Munich Android Mobile Meeting Report

I’m a bit tired after driving up to Munich for the Android developer meeting, hosted by Google, and being “on” all day, but it was worth it. I was a bit apprehensive that it might be too ‘introductory’ in the sense of the Google guys telling you in person things that you could have easily looked up on the web, without spending a bunch of time driving around Austria and Bavaria. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. There was some of that, but also plenty of unstructured time to chat with Dan Morrill and Jason Chen, the two Google “Developer Advocates”, who are both very friendly, informative and informed, approachable and put a lot of energy into what they do, despite being a bit tired from flying over from the US. It was nice to get a chance to talk with them, and considering that the platform is still changing, useful as well, because they were definitely listening to what people had to say to them. My thanks to them for a job well done.

Here are some “impressions” I took away – note that they’re not what anyone said, just ideas I got about what they said:

  • Source code is being released when handsets ship because they want to work very closely with the hardware partners to make sure the phone experience is good (they said this). They want to “set the bar high”, and they probably run the risk of someone snatching the code and slapping together a phone if they let out the source code to early. (They definitely didn’t say this, it’s just me connecting the dots).

  • Despite interest for ‘other languages’, it really looks like they want everything to go through Dalvik in some way or another. Clearly, at some point in the future, there will be specs for writing Dalvik byte code.

  • They won’t talk about the upgrade strategy, something I asked about. I want to know that as a developer, I won’t be stuck with N combinations of things that I have to support over the years. I want to know how they’ll minimize that pain, but they’re not currently able to discuss it.

  • Talking with other people attending, there seemed to be some doubts about security and permissions for user data, since Android is moving away from the j2me “everything is private” model, to a model where data can be shared between apps, which opens up lots of good things, but also some potentially bad ones as well.

There’s still really a sense of Android continuing to evolve, in a true spirit of openness. I liked that, as it means there is space for people to tell Google what they want, rather than simply being given a finished product and told that that’s that… but then again, I would, being the open source guy that I am.

I didn’t get to show off Hecl quite as much as I would have liked to, but I did get to mention it a few times, so I guess I did ok.

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