23andMe – DNA Testing - Interview with the developer of a fantastic app

Did you have any prior development or coding experience?

I started writing code when I was a senior in high school back in 2012. I was playing my favorite addictive iPhone game at the time called Temple Run, and thought, “what do I need to learn in order to build an app like this?” From there I learned Objective-C and Xcode for iOS development, decided to major in Computer Science and Engineering at UCLA, and the rest is history.

What was the most challenging aspect of developing mobile app?

Working on a team with super intelligent, experienced engineers with unique perspectives on writing code has been a challenge early into my career. It’s one thing to write code, but it’s another to write high quality code together on the same mobile app. Those who are more experienced than you tend to have a much higher standard. If your code looks complete to you, it may look incomplete to someone else. By working in a team, everyone lifts each other up, raising the bar for what our team’s and mobile app’s code standard should be.

My name is Umar Qattan, and I was born in Texas in 1994 (as of this writing I’m 28 years old). I grew up with difficult parents, but something I’ll take with me to the grave is that they always believed in me and my brother since we were kids; they instilled in us the idea that you need to work hard to achieve your dreams.

My ultimate dream is to build science-fiction-esque AR/VR and fitness technology with my brother, Zack. We’ve worked together our whole lives and will never stop building the dream team no matter how many obstacles come our way, because "teamwork makes the dream work".

Name a few of your favorite apps and reason you love them.

Besides 23andMe’s app, which provides incredibly rich Ancestry and Health related information, I love using Duolingo (for language learning) and, although it’s not an app for me, I like my girlfriend’s app, Flo (for period tracking).

I enjoy Duolingo because it game-ifies learning a new language by making it engaging and addictive, so you always want to learn Spanish or Arabic, for example. The design of the app both from a product and marketing perspective as well as from a colorful, vibrant, bubbly UX perspective, makes it a compelling user experience.

My girlfriend loves Flo because it makes tracking data related to her period extremely easy, fun, insightful, and rewarding. It predicts every little detail about her and what to expect during her period, making it not only educational but also relieving since it can be a stressful process. It’s a reliable, engaging, and fun app that she wants to come back to because of the value it provides her.

How long have you been working on this app?

I have been working on the 23andMe iOS app since June 2018 (so around 5 years).

What need of the user did you have in mind when developing this app?

My goal when building this app was to build features that would educate people about their Health and Ancestry in an engaging way. Advancing in my career at 23andMe, I enjoy the fact that I can learn to build production-grade software while working towards a mission I care about: Educating people about their own ancestry (discovering more about their family tree, finding distant relatives, understanding their origins), and health (knowing what health predispositions one may have, learning what physical traits they express or are more likely to have, and gaining the ability to take action about their own health related goals).

In what way do you think your app is better than similar apps on the market? Please describe in detail what innovation you think you bring and what you are proud of in your app.

Our app is in its own league and I would not say it’s better than another app. It provides a wealth of information that isn’t available anywhere else. The only thing that makes it truly better than any other app in the industry is that the data are driven by the user’s own DNA, so there’s nothing generic about it. You’re able to view your distant relatives and see where they’re located broadly geographically in one tab and compare your ancestries and health reports (if you’ve opted-in to share) in another tab. Further, you can learn about what Health predispositions you may have based on your genetics to inform yourself, and talk to a doctor about what you should do next to enhance, improve, and/or lengthen your lifespan.

What are your future plans and expected features of the coming new versions of this app?

My future plans are to continue building amazing, high-quality features with my talented team, creating a delightful experience in the years (and future versions) to come. I won’t go into detail about the features that are coming, so you’ll just have to download the latest version when it arrives at the iOS App Store.

Assuming new users of your app are reading this page. What do you want to ask them to do (contact you about X, Share the app, etc.)?

You will want to look at @23andMe on TikTok to see what the app is all about. If you want the best experience, you will need to do the following:

1. Purchase the Health + Ancestry package 23andMe Kit from https://www.23andme.com/compare-dna-tests/ with the 23andMe+ membership.

2. After getting your DNA Spit Kit, download the 23andMe iOS app, follow the steps to submit your DNA Sample via mail, and wait a few weeks before seeing your results in the 23andMe iOS app.

3. After getting your results, be sure to navigate through the app, read articles and reports about your health and ancestry, see what steps you should take to mitigate potential health risks, see which relatives are out there who may have also done their 23andMe test, and share this with your friends and family.

4. Be sure to turn on automatic app updates to get the latest and greatest version.

23andMe – DNA Testing

About App:

Explore your DNA with 23andMe. Discover how your DNA connects you to 2000+ geographic regions around the world. Gain insights into your health, traits, and more.

• Ancestry + Traits Service includes Ancestry Composition — covering 2000+ geographic regions — and 30+ Trait reports such as Ability to Match Musical Pitch, Cilantro Taste Aversion, and more.

 • DNA Relative Finder allows you to opt-in to connect with other 23andMe customers who share your DNA and ancestors.

 • Your Family Tree, automatically built from your DNA relationships, allows you to easily visualize how you’re all related.

• Health + Ancestry Service includes everything in Ancestry + Traits Service plus 65+ additional genetic reports such as Genetic Weight, Muscle Composition, and more.*

Both Services require purchasing a kit and submitting a saliva sample using the collection kit provided. You can log into your account to track the progress of your sample. Once you get your results, open your app to view all your reports.

In the app, you can also choose to answer survey questions and participate in 23andMe research.

Our rigorous standards ensure quality service.

• Our team of scientists and medical experts uses a robust process to develop reports and ensure validity.

• Ancestry percentages are derived from our powerful, well-tested system that provides you with ancestry estimates down to the 0.1%.

*Health + Ancestry Service is available in USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, and Sweden.

Categories: Health & Fitness

Date: March 31, 2023

Developer: Umar Qattan - iOS Engineer at 23andMe

About developer: My name is Umar Qattan, and I was born in Texas in 1994 (as of this writing ... Read more

Website: https://www.23andme.com/


App URL in iTunes
App URL in Google Play


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