Android experimentation #TPInnovationDay

So, one of my last hurrahs at Technophobia was #TPInnovationDay. It’s what used to be known as a “fedex” day. A day where you set off with an idea in mind, and deliver it before the end of the day. The original spirit of the day came from Atlassian, an award winning company which is bursting with ideas and great values. It seems to produce great results by letting employees loose on an idea and challenge them to the max. The spirit of fedex day is to deliver something within 24 hours. Atlassian now calls these Ship It days.

We had an exercise a while ago internally where the developers worked on a solution for the companies mobile offering. We had a few contenders, one of which was Feedhenry but this time I had the opportunity to be part of the java team and work on some proper Android stuff, using the SDK that Google provide. There are many reasons why trying Android development makes sense:

  • TP have a rather clever Java team. And Android is written in Java.
  • TP actually have hidden Android knowledge
    • Half the company have Androids
    • I’ve worked on Android in the past and currently still do
  • It costs nothing but time to try
  • It’s relatively straight forward
  • People love to try new things! Especially mobile!

Where did we start?

I decided the best method to push our team was to come up with an idea, and to try and build it. It’s a tricky task to come up with an idea with a week to go but I and the team felt this was the best method to challenge ourselves and dig deep into the SDK.

We had both good and bad ideas:

  • Orienteering quiz
  • Zombie Apocalypse
  • Password system app
  • Twitter photo search
  • Screen lock gestures

We decided to build the orienteering quiz, as it was an idea of mine at University (and actually a project I built in HTML at the time). The idea was solid enough for us to get started experimenting.

The devs worked hard to produce something and we cobbled an app together. We didn’t get to show our Fedex presentation but the day was definitely a great use of company time. If your business hasn’t done something similar yet, schedule it in. Those people who have not worked together, the guys who sit quietly in the corner day in day out and the new girl who doesn’t really know anyone all working together on a project they ordinarily wouldn’t participate in is a great thing to see.

Me and Andy (one of the Project Managers) had earlier sketched out the flow to give the devs something to build once they’d setup their environments. This was a rapid sketching session because we had to give something to the devs as quickly as possible so even though it was rough around the edges, it had to do. This was the basis of what went into prototyping to start the project.

Prototyping went onto the glass due to lack of whiteboard space.

I used a really good tool called http://www.fluidui.com/ to produce a quick mockup. It’s a tool I’ll certainly be using in the future to prototype quickly mobile mockups. They’ve got plenty of UI bits to throw together and the ability to chuck this into their app to demo the product on an actual phone! Great drag and drop functionality and a presentation mode which spits out a QR code. There’s also the ability to plug it into Chrome.

Overall, we produced some great work in a short space of time, if we’d done a full fedex day, in the 24 hours we’d have had a finished prototype app. It’s all or nothing in the mobile app world.

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