Unless you are a casual Android user, you surely have heard of some Android teams like CyanogenMod, AOKP, Team Gummy (R.I.P.) and Team EOS. Development teams are great because you get a bunch of great minds to come together and really improve upon an OS. This is what makes Android great to tinker with. New ideas are thrown around and implemented and old ideas are enhanced and improved upon. Every once in a while, a new team steps into the community with bright new ideas and the brain power to make those ideas a reality. One of those new teams is the Android Developer Alliance, who were nice enough to sit down with me and chat.
Max: How did you guys get started?
Josh: Mike and I were on Liquid team [and] we both decided to leave for various reasons. We decided we wanted to make a new team, and have a mentality that most people say they do but don’t really: a round table infrastructure and no drama communication being #1. From there we started working on AllianceMOD, which then changed to AffinitySERIES before release. Pure AOSP source, with core features we all love from Android.
Once Mike and I got a base AOSP booted, we were joined by Hiemanshu and bbedward (known for his Zen kernels) and PatrickC who did PR for us. As Hiemanshu joined us, we started to progress faster internally, getting more features in and working out basic bugs. Dustin then joined and took over as Director of PR and Graphic Design. Nitish also joined our team as a creative designer. He created our official logo, our unique toggle designs, wallpapers, and mockup images.
Once we felt like we had a beta we were proud to put our name on, we launched. Thirty minutes later, our main server was so bogged down with downloads, I had to call my hosting provider to add in 2GB RAM and 1 CPU and Mike had to rework the entire download/mirror backend.
Mike: Beta1 was really about getting our name out and put out an initial offereing that was stable and had basic mods people would expect from a custom ROM. We have some fairly big plans for the ROM coming up.
Max: That was what I wanted to ask. What can the community expect from you guys?
Mike: The expectation going forward is that there will be lots of new features no one has seen before.
Max: That’s exciting.
Mike: We want to keep the out of the box experience as close to AOSP as possible. That’s why we chose to integrate settings into the appropriate areas instead of how other teams do it with a single “Control Panel.” We wanted to offer some UI customizations. We will be offering some themes via theme chooser for people to apply as well. Some of the features we are talking about that are unique are still “a work in progress,” so we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet.
Max: Completely understandable.
Mike: But people can expect that we as a team will provide original work; a unique, fresh new look at AOSP with performance and stability our top priority. Customer service too. It disappoints me when we read through various threads on the forums and people ask newb questions and they get met with attitude. We don’t like that, so our approach to communicating with end users is going to be quite different. We all had to start somewhere and in the end we are a community so there is respect.
Dustin: Exactly right, Mike. At this point in time, we are more than pleased with the welcome we have been met with at RootzWiki. To Mike’s point, I personally, along with any member of ADA, will try and represent ourselves to a higher standard. No matter if the user is a n00b or not, they deserve and will get our respect. We feel very strong on keeping our approach and our end users in mind when replying or even implementing anything on the ROM side of things. Even in changing our name from AllianceMOD to AffinitySERIES was planned and very thought out. As you see us supporting many devices, you won’t have 10 different names, but instead one brand of Unity AffinitySERIES by Android Developer Alliance, you will never wonder if you are running a build from our team this way.
Mike: One of the other aspects of this team is, we will be building applications available in the play store as well.
Max: Yeah, I was wondering about those. What can we expect with your apps?
Mike: Right now, we are so hard at work on the ROM, that the apps will probably come after our first real release. As far as the development team goes, 3 of us, Blueharford, Hiemanshu and I are the primary ROM devs. Bbedward is our kernel and primary app dev so he will be working on some of those things in parallel with the ROM effort. We will always support our ROM and keep it refreshed and keep the users satisfied. One thing too that I want to get one thing clear, we are not about making money. We are a team of android enthusiasts that really love Android. It's fun for us. I am relatively new to android development myself. I start started doing ROM development in July and its addicting.
Dustin: Another huge point, you will not see us begging for donations just to get something someone else doesn’t have yet. We have one link to our team, one and one only. Not individuals as you will see a pick and choose on many OP's out there.
Mike: Yes, any donations we receive are distributed amongst the team equally.
Mike: But in the end, it’s really about making good products and having fun. We have a pretty aggressive list of deliverables for Beta 2 and Beta 3, Beta 1 was just to whet people’s appetite!
Josh: Our ROM will be dynamically integrated with content from our site, so you don’t have to wait till the next release to get true information; this is going to go for a lot of aspects
Blue: All the code we have used from CM and others are currently being re-written and updated with additional features.
Max: Mike, you said you just started Android development in July. Did you learn coding then or do you have a background? This goes for the others too.
Mike: Yeah, I have been in IT for 15 years, specifically my background is in software development and architecture. So learning Android development was just another skill to add to the ever growing list.
Josh: Yes I do. I have 15 years in IT as well. Software Development, Solutions Architecture, IT Security. I started out with Savaged-Zen back in the day then took a break then came back to work on CNA, then Liquid.
Dustin: I have about 4 yrs under my belt in modifying ROMs that started with the Windows Mobile Touch Pro. I started in Photoshop and Public Relations in that time era with MightyROM on PPC Geeks. I do not have the intensive code background as some of my team, but a lot in the public’s eye, and on the creative side! This also makes our team work, because we have done a great job in separated our roles that each and every one of them are important.
Mike: Dustin is a machine! He has done a fantastic job for us on PR and his Boot Animation came out great! Especially since it was his first one.
Max: So say I am a complete Android noob that isn't currently running your ROM. You each have one feature to show off to convince me to run your ROM. What is it?
Josh: Stability and battery life.
Mike: I have always been a fan of options and customization, but there is a balance. We are listening to our users feedback and prioritizing and consolidating the feature requests to go for the low hanging fruit. But I doubt this ROM will ever go into something that has every possible feature.
Max: What environment do you guys ideally like to develop in?
Josh: Rdp'd to a server from work in my cube, or at home in my office or in my bed with a crappy laptop that now runs Mint 13. I code in SSH; I don’t use eclipse to build things.
Mike: I like coding to music (nothing overly distracting), and generally favor lower ambient lighting that my home office has. Occasionally I'll sit back in the easy chair with my laptop watching T.V. I run Mint 13 Cinnamon, and prefer Eclipse.
Dustin: I now use Mint 13 as Mike helped me set up my environment in VMware to help me sync our code and themes.
Max: Very cool. I always love to hear about people's coding preferences. Everyone is different. Last question, guys. What were your guys' first Android phones?
Josh: Evo 4G.
Dustin: Evo 4G.
Mike: My first one was an Incredible. I gave [the Incredible] to my wife a month later when the Droid X was released, then bought a Thunderbolt , and then got a Gnex.
Max: At least there is a happy ending. That’s it guys! Thanks for sitting down to talk to me!
And there you have it. Keep an eye out for the Android Developer Alliance out in the forums with their AffinitySERIES ROM. You can try the first beta now on the VZW Galaxy Nexus, the GSM Galaxy Nexus, and the Nexus 7! If you have tried it, let us know your experience in the comments.
About The AuthorMax Moss
Max took the dive into the Android scene back when he exchanged his Motorola Razr for an OG Droid back in 2010. From there, he started avidly keeping up with all of the latest Android news and development. However, it wasn't until later that year when he got a Droid X that he really started to get into the ROMing scene. His first ROM, FlyX by Birdman, still holds a special place in his heart.
Last year, he started his own Android blog, Android Allies. This went well for a while, but now Android Allies is inactive and Max devotes his Android writing to good ol' RootzWiki. Now, with Galaxy Nexus in pocket and Nexus 7 in hand, he strives to bring all the newest ROM news straight to the readers.