3 nerds at DroidCon Turin 2014

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From thursday 6th to sunday 9th february the DroidCon Italy event was held in Turin. It’s the italian version of the important Android conference dedicated both to developers and the B2B market. (And people like us, it appears.)

Our three LaBlog writers (Gioele, Saverio e Lorenz) jumped on the opportunity of enjoying two days of vacation the conference in order to improve their Android skills. As soon as they arrived at the conference building, Gioele was exposed to a very severe and unfair badge discrimination, as shown in picture. (He also didn’t get the glass cleaning cloth shaped as a droid, a precious object giving +10 nerdiness to the user.)


As we noticed during the opening keynote, one of the themes of the conference would indeed be Google Glass: several people around the hall did indeed wear a pair of Glasses, and were usually inclined to talk about them and to show off their capabilities. During the BarCamp at the end of the first day there was an improvised talk about Google Glass, also showing one of the most interesting applications: providing hands-free information to fire-fighters doing their dangerous job.


Among the topics, several sessions were focused on mobile app security: Luca Baggio from MediaService.net did talk about the security issues that impacted Linux and Android devices at large so far, while Marco Grassi from viaForensics gave an interesting overview of the (many) attacks to mobile apps and data stored in them. He also presented some useful hints for developers in order to avoid most common problems, which usually are disregarded by larger developers as well. We doubt anyone cares about our shopping lists, but just in case you intend to store more important data…

There were several talks about testing setup and testing environments, while GenyMotion presented their new x86 Android emulator based on VirtualBox. We were very interested and their solution was also mentioned by some of the speakers, meaning that perhaps this could be a solution to the usually quite sluggish default Android emulator. We’ll need to check it out!

The spanish developer Victor Díaz then entertained us by showing some very interesting ideas of “atypical” smartphone usage: starting with a coordinated ballet, speed challenges (meaning the speed with which a phone on vibrate can cross a table) and his City Fireflies project where groups of people can use their smartphone to defeat evil space invaders attacking a public square of a city. He then also presented Protocoder, an interesting platform that can be used to rapidly develop application prototypes in Javascript. Very useful for quick testing or for teaching programming to kids, without having to use professional tools (which are quite hard usually) like Eclipse (also known as “big IDE of doom”). He wrapped up his talk encouraging other developers to develop interesting, modern and innovative applications — not the usual ListView + ActionBar.

Maco Picone held his talk about “The Android Platform in the era of Internet of Things” by presenting a system developed by a research group of the University of Parma that makes the discovery of Machine2Machine protocols very easy. Very interesting, we say!

Finally, there were several UI/UX (User Interface/User Experience) talks as well, especially targeted for Android developers. From the promising “One code to play ’em all” (about Fragments and responsive app development) which was little more than the official Android documentation unfortunately, to the intriguing “From Android App to Killer App: How to Reach the Million-Downloads Milestone”, to the talk by the author of stylingandroid.com, who unfortunately confirmed how verbose and difficult it can be to present graphics and layouts which could, in theory at least, be optimized by the Android UI runtime.


On friday we left Turin with a load of stimulating ideas, unfathomable fears about the security of our mobile apps, the certainty that ordering too much nachos for dinner is bad for you™ and, most importantly, a renewed craving for code!

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