January 31, 2014

2014 AT&T Developer Summit

I attended the AT&T Developer Summit from January 4-6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev. The three-day event consisted of a mobile app hackathon, executive panels, and speaking sessions. This was my second year attending the AT&T event, which I find valuable in meeting developers and technology entrepreneurs, as well as learning about the latest trends in mobile technology.

With cash and prizes totaling over $200,000, more than 100 teams developed an app during the hackathon. Participants at this year's hackathon were able to choose between a Wearables Track and an AT&T API Track. You can read about the winning teams at this link on the AT&T Developer Blog.

25 panels and speaking sessions were scheduled during this year's conference. I particularly found value in attending "Let’s Drop the 'Mobile' from Web Development" by Doug Sillars, Performance/Optimization Lead, Developer Advocacy at AT&T. Noting that "with a plethora of platforms and buckets of browsers (each contributing a variety of versions), displaying content uniformly can be a challenge. The growth of mobile devices has exponentially expanded the landscape (and additionally added a sundry of screen sizes). Is developing separate experiences for mobile and desktop users really the best way to reach your users?" With a greater percentage of people accessing the Internet through mobile devices, Dr. Sillars presented a question that many developers ask: Is developing separate experiences for mobile and desktop users really the best way to reach your users?

In his presentation, Dr. Sillars explained, "There is no more 'Mobile Web', it is all just 'The Web' on different screens." He noted that greater than 50 percent of Amazon.com's customers shopped via a mobile device mobile during the 2013 holiday season and in September 2013, the number mobile unique visitors equalled those accessing ESPN.com on a desktop. Furthermore, Dr. Sillars said page size and speed index are essential to keeping customers engaged with your site. An ideal website accessed through a mobile device should upload in less than three seconds.

Another presentation worth discussing in this post is "Building an Amazing Mobile Experience for Multiple Devices" by Lotus Chen, Chief Technology Officer of Taiwan based-ASUS. Noting that Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system during his presentation, Mr. Chen said mobile content developers are facing an increasing challenge of developing content with a consistent user interface (UI) design given that Android powers many different device types with different screen sizes and form factors, ranging from small-size phones, mid-size tablets, to large television sets.

With respect to supporting different screen sizes, Mr. Chen recommends optimizing the layout by providing different layout resources for different screen sizes. On larger devices, he says create compound views to take advantage of extra screen real estate, so you can display more content and ease navigation. Moreover, Android scales the drawable resources based on screen density. To ensure the app screen looks presentable, Mr. Chen suggests using different version of resources need to be available for different screen densities.

I enjoyed the experience of attending the 2014 AT&T Developer Summit where I met some interesting people developing great apps. I also learned new content development and product monetization ideas, which I will incorporate into the business strategy of ROI3, Inc. There is no question that the world is accessing the Internet via mobile devices. Company's that are able to develop content optimized for mobile devices will gain a competitive edge.

Aaron Rose serves as President and CEO of ROI3, Inc., a Seattle, Wash.-based company that empowers people in emerging economies through innovative, technology-based solutions. He is also the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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