OverTheAir 2012

overtheair.pngI was at OverTheAir last Friday. It had the same great buzz as last year but this time with much better organised food and better-working WiFi. There was a web-heavy feel to the topics that was probably due to the kind of people who wanted to present. Here are just a few takeaways…

  • Google told us that they have started to concentrate more on getting their apps to take on the look and feel of the platform they are running on rather than adopting a generic or iOS theme for all. I previously wrote a bit about this for Motorola.
  • It’s the first time I have taken Mozilla’s / Telefonica’s Boot to Gekko (B2G) seriously. It’s interesting that they are taking Android phones (particularly the Galaxy S II) and keeping the kernel/drivers and putting Firefox and their web-based apps on top. It’s great way for B2G to use ‘current’ hardware. I still question the commercial side. What incentives (or disincentives) are there for operators to stock B2G phones? Why might hardware OEMs produce phones? I also wonder about the ease of extensive javascript B2G app development in terms of performance, coding (errors at runtime rather ‘compile’ time), debugging and depth of features. Some recent apps I have worked on, for example camera-preview based apps, just aren’t possible without a comprehensive, fast tie (API) into the OS. Nevertheless, B2G currently provides a quick and painless way for people to ‘create their own phone’. There are lots of vertical opportunities to create specialist devices/phone UI’s for specific purposes.
  • Facebook’s Open Graph API was interesting as a way to increase app uptake. The idea is that an iOS or Android app can create ‘actions’ that are published to the user’s timeline. When their friends click on the actions, they are either pointed to the app or deep linked into the app depending on whether they already have the app installed. Some of the top iOS apps already use this mechanism.
Thanks to Margaret Gold, Matthew Cashmore and Daniel Appelquist for the enormous effort they put into this year’s event. Thanks also to the sponsors for their generosity.