Select Page
Android Dev Summit 2019 – my recap

Android Dev Summit 2019 – my recap

I was attending Android Dev Summit 2019 in Sunnyvale and I’d like to share my thoughts after the event. It’s my small recap of my experience. But let’s start from the beginning.

Android Dev Summit and Google I/O. Why do we need two Android events from Google?

You can’t compare these two events. They are completely different. I’m starting from this because I know that in #androiddev community it’s not obvious why do we have Android Dev Summit and why it’s not a part of Google I/O.

I’ve also been to Google I/O so I can tell the difference from my own experience.

Google I/O is probably the developer conference (especially if you are into Google’s technologies) but it’s more like a festival. I can’t compare this event to any other event I’ve been to but if you are a developer and you are focused around Google’s technologies – it’s like being at the best music festival with your favorite lineup.

If you are Android developer – Google I/O is important, but it’s focused on announcements. Of course you’ve got access to Googlers (networking is another best thing I can think of) but it’s not focused only on Android and it’s future.

Android Dev Summit is a conference focused only on Android, its framework and future. It’s organised by people directly involved in the Android development. You’ve got access to Googlers directly working on Android and¬†all its parts (Jetpack, Play Store, Android Studio, Android for Cars…). It’s 2-day event and the goal here is to invite Android developers and give them deep technical talks about platform and coming changes to the platform. Also it’s the right moment to get feedback from them. This is important, I was surprised how all teams are open here and waiting for your feedback (greetings to Ian Lake)

For almost two days you’ve got access (Office hours) to all Android teams waiting for your questions.

If you are not attending the event in person – don’t worry – keynote is live streamed on YouTube and all other talks are shared on YouTube few days after the event. It’s one week since the event and you can already watch them here (all Android Dev Summit 2019 sessions)

Networking

Just like at Google I/O – it’s a good place to meet (new) people know only from the internet. A lot of GDEs (Google Developer Experts) and people working in companies located in Sillicon Valley area.

Breaks between talks were also really awesome – it was a perfect moment to share and exchange your thoughts with others about the topic.

Let’s get back to the main topic – Android

My favorite points from Android Dev Summit 2019

This part is especially for Android developers. I’ll skip keynote here but I think you should start watching talks from ADS from keynote to have a better overview.

If you are Android Developer, make sure to watch this:

  • Jetpack Compose
    I think everyone is following this topic and if you are Android developer you should know it’s the future. It’s good to know about upcoming changes here
  • Preparing for Scoped Storage
    This is a really big change in Android. I’m not sure why it is ignored by many Android developers. Make sure to watch this video and think how you should change your app to be ready for this.
    In my opinion it’s one of the biggest changes coming to Android. I don’t feel comfortable here with new APIs and I hope Google will give us more examples how we should use it and which API (this is my main concern).
  • LiveData with Coroutines and Flow
    I feel Flow will be trending topic on Android’s dev conferences.
  • Motion Layout
    Make sure to watch to this session (“What’s New in Android Studio Design Tools”). I think this is huge!
  • Understanding Compose
    Interesting, deep technical talk I didn’t understand when I was there. I needed to watch it again and probably I’ll do it again.
    I think it can be a game changer and we’ll see more talks about it on Android conferences.
  • Developing Themes with Style
    Crash course in themes and styles. And if you know it’s made by Nick Butcher and Chris Banes – you know it’s gonna be good. And it was it. One of my favorites.
  • What’s new in Android Studio 4.x
    I think it’s important to watch this session. Probably you are not using canary versions in Production but make sure you watch this to see what new tools you’ll get it.
  • An Opinionated Guide to Dependency Injection on Android
    OK, maybe it wasn’t real deep technical talk but you’ll learn here what’s the future of DI in Android and why you should still stick with Dagger. This is a good thing. I was waiting for this.
    TL;DR: Google knows dagger.android wasn’t the best thing they made for Android and in future they’ll try to give us better solution here. No details. I think we need to wait a while for more detailed info.
    PS. There is new codelab from Google for Dagger
  • Fragments: Past, Present, and Future
    More changes coming to Fragments. Be sure to watch it.

I was also pleasantly surprised with these talks:

If you are into Android development make sure to watch sessions from this event. Simply start from the keynote.

Report bug, use official issue tracker

This is something I also learned there. Google is listening to your feedback and there’s no better way of reporting it than official issue tracker.

If you think they are not reading it – you are wrong! It’s reporting issues on Twitter that is not working ūüėČ

Android Auto / Android for Cars

I was looking forward to see some news regarding Android Auto / Android for Cars. Unfortunately, no news here. There was no Android Auto team present. There was only Android for Cars team presenting latest version of Android for Cars in Volvo XC40. But still the platform is closed for third party apps (other than multimedia and instant messaging).

You can see short presentation here: How to Build Media Apps for Cars (Android Dev Summit ’19)

I hope this situation will change in near future. For us, it’s the only one closed mobile platform for our navigation (Apple opened this gate before Google).

 

Some photos from the event

Android Series #1: App quality, Vitals

Android Series #1: App quality, Vitals

I’m starting Android Series on my blog (yay!). Today I’d like to focus on a news that was announced by Google 2 weeks ago and I feel that this post from official Andoid Developers Blog didn’t get much attention. I talked with many Android developers on many events and I know how approach for maintaining code can vary. In most cases on conferences we are focusing on technology, technical stuff and we forgot about quality. Don’t get me wrong, I know that Google is trying to change this situation. I’ve been to Google I/O 2018 and I was talking with Googlers about it but I saw also that many developers are more exited about technical news from Android’s world and they didn’t get much attention to this topic. It is worth to mention that new technical stuff we got from Google like Android Jetpack, Architecture Components – they are also here to help us to improve the quality – better architecture – more solid app, less crashes, better performance (so this is connected). What’s “the quality” in Android’s world?
Posted by Paul Bankhead, Director, Product Management, Google Play … Over the last year, we’ve been enhancing our search and discovery algorithms’ consideration of app quality and user engagement. This means that apps and games that have high retention rates, low crash rates, low uninstalls, and many other factors, are recommended more often. Recently, we increased the importance of engagement and app quality in our recommendation systems and users reacted favorably to the changes. With more high quality titles being surfaced in the Play Store’s recommendations, people are playing the games they download more often.
Paul Bankhead briefly listed factors that affect the quality of Android applications. We heard in the past that stability and performance is a factor when you are thinking about ASO (App Store Optimization). Now it is more clear what does it mean and we know that Google is already using this factor to filter search results at Play Store (search results, recommendations…). You want more downloads for your app? Make your app stable and don’t forget about performance.

Android Vitals to the rescue!

You’ll find Android Vitals in Google Play Console.
Android vitals is an initiative by Google to improve the stability and performance of Android devices. When an opted-in user runs your app, their Android device logs various metrics, including data about app stability, app startup time, battery usage, render time, and permission denials. The Google Play Console aggregates this data and displays it in the Android vitals dashboard.
Do you care about high retention or low uninstall rate as a developer? Probably you are focusing on crashes, ANRs mainly. It’s not enough right now. You could miss some important factors you’ll find in Android Vitals. It’s easier to understand this when you are working on your app for many years. You’ll see then also that in many cases fixing/improving Android Vitals can be a long term process. You could say that’s it’s not your problem as a developer – retention, number of downloads – it’s marketing or maybe product owner should care about this. Maybe, but right now you should be aware that with Android vitals as a factor in Play Store you are also responsible for this. All sides of a project should have this knowledge. Product manager was ignoring your suggestions about this? Tasks related with performance were moved to low priority queue? Right now maybe you should change your way of dealing with it. Especially when the app is your business. If you are a developer don’t focus only on problems mentioned for example in Crashlytics console. Be aware about Androd vitals. I hope that Google in future will move some information from vistals to Crashlytics console. I started writing more detailed article about Vitals but in my opinion Wojtek KaliciŇĄski’s treatment of the subject is exhaustive. Wojtek posted two great articles about Android Vitals and you should read it:
  1. How to fix app quality issues with Android vitals
  2. How to fix app quality issues with Android vitals (Part 2)
I strongly suggest you also to to see the session about it from Google I/O ’18 See you next time!  
How to install WordPress on Google Cloud

How to install WordPress on Google Cloud

You are reading this post thanks to Google Cloud. To be honest, I’ve installed this blog “unexpectedly” while testing some features of Google Cloud. Possibility to try WordPress using Google Cloud pushed me finally to fill my empty domain with this blog. It took me just a few minutes.

Few words about Google Cloud

Google Cloud Platform, offered by Google, is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products, such as Google Search and YouTube. Alongside a set of management tools, it provides a series of modular cloud services including computing, data storage, data analytics and machine learning (Wikipedia)

You can install WordPress in Google Cloud in a few minutes. WordPress is a part of Compute Engine in Google Cloud. If you want to try it just use¬†Cloud Launcher. You’ll find there WordPress icon.

Using this method you can install WordPress in a few minutes. It will deploy new virtual machine and after few minutes you’ll get web server with WordPress installation. In Google Cloud console you’ll find all credentials (access to SSH, mysql access, PhpMyAdmin, WordPress generated passwords etc).

With recommended WordPress installation you’ll get virtual machine with Apache HTTP Server 2.4.+, MySQL 5.5.+
and PHP 5.6.+. Quick tip, you can use also virtual machine with WordPress certified by Bitnami which is using for example newer version of MySQL 5.7 and PHP7. It is also cheaper but we’ll talk about prices later.

How to install WordPress in Google Cloud

Let’s start from the beginning and install WordPress certified by Bitnami

Go to Cloud Launcher and select WordPress certified by Bitnami.

Click Launch on Compute Engine. You should see the form that is visible on the screenshot below. You’ll see there also price estimation (and like I said, we’ll get to this point (pricing) later. Just make sure to select us-centra1-f and small machine.

Machine type small¬†will give you 1 shared vCPU and 1.7GB which is OK for simple blog. I tried micro (1 shared vCPU, 0.6 GB memory, f1-micro) but this machine was to weak to run my blog without problems. It was working but I’ve got problems with database connections, editing posts sometimes. Just go with small plan at start.

Click deploy and you’ll see that Google is preparing your machine

It will took just a minute and you’ll get all info you need to login to your WordPress installation.

And it’s done! You’ll get URL to your machine and WordPress running. All you need to do right now it to redirect your domain to this URL. Simple, right? With Bitnami version of WordPress you’ll get installation with

Configure your domain and SSL certificate

I’ve create seperate blog post how to get SSL (HTTPS) for your blog for free with Cloudflare:¬†How to get free SSL certificate (HTTPS) for free?¬†If you want to use Cloudflare it’s good to install Cloudflare plugin to your WordPress instance before activating SSL on your domain. This should fix issues with potential redirect loop.

Benefits of hosting your blog on Google Cloud

As always, there are pros and cons. Let’s start from good things.

  1. Scalability
    With cloud you are paying for the CPU usage/traffic. If you are running site with big traffic – it can be quite a good choice.
  2. Security
  3. Guaranteed uptime
  4. Custom configuration
    If you want to change defaults (Apache, PHP parameters etc), some server settings, it’s not always possible when you are at shared hosting provider. You have the complete control over what you want to do with your machine instance.¬†You don’t have to depend on a single shared server to host your site.

Pricing

I don’t want to put “pricing” to cons (right now). For small blog, probably it’ll be much more expensive than a standard shared hosting you can get. Let’s be honest – Google Cloud wasn’t created only to serve WordPress blogs and it’s not the best example to showcase it.

I want to git it a try for a few months and we’ll see. Right now with small¬†machine current pricing plan is not the cheapest solution you can get. I read that it’s possible to optimize¬†g1-micro virtual machine for sites like this (with very low traffic).

Updated: 23.07.2018

I switched to micro plan and I’m able to host my blog without any cost right now.

 

 

How to get free SSL certificate (HTTPS) for free?

How to get free SSL certificate (HTTPS) for free?

If you are setting up any website today SSL certificate (https://) is a must have. July 2018 will be a game changer and you should be prepared for this date.

While I work in mobile right today I’m getting questions about this because I spent many years working with web and still I’m trying to be up-to-date with new web technologies and trends. This kind of knowledge is also very useful in mobile because web and mobile are connected and this connection in my opinion is getting closer and closer (see PWA, Instant Apps, Flutter…).

(Let’s get to the point) Let’s say you’ve got website without SSL (HTTP)¬†and you are afraid you’ll get some penalty for not having SSL. Is this true? What will happen in July 2018?

Take a look at Google Security Blog and post from February 2018:

For the past several years, we‚Äôve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we‚Äôve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as ‚Äúnot secure‚ÄĚ. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as ‚Äúnot secure‚ÄĚ.

What is also important, this will be additional factor for Google Search results (SEO). If you want to keep top positions in Google’s search results – keep it in mind.

How to add SSL (HTTPS) to my site? 

Let’s just simplify this:

  • You can probably buy SSL certificate at your hosting provider (as your hosting provider)
  • You can get free certificate from¬†https://letsencrypt.org/ and install it on your server (ask your hosting provider how to do it and what is important – ask if this is possible. I know that not all hosting providers are allowing to do that – because for example they want to sell you one…)
  • Use Crowdflare service for free and move your website to HTTPS in a minute

 

I’d like to focus on Cloudflare

Cloudflare provides¬†content delivery network¬†services,¬†DDoS mitigation,¬†Internet security¬†and distributed¬†domain name server¬†services, sitting between the visitor and the Cloudflare user’s hosting provider, acting as a¬†reverse proxy¬†for websites.

It may sound like a sponsored article but it’s not. Cloudflare is really great service that can help you in many ways:

  • Stop attacks directed at a website
  • Dynamically modify content in order to improve performance
  • Insert applications into web pages
  • Provide rich analytics on all the requests to your website
  • Automatically determine what objects are static and cacheable at the network’s edge without any user configuration
  • Provide a network gateway between protocols like IPv6 \<-> IPv4
  • Make installing SSL flexible and one-click easy
  • And many more things a traditional CDN can’t provide….

How to set up your domain with Cloudflare?

Read this FAQ tutorial to know how to move your domain to Cloudflare. This is starting point for the service. Once you have it – you can try to use and test it’s features. Just start with Free service

Once you have. Your domain is active at Cloudflare. How to turn on SSL?

Just go to Crypto tab and enable SSL (Flexible can be good start point, for blog, landing page Рyou can start using it without a problems)

Is that all?

Just check your website and other option in Crypto

If you have mixed content you want to enable also Automatic HTTPS Rewrites and if you want to make HTTPS your default URL Always use HTTPS

That’s it. Check your website, you should see SSL confirmation

So it’s just a friendly reminder for July 2018 and make your users more secure.