“Apps have a great role in the challenges of the coming decades”

We have never been so aware of the importance of the planet where we live as we are today. If we have ever considered that “taking care of the planet” was not important, today it no longer happens – especially after a global pandemic like COVID-19 or wars that have a severe impact on the environment. Perhaps because by thinking in such a global way, we think that small daily actions do not help to improve, but this is not the case.

Today is celebrated all over the world Earth’s Day, a good time to stop and think about how we can incorporate new, more ecological practices into our daily lives. And it is that our day-to-day routines are very important and not only in the most usual way that we can think of, such as recycling (which is also key) “small” daily actions such as eating food can help a lot.

In fact, the combination between technology and sustainability can be essential to incorporate these ecological practices in our daily lives. In Europe, outstanding apps are being created that combine these technologies that will help us make the healthiest and most sustainable decisions, always with the aim of reducing our impact on the planet. One of these apps Kiff (€3.99 in the App Store), search help us reduce food waste at home: something that will not only be good for the planet, but also for our pocket.

Kiff: let’s take advantage of those foods that we forget at home

Nerea Marta and her partner Asier Martínez

It all started during the COVID-19 quarantine. That moment when you don’t know if it’s Tuesday or Friday, if you cooked this yesterday or last week.” – this is how Kiff’s story begins as he tells it to me Nerea Marthafounding partner of the app at the Topxel agency, which she shares with asier martinez. “At home there are two of us, and although we do not practice “batch cooking” (cooking large quantities for the whole week) it is quite common to cook at least one dish with 4 or 6 portions, which you end up consuming over several days.” The problem that many of us find here is precisely the leftover food, since surely we all remember it too late and perhaps it has already spoiled.

Nerea tells me about the option that we have all done at some point, to solve the problem with a marker and some stickers, but they decided to give a more digital approach: “It’s not like the sticker was going to give the tupperware superpowers to warn us from inside the fridge. So the analog solution probably wouldn’t have been very successful.”

To do this, Kiff’s idea It’s as simple as it is powerful.: an app that allows us to add the food we have at home in an easy way to manage the expiration date or the time just before it spoils. In this way, we will know when to eat our food in the best possible state (not at the last minute) – it even works when we freeze food.

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Nerea describes very well the magnitude of the problem that this small daily fact has and its impact on Climate Change – Here we can all help, from now on: “Particularly the role of the home, where the vast majority of food is wasted compared to the rest of the actors in the chain (producers, restaurants and supermarkets). We are sensitive to the problem and we believe that Kiff still has a lot to contribute in this space. .”

The interface is simple but it contains those little details that explain to the user what they need no need for complex designs: we can add a product by scanning its barcode, or add it manually. Everything is very agile (the scanning of the products is very fast and allows us to add several without leaving the interface, as they pass us the purchase in the supermarket). The manual entry autocomplete with icons the type of food that we add, for example, in the case of “avocado” (where your corresponding emoji will appear instantly).

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In Kiff, Nerea and her partner started the app design in an untraditional way in the development world: “We do not design each of the screens in great detail before implementing them. Instead, we start from a list of functionalities, which, accompanied by design principles, allow us to develop the app directly in SwiftUI. It is not an easy task and It requires constantly rethinking everything, from how to simplify a process to how to add value to a functionality directly while programming.”

This allowed them to better understand the process and add features that are key today: “The version of Kiff that we initially launched is very different from the one in the store today. It did not have a barcode reader, it was impossible to order and it did not allow stock management!” Nerea emphasizes that this incremental improvement is always guided by the principles with which the app was born. “That’s the beauty of this profession. Continue to pursue a vision and enjoy the journey, while you shape an app and it shapes you back.”

kiff is a good idea turned into a better appeven fun when we come back from shopping in our day to day, but it will continue to evolve: “This year’s highlight will be the ability to use Kiff with multiple household members. Meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking is a team effort and we know Kiff is going to play an important role in many households.”. The beta of the next version will be released in a few months.

Attendance at the Apple Entrepreneur Program was key for Kiff

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Nerea was one of the founders invited to participate in the Apple Entrepreneur Programa company initiative to support – among other groups – companies founded and run by women entrepreneurs like her. “I was very struck by the effort that Apple puts into this type of initiative and especially the possibility of learning from people with such experience. There are few opportunities to talk to Apple engineers when you encounter a problem during the development of your app and this program seemed like a golden opportunity to solve any concern both at a technical level and in other aspects related to design, business, marketing…”. This access also helped them on a traditionally lonely road. “Having access to a network of women entrepreneurs with whom to share this experience was also an important point in my decision.”

“The Apple Entrepreneur Camp has had a greater impact on Kiff, and on me, than I can express right now. But if anything I take away is the need to focus on the main problem.”

“Being part of the Apple Entrepreneur Camp is possibly one of the most enriching experiences of my entire professional career.” – Nerea explains about her adventure in the Apple initiative – “You can see the love that has been put into the program and it has been an honor to be in the same “room” learning and receiving advice from professionals with a long history at Apple”. This experience shared with other founders is also a great source of feedback, in his own words and also to take Kiff to a new level: “Understand how to get the most out of the technologies and resources that Apple makes available to us throughout the app’s life cycle (from development to release in the store).”

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Kiff has a big load of environmental awareness with food waste, but apps and their technology can help make a positive impact in the real world. “I want to think that we are still coming out of the infancy of app development and that we will soon enter the adolescent phase. It is becoming easier to create software and we are constantly trying different economic models to make that development sustainable. But it is our job as people (developers, designers, entrepreneurs), seek and find that balance to have a positive impact”*.

Topxel has more to offer besides Kiff, such as “Re”: an app under development for help us take medication. “As curious as it may seem, Kiff is the little sister and is born at a difficult time during the development of Re. Changing human behavior and improving medication adherence is a challenge in itself and Re is a more complex application than it seems. It may seem at first glance.”. However, after the process of kiff tune upthe learnings and tips may work very well in the future of Re: “Start with a smaller set of features, find a niche of users and create a close bond with a beta version as soon as possible and focus on a single country.”

There is also another small project for the Apple Watch where Nerea tells us something more about what is known today: *”It started as a small project to understand the challenges involved in developing and designing software for the Apple Watch. Above all, to understand the function that this device fulfills within the ecosystem of Apple hardware. The way you interact with the watch is very different, (glances and short interactions), compared to the time you spend looking at the iPhone screen.”

Anyone can start programming an app: Apple tools like “Swift Playgrounds” and the available courses are perfect, for any age

The objective of this future small app for the Apple Watch is help us stay focused on a specific task, with a twist to the Pomodoro technique. It is still under development, but they are clear about the scope: “Although nothing similar exists, we saw that it is a relatively saturated niche market and that it was not worth launching another app without a strong differential value.”

Nerea’s adventure and experience in the development of Kiff also They should be an inspiration to any of us.who want to start programming apps but haven’t gotten around to it yet: “If you have never programmed, I would recommend starting with teaching programming that although it is intended for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers, it is a very complete course that uses Swift Playgrounds to teach all the fundamental concepts of programming.”

Anyone can program: “Seriously, it doesn’t matter if you say infant, primary and secondary, in the first year they teach you the same content in a format that is half as fun. In addition, Swift Playgrounds is designed to learn progressively and even if it seems like a “toy” version you’re going to use the same code and access the same frameworks as its big brother Xcode. Proof of this is that now with version 4 you can even publish your apps directly on the App Store.” If you have more advanced knowledge, his recommendation is the free course CS193p (Developing Applications for iOS) from Standford. Give it a try if you’ve ever thought about it!