A Night at Android Day Camp

This past weekend I had the pleasure of being a judge at the grand finale to Android DevCamp, held at the eBay/PayPal campus in San Jose. Over 25 teams worked feverishly to produce cool Android apps, many with payments integrated to PayPal. My fellow judges included Thorsten Claus from T-Ventures (part of Telekom, parent of t-mobile), Tom Chiu & Anu Nigam of Sand Hill Angels, and Jamie Allen, who has deep telecom experience at Telecordia, Tandem Telecom and Uniphone, an early mobile VoIP startup.

We were all impressed as to how far the teams came over a weekend. It shows how far the tools and APIs have come for mobile developers. The core concept of the Lean Startup model is to launch fast into the web (fixed or mobile) and iterate quickly based on customer response. What they came up with in a mere three days was remarkable, some even almost ready for commercialization.

In the old mobile world of just three years ago, this was impossible. Apps were built in Java, and varied by handset, Java implementation, region and carrier. Once past those land mines, the apps had to be approved by carriers, a tortuous and random process at best. Pilgrimages had to be made to the temples of the old mobile business, such as 3GSM (now Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, Taiwan Inc. to meet MediaTek and its kin at the low-cost end of the business, and of course Helsinki to meet Nokia. (I have been there, in the dead of winter, and have seen HEL frozen over.)

That old world is now swept away by the onslaught of Apple and Android. Who woulda thunk that the walled gardens would come down so fast?

This revolution will not be televised. It will be texted, IM’ed and Instagrammed.

We gave out a number of awards. The audience also voted, as did the sponsors and organizers. The VC judges came last. We found more companies of interest than awards, so we kicked in some bucks on our own and handed out three Judge’s Awards. You can read about the winners here. You can see photos of them here. Some of my favorites:

  • Coupal was yet another couponing idea, this one designed for mobile and inherently viral
  • ZipTip joined the Uber(cab) idea of really simple payment transfers, in this case for tipping
  • Disaster Radio is an incredible mashup which combines Google maps with disaster videos and info (eg of brush fires), a much better resource for affected parties & first responders than TV and two-way radio. The Android Tablets come to the rescue, literally! Imagine what happens next with citizen reporting on the spreading fire integrated with geo- and time-coding
  • ASL extends mobile to the hearing challenged, adding American Sign Language communication
  • Chronometer uses the analog clock as a creative day-planning tool

The most disruptive could be a restaurant dish recommender, going below the restaurant down to the dish and rating them – developing a trend started with Foodspotter to develop a Social Internet of Things.

If you are a developer wishing to join the mobile revolution, I recommend you find your way to next year’s event.


  1. I worked on Chronometer (I did the interaction and UI design) and I must say that the DevCamp was one of the most interesting and exhilarating weekends I’ve had in a while. The time pressure was very intense, but we were able to get most of the app up and working, although we had some gnarly last minute bugs.

    My favorite app there was the disaster radio, I was really impressed that the creator showed up with no programming experience and was able to put together a great (and lifesaving) app within a few days.

    We are ironing out the bugs in Chronometer, and should have it on the market within the month, but you can check out our MVP page at http://chronometer.badcapitalist.org and enter your email to receive a free copy!

    1. Jehan, I signed up! Looking forward to it.

  2. Great article. I am probably getting an Android based tablet in the near future.

    This may be kind of off topic but what do you think of SDDs in small notebooks? I just bought an HP DM1Z with 4GB Ram and a 5400 rpm HDD for web browsing, trading and chess when I am on the move. It is reasonably fast for such a small machine.

    Do you think the new Intel 510 Series 120GB SSD will give me a big boost in speed? Will the machine run cooler with such a unit installed instead of the 640 GB 5400 rpm HDD?

    1. EN, welcome over here! Great to see you comment. I am pondering your question in the context of which iPad to buy: 32G or 64G? The larger flash gives more headroom for future stuff, but it is hard to see how I will fill it up unless I hold a lot of movies. (I put music on my iPhone.) My active corporate docs fit into a 4G dropbox folder and another 1G sugarsync folder (I try everything out, you see). I could see having a bunch of photos and vids taken by the iPad itself, but I would tend to store them in the cloud on a home/work server once done with them. We have all had a PC experience where we learned to get the largest HD possible since it will fill; yet now with cloud storage and sync services it seems to me the travel PC/Tablet will be lighter in memory needs, as one can easily find a file in the cloud instead of carrying it around. Hence: if you start using cloud (box.net) or sync (dropbox/sugarsync) services, get the SSD. It will run cooler, quieter and extend battery life. Also should prove more rugged on the road (fewer moving parts to break).

  3. TeddyK · · Reply


    What do you know about Soc.TV? I read on another blog (?) that it’s a “mobile-centric social-tv platform”. Do you know anything about them?



    1. Teddy, Duncan asked me to answer this, as I follow this sector. To me the most interesting aspect of “social-TV” will be its ultimate ability to provide better navigation for discovering TV content of interest, as social discovery (being told what to watch by your friends) is really powerful. People chatting about shows they are watching while they are watching them is starting to happen, as monitoring the Twitter stream proves. Some start-ups are starting to emerge to build on this. One I follow a bit is Yap TV. As to the mobile aspect, simply everything, including TV, must be fully mobile enabled these days, including the smart phone and iPad devices. Even in the home, it seems clear that eventually the TV itself will be navigated from a mobile device, all while that device is keeping us in touch with our friends. The long term impact this will have on advertising, etc. will be huge, but that I’ll leave for another day.

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