Interview with Xavier Hallade

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Next interview is done with Xavier Hallade by Aygul Zagidullina. Thank you very much Aygul for the interviews :)

Tell us a little bit about your average Android development day or your work day :)

Xavier: It’s complicated to imagine an average day, as my work varies a lot depending on the projects I’m involved in.On a day-to-day basis, I’m root causing bugs, helping fixing these, trying new SDKs and platform features, maintaining apps, consulting for other teams, helping on partner’s projects, advocating developer needs internally, working on articles/presentations/trainings, porting libraries and frameworks… Starting from 5pm, I usually also have meetings with my manager and my colleagues who are mostly based in the US, to sync on various projects and other Intel-owned events planning. Then, I’m regularly travelling to deliver technical presentations, trainings and hackathons.Sometimes I’m happily going for longer coding streaks, potentially for more than a full day. In that case I’m fully focused on it, putting as much as possible unrelated projects and meetings aside.

What would you say are the ingredients for a successful app?

Xavier: There are tons of ingredients for a successful app, and sometime even if you have them, it’s not enough. All the recent apps success stories weren’t about huge apps or services with a billion of features. They all started small, providing one restricted feature, but doing it really well. Additional features only came later, to retain users and keep them happy (for example), once the product was already a success. In general, users are more willing to give 1-star ratings to an app if its core feature isn’t working for them than if it’s just missing some extra-features that would only interest a bunch of them. It’s important to spend time on improving your application (not extending it first) and making it really enjoyable: have a solid implementation, good performance, and a polished UX centered on your core functionality.

What your talk at ADD this year will be about?

Xavier: This year I’ll be talking about the Android Native Development Kit (NDK), from top to bottom. The NDK is the toolset that allows the compilation of native code (C/C++…) to be reused by Android applications, and in my view every Android developer should have at least a basic knowledge of it.

Your talk at ADD will cover Android NDK and how to use it together with libraries. Now, why would somebody want or need to dive deep into learning about this?

Xavier: There are many good reasons to use the NDK: sharing code across platforms, using a rock-solid C/C++ library that has been maintained for years, going further on performance for specific workloads… And even if you don’t think that you directly need it, it’s important to have a better knowledge of the NDK: When you look at the top applications, more than half of them are actually relying on components made using the NDK. You can use “Native Libs Monitor”, an app that I’ve developed, in order to look at the native (C/C++) libraries used in the Android applications you’ve installed on your device. When dealing with native libraries, developers need to take some extra care, and I’ve seen many doing big mistakes that could easily have been avoided if they had a basic knowledge of the NDK.

You’re part of the Developer Relations team at Intel. What are you most proud of about your work as a Developer Evangelist since you started working there?

Xavier: When I joined the team in early-2012, the only Android devices on the market that had an Intel CPU were Google TVs, and Google TV OS was a quite stripped down version of Android. The first devices came out on the market mid-2012, and for some time I was able to remember all the models, specifications and references of the Android devices that where using an Intel CPU, from the Orange San Diego to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. The number of devices really got up last year, and now there are more than two hundreds of them, including the recent Google Nexus Player or the Nokia n1, and there are even more to come. Of course this has been the result of the work of many, including people who did more than me, but I’m proud of having played a role in this.

What are you most looking forward to at ADD? Xavier: Events such as ADD are always awesome as they rally a really diverse crowd, from beginners to experts, with different backgrounds and skillsets, united by their interest for creating better applications and services. So I’m really looking forward to meeting other developers and speakers and having interesting -sometimes even mind-opening- discussions.

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