GhanaGTUG held its second event after last March's event. And we had a whole lot of fun!
About twenty developers, techpreneurs, students and tech enthusiasts showed up for the party. We each introduced ourselves and got right into action.
Some GTUG members demoed apps they had written. Bernard (mobile developer at Esoko) showed an app he wrote a few days before the event. The app works this way. In case of an emergency, you shake it. Immediately and automatically, an SMS is sent to some security agency. The SMS shows your location and includes a call for help. Jojoo showed Kofi Gyan's app called African Proverbs (AAC semifinalist). The app contains a collection of proverbs from various African countries. Some music plays in the background while you browse through the content. One of the event attendees said "Nice" when they used the app.
The apps demo generated a lot of excitement. Now, it was time for the group to hack its own app. Jojoo moderated a session to generate ideas about what app we could build. The app we would build would not necessarily be a new idea, but it would expose developers at the event to Android and to whet their appetite to write apps for the platform. Four ideas came up. Check the next paragraph if you would like to read more about the ideas. Otherwise, jump the next paragraph to read about the winning app that we built today.
|A GTUG member contributing ideas. (Photo credit: Michael)|
The four ideas were:
- An app to send you notifications when there is an update from the RSS feed of a tech news website you have subscribed to. Derek (creator of AdsBrook) suggested this idea for an app.
- An app to measure bandwidth usage while using a mobile operator's data service on your Android phone. This app would alert you when you had almost used up all your bandwidth (say less than 10MB left in your bundle). Richard Acheampong, who suggested this idea for an app, thought it would be useful to know how much bandwidth you have used all the time you are browsing so you do not have to break your flow and punch in a USSD code or visit a mundane URL any time you want to check your remaining bandwidth balance.
- An app for developersinghana.com. Bernard suggested this idea. Developersinghana.com was built about 3-4 weeks ago by Michael Ocansey (of Kuzima fame). Michael's app greatly simplifies the process of listing your developer profile online. Michael built the website in less than 2 weeks, and developersinghana.com now has more than 70 developer profiles listed there.
- An app to put your phone in "don't disturb" mode. Kwamena suggested this app. It was the winning app idea and is described in more detail in the next paragraph.
Everyone voted for the ideas they liked the most (you were allowed to vote multiple times). The winning idea was to build an app that puts your phone in a "I'm busy" kind of mode. We called it "Echiray". The name comes from the slang (pronounced "A-Y-C-H-I-R-A-Y") of the Akan phrase "Ekyir yi". Echiray works this way: for the period when the app is running, whoever calls you automatically receives an SMS from you that says something like, "Sorry, I am unable to pick your call. I will call you back when I get the chance". Think SMS auto-response, analogous to email auto-response. Like all the other ideas, this idea generated a lot of conversation. The hackers present suggested a million features for the app, but because we did not have a lot of time, we only stuck to writing the barebones of it.
|Planning Echiray (Photo credit: Michael)|
At the end of the hackathon (which lasted about 2.33 hours), we had a working app. Mind you, it is very buggy. One of its bugs is that it will send the caller two text messages instead of one. This bug costs you an extra 4 pesewas, so it is worth mentioning ;). Bernard is kindly cleaning up the code and will release it on Google Code as a git project in the course of the coming week. Try out the app. If you like the idea, fork it and improve it!
I say a big thank you to all the great people who attended. Special thanks to Derek, Kwamena and Bernard who pair-programmed to lead the hackathon part of today's event. Many thanks to Afua and Rick (Esoko), Ato and Fiifi (Google) for supporting the Android Africa Challenge party!
Written by Jojoo Imbeah