Arjan Scherpenisse

MobileDevCamp report

A weekend of mobile hacking

The MobileDevCamp, already in its second installment, brought techies from all over the country (and even from the UK and Finland!) together to teach them about the latest developments in mobile computing. Organised by BubbleFoundry and hosted by Mediamatic, the first day focused on workshops about development on mobile platforms (Android, iPhone, Symbian). The second day was for the die-hard hackers who enrolled in a competition to create the best mobile app in a single day.


Mobile DevCamp @ Mediamatic - Picture by textopus

Day one

The day started with an Android Mobile Development workshop by Diego Torres Milano. He introduced the crowd to the relatively new Android platform, which is the new open phone platform by Google, amongst others. The talk was concluded by a live demo of building a simple "maps" application, which could be realised by just a few lines of code.

Next, Joris Kluivers, author of several iPhone apps, walked the crowd through writing its first iPhone application. His talk focused on the different options one has when starting an iPhone app. He was a good speaker and it was nice to learn about his experiences with iPhone development.

After lunch, Henriette Cramer, a human-computer interaction researcher at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, introduced the crowd to the issues in designing interfaces for mobile. While the talk was not technical, Henriette pointed out that the technicalities were not the most problematic issues in software construction: think of the user experience first, and put at least as much time in designing the user experience as in writing code.

Finally, Vincent Verweij of Makayama introduced Unity3D, a platform for 3d game development, which recently has been ported to support iPhone. Using this platform enables developers to create simple 3D games for the iPhone, and Vincent showed us some game concepts he was working on, ranging from a GTA-clone to a iphone flight simulator.

This was the final talk of the day and, with free beers by Mediamatic, people started networking, exchanging ideas, and linking developers looking for jobs to future employees. For some the day even ended in a little Indian restaurant nearby, where the "back in the day" stories about Zork hacking and FORTH programming were shared with the newer generation.

  • Note: not all the talks are covered here, as there were two simultaneous tracks, and only one reporter.

Day two

Even before entering the Mediamatic workshop space, one could already smell the fresh pancakes Peter Robinett was making for breakfast for the developers who wanted to use the second day for some serious hacking! About 20-30 people showed up for this second day. There was no official program: people formed groups and focussed around different projects, with 17:00 as deadline for hacking projects.

Among the projects that were being developed were a "Laser Chess" game, a little multiplayer strategy / puzzle game; iLoci: an interface for ad-hoc creating a kind of networked bookmarks; MissingU: an app for 2 partners which counted down how many days you were still separated from your lover; an Android-based googlemaps-tracker. The author's personal favorite was CannedOpeners: a very simple app which showed you a random pickup line. Very convenient for when you're in the bar and want to talk to somebody you like, but cannot find a good opening phrase. Just launch up the app and you're off!

The project the author worked on, together with Marco Wessel, was more of a hardware hack: we hooked up an iPhone to a SonMicro RFID reader using the iPhone's serial port. We were not able to show a "mobile" version of it, but at least we managed to make it work: a little program running on the phone could read a tag using the reader connected to the phone.

Around 17:30, the award ceremony took place. First ended the iLoci project for the best graphical interface: Don Hopkins took home a copy of Flash CS4! Other winners were the LaserChess game (they got an iPhone stand); CannedOpeners (won a bluetooth headset), and the RFID project (winning an iphone cover).