What a crazy Saturday. I just won first place for Best New App at Intel CodeFest for Android, my first solo win!
There were more than 3 or 4 hackathons taking place this past weekend and I was trying to decide which one to attend. Too many to choose! In the end, I decided to check out the Intel hack. I knew that Intel over the past few years has been getting big into software. I had heard about the Intel XDK mobile app development framework at an earlier conference and wanted to see what Intel had in store.
Intel was the only sponsor of this codefest, which was a very short 12 hour hack. There were 2 tracks, the first was to create a New Mobile App using Intel XDK, and the second was to Port/Create an App using the Intel optimized NDK. There were plenty of new Samsung Galaxy 3 tablets powered by Intel Atom for testing our hacks. And there were tons of KitKat bars to fuel us up.
I didn’t come in knowing which track I was going to tackle. Having been mostly working on mobile and web apps for the past few years, I thought it might be fun to try something different and hack with the Android NDK and Intel SDK. The Android NDK knowledge will be useful for me developing mobile apps that require low-level performance. One idea I got was to create a very fast file locker app. Encryption can be slow using straight Java so the Intel optimized NDK would be key to making the app fast to use. I started out setting up my dev environment. But soon I ran into some weird issues with Eclipse that was preventing my NDK code from compiling properly.
With only 3 hours left, I knew I wouldn’t’ be able to finish. And not finishing was not an option. I make it a rule to ALWAYS finish and ALWAYS demo at hackathons. It was time for a backup plan. I started to parallel install the Intel XDK, which was pretty much a breeze. I made the switch.
Intel XDK was very easy to use. It’s a mobile HTML5 dev environment that comes with a very nice WebKit-based emulator built into the IDE. This makes the code, launch, test cycle far less time consuming. The best part is you can even use their cloud build solution to upload your code and get back an APK file! This makes it painless to deploy your app on an Android device and to publish on the Play store.
My quickly thought up hack idea was InteliNote, an easy note taking app that automatically organizes your notes by location. It is a cross-platform app that works on all devices and all browsers. I was inspired to this idea after my experience with Evernote. While I think Evernote is great and does a lot, I feel it can be sometimes too bloated, slow, and cluttered for quick note taking. Sometimes all I want to do is store and see all my notes easily, not be forced to store my notes in Notebooks and hierarchy. When you store a note, InteliNote automatically reverse-codes the GPS location to a street address using Google Maps SDK and groups all your notes by location. To give the user an extra visual cue, the app also shows a background image of the city, state, or location where the note was last edited. As a bonus, with a single button click, you can email or text yourself the note. This can be useful if you want to forward the note to someone else quickly.
My tech stack for InteliNote: Bootstrap 3 and JQuery for HTML5 frontend, Firebase DB for backend, Twilio for SMS, Gmail SMTP for email sending
Pitch and Awards
With all the last minute hacking, I had no time to prepare a pitch. I just wrote and rehearsed my 2 sentence elevator pitch and that was it: InteliNote is a mobile app that lets you create notes easily and automatically organizes them by location, helping you remember what happened where.
In the end, InteliNote won first place for Best New App! I talked to the judges afterward and they said they liked the app design and were impressed that I was able to finish a polished app so quickly. I really couldn’t have done it without the great frameworks available today for mobile. No way could I have done it in native Android in 3 hours!
InteliNote is an app that I can really use for quick note taking. I look forward to adding more features to the app and releasing it as a Pivotle product. Stay tuned…
Update 2/13/14: Intelinote has been featured on Intel Developer Zone!