Google I/O 2015


I recently went to San Fransisco to attend this year’s Google I/O. I learned a ton, met a lot of phenomenal people, and drank a LOT of coffee.  Going into the conference, I had a few items on my announcements wish list:

  • Faster Gradle
  • Android Studio improvements
  • Google Glass Update

I got 2 out of 3, which isn’t bad!  During the keynote presentation, they announced that they were releasing Android Studio 1.3, which came with an updated Gradle plugin that had improved Gradle speeds.  I was excited, but still a bit leery, since the keynote didn’t really dive into any specifics.

It wasn’t really a huge product announcement year for Google, which is exactly what I was expecting after all of last year’s big announcements (Material Design, Lollipop, Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV).

Later that day, I attended the “What’s New in Android Development Tools” session, where they took more time explaining the details.  Fellow Colorado Android developer Mark & I scored front row seats and even ended up famous on the live stream!

They claim that gradle now compiles in almost ⅓ of the time.  Usually presentation bench mark stats are optimistic, so I’m sure it depends a lot on what you are trying to pull in during your build, but I’m still excited!

Another big announcement for Android Studio was that the SDK manager is finally now a part of the IDE.  This is so neat.  It doesn’t necessarily speed up my development time, but it always felt ridiculous that the SDK manager was a different program from the rest of the IDE.  Now they can live together in harmony!

They also announced some up coming features that won’t be in Android Studio 1.3, but are coming soon.  One cool one was the “blue print” view for layout editing, which shows a blue print of your layout view outlines next to the layout preview.  This is really handy!  I make frequent use of the developer option “show layout bounds” when developing an app; now I won’t have to build and run the app to see layout and view boundaries. Yay!

Sadly there were no announcements about Google Glass v2, but  I figured it was wishful thinking, since it wasn’t really that long ago that Glass transitioned out of Google[x].

I also had some tasks for myself to accomplish this year:

  • Don’t say anything terrible during my live-streamed interview
  • Get a spot for Material Design Review
  • Ask my list of questions at the Accessibility booth

Last year at I/O I didn’t take advantage of all the brilliant Googlers milling about, and focused a bit too much on going from session to session. This year, my ultimate goals were to talk with the Googlers first and foremost.

I had the great opportunity to be live-stream interviewed by Natalie Villalobos on the first day of I/O.  The whole thing ended up going great, and I didn’t say anything terrible. Yippee! You can check out the actual interview here, and read more about how I prepared for it here.

I was able to land a spot for the Material Design reviews as well.  I lucked out and got to talk with the fantastic Brynn Evans, Google Fi’s lead designer, about our app!  She really took her time going through our app and gave a lot of great pointers I could take back to my team.  Thank you!

Finally, I was also able to check out the accessibility area. It was a pretty big setup which was really exciting to see Google put such an emphasis on accessibility!  I came into the area armed with lots of tough questions for the developers that I was hoping to get answered in time for my talk on accessibility at Droidcon Berlin the following week.  The developers were really helpful, and even offered to follow up with me later on questions they could not answer during our chat.

IMG_20150529_112354690 IMG_20150529_112344265_HDR

I also had a chance to try out some really neat accessibility tools.  One was this headset.  It is an Epson Moverio with a Kinect mounted on it, and is for people with low or deteriorating vision.  It puts the items closest to you in high contrast black and white, and removes all items from the background.  The screen in the middle of this photo shows what the device output looks like.


I was really excited to check out some of the cool demos all around the conference.  Here is a short clip of me trying out ATAP’s Project Jacquard “smart fabric.”  The gestures on the fabric are controlling the music on the device.

There were also a lot of sessions I wanted to attend. However, the layout for the talks wasn’t very good this year.  Instead of having actual regular conference rooms, they set up the talks in these cool-looking box silos.  While it looked cool, it wasn’t very practical!  Every session filled up so fast, most people were stuck outside, craning their necks to see something.


I missed out on a few talks because of the setup.  🙁  And another bummer, those box talks weren’t recorded either, so no hope of seeing them.  Luckily for me (and you), 2 fantastic Android developers Corey Latislaw and Chiu-Ki Chan were sketch-noting all the sessions they attended!

You can check out all of Corey’s I/O sketchnotes here, and Chiu-Ki’s I/O sketch notes here.

One of the greatest parts about Google I/O is all the neat people you get to meet.  The conference kicked off with a great Women Techmakers dinner, where I made some new friends, and also got to meet several people in real life that I’d been chatting with online quite a bit before.

Thanks, Google, for another great I/O.  Hope to see you again next year!

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One Response to Google I/O 2015

  1. Pingback: Google I/O 2016 | KioDev

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