Amit Jotwani | Front End Developer, Developer Evangelist
October 24, 2011

AT&T Mobile App Hackathon DC with AOL/Patch + Fanfeedr APIs + appMobi


Having lived in the DC-Metro area for the past several years, it's always great to be back there. Last weekend, on my way back to New York from Richmond, I stopped over to visit family for the weekend and thought it would be fun to attend the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon at the AOL office in Dulles, VA with some friends.

Connecting couple of local developer friends (Vishal & Derek), Team Fangout built a mobile app called Fangout - where sports fans hangout.
Our team's hack won for best appMobi integration using local favorite API (owned by AOL) and Fanfeedr API.

The Idea
Being a hard core Manchester United fan, Vishal came up with the idea of creating a way to let sports fans hangout together while watching games at local bars.

Say you are a Giants fan, currently on travel to Washington DC. Giants vs Redskins is on tonight and you want to watch the game at a local bar. Wouldn't it be cool if you could watch it with other Giant fans, so you could all cheer together? I guess the reverse case might also be true, Redskins are winning and you wanna give the Giants fans a piece of your mind - you know just to feel better! Well Fangout to the rescue in both cases.

Fangout is a mobile app that lets you check in to a game, choose the team you are supporting and then gives you a list of places around you where other fans are currently supporting your team. So, you can just walk to the bar near you and enjoy the game together - cheering or slamming.

The Making
It being a mobile hackathon and having played around with appMobi prior to the weekend, I knew we just had to use their cross platform mobile XDK. It makes the whole process of creating mobile apps so easy and quick. The instant gratification you get within minutes is amazing. Not to mention the folks from appMobi were on site to help out.

We used the Fanfeedr API to show a list of all games currently in progress or about to start in the next few minutes (for the hackathon, we limited ourselves to College Football and Soccer), use the Geo location information (built into the appMobi XDK) to pull up places near you and then allow you to check in. The plan was to send a tweet out as soon as you check in, so your friends can then come watch the game with you, but we just ran out of time. One more thing we wanted to do, but couldn't do it in the allotted time was to use API to pull local stories around the place you just checked in at. Again, we got the backend in place, but just didn't have enough time to do the front end for it.

I should note that Fanfeedr's API has to be the most expansive sports data available on the planet. It's a pretty incredible database. If you haven't checked out Fanfeedr's API yet, I highly recommend you to check out their I/O Docs to see it in action. One thing that I thought they could improve upon is reduce the number of calls it takes to get some basic data. I had to for example make three calls to get details about a game currently running. Other than that - loved it! Met some really cool people. Heck, it's always a lot of fun hacking with friends. Also, shout out to AOL for hosting it. They have a really cool office.

The appMobi win was really awesome, but, what's even cooler is the fact that people loved the app and could relate to the use case. Peter Clough from appMobi, who was one of the judges, told us he loved the app: "Being a sports fan, I would love to see this app developed further. I can see myself using it."

What better feeling than to spend your Saturday hacking up something useful with friends?