Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Random notes from Droidcon in Berlin

Glad to be able to visit Droidcon in Berlin last week and had a chance to talk about Effective programming for Android and the ObjectForms framework for Android that I am busy at getting ready for the public release. Thanks everybody for coming, it was great to see the auditorium packed and even better to get so many positive feedback and questions. Can't wait for ObjectForms to get released and that date is near.

I had a chance to attend a couple of other presentations, and more importantly, meet and talk to bunch of interesting people during the conference. Here are my observations and notes, in no particular order :

  • the quality of talks was very fluctuating. Some of them were absolute gems, at some I just said "I want my half-hour back". More on this later
  • Motorola Xoom looks pretty impressive, but it is no "iPad killer". Honeycomb doesn't look too intuitive, even to the Android user. New "holo" theme is a mess.
  • Speaking of Xoom, Motorola scheduled two developer events in April (Berlin & London). Hope Xoom is available by then. It is a real shame that manufacturers can't do a global launch.
  • There was a bunch of companies offering alternative app markets or payment options. Most of them had hard time to explain why ordinary developer should bother. 
  • Lots of companies were hunting for developers. It is great time to be a mobile developer in 2011.
  • Plenty of various Android devices popping up. My apps work pretty good on all that I had chance to test. No fragmentation issues whatsoever, but thanks for asking, Mr. Jobs.
  • The most impressive device for me was LG Optimus 3D. While I am a big fan of emerging 3D technologies so this is not that much of surprise, the main reason I like the the new LG phone and think it can be truly a breakthrough device is not the ability to see (very narrow) 3D picture on the screen or taking stereoscopic pictures. But it is still the dual lens camera, what makes the phone so interesting. It gives Optimus a new kind of sensor, which is able to analyze the depth information. The device is powerful enough to handle the computations needed to do to analyze the video stream and get the depth info out. The example of poking the AR monster by a finger and its fighting back was super impressive and this was a top moment of entire show for me. 
  • From that perspective, hope that recent rumors that LG is making the "Nexus Tablet" i.e. reference HW implementation holds true. That would be awesome, I am definitely getting one of those babies.
  • SE Xperia with integrated PSP and HW controls looks nice too. How many see it as a benchwarmer until the NGP is out, i.e. same way I do ?
  • Another presentation I liked a lot was Michael Straeubig's intro to Droid.AR library (filling for author Simon Heinen). I see a lot of synergy with what I was doing in my previous projects and hope to pick this up soon.
  • Erik Hellman's talk was interesting indeed, many fascinating aspects covered. It is not completely clear what is SE's motivation behind many ideas he presented, though.
  • Sparky Rhode's Honeycomb presentation was the absolute low of the entire event. Basically just a (not very well organized) walkthrough of the Xoom connected to the projector. Developers expect to get more information, not a bunch of plastic robot toys thrown into audience. Still rubbing my eyes in disbelief this came out of Google employee. 
  • Speaking of disappointment, I noticed I am not the only one who is not happy with the state of the Android API and the documentation quality. There was a bar-camp session devoted to problems of the documentation and an ad-hoc initiative to create a site with more quality examples, as you can see the beginners sites flooded with errors copied from the official docs. 
  • I moderated another bar-camp session, devoted to people experiences with data storage. Seems everybody is resigned to live with plain SQL Lite, although nobody really liked this prospect. But there was no interest in simpler options, such as direct persistence of objects, or reusing JSON to store data etc. Interesting discovery to me. 

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