First experience and takeaways of Google I/O 2019

Google I/O is an annual developer conference held by Google that brings together developers from around the globe for talks, hands-on learning with Google experts, and a first look at Google’s latest developer products.

As an Android developer, it’s a dream to attend this conference, or you could say, festival. I am so honored and grateful that LINE sponsored me all the expenditure to attend I/O 19′. This was also my first time attending I/O and it was really amazing! No doubt, I got loads out of it but in a way that I didn’t expect!

I/O 19′ Landmark

According to their official blog, there were 7,200 attendees at Shoreline Amphitheatre. Most of them were developers and I expected there to be recaps and technical sharing articles spring up like mushrooms in the following days. I also attended a couple of sessions there and watched some other sessions I was interested in after I/O. However, what I learned more is not the technology of the sessions but the value of attending Google I/O — the things that happened off-camera, my observations and key takeaways.

Preparations?

Before I went to I/O 19′, I heard a couple of suggestions from friends who have been attended I/O previously. One is that the popular sessions will be fully booked soon once the schedule is available and I’ll need to line up to get into the sessions. I was afraid that I might miss some interesting sessions so I carefully checked the timetable and reserved each time slots of these three days and set up my mind to attend as many as possible!

After that, I was very lucky to be invited into a LINE chatroom of TW/HK I/O 19′. There were many I/O experienced attendees in the group and they kindly shared their practical experiences with everyone. I’ve highly benefited from these opinions and got the most important suggestions from them  —  the most valuable things in I/O happen off-camera, such as, bringing your questions to the Google experts, exploring sandboxes and interacting with communities.

Pre I/O

Let’s start from this activity: Diversity Event  —  Women Techmakers pre I/O dinner on May 6th. It’s very obvious that the event is held for female techmakers and I got an invitation to the party. (I also got lots of jealous eyes from male developers. 🙂 )

As a female developer, I understand most of the time female developers feel lonely in a male-dominated environment. And this activity, only women, and even better, who are in tech industry, can attend. It was like a heaven! I was so delighted that I went to the party and made several new friends there even though I am not good at breaking ice with strangers. I felt endless energy and enthusiasm from them and it’s a really good warm-up event to open my I/O experience.

Women Techmakers pre I/O dinner

 

During I/O

There were dozens of sessions throughout the three days of the conference including sandboxes, codelabs, app review, office hours and meetups. Among these sessions, I am pretty sure the first thing you don’t wanna miss is definitely the keynote. Everyone’s psyched about the keynote and the atmosphere’s extremely excited. As a developer and not to mention also a technophile, I got a real kick from listening to the first-hand information and people around me were in high spirits just like me. 

Everyone’s eagerly waiting for keynote!

As aforementioned, I learned from others that the most valuable things in I/O are those that happen off-camera, so I only picked some important sessions to attend, like Developer Keynote, What’s New In Android, and so on. I spent most of the time on unrecorded sessions, for instance, exploring sandbox booths to see live demos and use cases. 

There were 8 sandbox tents and showed different topics independently, such as Android, Flutter, AR, Machine Learning, and so on. I went through all of them in the first two days and took some pictures and videos. The most impressive sandbox was the use cases for AR. 

The first feature I found interesting was inside the I/O App. People with a horrible sense of direction like me would definitely like this function. There’s an option called “Explore I/O” in the sliding drawer and when you click on it, you see a QR code scanner on the screen. You just use it to scan the marker that shows on map board everywhere in the venue and you see the “real” directions around you! Checkout the video clip to see how it works.

The second AR use case is an espresso machine coming to life in AR. The technology is using augmented images which is part of AR core. Another thing is that you scan the marker and move you phone to look around and it annotates the machine with information about its features. Check the video clips below, you can see it tells you how an espresso is made. It’s a very attractive way for clients to see how the product works.

There were still some other interesting demos but I won’t go over all of them. If you are interested in other sandboxes, here’s a sandbox tour video posted by Google.

While I stopped by each sandbox, I also kept an eye on Codelabs area. It was always crowded with people and a long queue to finish the lab and get the sticker. So, after I realized that I can do all the codelabs later on online, I decided not to spend time there but grab the chance to talk to Google engineers and experts. 

I asked a couple of questions about ML Kit, the scope of it and how we can be adapt it into our app. They were really friendly and willing to answer all the topics we had so I got lots of ideas and suggestions from these experts. I even met Emma Haruka who is the world record holder for most-calculated digits of Pi! I was so excited to meet a top female engineer like her! We took pictures and talked a bit at NEAO gathering dinner activity which was also a great event to meet with these passionate and talented people and talk to them.

Apart sessions, sandboxes and “Office Hours” (where you bring and ask questions to Google experts and engineers), I also spent time in Community Lounge to talk with GDE (Google Developer Expert) and GDG (Google Developers Groups) organizers. Through the Scavenger Hunt activity, I tried to find different country’s organizers and learned more about GDG by asking questions like “How did you learn about GDG?” and “What are the top 3 things you like about GDG?”. It was an interesting and meaningful activity and I got to know several enthusiastic developers through it.

Sourvenirs from I/O
Activities in Community Lounge

Wrap-up

This is a journey full of surprises and growth. I highly recommend developers to join this kind of conference to experience the atmosphere at least once. 
I am deeply grateful to company for their openness, support and kind assistance to let me attend this festival. What I originally expected was the growth of my technical skill but I gained more than it. Through this event, I got the chance to direct access to the Google experts, WTM (Women Techmakers) and GDG organizers who are full of passion for technology and sharing. I gained ideas just by talking to them. Even better, you could get the opportunity to work with them in the future. (Some engineers asked to exchange business cards with me for future cooperation and we really reached out to have further discussion after I/O.)

The real value of attending Google I/O is not only for individual but also beneficial to the company and it can’t be gained just by watching the videos online. It opened my mind and gave me the visibility of industry and latest technology trend. Those positive energy that I bring back to the company and my colleagues will produce a positive chain reaction inside the team. And more, I believe there were still some values I don’t see for now but it will have good influence later. Hope I could share more with you in the future!

See you next time 🙂

 


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