The Android Dev Summit was an Android-only developer-focused conference hosted in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. It’s much more deep dive focused that Google I/O and given the locality of Google HQ there were lots Googlers to answer questions.
All sessions videos are here.
Themes and Styling – video
There was a big emphasis on using Theme attributes (e.g `?attr/textColorSecondary`) to set your colours within our apps rather than setting the specific colours in styles/layouts. The main advantage is you can tweak or change your theme can you don’t have to change all your style definitions. The best use case was supporting day/night mode which switches the app’s colour depending on the time of day.
But also useful when changing colour scheme for a particular screen. i.e if displaying football teams, theme the screen based on team colour. In HelpScout’s case, the way we theme a screen yellow when composing a conversation note.
Also, material specs have been updated form colours point of view. Instead of colour primary, primarydark and accent. It’s now primary and secondary with variants and there’s a focus on the colour of text when it’s on light or dark background more info. Bonus Lightning talk on vector drawables from Nick Butcher.
Webviews – video
There’s a new AndroidX Webview library whose aim is to provide stability and common API across Android versions. When using
shouldOverideUrlLoading() make sure to check
WebResourceRequest.hasGesture() to ensure it’s a person clicking a link and not a script (benign or malicious) causing the URL to change.
TL;DR This article fills in some of the gaps in the official docs and add rationale to why you should consider moving your app to a non-human Google account.
Google offers the ability to move/transfer one of many apps from one Google account to another. But before you transfer highly recommend reading the official docs on how to transfer apps to a different developer account here.
Are you using your personal Google account for apps?
If your app(s) are associated with your personal Google account you run the risk of having your access to Gmail, Google Photos, Drive blocked if Google Play account is suspended due to a breach of Play content policy. The thought of losing access to my emails, family photos is a very frightening prospect. You might think you’ll never be in breach and maybe you’re right? but remember the Play content policy is frequently updated and you have to ask yourself how closely you read the updates. I ran into policy breaches a few times and none of the apps I’ve released are particularly risky. The first app that I wrote to get my first Android job was a wallpaper changer based geotagged Flickr photos and user’s location. It was pulled due to copyright infringement (I mistakenly used Flickr’s logo and name). So certainly worth considering moving them to seperate Google account.
What if the account owner leaves your organisation?
Recently at work the first Android developer left for greener pastures. I mention first because he was only one in the Android team and registered his work Google account as the Google Play Developer owner which I’m sure happens a lot. When he left the company a few weeks ago his Google account was deactivated as you’d expect. However, because that account was the owner on Google Play we *lost* all access to Google Play console 😱😱😱. Thankfully we were able to restore their Google account which restored our access. But keeping an ex-employee’s account active just for this would be less than ideal.
I attended Google I/O for the first time in May 2017 and had an absolute blast! It is by far the best conference I’ve attended. Google listened to the gripes of last year’s I/O at Shoreline and fixed all the niggles. But what does it costs to attend? I’d estimated a total cost of around £2K after totalling up receipts, I’m reasonably happy to see that I was near in the estimate.
Of course this is highly individual based on my experiences this year and current USD to GBP ratio but I hope it serves as indicator for others. Here’s the rough and rounded the numbers.
- Flights LHR to SFO: ~£450
- Airport transfers UK: £50
- Airport transfers US: £60
- AirBnb (split between 4): £350
- Taxi/Uber to/from Shoreline: £55
- Other food/beer (not at I/O): £150
- I/O Ticket price £950*
*Disclaimer: As an GDE for Android I am fortunate to get a complementary I/O ticket. However I thought this article would be more useful if I included the ticket price in the main total.
- I was able to share uber a few times to cut down some of the travel costs.
- Didn’t factor lost earnings for the 5 days not working (or the reduced efficiency the week after with jet lag)
- Haven’t included some leisure activities at weekend like bike hire, Makers faire and travelling to/from San Francisco as I figured it’s purely what I got up to and not indicative of costs for others.
Tips and tricks to cut costs:
- Remembers it’s near unlimited free food, drink, snacks and beer/wine at Google I/O so on a I/O day you shouldn’t need much else.
- After researching flights, I discovered you can fly into San Francisco (SFO) or San Jose (SJC). SJC is closer but SFO is often cheaper. I did a fair bit of checking of different flight options to get the flights for £450. This is £200 cheaper than LHR to SJC
- Also see if flying back on different day helps, I found that returning on the Sunday night saved £1000!!! Over flight on the Friday evening.
- Book accommodation nearer to bus drop off locations i.e Mountain view caltrain. This is so I could take advance of the free Google I/O buses.
- Sharing AirBnb brought the accommodations costs down. Nearby hotels wanted $200 per night.
- If you’re in a permanent role try to convince your employer to cover some of the costs in exchange for things like blog articles and knowledge transfer sessions.
- If you’re independent contractors consider working the weekend to recover some lost earnings.
- Monzo card for fee free payments in USD and ATM withdrawals (always pay in USD and don’t let the ATM/ePOS do the conversion)
I recently completed this question as part of a job application and thought I’d share my thoughts.
Inbox by Google
On the surface just another email client, right? But no, there’s a lot of non obvious niceties that save time and reduce your time in the app so you can go about your day. Gestures are one of the key elements in Inbox’s design that I love. Swiping down to close an email just feels nature and makes using one handed effortless. Also from the inbox list Swiping emails or bundles in left/right to either dismiss or mark for reminder.
I heavily rely on pinning messages that require further thought/actions and so being able to switch to show only pinned messages straight from the app bar saves me digging through menus.
The dynamic quick responses are often spookily accurate to my replies, which again saves time. Another time saver the dynamic recent contacts list (with profile photo for quick recognition) appear in the FAB sub menu.
I haven’t achieved a regular inbox zero, but I did once and instead of just a empty list Inbox shows a lovely full page happy graphic which feels like a reward/achievement in a game.
In a nutshell the niceties and time saving subtle features turn a mundane email app into something very special.
Slides and links(below) from my “What’s NNNNNNNNew in Android Security” talk at Droidcon London. The video via SkillsMatter is here.
Training and Developer Docs
Would you like me to speak at your conference or meetup? If so please get in contact.
Any questions, please drop me an email or tweet.
Droidcon London is one of my favourite conferences with it’s wall to wall Android theme. I’ve spoken 3 times over the past 6 years or so and I’m super excited to be speaking this year after a break of a couple of years. I tend to speak about Android Security because it’s an area of app development that isn’t often prioritised high enough. Mobile security comes with it’s own set of challenges where devices and data are physically at more risk than traditional PC/Laptop environment.
In addition to checking out the other security talks I’m keen to learn tips and quick wins for view animations and screen transitions. Also top of my list is learning from real world experiences and lessons learnt using different architectural approaches such as MVP and Clean architecture. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with Kotlin based on the news that Kotlin is supported for build scripts in Gradle 3.0.
My Talk – What’s NNNNNNew in Android Security?
As you might guess from the name is all about the new security features in the most recent versions of Android: Nougat aka N.
Who should come to it?
There were several notable security updates in Android Nougat and in this talk I’ve distilled the information specially for the busy developer who don’t have a lot of time to invest in learning new APIs. I’m personally most excited about Android 7’s Network security config. It’s an easy way to increase your app’s network security without writing any code (just xml based config). I’ll show you the most likely things you’d use it for with code samples. For example allowing self signed certificates for development API and SSL pinning.
See you there!
Also watch @scottyab and speakerdeck profile for the slides
Thanks to Matt Rollings, Niall Scott and Andy Barber proofreading feedback.
ConfConf as you might of guessed from the name is a conference about conferences (how meta!), specifically how to run them better! It’s a small single track conference based on professional event organisers sharing their top tips on making the best conferences.
Top 5 tips for running your first technical conference
At SWmobile (a meetup group which I co-run) we’ve talked a little about running our own conference. Here’s the top tips I picked up for others also looking to do this:
- Independent and for profit – The conference should be independent financially from any non-profit group and the aim should be to make a profit with the conference. This separation helps focus the effort required to setup and run a conference. I thought a good suggestion was to aim to run it for 3 years and if it’s not profitable after 3 years to abandon.
- Ticket price – The super secret but also simple ticket price calculator should be the total costs / total number of tickets. It’s important not to include sponsor money and so the focus of the marketing is ticket sales. Any money you get from the partners you get on board will increase the chances of it being profitable and allow you to improve things like swag, free beers etc
- One day only – One day conferences have tended to be more popular recently as it helps keep cost down and it’s easier to convince bosses for the time off to attend.
- WiFi – Get this right! don’t skimp or rely on the venue’s setup. Sure they’ll say they have a great network but remember this is a tech conference and most attendees will have multiple devices. Rule of thumb 2.7 devices per attendee. Great article from last years confconf.
- Ditch lunch – Don’t bother with lunch, catering costs allot and is generally crappy quality. This really hit home for me as I cannot think of a conference I’ve attended where the food was good. It’s also one of the main things people moan about! confconf’s lunch was fairly standard meeting food which was above average for a conference. However they did win the day by pulling out afternoon cream tea!
Top 5 tips for monthly meetups
This is geared up for monthly, free to attend meetup groups such as SWmobile. This list is geared more to the sorts of things I think we can improve on so your mileage may vary.
- Sponsors == Partners – referring to and treating sponsors as partners helps emphasise they are more than just giving money. By working together you can use their ‘reach’ to promote your events.
- Improve speaker management – Be up front about talk timings, whether costs are covered, venue directions, uniqueness of talk, number of attendees, type of audience, who to call in emergency, and in general communicating better before and after an event.
- Open a CFP – have a Call For Papers [CFP] for monthly meetups where prospective speakers can easily submit talks. Allow them to indicate if they are new to speaking as this allow you to mix up evenings with pro and newbie speakers. As with the above point and speaker management, be sure to include things on the CFP things like the typical location of meetups, average number attendees, attendee skill/experience level.
- Create Code of Conduct policy – If you already have a code of conduct like we do at SWmobile, that’s a great start. But what happens when a complaint or issue is raised? this is where a policy comes in. Be sure to ensure all organisers/volunteers are briefed on this.
- Video promo reel – Recording talks are a good way to allow people who couldn’t attend to watch the talk. They also serve as a way to promote the group. However recording and editing can be costly and time consuming. A better use of video would be a promo reel to promote the group and ideally a separate video tailored to prospective speakers, members and partners.
As in mention in my tweet above I had tons of notes and this is just a small portion of the knowledge gained. I’d definately recommend confconf.com to techincal meetup and conference organisers. Hope to attend next year! Also more tips can be found on the confconf blog.
I had a great time at MCE conference in Warsaw, Poland in April. I’d recommend MCE as a mobile conference I attended both Android and iOS talks and there were all high quality. Also all the people I met were very friendly and spoke great english. I was introduced to Polish vodka and some tasty polish food. Thanks to the organisers for inviting me and I hope to attend again.
In this presentation I share a story of a recent Android app I developed where app security wasn’t prioritised and how I still provided a minimal level of security to protect the app’s users and developer reputation.
For those wondering why my t-shirt has a mantis shrimp on it? check out this awesome oatmeal comic.
Last week I attended the first Blackhat mobile security summit in London. It was a great chance for us to learn from security specialists.
I co-wrote this article (deadlink) to highlights some of our favourite and key takeaways.
- New Android Security Rewards Program
- State of malware on Android/mobile
- Samsung / SwiftKey Zip Traversal Hack
- SSL validation (or lack of) still one of most common app vulns
- “erase everything” = not everything?
- Windows phone 8 exploits and security faux pas