Appsworld 2013

I didn’t know what to expect from Appsworld. In fact, I booked it with the intention of networking mainly and just being able to talk to other developers, but came away with so much more.

Appsworld was a very odd event in some respects, the show seemed to be surrounded by big business people in suits, looking for a company to boast their app statistics or looking for a company to build an enterprise app. It makes sense in a way that the big contractors could gain the big deals through these events.

Some made it quite abundantly clear they wanted big business customers; I was walking with a friend and one stand was giving away the usual office stress ball and my friend was trying to seem slightly interested in the product but they seemed quite disinterested as they knew we really just wanted the freebie which is quite understandable. Although on the complete opposite end, we had two very excited people come up to us and go “are you Android Developers?” (as we stood there quite surprised that they managed to guess that until we realised we were standing right next to the Droid World stage.) And then proceeded to tell us the wonders of their product and my friend did a great job at going “ye that makes sense” and “wow that’s’ really good”. Whilst I was stood there thinking I have no idea what they are going on about and then he told me had no idea either which made me laugh and gave a huge sign of relief.

There was however some talks specifically aimed at developers and thankfully, I definitely understood them. Some of the talks will be based around the Enterprise world which is to be expected however there were some really well done talks by some fantastic companies. Companies that really have been making some absolutely fantastic well designed apps like the BBC team. They’ve redesigned a lot of there apps to make them more native and this has made there apps seem so much faster as well as respect the respective OS design guidelines whilst still making it very uniquely a BBC app. They did a fantastic presentation on the UX on the Developer World stage and it was really a great experience to hear from some people who’ve designed some great apps like the BBC Radio App.

There was also a really well done talk by the Commons Guy who’s of Android Dev fame I guess from the countless amount of StackOverflow answers he’s given and the great blog over here. I was surprised at how well he presented as its not always easy to make the issues of thread safety continually engaging without needing a minute to process it but he managed it well. It was really useful and i can see myself going back to my notes and the presentation quite a lot.

Another session which I just found really just fascinating was a talk done by the CEO of SwiftKey on the way in which SwiftKey uses ‘inference technologies’ to predict what the users going to say next by building some semantic links etc. It reminded me of my AI course and I’d never thought I’d say it but Prolog did make some of the content easier to understand. SwiftKey continue to be my favorite keyboard apps and its really interesting to hear about the depths they went to actually try and build an intelligent keyboard. The talk itself I should say was more in generalities and more about techniques they found useful so it wasn’t a highly promotional talk. I just personally quite like there software.

I think one of the most memorable talks I went to was the Woz talk. Steve Wozniak is an absolute legend amongst the tech community and it was really quite interesting to hear him talk about his views on technology today. He even commented on the recent Jobs movie and how they portrayed him compared to what he was actually like and even though he may not have endorsed the movie due to inaccuracies, he didn’t seem to think any less of it as a movie and still suggested it was worth a watch which shows the kind of person he is. He also revealed he didn’t have broadband at home and relied on 3G which seems crazy but that’s just a case of where he lives. There was so many interesting anecdotes that he told so again I’d recommend giving it a listen. He was really a down to earth person and it really came across that he’s genuinely a nice guy and will be very open with his fans. I saw a crowd of people by the Microsoft stand and it turned out that at the centre of it all, Woz was taking pictures with people and signing things even though he was still quite jet lagged. I took the opportunity to take a quick picture with him and I was really grateful that he was nice enough to do that. Although the funny thing about that photo was that, I had to take it on my tablet as my phone was charging and then I had to rush somewhere to upload it as the only app i had that actually took pictures on my tablet was Imgur although at conference this was near impossible so I ended up rushing around trying to find good WiFi.

There was another side to the conference however which was fairly new to me which was the networking side, I took so many business cards and gave out so many of my own but it was really quite interesting to talk to other developers and even land interviews with companies in person by actually showing that I cared about mobile development. If you’re interesting in any industry, I really do recommend attending networking events especially if you need a job as I came very close to getting a job with one company but they ended up passing on my details to another company so Its really quite handy to do so. Also its a good idea to write down where you met the person on the back of the card as this can help match the person to the card.

The networking events themselves were quite good and I actually went to two, one was the Find a Tech Job in London meetup which was quite handy and led to me meeting some people to possibly find a job with and another was the Parse networking party. The Parse party was much more relaxed and it was like nothing I’d experienced as it was an open bar with free food all night at a Ping Pong bar which was really quite interesting. I ended up speaking to other coders and having conversations about which platform is the best to develop for. It was really quite enjoyable and it did actually lead to another link even though it was quite a relaxed atmosphere. It was surprising how in the background Parse were and it turned out some of the team was actually DJing and we got to speak to some of the team which was really interesting seeing as they pretty much accomplished the Silicon Valley start up dream of being bought by a big company (in this case, Facebook).

Another thing worth mentioning was that Microsoft and Nokia had quite a big presence at the show and they were showing off there quite slick hardware like the new Surface 2 and the Surface 2 Pro. What was really quite cool was the fact that they had the new Nokia Lumia 2520 on the morning it was announced. I ended up running into someone else from Hull and he told me the next day that that was the only one in Europe at that time so it was quite fortunate that I got my hands on it and it was lightning quick with its Snapdragon 800 processor. I could see someone being quite happy with that device and I hope that Nokia are the makers of the next surface device if that’s the standard they’ve set.

I had a really enjoyable time at Appsworld and looking back its surprising the amount of things that were packed into those two days. If you have a chance to go to an event similar to this then I highly recommend it.

Also here is a link to all the presentations mentioned so have a listen back to them and have a look through the slides.

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