Google I/O is Google’s annual developer conference. I/O 2011 promises to be another exciting event for Android developers. The conference size is fairly modest at 5,500, despite its Moscone Center location in downtown San Francisco. Perhaps due to the tremendously cool conference swag, including two Android phones, received by attendees of Google I/O 2010, the Google I/O 2011 conference sold out less than an hour after going public. There are dozens of sessions available over the two-day conference. Here we discuss the top 10 sessions most appropriate for Android developers.
If you didn’t get a ticket to Google I/O, don’t despair. You’ve got two other options this year to participate. Google will be running a program called I/O Extended at dozens of locations worldwide. I/O Extended is an opportunity to experience the conference with other developers and Google employees. Find out more about I/O Extended at its website. Also, for those who cannot make it to San Francisco or an I/O extended event, many I/O sessions will be streamed live via I/O Live. Besides keynotes, this will also include some Android sessions.
The Lowdown on Google I/O Sessions for Android Developers
The complete list of sessions has been posted on the I/O 2011 website, but is subject to change, of course, and usually does. Sessions are ranked by difficulty: 101 (introductions), 201 (intermediate topics), 301 (advanced or specialty topics), Fireside chats (Q&A sessions) and Tech Talks (various geeky topics).
This year, Android developers have two main session tracks to choose from: the general Android track and a dedicated Android Games track. We think the games track is something of a misnomer; this track includes Android topics like OpenGL ES, anti-piracy, in-app billing and using the NDK–topics appropriate for many different Android apps–not just games. Don’t forget to peruse the other tracks as well, such as the Dev Tools, Google APIs and App Engine tracks, as there are a number of sessions on technologies frequently leveraged by Android developers.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 sessions we are most excited about at this year’s conference, in no particular order.
Building Android Apps for Google TV (Android, 201)
When Google TV was announced at last year’s I/O conference, lots of Android developers got excited. At I/O this year, we can expect to hear a lot more details and really sink our teeth into this new device. This session discusses how to create new Android apps for Google TV, how to port existing apps to the platform and why developers should consider doing so.
Accelerated Android Rendering (Android, 201)
Android has had great support for OpenGL from the beginning. This session will go beyond that with coverage of new hardware accelerated pieces, likely talking about new additions in Android 3.0, including RenderScript and 2D acceleration in existing APIs.
Designing and Implementing Android UIs for Phones and Tablets (Android, 201)
Android tablets are the latest craze in consumer devices. Learn how to design apps to target both phones and tablets. If you’re looking for an introduction to the new Fragments API, you are likely to find it here.
Best Practices for Accessing Google APIs on Android (Android, 201)
Many apps integrate with popular Google APIs. If you’ve been working with Android for any length of time, you’ve probably come to appreciate when Google clearly defines the best practices for working with their technologies and services. Using their best practices helps avoid application failures when upgrades and updates occur.
Building Aggressively Compatible Android Games (Android Games, 201)
This session is not just about games. It’s about the steps required to achieve one of the holy grails of Android development: a single, maintainable application package to support all Android devices.
Evading Pirates and Stopping Vampires using License Verification Library, In-App Billing, and App Engine (Android Games, 201)
This session covers a bunch of interesting topics, most notably some of the new ways you can sell content through Android apps, above and beyond the single app purchase. It also covers best practices for protecting your application content from software pirates.
Bringing C and C++ Games to Android (Android Games)
An overview of the Android Native Development Kit (NDK), which allows developers to link in C/C++ libraries to Android applications. This session will help you determine if the NDK is appropriate for your project, or not, and provide best practices for using it. Recent NDK updates will likely be highlighted in this presentation.
Android + App Engine: A Developer’s Dream Combination (Android, 201)
If you’ve read our beginner Android book, SAMs Teach Yourself Android in 24 Hours, you’ll know that we love Google’s “cloud-based” App Engine technology. This session uses the Eclipse Android tool-chain with Eclipse to develop an App-Engine-powered Android application.
Android Protips: Advanced Topics for Expert Android App Developers (Android, 301)
You can never have too many tricks in your “Android Developer” bag. We seem to recall a similar session last year was a big hit. Many of these tips are likely most appropriate for moderately advanced developers who are already familiar with the Android platform.
Memory Management for Android Apps (Android, 301)
Much like the previous session, here’s another session that we recall from last year’s I/O conference. The newest Android SDKs have numerous updates from a memory management perspective. Again, many of these topics are likely most appropriate for moderately advanced developers who are already familiar with the Android platform.
Don’t Forget the Fireside Chats, etc.
We rarely attend the Fireside Chats at the conference, because we are immersed in the more technical sessions. That said, we always catch the recorded versions of these chats after-the-fact. Often you’ll find out important information about where the platform is going, and when. Hints, somewhat-substantiated rumors, and the like are often eluded to or debunked at these chats, making them invaluable to developers who want to know what’s on the horizon.
Some sessions may very well be placeholders for currently unannounced details of upcoming Android updates (e.g., will they start talking about Ice Cream Sandwich) should there be any official announcements at the conference. This would, of course, make a particular session much more enticing. Nothing in the current list has not been previously discussed or announced.
Session Level: Conclusion
Whether you’re lucky enough to attend Google I/O in person, take advantage of I/O Extended at locations around the world, or watch as an arm chair participant with I/O Live streaming sessions, there are lots of exciting opportunities to expand your knowledge of Android programming. Let us know which session you are most excited about and how they turn out! Who knows, we might be there, sitting right next to you. Don’t forget to say hello.