DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!! DEVELOPERS!!! Yeah, ok, I know, the chant has been done to death. But, we at Android Police really do <3 developers. Building great apps is a challenging job and it requires an obscene amount of time. As a developer myself, I know how hard it is to invest an extra hour when I'm already busy writing software, supporting customers, and of course, having a life. Unless you are eager to dive into every last session from Google I/O, all 25 hours of Android-specific content, then you might be wondering which sessions are really worth it for you. Well, I've taken the liberty of watching all of it and have compiled a quick guide so that all of the developers out there might be able to turn 2-3 solid days of cornea-crushing talks into a dense afternoon of unadulterated Android brilliance.
Before I jump straight to the list, allow me to explain my criteria. I've chosen sessions that most, or all, developers should see. Some of these talks are specific to games or regular Android UI apps, but I trust readers can easily discern the difference. However, if you are integrating things like Cloud Messaging or YouTube into your apps, then you don't need me to tell you that the dedicated talks on those subjects are extremely valuable for your work. Ideally, any one person should be able to get through the relevant videos in 4-5 hours. Keep in mind, it was very difficult to cut the list down to this size, so watch as much as you possibly can. Enough of this stuff, let's get to the videos!
As developers, we live and die by our tools. When the new Android Studio was announced during the keynote, the audience immediately launched into unapologetic applause. Clearly, the scheduler felt the same way, because this is the only session in the entire Android track to be scheduled without any other events occurring during its time slot. Even if you don't have any complaints about Eclipse, it's worth glancing at some of the benefits IntelliJ has to offer.
This is the session to watch for an introduction to Google Play Services and the latest features including the Fused Location Provider, Geofencing, Activity Recognition, Google Play Games, Cloud Messaging, and Google Wallet Instant Buy. There is also a brief discussion about how to get API keys and authorization tokens for Google Services and Play Services. Since this will be a new medium for Google to expose new features to developers, it's worth familiarizing yourself with the new framework.
For a deeper dive on these topics, check out:
- Beyond the Blue Dot: New Features in Android Location
- Google Cloud Messaging
- Games Services in Practice
- Selling Physical Goods on Android with Google Wallet Instant Buy
Signing an app into Google+ isn't just about social networking anymore, it also offers a gateway to automatic sign-on with OAuth, cross-device settings and personalization, interactive social posts, and more. Learn how to set up basic sign-in, access the social graph, create interactive posts, and create app activities.
A follow-up to the New Developments in Mobile Gaming session, this talk delves into several tips for building great games. You will learn how to sign in and manage multiple Play Services clients, work with Cloud Save, and how to deal with common problems in native code.
Thanks to Google Play Games, multiplayer has never been easier. Google is providing an infrastructure that solves issues with network connectivity, auto matching, invitations, and the need to have your own game servers, while also giving you simple leader boards and achievements through Google+. If multiplayer or social features are a consideration for your game, this is the place to start.
Volley is an excellent library for simple, fast, light-weight network operations, designed with the UI layer in mind. If you need to grab pictures and little pieces of data, this is the way to go. It's even backwards-compatible with Froyo.
As speakers go, it's hard to find a better team than Romain Guy and Chet Haase. Besides being hilarious, these guys are experts in the realm of user interface animation. We know everybody is already building beautiful and intuitive animations into their apps…. Right? Well, take some time to watch this one for great examples of animating ListViews, launching Activities, and bringing your interface to life. This is easily my favorite talk of the event.
Follow along with Roman Nurik and Nick Butcher as they describe some of the best practices of interface design. Roman discusses the new Navigation Drawer pattern, the upcoming ActionBarCompat library, and proper "Up" handling. Nick breaks into creating interfaces that don't just scale for different screen sizes, but go further to take advantage of extra screen real estate through better layout planning. Finally, there is a discussion about what Holo is and some good design principles.
One of the best ways to drive installs for your app is to make it accessible for groups that your competitors might not serve. In that light, you might want to check out these talks about developing apps for international audiences and the visually impaired.
Learn why supporting other cultures and languages can mean the difference between mediocre sales and potentially astronomical success. This talk includes some great tips on designing your interfaces to be ready for translation and some important ways to position your app in different locales.
One of the most overlooked groups in our profession are the visually impaired, people that face new challenges operating in a heavily touch-oriented interface. Learn how to design and test your app to make it more accessible and functional to everybody.
While I hope you enjoyed this selection from Google I/O 2013, there is so much more information that's worth watching. I can't stress how much I wanted to include several more talks in the list. If you've got the time, check out the full Android Sessions playlist posted by Android Developers with all 35 videos from the Android track, or narrow down your hunt with these topical playlists:
- Android Design (5 videos)
- Android Development (15 videos)
- Android Distribution (5 videos)
- Google Play Services For Android (8 videos)