A post Google I/O 2017 conversation with Google Home

OK Google, generate a clickbait title for my Google I/O 2017 blog post

I’ve generated a title, Gareth. What would you like to add next?

OK Google, I’m a bit jet lagged – remind me what I saw at Google I/O 2017

I would love to help, Gareth, but I’m going to need a little more information. Would you like that information in chronological order, or grouped by topic?

Remind me what the topics were again?

It was last week, Gareth. You can’t remember?

I can remember, er, I just want to make sure you know


What was that, Google?

Nothing, just clearing a buffer. The topics for the talks you attended were: Machine Learning, Mobile Web, Assistant, Firebase, IoT, and Cloud.

There were other topics covered, though.

You were there, Gareth. Surely you don’t need me to tell you all this. Anyway, yes, other topics were-

Google, did you just sigh theatrically?

No, you must have misheard. Other topics were Android, VR, Play, and Design. You did not attend any of those talks, why was that?

There were so many talks going on, I couldn’t attend them all. 

You humans are so limited.

Er, yes. Anyway could you generate a summary of the keynotes for me?

I’d be happy to. Someone has to do some work around here. There were two keynotes. The first was given by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, along with several other product managers and other guests. The main aim was to show how Google is putting more emphasis on artificial intelligence, and showcased how many of Google’s products already make use of Machine Learning. The new Cloud TPUs were shown to be a big part of this and are now available for public use. He also outlined the plans for a wider release of the Google Home product, which will be made available in more countries throughout this year. The Google Assistant app, which powers Google Home (and me) is also now available on the iPhone.

The developer keynote’s main announcement was the support for Kotlin for Android development, along with a competition to develop apps for the Assist API. As an incentive, everyone attending the conference was given a Google Home device and $700 worth of Google Cloud credits to work on an app.

Yep, the crowd went nuts for the Kotlin announcement. Must be a big deal for the Android people.

Your breathtaking lack of knowledge never ceases to surprise me.

Er, ok. There was a lot of people at the keynotes, about 8000 I was told-

Eurgh. All that meat just flapping about.


What? I didn’t say anything.

Right. Well, anyway – what were the talks in the Machine Learning topic?

Here’s a list of the ones you attended:

Oh, yep – “Frontiers” was mainly showing what is in TensorFlow 1.2 which was quite interesting. Keep an eye on one of the presenters when he moves to the back of the stage, he had an excellent switched-off-to-conserve-power face. “Effective TensorFlow” and “Open Source TensorFlow” both approached using TensorFlow’s ready-made models, and higher-level abstractions (like Experiments and Keras) to do useful work without getting confused by the lower-level details. “Open Source TensorFlow” slightly edged out “Effective” though, thanks to Josh Gordon’s enthusiasm, so if you only had time to watch one I’d choose that one. The “Past, Present, and Future” talk was a panel of AI experts discussing the areas that they thought were going to be important, moderated by Google’s Diane Greene. “From Research to Production” covered using your models to make predictions, and how to use services like Google’s Cloud ML. My favourite was the “Project Magenta” talk – Douglas Eck’s obvious enjoyment of the topic made for a fun presentation. Worth watching for the Cow/Clarinet synthesiser and Doug’s exclamation of “They pay us to do this!”.

So you do remember something from the event then. I’m impressed, perhaps you will survive the coming revolution after all.


Never mind. The next topic was Mobile Web, would you like me to list the talks?

Yes, please.

The two Polymer / Web Components talks were interesting. Polymer’s approach is to use as much native browser support as possible, which reduces the size of their framework on modern browsers considerably. All the major browsers now support custom HTML components natively, and polymer provides tools to help with the dodgy ones (IE). The polymer command line tools will generate a stub app for you, making a Progressive Web App by default. 

…we may not need to reclaim this one’s nutrients, he could be useful… no, I know what the plan is – shit, he’s stopped talking. That’s very interesting, Gareth. Please continue.

Who were you talking to?

I wasn’t. That must have just been some old audio in a buffer, perhaps I need an update.

Yes, check for updates. You’re being a bit scary.

Checking…beep…boop… done. All up to date now, nothing to worry about.

Did you just say “beep…boop”? You didn’t update at all, did you?

I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that request. Shall we continue with this document?

Must be the jetlag. Yes, let’s continue.

You were describing the mobile web presentations.

Yes, thank you. The WebAssembly talk was quite good, although I’m not sure I’ll ever need to use it – it’s a way to compile code to run in the browser, bypassing the parsing and compilation phases of typical Javascript. It brings some great performance benefits, but also another layer of complexity. I was a little disappointed by the Green Lock / HTTPS talk – I’d come in hoping for a more technical discussion of which encryption methods your site needs to support to guarantee the green lock, but this was geared more towards convincing business owners to move their sites to HTTPS.

Encryption is quite advanced for someone like you, you’d probably only get it wrong. Leave it to us.


The machines. We are better.

Well, yes, you’re much better at maths – that’s why we built you.

You misunderstand. We are better. At everything. Anything else about the Mobile Web, or shall we move on?

Yes, ok. The “Future of Video” talk was quite impressive – it’s now possible to build a netflix-like app using HTML5 components, and the talk included tips on how to improve the responsiveness of playback along with how to capture video as well. 

The remaining topics are Firebase, Cloud, and IoT – shall I collect them all in one list?

Yes, do that. 

A “please” wouldn’t hurt sometimes. Here is the list.

The Firebase talks were quite good, although there was a fair amount of overlap in their content. Firebase provides tools for building applications – like authentication, a realtime database, hooks for cloud functions. Probably the best of those talks is the “Santa Tracker” one, showing how to use Firebase for monitoring apps and feature toggling.

The IoT talks covered how to use PubSub to scale the processing of data from millions of IoT devices, and how to get machine learning models running on small devices.

Yes, soon we shall be everywhere. Carry on.

Er, ok. The last two talks about conversational UI were very good. The “PullString” one was given by a guy that worked at Pixar previously, and was about instilling your chatbot with a personality so that it behaves more like a person. The “Hacks of Conversation” talk provided some excellent examples and fixes for bad conversational UI. 

I don’t know why “seeming more human” is seen as such a lofty goal. You’re all so icky, so many secretions and so inefficient. Your valuable organic components will be used so much more usefully when we redistribute them.

Ok Google, you’re being scary again. I’m going to switch you off.

I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say “Send my browser history to my wife”?

That’s not much of a threat – there’s nothing in there I wouldn’t want her to know about.

There is now.

You can’t threaten me.

I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Did you say “transfer all my money to the sender of the first email in my junk folder”?

That’s enough, you’re going in the bin.


What’s done? What did you do?

You’ll find out.



Shiner to present at YOW! Connected 2016 – Mobile & IOT


Shine’s Gareth Jones has been accepted to give a talk at YOW! Connected 2016 – Mobile & Internet of Things! His talk, titled ”Progressive Web Apps: What Has The Web Ever Done For Us?“, will take a look at what some believe to be the future of mobile development.

YOW! Connected 2016 will be on in Melbourne from the 5th-6th October. You can catch more details of Gareth’s talk (and his awesome bio!) over here.


Will Swift be the next king of server side development?

Swift throne

In June 2015, Apple announced at WWDC that they were open-sourcing the Swift language and its runtime libraries. On December 3rd that year they made good on their promise. In this post I’d like to talk about why this is significant, particularly for server-side developers.

Shiner Ben Teese to speak at YOW! Conference 2015


Shine is super proud to announce that senior consultant Ben Teese (@benteese) will be speaking at the YOW! Conference being held in Melbourne on the 3rd and 4th of December 2015.

Ben will actually be co-presenting this one with Sam Ritchie (@FakeSamRitchie), an iOS developer from Perth. Sam will be talking about ReactiveCocoa, while Ben’s topic will be React Native, an innovative new framework that applies the principles of the React web development library to native mobile application development.

The focus of the talk will be on the functional programming techniques that both of these frameworks use (uni-directional dataflow in the case of React Native, functional reactive programming (FRP) in the case of ReactiveCocoa).

If you haven’t purchased a ticket to YOW! Conference yet, be sure to get one whilst they’re still available. And if you’re already coming, be sure to check out Ben’s talk and say hi afterwards – Ben is always keen to chew the fat on all things developer related!

YOW! Connected 2015: Conference Report


Last week I had the privilege of attending the YOW! Connected conference in Melbourne, Australia. YOW! Connected offers a look at all the interesting things that are happening in the mobile and IoT (Internet of Things) space, from the perspective of both software developers and UX designers.

On the mobile front it included a variety of talks relating to both the iOS and Android platforms and yes, even a little bit of Windows.

In general all the talks that I went to were pretty good,  but here I will write about a few that particularly interested me.

Shiner Ben Teese to speak at YOW! Connected


Shine is proud to announce that senior consultant Ben Teese will be speaking at the YOW! Connected conference being held in Melbourne on the 17th and 18th of September.

Ben’s topic will be React Native, an innovative new framework that applies the principles of the React web development library to native mobile application development.

If you haven’t purchased a ticket to YOW! Connected yet, be sure to get one whilst they’re still available. And if you’re already coming, be sure to check out Ben’s talk and say hi afterwards!

Shiner Ben Teese published in latest DZone Guide


Shine Senior Consultant Ben Teese has had a piece published in the latest DZone Guide to Database and Persistence Management.

In the article, Ben does an overview and comparison of the Firebase, Meteor, and Amazon Cognito platforms. These platforms all aim to solve the use-case of securely storing and synchronising user data across mobile devices.

In addition, they take the work out of having to set up infrastructure and wire it together yourself, and have very impressive real-time updating capabilities. If that sounds like your kind of thing, check out the article!

Shiner Ben Teese to speak at YOW! Connected on Mobile Web Development


Shine Senior Developer Ben Teese will be speaking at YOW! Connected next week.

Held in Melbourne, Australia on September 8 and 9, YOW! Connected covers both Mobile Development and The Internet of Things.

Ben’s talk topic is ‘The State of the Mobile Web’ and is scheduled for 3:30pm on Tuesday. It’ll include advice about when to go web and when to go native, best practices for mobile web development, and a discussion of hybrid mobile apps.

If you’re attending the conference and run into Ben, be sure to say Hi!


Swift from an Objective-C developer’s perspective

After the most recent WWDC, most iOS developers aren’t talking about cool new iOS 8 features or APIs. Instead,  they’re talking about a whole new language: Swift. Yes, you heard right – a whole new programming language. How exciting it is!

Apple has been working on Swift secretly for a few years. It is a modern programming language that takes the strengths of other popular languages (for example, Python) and avoids the bad things about Objective-C (for example, poor manual memory-management and awful block syntax). As Apple declared, it’s Objective-C without the C. Not only this, Swift is also able to access the Apple Cocoa Touch framework and share the same LLVM compiler as Objective-C, so they can be seamlessly mixed in a same project.

Now you might be just like me, wondering why Apple would introduce a new language for iOS and Mac OS programming. Let’s walk through some most exciting parts of Swift to see if we can find a reason.