Android Fragmentation – Just the way I like it

The 6th instalment of the Wellington Android Meetup took place today. I decided not to write about the content (I wouldn’t do justice to the presenters, and the audience contributed so much content, that I’d surely forget to mention something important), instead I wish to write about just how “fragmented” Android is … in Wellington, New Zealand.

Four talks

We had four speakers. Two men: Matt and Lucas; and two women: Jayna and Leonie. That was not planned, it just happened.

Matt talks about I/O

We had two fairly technical presentations that encouraged us to improve our technical chops and solve problems in more beautiful ways, and two that challenged us to think about what we like, what brings us joy, and what we are prepared to do from the goodness of our hearts.

People in the room

I glanced around the room and I was so happy to see how diverse it was. So many skin colours, genders, ethnicities, and ages!

Jayna impresses everyone with her knowledge and passion

In the room we had students, unemployed folks, business owners, developers, designers, testers, and even Windows Phone developers! There were people working for startups and people working for organisations with 500+ employees!

There were women. Not just sitting on chairs but engaging in the discussions. Driving them and asking the tough questions. Challenging the speakers and the audience. Recommending better ways to do things. As it should be!

I bring this up because I think back of where we started. I looked at some old photos I took and I struggle to find the women. I looked at the GDG Wellington reports I sent, and I blush seeing a mere two women attending one of the early sessions! Today, almost 20% of the audience were women!

Lucas in full swing

But we are not stopping here. Tonight Lucas announced that we are planning a GDG Dev Fest W.   The plan is to create a safe place for an evening, a day, or a weekend, where women can come and learn about technology without fearing that they may get laughed at, looked at in a condescending way, interrupted or ignored. Get in touch with Lucas or with myself if you want to help.

Fragmented

The Android community in Wellington is fragmented in the best possible way. This diversity makes the meetings more interesting, the points of view more diverse and more relevant.

I was the proud host of tonight’s gathering. It this kind of fragmentation that keeps me going, that motivates me to try harder, that makes me proud to be a small part of this incredible community. Our group now has more than 200 members, so I am hopeful that we have not seen the best of what this incredible bunch of people have to offer!

Thanks to everyone who attended.

Google I/O 2015 Extended Wellington

I am so proud to have helped organise what is likely to be an amazing Google I/O Extended event!

If you appreciate Google technologies, are keen to view a bunch of very interesting five minute talks, and stay up to date with Google’s announcements at I/O, and meet more like-minded people, then you should register here! Make sure you fill in the RSVP and you may take home some very attractive swag, too.

I am especially proud of my friends and colleagues Kate, Konnie, Gili, and Matt for helping coordinate this event.

Many thanks go out to the sponsors who’ve been providing support to our group: Trade Me, Powershop, Uber, and Victoria University. 

Testing is organised skepticism

You can let all the different types of software testing scare you out of your pants or you can look at the funny side of testing.

These quotes could be a starting point… I shared them with the amazing Android folks here in Wellington as part of the fourth edition of our Android Meetup.

Thanks to the lovely people at Powershop for hosting the evening, for the food, and for making this happen.

 

Thoughts on Notifications

Last Friday I was invited by the friendly people at Springload to give a talk on Push / Interactive Notifications.

The slides are targeted at Product people who are responsible with making the decision of including Push Notifications in the roadmap of their apps.

The gist of that talk is that just because you can send Push Notifications or display alerts to the user, it doesn’t mean you should. Notifications are the number one reason why people delete apps and you should keep this in mind when building your apps.

Here’s my (current) Top 10 Notification best practices:

  1. Guided “Opt In” rather than “Opt Out”
  2. Allow user to specify the types of messages they wish to receive. Support DND. Think Time Zone
  3. High volume of Notifications? Consider providing a “Snooze” custom action
  4. Only send relevant messages. This is NOT a direct marketing channel
  5. Don’t send confidential or sensitive data through push notifications
  6. Consider promoting custom actions that do not require the app to start up
  7. Use clear language and keep the message short
  8. Choose the lowest frequency of notifications that still delivers a great user experience
  9. Be aware of context. Is the user in your app right now?
  10. Consider aggregating multiple messages into a more generic “group”

Quick thoughts on the  Watch

Apple will announce in just a couple of days more details about the  Watch. I decided I’d join the bandwagon and comment on it. 

Why not just use the iPhone?

In order to answer this question, I will first look at our use of the iPhone. During WWDC 2014, Apple introduced iOS 8 and its interactive notifications. These notifications are supposed to let you “stay focused while you stay in touch”. The problem is, in order to actually get anything done, the number of actions required of the user is surprisingly high. 

  • Get the phone out from the pocket
  • Swipe the notification down
  • Tap the action 
  • Authenticate yourself (Touch ID helps but requires a recent iPhone)

Let’s now speculate about the steps required to perform the action using the  Watch. 

  • Flick the wrist
  • Tap the action

The benefits are clear: this is not just more subtle but it also comes with less friction. For as long as the watch is on the wrist you are always authenticated. A simple flick of the wrist can show you a glance of the event and seamlessly transitions into an actionable notification.

What does Apple mean by personal?

Let’s look at some potential use cases if you become an  Watch owner. You’ll soon be able to:

  • Pay for things
  • Unlock doors
  • Bypass authentication to interact with your apps
  • Identify yourself when you jump in your car (and let it update its setting to match your preferences)
  • Quickly communicate with your friends
  • Do all the above in a subtle and painless manner
  • Get access to parts of your health information 

All of the above can be done easily and with litte to no friction. Arguably, your iPhone can perform all of the above, but the way it does it requires a significant amount of steps and planning. 

Having a device that is always on, always there, always ready to be my valet, is why I think this will be the most personal gadget Apple has ever built. 

Will I buy one?

If it will be as easy as it sounds to interact with, then I might find myself interacting more  often and more promptly. This is the kind of value that will make me want to own one. 

Cocoaheads Wellington – Kick Off

I’m proud to announce the formation of Cocoaheads Wellington. For those who are not aware, Cocoaheads is an international Club for Cocoa (iOS & Mac) developers and designers.

The gatherings happen every 2nd Thursday of the month, from 7pm to 9pm. They are usually followed by a trip to a nearby restaurant or pub.

The first meeting will take place on the 12th of February at the Trade Me offices in Wellington. If you’re a Cocoa Dev / Designer then you should confirm your attendance here.

I intend to outsource the location. I’m currently hoping to convince one of the local Universities to host, but maybe another Wellington based organisation would be keen to put their hand up? If you know of any potential venues then please reach me via Twitter.

In terms of structure, I will propose when we gather that we break up the agenda in 3 parts:

  1. Follow up on the previous session
  2. Presentations (five to ten minutes each) on pre-agreed topics
  3. Q&A, tips or tricks, current issues or problems to ask the audience about

If you’re passionate about iOS or the Mac, you are keen to share your knowledge or learn from others, you live and breathe development or design, then I hope to see you there!

 

Link

The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.

The Design of Business

The Design of Business

 

I just read this book, and it was good. Not quite 5-stars good, but a good book nonetheless. A couple of chapters definitely stand out. The P&G analysis is fantastic, while the RIM introspection is hilarious. To be fair, it’s only funny because RIM stopped doing what the book is praising them for.

Here are a some of the notes I took (hopefully I don’t break copyright):

The minute you start analyzing and using consumer research, you drive all the creativity out of the product.

No good product was ever created from quantitative market research. Great products spring from the heart and soul of a great designer, unencumbered by committees, processes, or analyses.

Even as corporate leaders chase the vital, elusive spark of creativity, their organizations structures, processes, and norms extinguish it wherever it flares up.

Once knowledge has been pushed to a logical, arithmetic, or computational procedure, it can be reduced to software.

In most large business organizations, three forces converge to enshrine reliability and marginalize validity: the demand that an idea be proved before it is implemented, an aversion to bias, and the constraints of time.

An organization that engages exclusively in exploitation will ordinarily suffer from obsolescence.

Of the original Fortune 100 companies, published in 1955, only eleven are still on the list.

When a team can come together around a creative cause or a knotty problem, they want to come to work every day.

Laliberté (founder of Cirque du Soleil) had done no research to forecast the size of the market for his new form of circus. How could he? The market did not yet exist.

and finally, one of my favourites:

Mastery without originality becomes a cul-de-sac.

Next on my list: Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

 

Wellington Android Meetup – The first edition

It’s true. The Android developer community in Wellington is strong and mature, if tonight’s first Android Meetup is anything to go by.

The setup

Android Meetup Wellington

Android Meetup Attendees

Just over 30 people took part in the first (of hopefully many more to come) Meetup that I was proud to facilitate and host together with the rest of the Trade Me Mobile team at our Market Lane office. We will try to make sure this becomes a regular event, especially now that the GDG Wellington was created.

The turn out was fantastic (we had to supplement the available slots at the last-minute). The show of hands confirmed that the majority of attendees were developers but we also had designers, testers and business folk. This diversity definitely helped during the Q&A sessions…

The talks

The theme of the evening was Material Design and the agenda was simple. I gave a quick intro, then we kicked off properly with a presentation by Matthew Shearer (our Lead Android developer) about the challenges that we face at Trade Me when tacking Material Design in our app, followed by an interesting Q&A, then the spotlight was given to Glenn Parker (Xero) who showed off a few ideas/early mocks for their product. Other people in the room mentioned that Material Design was high up on their TODO list but they just haven’t gotten around to it.

The evening continued with food and drinks followed by an open discussion around the future of this group.

Where to from here?

We are very keen for this event to not be owned by one organisation. Instead, we’ll aim to put in place a roster so that other teams around town can host it and offer more diversity not just in terms of venues but also in terms of hours. We even floated the idea of doing it over lunch sometime to cater for those with young kids or who have engagements in the evenings…

Happiness Survey

Happiness Survey

As expected, the attendees behaved really well and communicated freely. There was no awkward job/hiring talk, nor any immature comments of any kind.

Toward the end of the event we brainstormed a few ideas for future sessions. We’ll vote on the group and we will decide what we will talk about next time (late January or early February). As this picture shows, people found the event valuable for the time they invested (2 hours) so I will call it a success!