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App developer, 10, wants to change lives

Singapore-born Yuma Soerianto with his app Let's Stack! AR.
Singapore-born Yuma Soerianto with his app Let's Stack! AR.ST PHOTO: TREVOR TAN

Yuma Soerianto, who was the youngest attendee of Apple's worldwide developer conference in San Jose last year, loves to code and wants to impact the world

While many 10-year-olds do not have a clue of what they want to do in life, Singapore-born Yuma Soerianto has already built six iOS apps that can be found on Apple's App Store.

Yuma, who studies in Middle Park Primary School in Melbourne, was the youngest attendee of Apple's worldwide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose last year.

He was also a speaker at the World Youth Forum in Egypt in November.

In Singapore last Thursday to conduct a lesson on coding at the Apple Orchard Road flagship store, he exuded an enthusiasm for coding that is rare for one so young.

He says that coding is an essential skill to have in the future. This is because it can help people get familiar with the latest technology.

"If they don't learn coding, they might be left behind," he says, making a point that many Singapore educators would appreciate, given the recent push by both the Government and private sector for this skill to be taught in schools here.

The only child of multimedia designer Hendri Soerianto and housewife Dollies Halim, who are Indonesians, Yuma and his family moved from Singapore to Australia when he was three.

Yuma started to learn coding on his own at the age of six, when he found he had lots of spare time after school.

"I asked myself what else I can do besides watching television?" he says.

As he is always fascinated by technology, he started to learn how to make e-cards and Web-based games by following online courses. He created a Web-based jackpot game for his grandmother.

Not long after, he found the free iOS developing course offered by Stanford University on Apple iTunes U. He finished the course in four months and started to create his own iOS apps.

In 2016, his first iOS app, Kid Calculator, a talking calculator for children, was put on the App Store.

Other apps include Weather Duck, a talking duck that tells kids the weather, and Pocket Poke, an easy-to-use Pokemon viewer.

Yuma says his biggest highlight as a developer so far is winning the WWDC scholarship and attending the developer conference last year.

He also met Apple chief executive Tim Cook. He adds that he learnt so much about the different frameworks of coding during the conference.

But Yuma is just like any other kid. He loves playing basketball, enjoys video games and has play dates with his friends. He also plays the piano and recently attained a black belt in taekwondo.

Mrs Soerianto says her son is very disciplined and knows how to manage his time.

Based on his own difficulties when trying to learn how to code, he decided to start his own YouTube channel, called Anyone Can Code, to teach other kids how to code.

In the meantime, he is already planning his next apps. "I have so many ideas for my next apps," he says.

He also reveals that he has been commissioned by a company to build an augmented reality app. But with almost adult maturity, he says he cannot divulge the details yet.

On his future, he says he wants to continue to make apps that can change the world and people's lives, and revolutionise the world.

"I just want to keep on coding," he says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'App developer, 10, wants to change lives'. Print Edition | Subscribe