Last week (April 22-23) I attended the leading global multi-platform event in the mobile app industry -- Apps World Developer Conference & Exhibition. It was the first time Berlin hosted the event, and it's about time. The capital of Germany is fast becoming recognized as a thriving hub for technology and startups, many of whom took part in the event as attendees, exhibitors, and speakers.
I was lucky enough to meet lots of interesting people and get a better understanding of the app ecosystem in Europe, and elsewhere. In this article I’ll tell you what you missed at Apps World Germany and what I particularly liked about the event.
What did you miss?
The event was held in CityCube, a multifunctional venue for different events and conferences, big enough to accommodate 150+ exhibitors, 200+ speakers, and thousands of attendees. There were several developer workshops and a free exhibition with over 350 exhibitors. This event was the perfect opportunity for learning a lot from mobile app experts and networking with potential business associates.
The organizers of Apps World also let developers demonstrate their skills at two hackathons centered on mobile banking, wearables, and sensors.
By the way, wearables, and the Apple Watch in particular, seemed to be the most popular topic of discussion among participants at the conference. I can only imagine how hot this topic will become once the Apple Watch finally appears in actual stores! According to Techradar, this won’t happen until June. The same source also reported that estimated Apple Watch sales indicate that the company sold more on day one through pre-orders than Android Wear watches did in all of 2014. To that I can only add that high prices and limited battery life don’t seem to be having a bad effect on the promotion of Apple’s products. Their fantastic design still puts quite a spell on people.
I only mention all this to suggest that you should start thinking about developing an app for Apple Watch in the next couple of months! (If I were you, though, I'd rather wait until the Apple Watch becomes a truly great product)
The most important thing you missed at the event, however, was Steve Wozniak's appearance as a featured speaker.
What did I like?
I'm not any different from the other folks who attended the conference, so my favorite thing about Apps World Germany was Steve Wozniak chatting about Apple, the future of technology, the past, and how all of that stack up with the present. It was a great pleasure to listen to his insightful point of view on the most interesting topics of the geek world.
"I never believed in artificial intelligence. But then...I changed my mind,” said Wozniak speculating on what we’re capable of building. When somebody asked him whether he wanted to take part in some of Google’s artificial intelligence projects, he said he would absolutely love to.
Technology, he said, is a bicycle for our minds -- a metaphor Steve Jobs often used in relation to computers. Wozniak also said that his favorite device was the App Store, because this place gives thousands of developers the chance to design innovative products which push mankind forward. This quote made me particularly proud about the niche our company occupies in the technology landscape.
There were also other great speakers at Apps World. I included only three of them in this article for two reasons -- because I can’t possibly cover the all, and because these three speakers touched upon three elements that are particularly important for a mobile app to succeed. They are "product", "development process," and "team".
Ramzi Risk, the co-founder and CTO at EyeEm, talked about the product itself and how it should keep the engineering team inspired and motivated. EyeEm is a Berlin-based community and marketplace for photographers, and recently raised $18 million in new funding.
Other than amazing photo content, the app’s main feature is a smart tool for picture discovery. A sophisticated image search engine that the EyeEm team is building can recognize what’s in a picture and also evaluate an image based on aesthetics. This functionality doesn’t only attract users to the app. It also represents a challenge, and thus a tremendous motivator, for the app developers who are building it.
I liked the speech by Sebastian Schuon, the co-founder and CTO at STYLIGHT. This startup also comes from Berlin, and is a platform for fashion discovery and shopping which allows users to search through a number of online shops on its website or mobile app.
Schuon's talk about Stylight's mobile development process was both interesting and useful. He mentioned that the team uses code reviews and Continuous Integration practices to ensure the quality of their products. We actually use the same methods here at Yalantis.
Read our article on standards of quality.
Interestingly enough, Stylight's iOS app is written in Swift, since this language greatly accelerates the development process compared to Objective-C. Another thing that I really liked about Stylight is the testing approaches they use. One of them is manual testing, which is carried out by all Stylight team members. There is even a special testing couch in their office for this purpose.
Mike Burton, director of mobile engineering at Groupon, gave a great talk about how to scale a mobile organization to drive a successful business. He made a great point about the necessity of adopting innovative strategies in a tech company for paving a way to the future...which, by the way, is definitely going to be mobile.
“Make sure you invest in disruption before someone else does,” said Burton. According to him, Groupon jumps on the disruption path by involving their team members in different activities that stimulate creativity, such as hackathons, startups labs, and also trips to Groupon’s offices around the world.
The last thing that can't be left without attention is the exhibition that took place at Apps World. Here are some pictures I took that do a good job of showing the types of participants at the exhibition.
Fortytwo messaging platform that helps entrepreneurs deliver messages to their customers no matter where they are in the world.
Bonial partners with retailers to drive sales volumes. They use location-based Internet technology to connect with consumers.
Lovoo is a social app that lets users get to know people with the same interests in their area. Users of Lovoo simply post pictures of what they are doing with corresponding hashtags. It's kind of like a dating app but with great social features which will allow Lovoo to greatly enlarge its userbase.
You might also like: Dating apps development
Blukii is a hardware company that provides beacons, sensors, tags, and a variety of smart wearable devices which can be integrated with them, from key fobs to pocket pens to business cards. Their stand was one of the most popular at the event.
Read also: How we built iBeacon-based SilentBeacon app
Youlapse Finland-based app lets you turn your photo library into time lapse videos. They also have a nice animation for picking images for the video.
Donky is an OTT cloud-based communication network that lets app developers connect and interact with their customers via apps, online channels, and any other web enabled device. And, yeah, they have a cool logo which you can actually play with.
There were lots of other companies taking part at the exhibition, including Saleforce's Heroku, Hewlett-Packard, Twillio, App Annie, Pega, etc. Microsoft even parked a truck near the entrance where anybody could play video games.
Hopefully this article told you just as much about what’s going on in the current mobile appsmarket as it did about Apps World Berlin!