04 May 2010

Taking the Android Show on the Road

[This spring, the Android Developer Relations team (where I work, too) went on the road round the world with boxes of phones, their laptops bulging with slide-ware. Here we’ve combined write-ups from Billy Rutledge (who leads the Android evangelism team at Google HQ) and Reto Meier, who has a desk in London and wrote the book on Android. Featuring Europe is a little unfair, there are a ton of stories from Asia and North America too, but we wanted to keep this reasonably short. - Tim Bray]

Introduction

Billy: The Android Developer Lab (ADL) events are sponsored by Google to help drive developer interest in the Android platform and increase the quality, as well as quantity of creative, innovative applications in Android Market. This Android Developer Relations tour covered 18 locations around the world; we met with over five thousand enthusiastic Android developers and were thrilled to see the energy and creativity behind your applications.

Reto: The European leg of the Android Developer Lab World Tour consisted of me, Billy, and intrepid local volunteers covering eight labs in eleven days across six countries.

Some of the venues weren't like some of the others.

The goal of the tour was to meet and support local Android communities around the world, get developers excited about Android, and inspire them to create the next generation of innovative mobile applications.

Billy: In these sessions, we tried to help new and experienced developers move forward with their application plans. The core topics included:

  • Status of the Mobile Web

  • Android Opportunity for Developers

  • Android Market Overview

  • Android SDK Key Features

  • Code Labs ranging from HelloWorld to Threads to LiveWallpaper

Reto: The odyssey began in the London Google office, three labs over two days that played host to nearly 200 developers. Our surprise gifts arrived minutes after our first session started - a close enough call that our “there’s a package you need to sign for - any idea what it is?” charade was unscripted and only partially contrived. The heart palpitations were entirely real. London is home to some great Android developers including the teams behind ADC2 winners PlinkArt and BuzzDeck.

After London we battled ice and snow in Stockholm, where Anders Bond told us why Android is a good match for Spotify, and enjoyed the sound of 100 Swedes spontaneously erupting in applause.

In Paris 200 experienced community members joined us for two events at La Cantine. Speakers from FRAndroid, Sfeir, and Diotasoft covered everything from OpenGL development using the SDK to using AppEngine to create scalablends for your Android apps.

The Berlin event was huge, with over 150 developers travelling in from all across Germany. We saw demos including multi-touch pong, a Live Wallpaper of the changing Berlin skyline, and an app that showed us where to find (and rate!) the nearest public toilets. The night ended (in the small hours) with a private tour of c-base, an experience not to be missed.

Universidad Rey Juan Carlos made us feel very welcome in Madrid. Over 200 developers from across Spain (and Portugal) were in attendance including more winners of ADC1 (Biowallet) and ADC2 (SweetDreams).

Lessons Learned

Billy: Developers have matured to the point where they don't need to be convinced, they hunger for more technical details. While the intro level topics were well received, most developers have advanced beyond this point and seek guidance on more in-depth topics.

Reto:

  • It’s possible for one person to carry up to four boxes each containing ten Nexus Ones at a time.

  • You should not try to carry more than three boxes of Nexus Ones if the conditions are icy. Right Billy?

    Billy: Absolutely!!! :)

  • Announcing free smartphones to a room of developers always results in a spontaneous round of applause.

  • European mobile developers are smart, enthusiastic, and already building the next generation of epic apps for Android.

Billy: Post event series, we opened a volunteer survey to help us guide future efforts:

  • 78% of developers rated the event 4+ stars (of 5 stars)

  • 79% of developers say having Google engineers on hand is "extremely important"

  • 69% of developers say it is "extremely important" to see more test devices at future events

Looking Forward

[These are still at the planning stage, nothing here is a promise. - Tim]

Billy: The Android Developer Relations team plans to lead future Android Developer Lab events in 2010, building on the feedback from the February events. These future events will focus on deeper technical subjects, expecting the attendees to have a basic understanding of the Android platform. We will post the beginner material on-line as a prerequisite.

While it's impossible for us to reach all locations, we'll look to cover the key locations where Android devices are available.

Reto: I hadn’t even made it back to London when the requests started to roll in. Given the success of this tour I don’t imagine it will be too long.

It’s always a great experience meeting the Android developer community, we look forward to seeing you again soon!