Guru Session: Android Design Patterns (and tools!)

I already gave 2 Guru Sessions with Appsterdam, one Introduction to Android and one about Tools for Android Game Development. Since the last one was in March, it was about time to prepare a new one.

This time it is going to be about Android Design Patterns and Tools on Oct 20th.

Android Design Patterns is something I am very interested in. I think it is very important for a platform to have a personal look and feel, and that the apps in that platform actually DO follow that.

In Android we were left in our own for a while, the guidelines were brief and you had to implement them on your own. Since the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, there are much more clear guidelines and patterns, and Google even set up the Android Design site. Much better than the old guidelines.

The problem is that this design patterns can be applied on devices running ICS, but the tools are missing on the older versions and Gingerbread STILL has more than 50% of the chart. Take a look at the official charts if you don’t believe me.

So, we have tools and guidelines, but not available to older versions.

The solution is to use the android support library, which bring many of the features back to 1.6, and on top of that ActionBarSherlock, which is an amazing library written by Jake Wharton (only compatible up to 2.0 but should be enough)

The session will cover the most important patterns and how to configure the libraries to continue with a hands-on where the attendants can either do a small demo project to get to know the tools or migrate one of their existing apps to use this paradigms. Finishing with pizza and beer as usual.

Go to the meetup page of the Guru session to RSVP, be quick, there are few spots left already.

V Hack Android Recap

This weekend (15-16 September) the Dutch edition of “V Hack Android” event was held at Bouncespace in Amsterdam.

This event in particular was organized by the Dutch Android User Group, which made a great job at everything over the weekend, and co-organized by Appsterdam which helped with the location. Being an active member of both communities I was pretty much forced to attend it :)

The Team: Apps’R’Us

Each team was composed by 3 members. My partners for the weekend were Ronald van der Lingen, who I knew from the time I freelanced at Layar and is a very enthusiastic Android developer and Ron Jones, who I knew from some Appsterdam meetups and is a designer with lots of interest in mobile apps.

Since all the names start with R, the name of the team became Apps’R’Us, which turned out to be quite popular name when I searched it on the Internet after the Hackathon.

The Project: Appy Birthday

At the hackathon we were presented 4 topics (Birthday, NFC, Health and European Culture) and we were given time to brainstorm about it and pitch on Friday.

We tried to think of an idea that combined NFC and birthdays, but we could not come up with anything interesting. Then we went for Culture + Birthday and we were almost decided to make an app that showcases famous people that have a birthday today and what have they done, but then decided to change it completely.

The final idea is an App that shows you people that have installed the app that has the birthday today, and you can say “Appy Birthday” to them. The other person will receive a push notification and will be able to see all the people that send a birthday wish to them.

We really liked the idea of an act of kindness to random people that have Android phones as you do. We thought it fit the theme of the Android birthday and it was fun.

The Hackaton

I really liked that we cut it down to a Minimum Viable Product and that we could finish the basic functionality over the weekend. Appy Birthday is even published on Google Play, although it is a bit rough around the edges.

It was very nice to work with my teammates, both are people I knew but never had the chance to work closely with them.

Lots of work, but also fun and inspiring… and lots of unhealthy food over the weekend.

The Result

We ended up in second place, although the idea was fun and well executed, there was no way you could make a business plan out of it.

The winning project was “Food!” from Team Wasabi. It is an app where you can put your food preferences (what you like to eat and what you can’t eat) and when you are going to have a group meal you do a sync of all the people involved via NFC and get a common list of ingredients to decide over the menu.

Their demo was really awesome. Although I like our project and I am very happy with it, the way they implemented the idea was really cool and fun and they deserved the victory.

Well done Team Wasabi! Make us proud in London!

Thanks DutchAUG for making this possible!

The photos used on this entry and more photos of Geeks eating unhealthy food and working non-stop can be found at the official page of the event in Google Plus.