Shanghai MOTODEV App Summit -- retrospective

by Peter_vdL Motorola 04-29-2011 09:42 AM - edited 05-03-2011 02:58 PM

It's a different league to seeing "Attack Ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, or watching C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate" (Roy Batty, in Bladerunner).  But I have seen some other crazy transport stuff around the world.   I've seen bicycles ridden on the wrong side of the street, against the flow of traffic.  I've seen motorcycles weave in and out of lanes like champion slalom skiers.   I've seen cars drive by with no lights at night.  But I've never, ever seen a motorcycle slalom in and out of lanes, on the wrong side of the street, against traffic, after dark with no lights.  Until I came to Shanghai!  That exhibition brings courageous disregard of traffic protocols to an impressive new height.


And that's exactly the kind of feisty free-thinking that made Shanghai one of China's greatest cities.   The MOTODEV team visited Shanghai this week, to bring the very latest programming skills for ATRIX and XOOM to our audience of Chinese developers.  Shanghai is the fifth stop on the MOTODEV round-the-world App Summit tour, and everyone was eager to meet Shanghainese developers, and learn what kinds of apps they had created.


At the Summit, I spoke with:

  • Professor James Li of Shanghai University, Dept of Computer Science and Engineering.  Professor Li is developing an Android class for the University, and he had brought 4 of his students along to help introduce them to the technology.
  • Dai Taikang of the VSir Smart Telecom company.  Dai demonstrated a very impressive video calling app, which can interface to other popular but non-open, video call protocols.
  • Levin Jian of PESoft.  Levin, like most other developers, is a self-taught Android programmer.  He is working on a secure messaging app, and he plans to release it in the Shop4Apps market in May.
  • Zhou Wenming, General Manager of the Utooo IT Co. Ltd.   Zhou traveled 400 miles round trip from Nanjing, with several of his team members, to attend the MOTODEV App Summit.   Zhou's team has built an app that supports remote screen sharing over TCP/IP between a handset and a PC.
  • Jimmy Lin, the CTO of the WinPerTurn Corp.  Jimmy had come 1600 miles round trip to network with other developers, and demonstrate his LBS (Location Based Services) app.   The MojoTravel app uses your current location to inform you of local points of interest.  The app is distributed by hotels, to help guests with local needs.  A particular feature of the app is the use of dual language, so a visitor can use his or her own language, but also show intended destinations to local taxi drivers in their own language.

The day before the App Summit, I took a couple of hours to explore further afield in Shanghai.   I visited some older parts of the city, and also walked by many new buildings.  One well known spot where old and new come together dramatically is the Bund. The word rhymes with "fund" and means "the quayside".  It is the name given to the central business district of Shanghai, with many historic buildings from the early twentieth century, and well as modern designs.  


Over the last two decades, Shanghai has thrived with economic reforms encouraging private enterprise.  The city is on a path to become an international shipping and finance center on a par with Seattle or Bremerhaven or even New York.  You can look across the wide Yangtze river to the Bund, from a serene riverside park, as shown in the picture below.


                                                  The Bund, Shanghai's Yangtze River frontage business district

The Bund landscape forms a scene that's richly ironic on so many levels that I don't even want to start enumerating them. But here goes, anyway.  It's the unbridgeable divide between wealthy financiers and the general population; it's the gulf between the fortress-like stone buildings and the modestly-constructed dwellings in some other parts of town;  it's the mighty Yangtze river that has been the source of so much of Shanghai's wealth, but now represents great ecological loss (the Three Gorges dam blocks the Yangtze, and the indigenous Baiji dolphin is now believed extinct); it's the buildings of former colonialists, that now headquarter some of the most dynamic Chinese ventures.


After exploring the Bund at length, I took subway line 2 back to my hotel.   Shanghai, with a population of 23 million, has about 1 million more locals than Beijing.  I wasn't surprised to find that extra million were all riding on the subway with me, again.  


I'd really encourage visitors to take the subway in China.  It's not that hard to master.  This is the screen display of one of the ticket vending machines.   You press buttons to indicate the line you want to take, then the station on that line, and finally, the number of tickets.  


                                     Shanghai subway system - ticket vending machine touch screen

What could be simpler than buying a subway ticket from that vending machine?  And it's even easier, when you discover that button on the top right; the one marked "English".


Peter van der Linden 

Android Technology Evangelist 

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