu Ju-an?) Yes, at about the beginning of this year, he made a server for the app, but he made it at his own home. But when he did so, the electricity bill became close to murder – at least a couple of hundred-thousand won a month. Now the problem was that his parents were paying all the bills at their own expense. So Yu Ju-an tried to help paying the bill by adding an advertisement. However the users practically exploded with protests, demanding the advertisement to be deleted. Of course, they had no idea about the fact that maintaining a server cost more money than one would expect. As a result, he instantly got rid of the ad, publicly apologized, and added a ‘support the app’ menu. I do not think people know that well about these burdens the app developers, who have to carry on their backs for the sake of everyone’s convenience. People get a cup of coffee at a few thousand won, yet they complain that an app costs about one thousand and think that paying for an app is a waste of money. I mean people do not know how much it takes to make an app unless they’ve tried it themselves. My fellow app developers tell me that if the users complain about an ad, I should just ignore them. (laughter) I just hope that in the future people can appreciate the fact that we use our personal money to maintain the free apps everyone take for granted.
Like what Yun Hyun-gook said, app making takes a lot of effort and time. Most people who make free apps hope for just a little support only for means of maintenance and the encouraging comment that shows gratitude. Let’s keep in mind that it is our participation and help that keeps the fantastic apps like the ones that Yun Hyun-gook made keep going. < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >