For the last few months I have been doing quite a bit of work on the Android platform. Its no secret that I am a big fan of the Android OS both technically and philosophically. Needless to say, I was really excited to be able to attend AnDevCon III conference earlier this month for both the opportunity to learn some new things about the framework as well as interacting with some of the stars of the developer community. The event, held in Burlingame (SF), did not disappoint. It was amazing to meet folks like Chet Haase, Romain Guy, Jake Wharton, Mark Murphy, etc and hear them speak as well as meet some awesome local devs doing amazing work (and thanks to Twitter, I can stalk them forever 😉 ).
I took a bunch of notes which are available in their very raw form on my shared Evernote Notebook here. While most of the sessions were pretty good, some of the more memorable ones are listed below:
- Romain Guy and Chet Haase‘s talk on best practices for Android UI was probably the most educational giving me a bunch of tips on improving some of my apps’ behavior.
- Chiu-Ki Chan‘s talk on Android Custom Components was probably the one that I was most desperately looking for. The talk was fantastic and we hit it off pretty well. She is a coding machine and already has another app out there on the Sony Smartwatch she won there.
- Kirill Grouchnikov‘s talk on Responsive Mobile Design for Android was great and laid out some great tips on how to create screen-size aware interfaces for Android applications.
- Mark Murphy‘s talk on App Integration was very eye opening. I was already pretty aware of the Android Intent system that allowed data to flow between applications seamlessly, but he laid out a bunch of other ways apps can be integrated with each other, like sending the complete UI to another app using Remote Views, app plugins etc. Also I didn’t realize Mark was a local guy, so maybe we can coerce him to coming to one of the Android group’s talks in the near future.
- Jake Wharton gave a great talk on his libraries. The guy is a celebrity in Android circles and I already use his ActionBarSherlock library on some projects but I didn’t realize he had ported Android 3.0’s animation system to work on pre-HoneyComb devices as well via his NineOldAndroids library (Very useful for my current project). His other projects like ViewPagerIndicator and HanselAndGretel were pretty cool as well.
- Blake Meike‘s talk on Concurrency in Android was probably the most packed session besides the official Google talks. Listening to his talk I realized how little attention I had been paying to possible concurrency issues in some of my apps. There was great back and forth with the audience in the session on a bunch of details on Android application lifecycle.
- Aleksandar Gargenta‘s talk on Android Services and how IPC works across the Android system at the lowest level was fascinating. While I don’t see myself ever writing or needing to know the details of the lowest level Android services, it gave me a lot better understanding of what Android/Linux is doing when different actions are performed.
- Joshua Jamison gave a great talk on Advanced Design Implementation with some very usable tips on faithfully translating designs to Android applications.
Besides the talks, I really loved the HTC and the Barnes and Noble keynotes. HTC is doing some amazing work with their phones and very carefully navigating the waters of adding functionality to their line of phones and avoiding fragmentation by creating a set of apis only for their phones that differ very slightly in functionality from the core Android OS. The entire HTC keynote was broadcasted to the projector from their phone. They also introduced the new APIs in the latest iteration of Sense including LockScreen, Beats Audio and Video call APIs. B&N gave some rather interesting statistics on the Nook audience, like having over 85% of their audience be women. Android has had a notoriously hard time appealing to women so this statistic was interesting. The Nook marketplace is also apparently very profitable, which I seem to have heard from some other devs there as well (so it wasn’t just PR), though the conspiracy theorists attribute that to their curated market being fairly small. Their talk on thinking of apps as content (like books) was pretty good. Though the best part may have been winning the Sony Smartwatch draw at the end of the conference. The watch actually has a very interesting architecture with most of the user interface generated on the paired mobile phone and the watch itself being just a dumb screen. I hope I get some time to play with the SDK soon.
I missed most of the after event parties since I had a truckload of work to do for a project due the immediate next week (I was sneaking off to write iOS code which is kinda ironic), but did make it a point to attend Square’s dessert bash. In my book they also won the award for best schwag t-shirt ever.
P.S: My friend and fellow Android Alliance organizer Chuck Greb has already posted his notes from the event on his blog.