The Africa Android Challenge is an annual competition organised by GDG and Java communities in Africa for android developers across the continent. It provides a platform for devs to build apps relevant to the African continent, give recognition to the devs and win prizes. My friend PK Opoku and I decided to take part again. We took part in previous years, the first time we built an hausa to english dictionary, the second time I worked on a phone locator using GPS, but we didn’t win 😦 so when the email came February this year, we didn’t want to take part because we had school projects to work on. The deadline for submitting apps was however extended to April and our lecturers went on a strike.
The apps were in 2 sections; native android apps and apps using the Google Apps Api. Previously, we built native android apps, this time around, we decided to challenge ourselves and use the Google Apps Api to build our app (Google’s documentations can be a little difficult to understand if you are a beginner like us, we spent three-quarters of the development time reading and understanding them). At first, we wanted to build an app using the Google Drive Api but file sharing permissions was going to be a problem, so we used the Google Plus Api (Its really cool, you should try it). We decided to build a social app running on the Google Plus Api that would facilitate football banter (Africans love their football). The app we named VUVUZELA has 2 sides; a news side where users are kept up to date with football news across the globe and a social side where a user can share a post and have a discussion with other users of the app. The nice thing about the app is, whatever you share can be viewed by everyone in your circle so people not using the app can banter with you. We shared the workload, integrated the various classes and submitted the app, beating the deadline by 3 hours ( we did all this in 2 weeks) 🙂
We patiently waited(Checking emails 20 times a day), the day to announce winners came to pass and we heard nothing. A week and a few days later (after I almost died), the results were announced and we won for Ghana (the 1st round) in our section. Next, we had to work on the app and resubmit it for the final round, the African platform. We had 2 weeks, we did some throwaway prototyping and built again. The final results came and sadly 😥 , we didn’t win. We however made the top 10 apps for Africa ( which offered some consolation but we didn’t even think we would make it that far). For the first round (Ghana winners), we won 1 tablet(which we had to sell because the prize was for only one person even if you develop as a team) ,some t shirts and had dinner with some members of GDG Ghana to celebrate the winners.
It was a wonderful experience, we worked with an API we hadn’t used before. For the app, we are still working on it and would release it soon. An important lesson we learnt was, interface design really matters, users really pay attention to the look and feel of apps.
Thanks to GDG and Java communities across Africa and Max Bonbhel for organizing this wonderful event every year. I pray it gets bigger and better.
Cogito ergo sum,