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Android Developers: What to expect from I/O 2015
Google I/O, for those who do not know, is a software developer-focused conference held annually by Google at the Moscone center in San Francisco, California. I/O, historically, contains a lot of highly technical discussions and sessions focused on Google’s technologies like Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, and this year’s looks to be no different. There are a ton of sessions and tracks for Android developers and designers. Google I/O 2015 is a two day event, and there are multiple sessions going on simultaneously, with the exception of the keynote, which is the only event in its time slot.
Android has evolved considerably from its initial form, where it was built for mobile phones only, and now includes tablets, and now TVs and cars. We have picked out some of the most interesting and anticipated sessions, along with others that we believe every Android developer would want to check out. Some of these events will be live streamed, and can be viewed via the web.
The very first session at I/O 2015 is the keynote, which kicks off at 9:30AM PDT (local time in San Francisco). We hope to get a preview of Android M here, although Google has been quite tight lipped about this. Due to a gaffe, we got a hint earlier this month regarding Android M at I/O. Unfortunately, the offending session has since been pulled. We can only speculate as to why Google pulled the session completely, rather than just changing the description.
We can also expect to hear a bit about Project Ara, a new Internet of Things platform code-named Brillo, and possibly Android Pay. In addition, we’ve heard rumors about Android giving users power to hand-select individual app permissions. ARM recently revealed that it has been working with Google on a new Android Java compiler, called the optimizing compiler. It is unknown if it will make it into Android M, but we are keen to find out.
While we do not expect sky divers or any stunts this year, we didn’t expect sky divers in 2012 either, so who knows!
The keynote is followed by a couple of sandbox talks at 12:30. The Android developer focused talks include:
- Notifications, Interruptions and Volumes: Coming Attractions – Android L changed the way notifications are presented to the user, and added new APIs. This is a must see if your app will notify/alert the user at all.
- Anyone can do it! Easy ways to evaluate your App’s Accessibility. Do you ensure your app is usable and accessible to users with any form or combination of physical disabilities?
- Smarter approaches to app testing. Every Android developer faces the problem of how to test on as wide a range of devices as possible for the least cost. This is a sandbox talk, so do not expect any ground breaking techniques, however, fingers crossed.
Most sandbox talks are available twice over the course of the event. If a sandbox talk you are interested in clashes with another session, visit the I/O events page to find the backup session.
We have two heavy hitters within this time slot, and both are live streamed as well:
- What’s new in Android. The description for this session is extremely chill, “This session will highlight the most exciting new developer features of the Android platform.” Do we get to see Android M here? Set your calendars, alarms, reminders etc.
- Google Cloud Messaging 3.0. While not for only Android, GCM is a free way to send data to your app on Android devices, utilizing the same services used by Google for its own apps (Hangouts, Google+).
Other sandbox talks of interest in this time period include:
- Gaming on Android TV (1:00PM-1:30PM)
- Promote your mobile app in minutes (1:00PM-1:30PM)
- Mobile app quality leaps to the cloud (1:00PM-1:30PM). This talk discusses how to run hundreds of tests in parallel on a wide range of Android and iOS devices using Google Cloud.
Without skipping a beat, there are two more live streamed sessions of massive importance to Android developers:
- What’s New in Android Development Tools. What’s new in Android Studio would be the more appropriate title. If you haven’t switched over from Eclipse/ADT to Android Studio, well, goodluck.
- Smarter monetization with AdMob and Analytics. Even if you do not monetize with Admob, you might want to check this out, and compare against what your ad network and analytics network provide.
Another interesting sandbox is:
- What’s new in the Google Play Developer Console (2:00PM-2:30PM)
Interesting sandbox talks:
- Building a real-time app in 5 minutes with Firebase (3:00PM-3:30PM). Firebase provides an API that enables developers store and sync data across multiple clients, and was acquired by Google in October 2014.
- Espresso: UI-testing for Android (3:30PM-4:00PM)
- How to create apps that families love (3:30PM-4:00PM)
There are three simultaneous live streamed sessions in this time slot:
- Material Now. Hosted by Matias Duarte, whose team designed Android Lollipop and came up with Material Design. He also led the design teams of Android versions from Honeycomb through KitKat.
- Growing games with Google. This session encompasses phones, PCs, consoles and browser based games, but should be quite useful for Android game developers even if their games aren’t cross platform.
- Making apps context aware: OPPOrtunities, tools, lessons and the future. This session discusses how to make effective use of mobile devices sensing capabilities (GPS, Bluetooth, accelerometers, etc).
Day 2 kicks of with
- A little badass. Beautiful. Tech and human. Work and love. ATAP. The title of this session is, frankly speaking, quite badass, and the speakers include Regina Dugan and Peiter Zatko. This session is anticipated to run into 10:15AM.
Sandbox talks within this time period include:
- Android Application Architecture (9:00AM-9:30AM)
- Bringing Material Design to life on Android (9:30AM-10:00AM)
- Finding success with family-friendly apps on Play (10:00AM-10:30AM)
- Promote your mobile app in minutes (10:30AM-11:00AM)
- Helping Moonshots Survive Contact with the Real World This session is hosted by Dr ASTRO Teller of Google labs, and discusses the challenges faced when taking an idea/innovation out of the lab, and into the real world.
- Grow your app via new word-of-mouth tools from Google (11:30AM-12:00AM)
- Android Developer Tools: Deep dive into Performance & Build Tools. (12:30PM-1:00PM)
- Developers connecting the world through Google Play. As an android developer, the play store is most likely your primary app distribution channel. This talk is hosted by Ellie Powers, who leads the Google Play developer products team. Watch this to get an idea where Google Play is heading, especially with the new Family friendly app descriptions.
- Android Wear: Your app and the always-on screen. Even if your app has no Android Wear component currently, understanding the constraints faced when developing for Android Wear can help you decide how/what features of your app can be served through a Wear device.
- Real-time analytics for mobile and IoT (2:30PM-3:00PM)
- Reach more gamers by going local (3:30PM-4:00PM). Tailored for game developers, this session focuses on using Google Play Games to engage and connect with players.
- Speechless at I/O. If you have no idea what Speechless is, check out this What is Speechless? video on YouTube. After so many serious, technical sessions, unwind to this. Or go watch cute kitten videos for a while.
For now we can only speculate on what surprises and features Android M brings. We can also postulate hypothesis, such as Android M is not ready and will not be unveiled after all, that’s why we can no longer find the Android for Work Update session. The only thing certain for now is that Google I/O 2015 is only days away. Have you booked some days off work yet? Or will you be following the sessions from your desk? What are you anticipating most at this year’s event? Do you think we missed any crucial Android developer focused sessions/talks? Let us know in the comments.