What you've missed at Droidcon 2016 in Dubai

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Droidcon attendees
Droidcon attendees at the Impact Hub offices. (Images via Droidcon)

Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, Alexa, made a special appearance at Droidcon 2016 last week.

Giving Matteo Dino, Skyscanner test engineer, company for his talk on “Skyscanner- moving from mobile first to everything,” Alexa proved the perfect specimen of Android’s strengths and possibilities as an operating system, that is, its open source and multi-channel features.

“Here in this region, you can rarely find technology like that,” said Droidcon’s regional partner Mohammed Harastani. “But, [Alexa’s] technology can also enter very quickly in this region. Android as an open source [OS] has a potential that is pushing it from the bottom to grow. Droidcon is a chance for developers to know what’s next in the market.”

The Android development conference series held March 25-26 at Impact Hub in Dubai, attracted attendees from Japan, Canada as well as the artificial intelligence universe.

An Android N workshop
habi founder Oubai Abbasi at the Android N workshop.

Not only developers, the event also attracted a strong turnout of students. In fact, Ajman University’s Mhd Nour Aziz took advantage of the expert talks on the conference’s first day.

“I had problems they had already solved,” said the third year engineering student. “We are beginners and we don’t know much. For an [upcoming] competition, we wrote the full  program on [my project partner’s] computer because we didn't know how to work on different computers and connect them together. Now, the problem is halfway solved.”

London based Novoda’s Paul Blundell and Xavi Rigau’s talk on “Survival of the Continuist” was the solution to Aziz’ roadblock. A certified Google Developers Expert, Blundell found the companies and developers he met at Droidcon last year and this time around to be very interesting. The tech scene, however, could use a bit more involvement from the community online especially in offering expertize specific to the region, he said.

“In Europe, right to left support is not something every user uses,” he explained. “Whenever it is used, it’s usually for a Middle Eastern country. When I Googled for the region, there’s not enough blog posts or visibility of blog posts about what’s going on here. The expertise is here for right to left apps.”

Paul Blundell and Xavi Rigau give a workshop
Novodas Paul Blundell and Xavi Rigau give their workshop.

Droidcon 2016 also featured sessions with senior developers from Shazam, HRS Hotel Reservation Service, and Dubizzle.  Google hosted a workshop on performance testing by Blundell and Rigau while Dubai’s Google Development Group (GDG) led a workshop on Android N, the latest Android interface..

In October 2015, 22 million smartphones and tablets were accounted for in the MENA region. Forty percent of those devices are Android based. That makes Android a majority shareholder in the market.

Saad Kayyali, founder of GDG, said Droidcon is an important event in furthering the region’s developers and improving the quality of their work.

“At GDG, we teach people how to use Google technologies to develop from scratch or perfect already existing ones,” he said. “Droidcon is a celebration of the Android platform where we bring people with brilliant minds internationally to talk about the technology. It’s our effort to create a strong development community in the region.”

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