New year, new DroidCon: like last time, two heros from our lab (Lorenz e Saverio namely) traveled to Torino in order to attend the yearly italian Android conference. The 2015 edition reached new heights of attendance: last year we had great fun attending the conference, but this time the event had grown even more.
The conference was held in the imposing conference center Lingotto in Turin, nicely bathed in sun and nice weather, with more than 700 participants from over 21 different countries.
Last year’s event was marked by an unmanageable epidemy of Google Glass-wearing speakers. The 2015 edition fortunately marked a switch from Google’s glasses to more discreet Android Wear based watches. A nice advantage, from a stylistic perspective at the least.
Because of that, many sessions were actually focused on Android Wear and Android Auto, the brand new platforms where our favorite green droid is expanding into. Many other talks during the two intense days of DroidCon where instead focused on the intersection between Android and the Internet of Things: for instance interesting stuff about iBeacons and (a bit discouraging) experiments on proximity monitoring by Matteo Gazzurelli.
Apart from software development, one of the most discussed topics was actually user experience (or “UX”): Lydia Selimalhigazi and Roberto Orgiu gave a nice overview on why developers and designers need to stick together and help each other in order to obtain results without (too much) conflict. The same topic was taken on, from a branding perspective, during the stimulating talk by Marie Schweiz on how the specific features of a brand influence the user experience (not only the logo, that is).
Another totally different point of view on “user experience”: Kentaro Takiguchi gave a very nice talk “Improving UX through Performance” with an in-depth overview of those little optimizations that can be applied, both on the app and on the server side, in order to improve an app’s fluidity, reliability and responsiveness. An interesting bag of tricks for scenarios where even shaving off 4 KBs from a remote request can have a great impact.
Benjamin Augustin made clear that in fact software development can, at times, be a hellish affair. However, in order to free developers from pain, a growing number of libraries and tools are being worked on. One of those libraries is in fact RxJava, the Java port of the Reactive extensions originally created for .NET: those extensions offer a nice way to “invert” how your code work, by adopting a “reactive” coding paradigm which is very well suited to manage the interactions between user interface and an unreliable backend (like network access, for instance).
Likewise, Maciej Górski presented several ways, especially using Gradle plug-ins, to reduce the amount of “boilerplate” code developers need to write (for instance getter and setter methods for Java classes). Also very interesting: the “Holy Sync!” session by Eugenio Marletti, about cross-platform synchronization methods, using CouchBase.
“Test, test and test!” was the mantra of several other talks, in particular the one given by the always funny Ali Derbane e Wiebe Elsinga (don’t even try pronouncing his name, you’ll fail) who during their talk “The hitchhiker’s guide to functional testing” gave an overview of most functional testing suites available for Android. Stephan Linzner instead showed the glorious new tools developed at the Google mothership for its mobile developers.
Finally, at 12 o’clock of the first day, pushed by hunger more than anything else, our Lorenz gave his talk “The love child of Android and .NET: using Xamarin for app development” about all our recent experiences using the Xamarin platform for Android development during the last year. Slides can be downloaded as PPTX as well.
After two very intense days we left Turin exhausted, but encouraged and inspired by many new things to check out, technologies to use in our projects and details to keep in mind while developing on Android (and not only)! Looking forward for next year!