Top 3 Droidcon Takeaways

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By Gavin Thomas, Senior Android Developer at Big Radical

 

On the 26-27th October I attended Droidcon, the biggest Android developer conference in Europe, which is now in its 10th year. Developers from around the world gathered to listen to a range of keynote speakers, grow their skills and connect with other passionate Android developers.

The two days are packed with highly-technical talks from over 70 expert speakers, including Chet Haase, Romain Guy, Florina Muntenescu, Hadi Hariri and Corey Latislaw.

Here are my own key takeaways from the event:

 

The buzz around Flutter is real

I attended a talk by Flutter enthusiast, Tomek Polanski, about how he convinced Groupon to use Flutter. He explained how after adopting this cross-platform mobile application solution from Google, his team members and especially the developers loved it!

At Big Radical, we have already started to build prototypes with Flutter, and we also love it, including the iOS developers! So far, using Flutter, we have found we can build apps quicker and cheaper. More on this to follow.

  

Kotlin Coroutines is being adopted over RxJava

RxJava (a library for enabling Reactive Programming in Android development) changed the way we built Android apps several years ago, by simplifying concurrency/asynchronous tasks inherent in mobile programming. Now however, a lot of developers are still very intimidated by RxJava. Many are opting to use Kotlin Coroutines instead. Coroutines are a flexible, lean and efficient alternative to RxJava, and as a developer you should consider refactoring your app to use them in favour of RxJava. Coroutines got some great coverage this year by Christina Lee, Software Engineer at Pinterest.

“It is essentially a version of Java where best programming practices have been built into the language, so it is much easier to do the right thing than it is to do the wrong thing. This allows a developer to code with speed and confidence and removes much of the rote work that had been required while using Java.

Because coding, like writing, is an expressive art form, having a tool like this that allows you to express your thoughts clearly, quickly, and accurately is a satisfying phenomenon and one worth getting excited about.”

 

Your next Android app could be a machine-learned model

Laurence Moroney, of Google Brain, dispelled a lot of myths around the difficulties in building out neural networks. Training your AI models is made easier with TensorFlow, and with the addition of TensorFlow Lite, you can feed these commands into your Android app. It’s not all scary science fiction, although Laurence is also a sci-fi author.

As always, I left Droidcon energised, ready to put my new-found inspirations into practice, to build the best Android apps I’ve ever made.