October 22, 2014

Ask Not What Android Can Do For You...

jfkThe following is a reprint of a post I made to the [android-discuss] Google Group, slightly edited to make it independent of the context of the thread in which it originally appeared.

Approximately three-quarters of the content of [android-discuss] is “desired features, improvements, and upgrades you would desire to see in a future Android release”, frequently packaged as tirades, rants, and insults. There are thousands of requests logged in http://b.android.com and internal-to-OHA issue trackers. We are not short of things to do, nor are we short on opinions of which of them are important.

We are short on people to actually DO THE WORK.

Perhaps you to like to write. Android could use all sorts of things written, from application reviews to end-user guides to developer documentation. All of that will materially and directly help the platform.

If you have programming experience, why not head over to http://b.android.com and see if there are any itches you see there that you would like to scratch? Or, scratch some of your own itches and
publish the results. Or, write the definitive guide to help newcomers get going on modifying the low-level firmware (C) or frameworks and apps (Java) that go in a system image. All of that will materially and directly help the platform.

Do you want to play critic? Exercise the applications and file concrete specific bug reports, with useful steps to reproduce the problem, over on http://b.android.com. Or, volunteer to help test some third-party apps, perhaps with an eye towards those that might wind up contributing to the firmware (e.g., K9). All of that will materially and directly help the platform.

Do you know people in the consumer electronics industry? Evangelize Android and its devices, to try to get interest in people distributing devices, making quality accessories, or perhaps creating devices of their own. All of that will materially help the platform, albeit perhaps more indirectly than the other ideas in this list.

Do you enjoy public speaking or event organizing? Organize an Android Bar Camp for your region, to get together interested folk for a day to talk about each others’ experiences with Android. Or record an Android podcast series. Or see if there is interest in an “Intro to Android” seminar at your local university. All of that will materially and directly help the platform.

Do you speak and write multiple languages? Consider offering your assistance in translating key online Android material to other languages, whether that be official documentation or seminal third-party material. Or start a separate localized discussion list for Android developers, to help spur interest from and deliver information to people who are not facile in English. All of that will materially and directly help the platform.

Any of these things will help the people that do them make a mark for themselves within the world of Android, with possible benefits to their professional careers.

If you have questions about any of these ideas or how to get started, let me know.