Droidcon SF 2018 Highlights

Attendees and speakers recently descended upon San Francisco for Droidcon SF 2018. Learn about the conference highlights and what to watch to hone your Android app development skills. By Joe Howard.

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During the first half of the Thanksgiving holiday week in the U.S., Android developers descended upon San Francisco for Droidcon SF 2018. San Francisco had fallen under the haze of the fires in Northern California, but, thankfully, the smoke had mostly cleared by the first day of the conference.

Droidcons occur throughout the year in Berlin, San Francisco, New York and many other cities.They are consistently some of the best conferences on the Android circuit for new and experienced developers alike.

The Keynote

Britt Barak from Nexmo kicked off the conference with a talk entitled Between JOMO and FOMO: You are reshaping communication. Britt did an incredible job getting the conference started on the right foot with her talk discussing how mobile developers drive modern communication across all of society.

The Keynote

Britt emphasized that, while our phones cause us to often experience Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), they can also drive ways for us to experience Joy of Missing Out (JOMO).

Britt discussed the history of mobile phones, reviewed the impact that mobile devices and tools such as text messaging and apps have had on our lives and the ways we communicate. She noted that apps can make us feel connected, but that it can often be too much. Britt went into the psychological and physiological effects of our new means of communication, including things like dopamine release.

She then shifted focus to point out that, while technology has created new problems, it can also help solve these problems. Tools like Digital Wellbeing in Android Pie give us the information we need to manage our mobile usage, and new ways to silence our devices can help us maintain focus within the “real” world.

Britt finished up by giving tips to developers on how best to not overload users: be responsible, interrupt less, make it count, be productive and more.

I strongly encourage you to seek out Britt’s keynote video in the video link below. You’ll learn a great deal about ways to be responsible with how your apps affect your users in the future.

Droidcon SF Themes

If you take a look at the conference schedule, you see that two main themes of the sessions were Kotlin and cross-platform development.


Kotlin has been officially supported by Google on Android for about a year and a half, now. A large portion of the Android development community has switched over to using the language, and the popularity of the language, as measured on indices like TIOBE, is skyrocketing.

There were sessions on Kotlin coroutines, Effective Kotlin, Advanced Kotlin, comparisons of Swift and Kotlin, Kotlin dependency injection and many others.

If Droidcon SF is any indication, the Kotlin language is here to stay as the preferred language for the development of Android apps, and it has the possibility of going well beyond to the server and even iOS.


The conference also had many sessions devoted to cross-platform development. These included Kotlin/Native, React Native and Flutter.

A highly anticipated session entitled Kotlin Multiplatform in Production was conducted by Kevin Galligan, President of Touchlab in NYC. Kevin has been helping to lead the charge outside of JetBrains for establishing the Kotlin Multiplatform ecosystem, and Kevin’s talk was an eye-opening guide to the current state of affairs and the possibilities. One of Kevin’s main points was that Kotlin/Native will be ready for prime time within about six months, so now is the time to get started with it.

Kotlin Multiplatform

As an added bonus, the Droidcon SF conference app was written by Kevin using Kotlin/Native, and it performed quite well on both iOS and Android.

At the end of Day 1 of the conference, the traditional conference fireside chat was held in the main conference room. The theme this year was Cross-Platform Frameworks, and the discussion focused on Kotlin/Native, React Native, Flutter and Xamarin.

Kevin Galligan represented Kotlin/Native, Gabriel Peal from Tonal (and formerly of AirBnB, author of a widely read blog post on React Native in practice) represented React Native, Ifeoma Okereke of WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) represented Flutter, and Mattias Wenz of Microsoft represented Xamarin.

The fireside chat gave each participant an opportunity to introduce their experiences with the frameworks, discuss the pros and cons of the frameworks, and relay their overall impressions of the state of the frameworks. One super-fun question they posed: “Which of the other frameworks would you choose if your preferred was not available?”

Since this was an Android developer conference, it seemed as if the most buzz surrounded Kotlin/Native and Flutter.

Other Highlights

Beyond Kotlin and cross-platform, there was a wide range of other interesting topics discussed in the conference sessions.

Some of the highlights:

  • Working Effectively with (Android) Legacy Code
  • MotionLayout and ConstraintLayout 2.0
  • Live Data Beyond ViewModels
  • Camera 2 API and Beyond
  • Android Malware Forensics
  • ARCore and Indoor Navigation
  • Getting Started with the Android NDK
  • Intro to Android Things
  • From AlarmManager to WorkManager

Beyond these sessions, there was a wide range of exciting and illuminating talks given by the conference speakers. Be sure to check out the conference video playlist link below to see a list of all the sessions and to find ones that pique your Android development interest.

The conference wrapped up with A Comedy Talk by Chet Haase and Romain Guy of Google, who kept the mood light and the laughs roaring while discussing Thoughts about Organizational Excellence for Terrific Companies, a.k.a. the TAO of ETC. Chet and Romaine gave key insights into things like Transformational Excellence, Targeted Aspirationalism, Reactive Conservatationism and Tortuous Calm. :]

Conference Freebies

Two really great benefits to attendees were (1) an XBox One giveaway by Microsoft, and (2) a fast-food giveaway by Uber that satiated many developers in the second half of Day 2.

Of course, raywenderlich.com was there in force, with team member Dick Lucas of Rightpoint and myself discussing our site, giving away our unbelievable popular sets of Android-themed laptop stickers, relaying the goals of our Android team, recruiting for new Android team members, and doing a raffle for free copies of our first two Android/Kotlin books, Android Apprentice and Kotlin Apprentice.

Our Team

We also announced our Black Friday early-access release of our next two Android/Kotlin books, Advanced Android App Architecture and Kotlin Coroutines by Tutorials. Although our Black Friday sale is over, you can still get early copies of these books from the raywenderlich.com store, with final versions coming in Spring 2018.