Geekapalooza: My recent visit to Google I/O

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Last week I had to pry myself away from my day-to-day life as a software developer and fly over the Pacific to attend Google I/O. Okay maybe I didn’t have to pry myself away – rather, it was more like me excitedly not sleeping for 2 days, giddy as a school kid, prior to leaving. I was lucky enough to be personally invited this year to both the conference and to other GDG organiser events to meet other community leaders across the globe. It’s safe to say I had high expectations.

I was expecting it to be big, but what I found was a mecca for geeks. A place where being a nerd was cool, wearing glass and wearables was not only normal but encouraged, and a place where everyone wanted to talk to you about the products they have been building and what tech stack and services made it possible. To say that I was blown away is an understatement — and this is just the people and culture surrounding the event. Let’s not forget the main reason I was there: I/O is the main stage for Google to announce their new product pipeline for the year. In this blog entry I’ll highlight the big announcements, albeit at a very high level.

Android Phones and Janky Accordions

repair

Mobile web apps have come a long way from their clunky, cut-down ancestors of the pre-smartphone era. Responsive design and mobile-specific interactions such as touch and swipe events have begun to bridge the gap between mobile web-apps and native smartphone applications. So unsurprisingly, when working with a mobile web app we are often tasked with aiming not only for feature-parity with a corresponding native app, but for UI-parity as well.

While plenty of arguments can be made against this approach to begin with, on a recent mobile web-app project we were curious to see how far we could go when tasked with pursuing the native ideal.

Parity across the layout of the pages is simple enough, but the native UI experience is about so much more than just layout. All of the seemingly-insignificant things in the periphery – page transitions, modal dialogs, the now ubiquitous left-hand slide-in navigation bar – are crucial. However, there was one element that we didn’t expect to cause any problems, particularly given how widely used it is – the humble accordion.

Faking Interactive Video on Mobile

Source code of a great webpage

Problem solving is a major aspect of software development, there are often many different solutions to a problem and a good developer will strive for the most simple without compromising maintainability. However, there are certain times when there’s simply no elegant way to solve a problem so you end up writing what’s commonly referred to in the industry as a hack. You probably won’t be proud of it and you might even have committed the code under a pseudonym so no one can git blame you, but however ugly, the hack still solves a problem and the next thing you know, you’re being asked to write a blog detailing its every hideous crevice.

YOW Conference – Melbourne highlights

YOW Conference 2013

4 Shiners attended YOW Melbourne last week, which is a technology conference held yearly and brings high-profile and savvy presenters to talk on new and current trends in IT.

I’ll start with an overview of the venue, crowd and the sponsors that had stalls in the common area, then dive into a tech report.

Easing the Pain of Android Software Fragmentation

The Android FamilySoftware fragmentation is a common concern for Android developers. Right now, supporting all versions down to Android 2.2 (Froyo) will make your application available to 93.5% of Google Play users. However, doing so also means you miss out on APIs that were released in the last 2 years.

In this post I’ll talk about this problem in detail, and highlight a few libraries available that help you develop an Android 2.2 application without limiting yourself to old APIs.

Yow! Developer Conference Brisbane.

Yow! Brisbane 2011

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Brisbane Yow! Conference.  This was a great conference with talks to interest developers across many languages platforms and experience.

This blog is a summary of the more interesting talks that I attended and my thoughts on them.

A Good Look at Android Location Data

Getting started with the development of location-based services on Android is relatively easy thanks to the well documented location API. However, getting more serious shows there is still much uncharted territory. One such area concerns the accuracy of real-life location data, which I have recently taken a close look at. In short, location data can be far more accurate than Google’s conservative estimates – at least with the phone that I used.

Swipe Conference Highlights: Gamification

Swipe Conference

Of the many excellent sessions at this week’s Swipe Conference, the one titled “Build Better Cocoa Apps Using Game Mechanics” by Paris Buttfield-Addison was unique in its topic. In it, Paris outlined how gamification is currently viewed as something that can be quickly slapped onto an existing product in order to increase its appeal, whereas in reality, successful gamification requires carefully thought-out integration, for when done correctly it should form a core part of your app’s user experience.