I attended AnDevCon III in May 2012 as my first Android-related conference, about a year and a half into my Android experience. I have attended many developer conferences before so I thought it’d be interesting to compare it to those. I’ll be attending AnDevCon IV later this week, so obviously I was pleased with what I experienced, but I wanted to note down what my thoughts were from that first experience.
I’ve been to a variety of conferences:
- JavaOne, one of the biggest but also one of the most “corporate”
- WWDC, the best place to interact with Apple engineers and other Mac and iOS developers
- EclipseCon, which was focused on a single open source project, Eclipse
- No Fluff Just Stuff, sort of an anti-JavaOne, where the speakers are all practitioners
- C4, sort of an anti-WWDC, where the speakers were mostly Mac indies
AnDevCon feels a lot like EclipseCon. Partly because this is because it was held at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, where I once attended EclipseCon 2005. More substantively, a lot of companies participate in the conference, which gives it an interesting and varied vibe. This is compared to single-vendor conferences like WWDC or Google I/O, where you get the perspective of only one company mainly.
Google engineers and evangelists do play well with AnDevCon, however. They present some of the sessions, which are prominently marked on the scheduled as “Google CLASS”. Kirill Grouchnikov‘s Responsive Mobile Design in Practice was particularly insightful in the project that I was working on at the time. I had seen his slides, but they did not make as much sense as when I had heard him speak live about responsive design. Now that we can nest fragments within fragments as of the 4.2 SDK, I wonder what he would say about that.
There are a large amount of sponsors. You might think that this is a bad thing if you have attended a conference that had lots of sponsored talks. However, the organizers seem to be aware of this and have helpfully marked all the talks that as “Sponsored by XYZ”. I actually liked some of those, particularly the ones sponsored by Intel, where I learned more about the HAXM-accelerated emulator and Sony, where they taught us about the Sony SmartWatch SDK.
I normally don’t like Exhibit Halls at conferences. Sure, you can get a lot of free goodies. OK, I admit it – half my wardrobe is conference t-shirts. But the booths usually are kind of boring. However, at AnDevCon, there were a lot of interesting exhibits. I’m not sure if it is because the industry is expanding so rapidly or because I just like gadgets, but there were some things I hadn’t seen before there, like the Epson Android-powered glasses (sort of a bulky early release of Google Glass) or the Qualcomm developer boards, which are entire Android systems on a large PCB.
I met a lot of interesting people, especially at Square’s Android Dessert Bash. Everyone was fired up about Android and there were a lot of different perspectives there. There were folks from the phone manufacturers like HTC, independent consultants, authors, trainers, regular developers and also platforms like Nook. It was pretty friendly atmosphere but I didn’t see as many night parties as I have seen at other events, but maybe it’s because I didn’t know as many people.
I honestly did not know what to expect and only knew one person who was going to the event, Dave Smith, who gives talks on Android accessory development. I was pleasantly surprised with my overall experience. The only con is that the official conference t-shirt was sponsored – in my opinion, it’d be nicer if it just had AnDevCon on it. However, Square gave away one that was more subtle and had all the different dessert icons on it, which was my favorite.
I’m looking forward to AnDevCon IV, happening later this week, which promises to be even bigger and better, featuring keynotes from Amazon, Google and Facebook.