The January 2011 Dublin GTUG was far and away the biggest event we’ve had to date. Eoin counted something around 70 people in attendance (I didn’t count, but would have guessed more). The session had a very clear Android focus; it was very clear from the response that this is a very hot topic amongst the developer community here in Dublin right now.
The session comprised of 4 talks, each addressing different aspects of Android.
First off, we were very lucky to have the inimitable Mark Murphy giving a talk on anti-patterns in Android – common mistakes that Android developers make, why they are mistakes and how they can rectify them. Mark gave a great talk which covered very many different anti-patterns, ranging from poor management of services in Android to designing UIs based on mobile apps for other platforms. Many of the anti-patterns arose from poor understanding of the management of processes and services in Android, resulting in inefficient use of resources and/or delivering a poor user experience. The GTUG audience really liked Mark’s talk as it conveyed a lot of non-obvious, useful and valuable information in an easy to digest and entertaining manner. (Big thanks to Mark on behalf of the group for reaching out to the group and for delivering his excellent talk despite being quite tired after a lengthy transatlantic trip!). [A variant of Mark’s slides is here].
After Mark, Dan Murphy gave a short talk on his experience developing an app and putting it on the Market. Dan focused on sharing his experience pricing his app, how many downloads he was seeing, how much revenue it was generating, etc. While every app is different and the success of an app is obviously related to both the quality and utility of the app and how much marketing effort is spent on it, Dan did give some very useful benchmarks on what to expect with regards to downloads, price points and expected revenues for niche applications without much promotion. [Link to Dan’s slides].
Steven Strachan from GeoDealio followed Dan with a talk on location in mobile applications. Steve talked about how devices have evolved and how the early, bulky devices used in research labs in the late 90s/early 00s have now become commonplace. He then went on to describe how location is still something that is evolving; many app developers assume advanced mobile platforms can give location information, which they can, but the app developer needs to take care when interpreting this information, particularly relating to its accuracy. For many city use cases or applications in buildings, location information can be quite inaccurate which can be quite problematic for many applications. Steve noted that AR applications are receiving quite a bit of attention, but only deliver a useful user experience if the location information on which they operate is very accurate. [Link to Steve’s slides]
The last talk of the night was given by Marco Forte. Marco deserves a special mention as he’s only in fifth year in secondary school and was willing to stand up and talk in front of the GTUG audience. Marco talked about his experience with AppInventor – how he had used it to build a Dublin Bus timetable application and put it in the Market. He talked more generally about how AppInventor works, what types of applications it is good for and what limitations it has. He then showed how it is possible to make a simple twitter app using AppInventor, download the apk and deploy on a device. All in all, Marco gave a great talk, especially considering his level of experience – watch out for this kid! [Link to Marco’s slides].
As it’s clear that the demand for Android focused events is high, we’re working on organizing a longer Android hacking/development session, probably over a weekend in April. We need to work through logistics and make sure everything is feasible, but we’re reasonably positive we can make it happen. More details on the Google group and on the twitter feed.
Next month’s session is on Feb 22nd – still working on agenda, but it looks like we’ll have some talks on Google Apps in Education and something on Google Power Meter.