This week, I attended a Droidcon event in Lisbon, Portugal. The conference itself was at the University of Lisbon, known at this time of year for bright sunshine, mild temperatures, and a unique initiation ritual for freshmen known as Praxe, which was going on all around us. Aside from realizations of how comparatively good I had it in college, the conference was a fantastic experience, both for setting and content, and for the wide array of nationalities found amongst the attendees. 

It was interesting to share ideas and gain perspective from coders who, mostly, were not American. The conference itself was eye opening, and not just because I made what I assume is the very common mistake of drinking coffee-sized portions of espresso (“These cups are so small, that’s cute! Wait, why am I vibrating?”).

Here are three takeaways from Droidcon Lisbon 2019:

Size Matters

There were at least 4 presentations that directly related to the size of APKs. More and more people are relying on smaller APKs, and with the app bundle they now have the power to receive molecularly small file sizes. As with anything, we can take this to the extreme, such as only downloading features as we need them, saving the user a good 10 MB if they don’t want a specific camera feature, for example. 

I’m not entirely convinced that users examine file size when downloading apps, and I would think this is a lot of developers effort for 10 MBs. At a certain point, it feels a little like code golf but with APK sizes. I’m sure the benefits become far more clear on large apps with many features though.

Sometimes the theory is better than practice:

I’m a math and physics nerd, so whenever there’s an opportunity to learn exactly how satellites use trilateration for my position on the globe or how hackers gain access to encrypted passwords, I perk up a lot more than I would at a slide full of code samples. 

Talks by Richard Süselbeck and Xiaoyi Li on global positioning and password security, respectively, were just such talks. They provided info general enough for almost any developer conference. This is useful because it allows developers to expand their world beyond Android studio and competently discuss exactly why they should take certain measures regarding password security or location services.

Not that I didn’t enjoy slides of code samples. One of my favorite talks was ostensibly a showing of the ADB documentation, but I found the breadth and depth of its uses fascinating, and the examples that Zhenlei Ji provided were as useful as they were funny. (Have a bug that involves scrolling a list for five minutes? Don’t do it yourself, write a shell script using ADB commands to do it for you and go get a coffee in the meantime.)

DAE Coroutine? 

The biggest, most unavoidable topic of the conference was Rx vs Coroutines. Coroutines are obviously SO hot (you know..Mugatu…see right) and several talks explored their advantages/disadvantages vs Rx. My take is as mild as the breeze coming off of the ocean in downtown Lisbon: coroutines are easier to read and better to use for more common asynchronous tasks in Android. Almost anyone at Droidcon will tell you that. Because of this, more and more people will start using them. 

The downsides of Rx are not so great as it requires switching immediately, and there’s a hefty learning curve. A few speakers acknowledged, reasonably, that it will probably be better for your business to keep using Rx if it’s already in your project.

Before hearing about Droidcon Lisbon, I would have assumed that any international event would break the bank, but this inaugural conference was affordable, possibly because of its cozy two-track size. It allowed the event to be accessible on a financial level, besides Droidcon’s stated values of inclusivity to those from all walks of life and levels of Android experience. I would encourage anyone to look at the schedule for the next few months and see if they’d like to learn more about Android in Vienna, Shanghai, or Tel Aviv, for example. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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