The biggest — and tastiest — get together of Android enthusiasts and developers in one place.
This year's Big Android BBQ was a smaller, more intimate affair than in previous years, with lots of fun, friends, and technology. Our own Russell Holly brought more VR than you can shake a controller at, from PlayStation VR to Samsung Gear VR to Microsoft HoloLens to HTC Vive. While things may not have been as crazy as previous years, it was good to be among friends and developers again. And considering this year was the last one, I'm very, very happy that I went.
Yes, at the closing keynote, Aaron Kasten announced that this would be the last Big Android BBQ hosted by IDEAA, citing increased difficulty in finding sponsors and fewer people willing to travel this far when there are local events with the same goal.
That there are more developer events out there, and especially more events with low cost and high interaction, is a win for developers across the country (and abroad, as more developer conferences are also springing up in Europe and Asia). But the Big Android BBQ catered to another kind of participant that most of the events it inspired does not: enthusiasts who aren't developers. Like me.
I'm not a programmer. I'm not a developer. I'm just a girl who loves Android, loves writing about Android, and wants to talk about Android without spending half an hour explaining what it is first.
I couldn't go to Google I/O, but at the Big Android BBQ, I could sit in on panels that sounded interesting and talk to developers, hardware manufacturers (Nextbit, Asus, Sony, and HTC were all here last year. Only Sony's Open Device Program was here this year.) and other enthusiasts.
The social aspect of the BBQ was honestly better than any of the tech that I ever experienced in my three years there. Fighting over how big a screen is too big for a phone (confound it, Thomas, put down the ZenFone 3 Ultra), debating what in the Pixel is worth us paying almost a thousand dollars, and chatting about the present and future of the Android ecosystem, was all great fun.
Shy as I may be in 'everyday life', I can talk for hours two places: the Big Android BBQ and a Disney park.
We can have inside jokes at any conference. We can make traditions anywhere, like Aaron's top hat and TJ's ridiculous amount of pins and leaderboard points. And we'll see each other at other events… hopefully. If not, we'll always have Google+, and a few years of great BBQ and even greater camaraderie among enthusiasts, bloggers, and developers that we'll forever try to emulate at events to come.
Raise a glass of Texan beer, and pour one down your gullet for the Big Android BBQ. And if any Android fans want to come down for some Texan hospitality and some Android debates, might I suggest a Big Android Schlitterbahn? Let's debate the necessity of waterproofing as we tube down the Comal.