For Jon Oransky, what started out as a way to help his young son practice his multiplication skills has turned into something much bigger.
The Setauket dad is now a self-taught iOS developer who with the help of a friend has started a company, AwesomeApps.com, that focuses on math and music apps.
Two years ago, Oransky wrote an app called Multipli to help Matthew, now 9, learn to multiply. It eventually led to the creation of his newest app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, called iLearn Math, which is a game that features increasing levels of difficulty as kids master the levels using their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division skills. At the most basic level of difficulty the numbers go up to about four, but as the user navigates the game, the numbers to up into the hundreds.
Matthew, a fourth-grader at Nassakeag Elementary, said he often uses the app to study for his weekly multiplication quizzes, in which students need to score 95 or better in order to move onto the next level.
Oransky released iLearn Math about a month ago and has sold about 200 so far – including some purchased by a school district for its iPad library – at a price of 99 cents a pop.
"It was difficult [to develop]. I didn’t know anything about writing a game from scratch," he said. "I’d never done it. I just ordered a bunch of tutorials online that taught me how to use the framework. I just went with it. All of a sudden I had a game."
He said he plans to expand the game by creating seasonal themes that can be unlocked using coins kids earn in the game.
Oransky, who works in the Glen Cove-based family business selling video editing equipment, paid a $99 developer fee that will allow him to drop as many apps as he wants into Apple's store.
"I think it’s a fair price," he said. "With the amount of devices that are out there, you can easily make that up."
Among the apps he wrote with a friend, Carmine Guida, are a handful of music apps including AwesomeCowbell and AwesomeMonkeyDrum.
Oransky is hoping to turn his new app creation abilities into a full-time occupation.
"Since the iPhone came out I’ve been a huge Apple fanboy," he said. "I figured what better way than to go with programming."