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Sometime yesterday, I received a call from a rather suspicious looking number.

Once I picked up, an automated voice told me I had a message, and then delivered it in her slightly stilted, robotic tones. I can’t remember exactly what it was but it went along the lines of “Keep up the good work!”

I wasn’t left confused for long—my phone soon buzzed with a text message.

I see a familiar name in the url.

Upon heading to the website, here’s what I was greeted with.

Screenshot of website.

Basically, you fill out a simple form with your friend’s phone number and input a message. When you hit “Submit”, the call is more or less instantly made to your friend.

So it turns out, Next Academy coded this as a fun way to educate people about “the power of code”. According to the team, their founder, Josh, wanted to “make people realise that apart from for-profit apps, you can build fun things with coding!”

Their end goal is to eventually get more people interested in learning to code, and of course, enrol in the courses they have on offer.

The page that comes out after you hit “Submit Code”.

We also spoke to Ping, the Tech Lead of the Growth Team, who built the app.

She shared that it didn’t take her long to code it, and it wasn’t too difficult.

“We’re using a third party service to power the calls and SMS. It is definitely beginner-friendly, but it requires some reading into the third party service documentations to code out the integration. I would say the hardest part is the front end—styling the code editor took some time, since I’m mainly a back-end person!”

They launched the app 2 days ago and have had about 400 calls made through it so far.

We were concerned that some trigger-happy prankster might decide to abuse this and spam their friends—I admit that I sent out quite a few myself once I knew what it could do.

There is also a possibility that this could be used for abuse, due to the anonymity it brings.

Ping told us, “We’re actively monitoring the messages to ensure that it is not used for cyber bullying or any inappropriate messages.”

She also shared that they’ll be adding a sentiment analysis feature sometime today.

“For example something positive like ‘I love you’ will score high on the positive sentiment scale, so then the app will send it. If there are sentences that have a high negative sentiment score, then the app will not send it over to the recipient.”

For now, Ping can’t confirm how long the robot call app will be available for. She said, “So make sure you grab the chance to try it out!”

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)