An ’18 Coded a Pong App – But You’re Still Three

By Stacy Livingston, The Dartmouth Staff | 10/20/15 10:14am

With the start of this week, one freeze ended and another began – the first being the “freshman freeze” and the second being the deep chill settling into my old bones as temperatures drop and I am slowly forced to transition from getting iced to hot coffees at KAF. But what this means — other than that I will likely never make it on time to my 10 again — is that pong lines are suddenly going to become much (much) longer.

Fortunately, Alex Beals ’18 has put together an app called “What’s Line” that makes it a lot easier to both hold and wait in line. I sat down with him recently to talk about it.
The app, Alex explained, was created partly from a desire to learn Swift (a coding language) and partly to solve the problem of losing track of line when someone steps off table. When I asked if the motivation came at all from frustration at how difficult it is to get (and keep) a spot on table as a freshman guy, Alex — frattier than I gave him credit for — replied, “uh, not really.”

The app’s interface looks like this:

Essentially, you can have the app either in “Waiting” or “Holding” mode, depending on whether you’re trying to play or in the middle of a game and keeping track of who is on next.

In holding mode, you can add players to your “line” three ways – manually by name (or descriptor? I see you, “big nose kid in red shirt”), by phone number if they’re in your contacts or, assuming the person calling also has the app, by a computer-generated QR code that imports red shirt kid’s account information when you take a photo of the code.

Then, once you have your line, you can give over the line to someone who also has the app by using the “transfer line” function. The people waiting in your line can see where they fall (are they really four? But there are only three people in the basement? Do you just want them to go away?). You can also opt to remove yourself from line if you’re leaving the basement using the app’s “clear lines” function.

The app also allows you to reorder your line if you’re holding (#bumped) and has the exciting function of letting you keep track of your win/loss record, although right now the information isn’t displayed anywhere in the app. Alex explained that soon, it will show up in settings (and forever preclude you from fronting like you could have played in Masters).

What the app cannot do, disappointing antisocial frat stars everywhere, is let you call line without actually speaking to another human. So no, you can’t book a table at AXA like it’s a Baker-Berry study room. Not yet.

According to Alex, 10 or 15 people are currently beta-testing the app, and it should be ready to go on to the Apple App store within a week or two. Alex doesn’t currently have any plans to promote the app – but here I am, doing that for him.

Stacy Livingston, The Dartmouth Staff