Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Apprise Conf in Oslo, Norway. This mobile app developer conference brought together top-notch speakers to share their insights on iOS and Android development.

In this blog post, I will detail my experience and review the talks I attended, shedding light on the strengths and weaknesses of each presentation. Of course, since there were two different rooms (“Snow” and “Ice”) with talks happening at the same time in both, I can only discuss the ones that I chose to attend.

The talks

Wei-Meng Lee: The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday, and How to Survive Today and Tomorrow

Wei-Meng Lee’s talk focused on his books and personal experiences throughout 25+ years in the industry. It had some big nostalgia vibes, since he mentioned technologies like WAP (the precursor to our mobile network internet) or PDAs like Palm Pilot (remember these?).

Although he shared his journey as a developer and writing books about all these ever-changing technologies, I feel that he failed to provide concrete advice for developers in the end.

Also, the talk’s mention of working on web3 projects felt disconnected and like simply riding the hype train of the era. The speaker made good jokes and was super comfortable on stage, but there could be more actionable insights to take from the talk.

Tiya Chowdhury: Fast track your idea with Flutter

Google’s Tiya Chowdhury’s talk explored the benefits of Flutter for mobile app development. It was a 40-min overview of almost everything that Flutter offers and touched on themes like state management, theming, hot reload, etc.

However, the presentation’s complexity made it challenging for beginners to grasp the concepts she discussed. I think attendees that might consider giving Flutter a try could not follow the talk’s pace and condensed content. Providing simple UI examples to illustrate typical app development with Flutter would probably help in making the content more accessible to a broader audience.

Flash talks

John Solsma: ChatGPT and your Mobile App Development Workflow

The ChatGPT flash talk was a delightful surprise at the conference. The presenter discussed the potential applications of AI language models in mobile app development, making the session both interesting and enjoyable. There was also this great meme:

Emin Grbo: Working NO-to-5

Good talk, sleek presentation, albeit with some technical difficulties. As a self-employed developer, I could not connect that much with the subject (why do we still work 9 to 5 in the modern world).

Daniil Pastukhou: Kotlin DSL. This language is broken, bring a new one!

Daniil’s company has built a solution for “talking” with multiple printers with the same protocol, taking advantage of Kotlin’s capabilities. An interesting subject, but far outside my domain.

Peter Friese: Building Reusable SwiftUI Components

This was a talk that I had on my radar as soon as the conference lineup was announced. I have long been interested in SwiftUI as a framework, and was keen to learn more about how it feels working with it.

Peter Friese’s presentation style and slide format made the content easy to digest. You could tell that he was really comfortable with SwiftUI and was able to show real-world examples of building components with it. The live coding demonstration at the end showcased practical examples, adding depth to the talk.

I left this talk thinking that SwiftUI feels similar to Flutter, as it’s also declarative and has familiar concepts. However, when Peter showed ways of customizing a component, I was surprised to see the amount of boilerplate needed to simply add a new property to a text field. It seems like Flutter is far ahead in this regard: if you use mostly the Apple-provided SwiftUI components you will be fine, but trying more custom stuff gets complicated soon.

Also, Peter had a pretty long list of missing XCode features, that would improve the developer experience by an order of magnitude. I hope that this somehow reaches Cupertino!

Michael Hitzker: How to NOT make an app – Let’s develop an app with awful UX

Michael Hitzker’s humorous and insightful talk on the importance of good UI was a crowd favorite. By developing an app with intentionally terrible UX, he cleverly highlighted common mistakes and pitfalls that developers should avoid when designing user interfaces.

The presentation struck the perfect balance between entertainment and education, and offered valuable takeaways on creating user-friendly apps.

Also, the team he works for creates a GPS tracking system for pets, so that sounds as a cool gig!

Joakim Stien & Frode Nilsen: UI Tests you won’t hate

Joakim Stien and Frode Nilsen teamed up to share their expertise on UI testing. Their talk was well-prepared and informative, showing their deep understanding of the subject.

Although the content wasn’t directly within my interests, I could see it would be valuable for larger development teams.

Donny Wals: Warning!! New technology ahead!

This was a good talk as well. Donny talked about not going all-in with the latest shiny technology or tool every time, and elaborated on which factors to consider before doing so.

Again, his advice would be more useful for teams, and not for solo developers like me (I still use jQuery btw, so I am surely in line with this!).

The conference

In a nutshell, the Apprise Conf was an absolute blast! It was an amazing experience for mobile app developers like me. The speakers were top-notch, and the organizers did a fantastic job making everything run smoothly. The venue was super cool, in the heart of Oslo, and all the techy stuff worked like a charm.

The food and drinks were also on point, keeping us fueled constantly. There was an early breakfast, then lunch, and in the end an Italian pizza party and drinks. The games and competitions by the sponsors were a fun touch, and it was great to see everyone getting involved and having a good time.

You could really tell that the organizers put their hearts into making this event a success. They made sure everything was just right, from the awesome speakers to the interesting content. The friendly vibe made everyone feel welcome, and it was nice to be part of it all.

I’m super grateful for the chance to learn from the best and make new connections. The stuff I picked up at the conference is definitely going to help me level up my mobile app development game.

Can’t wait for the next Apprise Conf!