Droidcon NYC 2014 Recap: A developers paradise

Droidcon NYC 2014
Droidcon NYC 2014

Droidcon NYC 2014

So why the hell am I, Phandroid’s Lead Android Developer, writing an article?  Some of you may not know this but I have a hidden talent writing technical documentation and spreading my passions through words.  In the future when I have something awesome to share with you; expect some erotic love novels featuring Android.


Droidcon is a global developer conference series and a network focusing on the best of Android.  Since 2009 I have been envious about Droidcon events taking place in other countries, which are just not practical for me to attend.  I love reading about the events and I am sure that this Phandroid Army — yes; that is a thing and you’re enlisted — does as well.  So let’s talk about this years phenomenal event, Droidcon NYC 2014 which was organized by Kevin Galligan and his company Touch Lab.

This year was not only the first Droidcon NYC conference, but also the first major Android event that was able to take place in New York City.  To afford a venue that is located in the center of Manhattan, it requires a lot of money along with some “Platinum” sponsors.  Of course you can probably guess that Google is indeed a platinum sponsor but something that may take a lot of you by surprise, is the fact that Microsoft is as well.  If you visit Droidcon NYC, you will also see Gold, Silver, and bronze sponsors of familiar names such as Yahoo!, Sony, Etsy, along with some other big names.

So many great speakers, company booths and free swag at this event; you could almost say it’s like a mini Google I/O.  I gained more knowledge about Android Development this year by attending Droidcon NYC than when I attended Google I/O.  What???  Yes, it’s true! Let me break it out for you… Google I/O has become /r/androidcirclejerk as to Droidcon is /r/androiddev.  I won’t include /r/Android since I managed to get banned for submitting too many Phandroid articles — sigh — but that could be another article that I will not even entertain the idea of writing.


The Keynote on the first day was a pretty awesome pep talk to start off the conference. Chris Haseman and Kevin Grant from Tumblr expressed some of their experiences with the development of the Tumbler app and how to create software with soul.  Creating software with soul is important for Android’s future.  If you scratching your heads, let me explain a little what this means.  Rather than developers creating Android apps that provide a function, we also need to create apps that are polished.  It’s those small features and unexpected UX pleasures that will make your apps stand out from the rest.

Soul goes hand and hand with one of the most talked about topics right now; Material Design.  Material Design plays a huge role in the future of Android.  We all love to hear about Google’s new design language and I took advantage of sitting in on two different talks covering this topic alone.

Steve Albright with Roman Nurik

One of the Material Design talks was presented by Roman Nurik, a well known Android Developer Advocate at Google and recently my new buddy.  You can find most of what he covered at Google Design but I believe he provided a few more exciting details for us developers as well as answered some one on one questions.  Keep your eyes out for his slides as he told me he is currently working on getting them released.  I also believe TouchLab will be providing videos for some of the talks and I am confident this would be one of them.

Super Jean-Baptiste “JBQ” Quéru

As I mentioned earlier, Yahoo was a sponsor this year and even provided a talk with the one and only Jean-Baptiste “JBQ” Quéru.  His talk was excellent as I learned a lot about Yahoo’s inside decisions on how their products got to the point of where they are at today. JBQ also gave the hint that over the next few months we can expect to see a lot more getting published from Yahoo, which has me a little excited to check out.  I talked quite a bit with JBQ and he is an all around stellar dude.  I can’t even begin to express the inspiration you get from just a few hours hanging around these Android all stars.  I’m glowing, aren’t I?  Well, JBQ and I hit up the club at the after party; having an amazing time as you can see below.

Droidcon NYC After PartyPhoto Credit: Patrick Hill

One company that stands out and I feel that I need to give a shout out to, is Square.  You won’t find Square listed on the sponsor list but you should in my opinion because they had a total of four different Android developers giving talks.  This included Jesse Wilson, Ray Ryan, Dimitris Koutsogiorgas and the amazing Jake Wharton.  Jake gets amazing because this guy is probably the most important contributor to open source libraries for Android. His claim to fame before Square was ActionBarSherlock, which you can still find in dozens of apps on Google Play.  If you are a developer or an Android Fanboy, you may already know Square from their superb contribution to open source.  The beauty of all their talks is the fact that they all complimented each other and lead right back to sharing everything with you as open source libraries.  They honestly have solutions for almost every needed angle that developers spend countless hours banging their heads trying to support.


In summary each and every speaker this year had great and resourceful information to share.  Keep in mind these events are not just for developers, but also designers. Designers play an important role in the finalized product that the developer creates. Google I/O I feel has too much non developer drama these days and I can’t thank Kevin Galligan and Touch Lab enough for organizing this amazing NYC event.

If you missed the event you can find some of these presentation slides over at Speaker Deck and stay tuned to DroidCon NYC to find more pictures and videos of the events.

Steve Albright
I am a technology enthusiast, early adopter and buy way too much tech stuff. Since the beginning of this year I am a proud father of four kids (three which are triplets). This makes my home and work life both challenging and exciting, not to mention exhausting. Every moment I am not working I am spending with my kids and loving wife.

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  1. “I gained more knowledge about Android Development this year by attending Droidcon NYC than when I attended Google I/O”

    I’ve heard more and more developers say that. Honestly, since I’m typically visiting from India, the level of content at I/O is better than what we have over here hence it helps to come all the way. However, with the lineup Droidcon NYC, London and Paris brings together, it’s not surprising: it’s typically Google’s dev advocate team, along with the best from the other sponsors, and set in a smaller, more intimate environment, so it’s no surprise.

    1. Google honestly needs to split I/O into two events. One being a media keynote/circlejerk and another actually being a developer event. I found myself more concerned about free swag, company booths and distracted by all the other hype. Not to mention, I couldn’t even tell you the percentage of developers/designers at I/O (I am pretty sure its lower than you think). At Droidcon it pretty much was 100%. Remember a lot of devs can’t even get tickets to I/O!

      1. Frankly, I’m fine with I/O in it’s entirety being what it is (though I wish it still had it’s Day 3 filled with codelabs). I’d rather see them focus on community events across the globe, like the Droidcons, the Android Developer Days, and the GDG events they help sponsor (which I’ve been involved in India for the past two years).

        Google I/O has become huge for third party developers and startups, which is why we’ve been seeing more of a non dev/design crowd. I know a couple of Indian startups alone that got some significant visibility just being there over the past couple of years. It’s now a networking event for the people in the ecosystem, and unfortunately I can’t see anything being done about it.

        1. If it remains the way it is… we need 4 days at least. Too many talks missed, too much rushing, etc. But I agree with your points for startups. Two days is just ridiculous.

  2. Droidcon sounds like a dream come true!

    1. Yes, so many great speakers… Lots of familiar people everywhere. A lot of friends from g+ too I got to meet for the first time.

  3. Thanks for the write up Steve. I was very curious about this event. I would have loved to go, but it was a bit pricey for me though. I can’t wait for the BABBQ in just a few weeks!

    1. Did you know the code Microsoft got you a free ticket? I didn’t until I was at the event. They said this in the teaser design video. … Which I should have watched. I think I was really busy that night and just forgot about it :(

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