Yesterday, Apple's iPhone debuted on the Verizon network, spurring a new demand for the phone that has made the gadget all the more ubiquitous. As the iPhone's popularity rises, so does the demand for "apps"; there seems to be an app for everything, whether it be one that offers instructions for Korean cooking or another that can whistle certain frequencies at dogs to help train them.

Now, due to the efforts of Noah Isaacson '11, there is an app for helping cut window mattes for presenting photographs or other artwork.

The app, which is called "Matte Layout," allows users to input the dimensions of both their image and their matte, which is the background material that occupies the framed space not included in a photograph. For aesthetic purposes, the photograph is normally centered on the matte, although it is sometimes moved up to create an eye-pleasing effect—the app includes an option to input this desired upward shift.

The app allows users to decide whether or not they want the matte to overlap the image, or whether they want to include a gap between the image and the matte. Once this information has been entered, the app calculates the correct places to cut to achieve the desired dimensions. The process may seem simple, but it can create frustrations when not done correctly.

"The calculations themselves aren't that hard," said Isaacson. "But it's a tedious kind of math and it's really easy to make simple mistakes."

Isaacson said he came up with the idea at the end of last semester while working on assignments for his photography class.

"Usually you're matting late at night and you're tired and you're trying to crank it out," he said. "Every time you make a wrong cut, you've wasted a dollar fifty or whatever it costs for that matte...I kept on...doing the same calculations over and over again and I thought, 'This is dumb, there has got to be an easier way to do this,'" he said.

Isaacson first created a simple command line version to use himself. When he realized that some of his fellow students were intrigued by his idea, he thought of making the program into an app to share and ultimately, he began coding the program during Winter Break.

"The math itself took me about, maybe, 10 to 15 minutes to code," he said. "It's a pretty trivial programming problem, but the hard part is learning to make the user interface and getting used to this new system [of designing an app]."

Isaacson wrote the program in a language called Objective C, which is the standard for all iPhone apps. A math major, Isaacson said that he has taken a couple computer science courses at Bowdoin, but he was still just getting into developing programs.

"The past year I was toying around with the idea of writing iPhone apps, and thinking about doing it, but I never really sat down and did it," he said. "It's hard to learn something unless you have a specific project to work on, so I figured over break would be a good time, with a specific goal to work on."

Isaacson said that he had done some reading on writing apps, but his most useful instruction came from the multitude of online information on the subject.

At the end of high school, Isaacson took a year off to work with Adobe, a large software company. He moved to Portland, Oregon and worked on the company's famous Photoshop program, helping to find errors in the program's coding and debug it. The job, however, did not require him to write code.

After finishing the app over break, Isaacson submitted the product under his business name, Bellweather Productions. Now, he is in the process of marketing the app, which sells for $1.99.

"I'm sending it around to the photo classes," he said. "A couple people [have] bought it so far. I've been sending it out to schools trying to find other photo classes and photo enthusiasts."

Isaacson has sold about 100 copies thus far, though he must share the profit with Apple.

"Apple take a 30 percent cut on every app sold," he said. "It's a bit of a racket on their part."

Isaacson said that he liked the process of creating the app despite its frustrations and that he enjoys using it, though he admitted that, "I don't actually have an iPhone, so I use it on my computer."

Isaacson is currently thinking of designing further apps. He is considering writing an app that would help stabilize the iPhone's camera to prevent shakiness or blurriness in images and video. He acknowledged that this is a much more difficult problem, and one that would require much more advanced mathematics to solve. The final product, however, could be more desirable.

"I feel like that will have more universal appeal, unlike this which has a very niche market," said Isaacson.