A Tale of Two Languages: What One Middle School Class Learned While Developing an App

class photo

It’s always great to hear from our members, but when a Middle School teacher told us how her class uses appFigures to track downloads from an app the students built, we were thrilled. Many engineers will confess that they wish they’d started coding earlier, and with more efforts and initiatives than ever before bringing this subject to the forefront, it looks as though the next generation is getting an early start on just that.

We spoke to Karine Boulle Nguyen at St. Anne’s-Belfield School about how this unique project taught her students two languages when they developed an app while strengthening their French comprehension skills:

As a language teacher, I believe the most important skill one can have is to communicate with others, not just through language, but also through admiration and respect of others. Our app project gave my students those skills, and we didn’t know this would be the outcome.

Tell us about the app the class developed

The project started with the idea of teaching others French in a fun and natural way using the 2Lingua approach to languages. I wanted to incorporate the same thinking process that bilingual people use when they speak, where the flow between one language to the other is like a beautiful dance. No grammar rules, no verb conjugations, no translation needed, just context.

Our app includes a story written in English with about 250 French expressions incorporated in it (with beginner and advanced level). This is a non-threatening way of learning a language. You pick up expressions at your own level, at your own speed. No pressure. In the teaching world, we call this “differentiation.” In the end, you still understand what you read because the main story is in English, but you get a wonderful sense of accomplishment. The stories my 8th graders write are performed as a play by the 5th graders, for the 4th graders. Since our 4th graders do not know a word of French, it is important that the French expressions are included in a natural and logical way.

To begin our project, we took a field trip to the French embassy in Washington, D.C. We interviewed a diplomat and toured D.C. In general, teachers take a field trip at the end of their unit to reinforce what they have taught. We did the opposite. We went on our field trip not knowing what we needed to take out of it, which forced my students to take notes and observe as much as they could. Any details they grabbed could be used in their story. When asked what was the best part of the project, some students said coding, others mentioned how much French they learned, but all commented on how special the field trip was! To use their words, they “felt free.”

We then started to work on our app. There were so many components to think about!

  • The logo had to reflect the purpose of our app.
  • The cover page and the title needed to show the theme of our story.
  • Coding: students learned coding for the first time (CSS and HTML) and ended up coding the entire text. We then finished up the app using the Laker Compendium framework, the Baker framework, and custom code from 2Lingua.
  • Our text needed to respect copyrights and could not include trademarks. The info boxes needed information provided by sites that allowed us to use their information for commercial use.
  • The photo album included our own pictures, which we had to reformat for the app. We also had to make sure any other pictures we used were from Creative Commons (for legal issues).
  • Our story needed to include cultural references, humor, interesting combinations of sounds to make the French more catchy, and suspense to make people want to swap pages.
  • Spelling and punctuation had to be perfect.
  • The recordings had to be perfect (or close to perfect) both for the beginner and the advanced level.
  • There was also the “behind the scene” work, such as the description of our app for the app store, as well as which key words we needed to submit so people could find our app during their search.
  • Finally, the whole product had to look professional.

What inspired you to teach the kids how to code?

Our kids need to be prepared for their future and as educators it is our responsibility to guide them in the right direction. Education is changing. Just like our world, it doesn’t have boundaries anymore. We cannot teach just history in one class, or just math. We need to combine skills with technology, so our kids can get the global experience they need, in order to live in a world without frontiers. My first goal for making this app is for people to learn a language for free. I also hope our story will inspire other educators in many different ways. Not everybody will make an app, but we hope educators and students will feel inspired to try something new in the classroom, step out of their comfort zone to include new essential skills, such as coding.

How did the kids respond to the coding lesson?

Our coding lesson reinforced the strengths and challenges that my students experience with learning a language (seeing patterns, following rules, attention to details…). Students with great writing skills understood coding right away, but students who are strong orally and struggle with spelling and grammar experienced more difficulties with it. Learning how to code was truly like learning a new language. Because coding was new to all, the whole class’ hierarchy ceased to exist. Quiet students emerged as leaders and ended up helping others. Through coding, my students got to see many other facets of their peers, which made them value each individual more.

The new talk in education is about “Project-based Learning” and “21st century skills.” Our project was both. Such open projects force students to brainstorm, communicate with each other, collaborate, listen to others, and show off their skills. When I asked my students what they got out of the project, the most surprising answer came from Henry D., who answered: friendship. They learned to respect other people’s opinion, verbalize their reasons for disagreeing, compromise, and appreciate other people’s talent.

What do you think other Middle Schools should do to promote Computer Science education from an early age?

Computer Science does not need to be promoted. It simply needs to be incorporated. In the world our kids are growing up in, Computer Science is an essential tool to acquire. In my mind, it is the pencil you need in order to transform your thoughts into words on a paper. I used to think that Computer Science was a completely separate subject, and it might have started as such, but now I realize how intertwined everything is.

What proved to be the biggest challenge in teaching such technical lessons to this age group?

The first year we taught coding, our biggest challenge was to simplify it as much as possible, so it would be accessible to Middle School students who had zero experience in the domain. We then realized that we did not need to simplify the coding process, as long as we explained the role of coding. We used Mozilla Thimble to show how to code and how the commands we gave to the computer changed the text. The program allowed my students to see the results as they were coding the text. Such instant gratification was the key to their success.

How is the app doing so far?

In just a couple of weeks, we had more than 86 downloads from 22 countries. The map from appFigures representing which countries downloaded our app was an effective way to teach geography. That map also made an incredible visual impact when my students presented our project to Middle School parents and teachers. The daily report is extremely valuable, as it shows students that their project is not something they did in class that will be forgotten as soon as the test is over.

Mystery at the Embassy is available for free in the App Store.
You can find out more about the 2Lingua approach on their Facebook page.

We’re Now Tracking 12 New Game Categories From Google Play

12 new game categories added to google play

Google recently improved game discovery in the Play store by adding 12 new game categories. We’re now tracking all of those categories so you can easily check which apps are ranking high (with the Top Apps report) or how any app is trending (with the Ranks report).

Here’s the full list in case you’re curious:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Board
  • Casino
  • Educational
  • Family
  • Music
  • Role Playing
  • Simulation
  • Strategy
  • Trivia
  • Word

Happy Birthday appFigures: Today We’re Turning Five

appFigures is five today

Today marks a huge milestone for us. Exactly five years ago we started building appFigures as a weekend project. No business plan, no launch party, just a useful tool we really needed to track our downloads.

It was 2009 and we had just launched our first iOS game. iTunes Connect didn’t have any reports and we had no way to track the game’s success. We agreed to spend a weekend building this report thing and continue to our next project the following week.

We never really got to that other project…

Using data to make more informed decisions

The problem of tracking performance on the web has been solved for quite a while now. When we started building our iPhone game however, there was simply no way to keep track of modern mobile apps. So we created the first service with a simple but powerful goal, to enable informed decisions by making data accessible.

From a single report to a platform

In the beginning it was all about scratching our own itch. It started with a simple chart of our downloads and quickly evolved into something more. Member feedback and our own needs for more reports resulted in better charts, more options, and a slew of new data sets.

No serious platform is complete without an API, so we built one. Several versions later, our API powers a variety of services and is integrated into hundreds of solutions, from dashboards to mobile clients.

Self-funded, growing, and profitable

We had a choice when we started: get some funding and figure out a business model later or figure out the business model now and keep the freedom to focus on our vision. We chose the latter. Five years later, it’s clear we made the right decision. We’re profitable, growing and we can’t be any more proud of our product and our team.

We wouldn’t be here without you

Your constant stream of suggestions, ideas, and feedback has shaped and transformed appFigures over the years. Be it praise or critique, your feedback tends to give us the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you know someone cares. When things go wrong you’ve always had our back. It’s a feeling we’ll never take for granted.

Today is a day we will never forget. We can’t wait for what’s coming next.

Ariel + Oz
Happy founders

New: Export Reports to Excel

Not too long ago we overhauled our exporting system to support two new common formats. Today we’re extending exporting support to a new format: Excel (.xlsx).

Export to Excel

While at it, we also made exporting more flexible by adding a custom second breakdown. You can now export your sales and ads reports broken down by any combination of: products, countries, or dates.

FYI – With this update we also retired the legacy TSV format that’s been deprecated a few months ago.

We Now Support Chartboost and InMobi

We have great news for developers who are monitizing with Chartboost and InMobi. Today we’re rolling out integrations for both ad networks!

appFigures now support Chartboost and InMobi

To link your Chartboost or InMobi accounts, simply go into Account settings > Linked accounts.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions about the new integrations.

More integrations are coming!

If Chartboost or InMobi aren’t the networks you use, don’t worry, we’ve got a few more integrations in the pipeline. We’re always looking for beta testers, so if you’d like to help just let us know.

Integration Review – Geckoboard

Lots of services use our API these days. From dedicated mobile apps to multi-service dashboards. When we come across a new integration we take it for a spin and review it in the process.

Today we’re reviewing Geckoboard.

Geckoboard is a business dashboard that brings together a variety of metrics from different service providers to give you an overview of data that matters at a glance. Geckoboard is available on the web and also natively on iOS, which makes it really easy to use anywhere.

The guys at Geckoboard recently updated the appFigures widgets to work with the newest version of our API, which makes the integration even faster and more secure with OAuth.

Geckoboard implements almost every end point we offer in the API which means that your dashboard will have access to sales, ads, ranks, and even ratings. We found the widgets really easy to customize and filter to get a high level over view at a glance. The ability to compare the data to a previous date made the widgets even more meaningful.

Geckoboard offers a free 30 day trial so if you’re in the market for a new dashboard we recommend giving Geckoboard a try.

Note: All appFigures Geckoboard widgets are maintained by Geckoboard. If you’re running into any issues linking your account or pulling data please get in touch with Geckoboard’s support directly.

Google Play Update

12:24pm est – We’re seeing new reports for the missing days as well as yesterday being imported right now.

Earlier this week we started noticing reports from Google Play were coming in later than usual. Then, on Wednesday, reports stopped coming out altogether. We don’t have a way to confirm, but we believe this delay is affecting most Google Play developers.

If you are missing downloads or sales reports for your Google Play or have incomplete figures this is most likely the reason.

We’ve reached out to Google and will post an update when they reply. We’re also keeping an eye on the situation and will update this post as soon as something changes. In the meantime, check out the Google Play status page for real time updates.

Two New 3rd Party iPhone Apps for appFigures

Visualizing data is as much personal taste as it is science. Since we released our API back in 2010 several members have created and published mobile apps that consume the API and visualize reports to their heart’s content. What’s great is that all of those apps are available on the App Store so there’s a good variety for everyone to choose from.

This month two new apps join the list, which now includes seven 3rd party iPhone apps! We took both apps for a spin and here’s what we think:

Sales – The appFigures Companion

Developer: Will Townsend

Sales describes itself as a mobile companion to the appFigures site. The app has a very simple and intuitive design built for iOS7. Sales give you an at-a-glance view of your most important information, your profits and reviews.


Logging into Sales is easy and secure thanks to the OAuth integration. With OAuth the app never sees your appFigures password.

Once logged in, the app opens to an almost full-screen bar graph of sales with totals at the top. Tapping and holding a single bar shows data for the chosen day. By default all apps are included, but that can be changed in the filters section along with the date range.

If you have IAPs you’ll notice that they’re not available in the app filter list; that’s because Sales merges the downloads and profits of all IAPs together (just like we do in email reports). We think this is a nice touch for a true overview.

Sales is currently the only app on the App Store that takes advantage of the new reviews route of our API and does so with a simple list of your most recent. Each review shows the date, rating, and the author. Unlike the sales section, however, there’s no way to filter reviews in the current version. Hopefully that will change in the future.


Sales is a great way to get a quick overview of your sales and reviews. Will did a great job keeping things simple while still displaying enough data.

On the app’s site, Will mentions more features are currently in the making. You can see what he’s up to on the app’s public Trello board.

Find out more on getsalesapp.com or get it for $1.99 on the App Store.

The Stat App

Developer: Paddy Donnelly and Alain Hufkens

The Stat App takes a different spin on simplicity. The app is very clean and focuses strictly on profit with a beautifully designed UI that’s really easy and fun to look at.


Logging into The Stat App, just like logging into Sales, is very smooth and secure thanks to the OAuth integration.

From the beginning it’s very obvious what the app is all about–profit and downloads. The main screen includes those two numbers in really large font. But don’t let that fool you, there’s much more. Swipe to the left or right to change the date, or down to select a different granularity.

Just under the main screen you’ll find a list of profit and downloads broken down by app. Tap an app and you’ll be taken to a single-app view with totals. Swipe up to see a breakdown of both profit and downloads by country.

You’ll notice that like Sales, The Stat App also combines IAPs profit and downloads into the app they belong to. The Stat App goes a step further and shows a total for IAPs as well.


Paddy and Alain did a great job with the design and interactions of the app. The way gestures are implemented makes operating the app with one hand a breeze. Unlike other 3rd party appFigures apps, The Stat App uses freemium pricing, which we think is clever.

Find out more on thestatapp.com or get it for free on the App Store.

Important: Both apps were developed by 3rd parties that aren’t directly affiliated with appFigures. Please visit the developers via their respective sites directly for questions, comments, or feature suggestions.

Download Reviews With Ease

A lot has changed since we first rolled out the new reviews report. Today we’re rolling out one of the most requested additions – review downloading.

export blog

Downloading your reviews is as easy as exporting any of your other reports. Just head over to the new reviews report, click the button and select “Download”. The downloaded file will include all of the reviews currently visible on your screen, sorted and filtered.

Pro tip – By default the report displays (and exports) 10 reviews at a time. You can easily get more by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and selecting a different number of reviews per page.

Happy Data Privacy Day 2014!


Privacy is central to our philosophy here at appFigures, so when Data Privacy Day became an international day of awareness, we got really excited. If you don’t already know, Data Privacy Day is a global effort to empower people to protect their privacy online. This year we’re happy to be joining a growing list of official DPD Champions to help spread the message.

In honor of DPD, we wanted to offer a privacy tip/reminder:

When linking an app store or ad network account to your appFigures account take a minute or two and create a special sub user for appFigures with a strong password. This way you do not need to share your main credentials with anyone.

You can learn more about DPD and pick up other privacy tips here.

Or, you can follow in the footsteps of our friends at Moms With Apps and ACT and take initiative to provide more transparency in your apps with their Know What’s Inside™ program.