Alexsander Akers

I’m a Software Engineer specializing in Apple platform technologies. I love to create polished visuals and delightful experiences that users love. I work at Microsoft in New York City, helping people achieve more with Outlook Mobile for iOS.

I’m an avid learner of languages, both human and computer programming. I’m an English native speaker but also proficient in Spanish, French, and German. I've given talks and workshops at conferences all over Europe (in English), as well as my most recently talk at the German-language Macoun conference.

I’m most knowledgeable in Swift as well as Objective-C. You might also find me writing static sites like this with HTML and CSS or scripts in JavaScript, Ruby, Python, or even Bash. I’ve also dabbled with Lua within the PICO-8 fantasy console to make some smaller projects.

👈 Feel free to poke around my interactive portfolio on the iPhone to the left. The phone model runs via CSS and you can read more about it on GitHub. If you want to get in touch, the Mail app is a great place to start.

Babelgum

As a language learner — nay, language enthusiast! — I have often found that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. I did this by making the Bablegum app for iOS. It allows me to read and learn foreign langauge text with inline translation capabilities. You can also save articles for offline reading from apps like Safari through the Share extension or load articles in-app from a URL or from your device's clipboard. Through making this app, I learned a lot about iOS's text rendering system (which allowed me to display Furigana-like annotations above text) as well as using iOS UI testing methods to generate screenshots in various screen sizes and configurations.

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Backgammon with Buddies

Growing up, playing Backgammon was a tradition with my family. I am especially fond of memories sitting around a board and playing it at the beach. When I moved to Europe, away from them, I missed these moments. I decided that I wanted to build my own version of the backgammon for iOS, so I could play with my family even when we were apart. I then had the idea of building an iMessage-based turn-by-turn version, so it would be easy to get everybody set up. That’s why I called it "Backgammon with Buddies."

I spent a lot of time working on the details of the board, such as the felt, the woods and the shadows, to recreate the experience I remembered. I later added support for Game Center so you can play with remote Buddies. In working on this app, I learned a lot about the actual rules of Backgammon, and I even went the extra mile with accessibility, because I wanted everybody to be able to play the game. I gave a talk about working on the accessibility features of Backgammon with Buddies in German (hier Video auf Deutsch ansehen) at Macoun, Europe’s largest conference for German-speaking Apple developers.

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Bean, Small Planet

During my internship at Small Planet, I wrote the original version of the Bean virtual counting assistant app. I learned for the first time what it would be like to work at a company with other engineers, with designers and product managers. I collaborated with others, like design and product mangement, to showcase the craft and attention that Small Planet is able to put into the products they work on. I also added some telemetry tracking to the Dragon Brush storybook app for iPad. I also got to code custom controls and in-game aesthetics for Disneyland Explorer.

For maximum nostalgia, the screenshot to the left has not been modified from its original version.

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Foursquare

I was an intern at Foursquare during summer 2013 as part of my hackNY fellowship. While I was familiarizing myself with the codebase, I performed tests to quantify the battery drain effects of background location monitoring to surface useful tips for nearby restaurants and other venues. A few weeks into the internship, Apple announced radical visual design changes as part of the iOS 7 release. For the rest of the summer, I worked closely with other iOS engineers as well as the design team to modernize the appearance of the Foursquare iOS client with these new interface design patterns.

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Microsoft Outlook

I currently work on Outlook for iOS since changing teams from To Do in January 2020. I lead calendar/time management and push notifications work. I collaborate closely with other stakeholders like product and design to build productivity experiences for users. I implemented features like "Ignore Conversation" (which sends an email conversation and all future replies to the Trash folder, perfect for that "reply all" chain that just won't stop), calendar week number support, as well as prototypes for and initial versions of suggested meeting times.

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Potluck, Branch

I joined the Branch team after my summer 2013 internship at Foursquare as lead mobile engineer. While there, I implemented the second version of the Potluck iOS client, a link-sharing social network for friends to discuss online content. I also wrote a spin-off app, called PhoneTag, a voicemail style app where friends send each other voice memo-captioned images.

For maximum nostalgia, the screenshot to the left has not been modified from its original version.

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Rooms, Facebook

I worked on Rooms at Facebook as part of the Facebook Creative Labs efforts in 2014 following the Branch acquisition. My involvement spanned from product conception to engineering efforts as well. As one of the few engineers on this team, I not only contributed to the mobile app by writing code for the iOS codebase but also server-side JavaScript that ran on our Parse-powered backend. (Parse was a SaaS start-up turned Facebook product that powered the Rooms backend.) My contributions were focused on building novel interactions, and delightful animations and interfaces. When I moved off the Rooms team in January 2015, I worked on the React Native project as a core contributor until I left Facebook later that year.

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Shutterstock

I worked at Shutterstock on both iOS client apps. Shutterstock Contributor allows contributors to manage image metadata for their submissions, upload new submissions from their phone’s camera roll, and view both daily and monthly commission earnings. On the consumer side, Shutterstock allows customers to search for, view, organize and purchase high-quality stock photography. I learned a lot from our advanced use of Core Data in production for data persistence. I implemented features like Siri photo search in the consumer app and background photo upload via a Share extension in the contributor app.

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Microsoft To Do

I worked on the To Do client apps for iOS and macOS while continuing maintenance for the Wunderlist apps. Part of that was leading feature work on features like file attachment support on tasks and list sharing. I also led the feature crew to ship the native 100% AppKit macOS app, while adopting To Do's new visual design. We ensured optimal support for Apple's assistive technologies such as Voice Over, Switch Control on iOS, as well as correct tab control on macOS. To Do was featured by Apple as App of the Day on iOS and in the article From To-Do to To-Done! for macOS.

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