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November 22, 2011

Droidcon 2011 day 1

Today I have been to my first android conference! While the conference isn’t over yet (tomorrow day 2) I wanted to write down some of my experiences.

Early on the foggy morning we (me and Allen Ding) arrived at the conference, and while I had some issues with the ticket (it ended up in my spam folder) saying my name was enough to get me in and recieve my t-shirt (luckily this one isn’t one size fits all ;)). The venue itself looked awesome and there was a cool vibe in the building. With the opening statement underway by an overly enthusiastic presenter (which was nice) it became clear that unfortunately the “Barcamp” sessions weren’t going to be much more then 20 minute sale-pitches. Atleast there was the keynote done by Nick Butcher which was a good and funny presentation about the new Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) version of android and the new message that google wants to get out there

It’s not OK to just make OK apps, make more awesome apps instead

Something I felt that was also stressed at the Apple Tech Talk conference earlier November in London. There are so many apps on the markets these days that just being OK isn’t going to do it anymore. Unfortunatly this could not be said for the android application made specifically for the event, the app loaded initial data over network, without an obvious activity indicator and then had talks listed with an empty summary, which still forced the user to go to the website (which wasn’t mobile friendly).

After the Barcamp and proper lunch the first real talks we’re going to get started, attending first the talk by Joris de Sutter being marketed as a talk that will cover “End-user hierarchy of smartphone needs and how this reflects the success of an app” and “Where to find inspiration for great apps that end-users need (and hopefully want to pay for).”. Unfortunately it did not deliver both. It started with a nice overview of the phones a user buys and in what price range (mainly stats from Belgium but ok) he then had his own version of the “Pyramid of Need” which according to him ment that only 60% of the people that buy smartphones use it to make phone calls and only 20% actually download apps. He admitted himself these were made-up figures but obviously this was done without any sense of the subject. He then talked more about people that do not actually reach the marketplace, if they don’t reach the marketplace, how can they be my target audience?

Being quite disappointed after this talk, and I could feel more around me had the same feeling we went onto the next talk which should cover “a few lessons learnt while developing a real-life Android application”. While some parts of this talk coud’ve been interesting for some people the end really made me feel that the person giving the talk wasn’t someone I’d ever want to learn from. In a real-life example of the Efteling Post app the following request was made to the developer

The application was made in portrait mode, but our customers tell us that for devices with a physical keyboard the screen doesn’t rotate while typing

What the presenter then presented as the solution to this problem blew my mind. Instead of building a liquid layout that would stretch the width of the screen, in order to keep using the exact same design images, the choice was made to add black bars to both sides. Causing the user to loose almost 60% (on some devices) of their screen size and are left with an application with a to small font to actually read what your typing in the first place. Going back to Nick’s point, this is not more awesome. Another let down in a day that was riddled with confusion.

Last but not least we went to a talk by Matthias KaƤppler “Kick-starting Android Application Development”. The talk delivered what it promised, and with an awesome presentation made using it finally showed some actual good development stuff done for the android.

We ended the day with some demo’s of application made by people in the audience and finally an awesome barbecue, free beer and hamburgers! All standing outside near local fires made in bins, the atmosphere was awesome!

So the conclusion of the day has to be that the level of the talks are a bit disappointing, there is either not enough content, good content or actual facts and it is easy to spot people who do this more then once or people just trying their hand on presenting for the first time.

I am hoping that tomorrow will bring more talks of a better quality!

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