The "State of the Union address" is an annual speech presented by the President of the United States of America. If there would be a president of the United States of Developers, the following text would be the transcription of his annual speech of 2017.
Fred: Hi, Alexander! Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Would you mind telling our readers a bit about yourself and how you became an Android developer?
Alexander: My pleasure to help. The way I became an Android Developer was purely out of a passion to try and make a useful tool that would dramatically simplify the way we organize on Android. I had no idea about how challenging this goal would be, or how complicated the App business (and play store) is. But having used some of the so-called Top “Free” organizers from the Giant Corporations, I was a bit disappointed that they actually distracted me and slowed me down rather than make my life EZ. So I set about my long challenging journey of learning Java for about a year … and then eventually got into Android. But my App was purely a self-motivated project and something I wanted to do for the benefit of myself (first and foremost). I could not have imagined how popular EZ Notes would turn out to become because.
Fred: How did you come up with the idea to create your latest app “EZ Notes”?
Alexander: The idea for creating my own organizer came to me as I noticed that during the week, many times I needed to go shopping, and I didn’t have a fast and very easy way to simply speak to my smartphone and have it take my voice notes on-the-fly and hands-free. Even the top organizers like Evernote and Google Keep (as complex as they have become), could not help me achieve this simple yet important need. So I realized that such a tool (if I could work hard to bring to reality), would help many people save time from their weekly mobile tasks (like shopping … and other quick tasks we find ourselves needing to do in today’s Mobile World). To this day I find it ironic that Mobile Apps are really supposed to help make us mobile on our mobile devices. Yet, even the top mainstream organizers from giant corporations still require too much interaction and distraction when we time is so precious for people. These other organizers shove users inside their editor every single time, even if all the user really needs is a way to take some rapid voice notes without any extra interaction. The extra steps required by many other “top rated” apps, to create, save and delete notes, really frustrate users by wasting their time and slowing down their mobility (fast) needs.
So I had this vision where I saw myself speaking freely without the need to do anything extra, and achieving a form of ultimate mobility that I had not seen with any other technology. I worked for many months to “re-invent” the voice transcription process and decided not to follow the conventions that were seen in mainstream apps out there. I think this “out-of-the-box” mentality and approach to my thinking was the single best decision for my software because ultimately I discovered that my own vision for helping people Save time and resources while organizing, turned out to be more useful for those who needed a solid practical note-taking app for their Android.
Fred: 20 years ago, we used memo pads to make notes, now we have our apps for that. What do you think will a typical “to-do list” look like in 20 years?
Alexander: Technology has certainly come a long way in the past 20 years or so. Especially with the invention of the so-called “smartphone”, information became available to people wherever and whenever they wanted. This has been a transforming age for humanity for sure. As for how I think things will look in the future, I am afraid that I don’t have a crystal ball because new breakthroughs and innovations are constantly coming from every corner of the planet. But my intuition gives me some hints that I can share.
Judging from the way internet connection is becoming faster and faster, and more readily available … I see more and more of our daily appliances and household items acquiring extremely small chipsets and radio receivers that will be implanted into all of our devices. Soon we will see everything from our toaster, our oven, our refrigerator, our music ülayers and our cars, becoming “smarter” and “smarter.” They will be able to provide us just-in-time information that will be precisely relevant to that device. So our toasters for example will send out a notification that your bread is now ready and you need to put in the next one. Our refrigerators will have sensors that can detect shopping items and determine when something is almost empty, and remind us to go and buy more orange juice or milk. They may even be able to tell us which closest store will offer that item for the least cost! So our Refrigerator could give us a lot of helpful reminders, so that we can know exactly and what items we are running out of. There may even be other critical device information like if something is over-heating, or if too much of my power is being consumed, etc… so that we can repair our device before it burns or goes out of order and costs us much more to replace.
So yes, I believe that all sorts of crazy information like that will become available as the field of Artificial Intelligence, and mass amounts of information on the internet become available to us. We already see how much smarter cars are becoming … when it comes to safety and reporting to us what sorts of problems (service maintenance issues) our car needs. These innovations have taken the guesswork out of life and enabled us to focus our time being productive in other ways. I believe this trend will continue, and more and more information will find it’s way into every conceivable human useable device. I just hope that we don’t start looking like robots as we begin using and wearing such devices in the coming years. Because human beings are already separated much too much from each other… and as we begin to incorporate more technologies into our lives, I am afraid of seeing us look more and more bionic, and less and less Human (biological). So not all changes and suggestions will be useful, safe, or necessarily good for humanity. But the consumer market demand will naturally (as always) dictate which technologies make our lives EZ, and which are actually detrimental or otherwise an impedance on our freedoms, quality of life, and sense of autonomy. I really doubt that people aspire to become almost like living robots, being told how and when to do everything. But if we have robots that live alongside us, helping us (which I am sure will happen)… that could be a useful thing.
Fred: On LinkedIn, you say that you love “technologies that can do amazing things to simplify our lives”. On the other hand, there are many people who think that the world is getting more and more complicated these days. Let’s bring that together: Tell us one thing, that was actually much easier in the past and one technology that has simplified our lives like no other technology before.
Alexander: I really like this question a lot because it is a very perceptive and good one. Yes, as mentioned earlier … some changes are useful and great, while others not so much perhaps. I would say as far as one technology that seems to have been easier to use in decades past, would be our vehicles. 🙂 I know this sounds very childish perhaps and silly to those who like gadgets etc. But Iassure you that from my own experience with my families (aunts, uncles, friends, parents) etc… They miss the days when cars had so many less “bells and whistles” … Like key-less start, or autonomous driving, or all these large multi-media display screens and navigation information that can be so distracting to a driver.
Personally, I think there should be a limit to how “autonomous” cars become … because it’s easier for us (morally) … to live with human mistakes, than it is to a bad program or faulty technology that caused the death of a loved one in a car accident. I mean if a driver makes a sad mistake … at least we know it was not caused by a giant corporation. That’s kind of how I look at that … And like I say, I think sometimes inventors and engineers, end up over-engineering a product and making it actually more scary and dangerous for people.
For countless decades, man has driven his own car without too much difficulty. Can we imagine if all cars were using the internet (or satellites) to drive us around, and that service went out?! What then? Would all the cars then go spinning out of control and kill everyone? This is an example of stupid over-engineering in my opinion… and such technologies will never be trusted by everyone.
Already even self driving cars that Google has been experimenting with, have come into a lot of problems making accurate decisions in busy cities with lots of input and variables to calculate.
We human beings have evolved over millions of years and our circuitry is much much better than a program that thinks in zeros and ones (on and off, or true and false states). We have to remember and remind ourselves that everything in software comes down to a true or false. But what if the conclusion of a true is actually a false, or the conclusion of a false should actually be a true? These are mistakes that can cost countless lives, destruction, and money to our lives.
Having said the above, one technology that I believe will be with us for a long long time, and will continue to enrich and enhance our lives is the internet. Without a doubt, very few people in today’s world can live without internet in some way, shape or form. The amount of great information that we rely on to help us on the internet is simply amazing. The entire course of human history, medicine, technology, and just about anything you can dream of can be looked up instantly online and we can study and benefit from it. So I believe the internet (which is still a relatively modern technology) has revolutionized our lives for the better… and I am greatly in love with the Internet for its use to help educate people, and help businesses thrive and bring poor third world countries into the international circle of trade, information, and economy.
So yes, I believe the internet has (and will continue to) be the king of all technologies that have helped mankind make life far better than imaginable. And I believe this great reservoir of rich useful information will continue to give rise to countless more inventions that will transform the way we do things. Examples are medicine, robotics, transportation, trade, predictive analysis, economics, mathematics, astrophysics and much more!
Fred: Finally, our off-the-wall question from the Daikon Media surprise bag: If you could go back in time and change history, what would you change? Why?
Alexander: Great Questions. I suppose if I thought hard enough, there would be many things I wish I could change (going back in history). One of them being the invention of the modern internet … long ago, for the benefit of mankind. But technology is progressively built on earlier technology, so it’s not fair to say I wish we could go back 100 years and have had the Internet.
So I suppose if there was one thing I could change with modern technology would be in the way the Google Play Store operates. 🙂 This sounds funny but there are many things about the way the Play Store operates, that make it very frustrating for us developers. For one thing, Google introduced this silly concept of “free” Apps (and in-app advertising or data mining as ways to make up for the free App). If I had it my way, I would say all apps should be of high enough quality, to be worthy of a paid price. Speaking of Quality, I think the Google Play Store has way, way too many apps that are either useless or simply don’t offer enough features to make them even worthy of being up on the Play Store.
I hear the Apple Store has a more stringent requirement before they allow Apps on the Apple App store … and I wish Google would do the same thing. And yet, every day we see more and more apps of poor quality being released to the Google Play Store. This is a shame. And while giant corporations like Google and Evernote do actually put out very high-quality products … they end up making them FREE! This has many ill effects for the independent developers (like myself) who are struggling to make a living from their hard work.
Firstly, by making an App free, you give the false pretense to the market that an app is truly free and easy to create. But nothing could be further from the truth. Google and plenty of other corporations still need to generate revenue from their Apps. And since many of them do not use in-app advertising, they end up using dangerous permissions (invasive privacy-threatening permissions) to things like our camera, our microphone, our contacts, the music we buy, the search terms we enter, our movies we purchase, and even our daily whereabouts using our GPS sensor information. All these sorts of information are “data mined” (collected) from countless so-called “free” customers … and then sold for big dollars to advertisers and other corporations who need that statistical information to manipulate society. I think this is wrong and immoral… and that’s why with EZ Notes, it was one of my goals to try and reverse the negative and immoral effects of this trend.
The way I have done this is by not collecting ANY personal information from anyone! EZ Notes does not acquire ANY dangerous permissions, and easily passes the top android security apps like Dcentral 1 (by John MacAfee) … and I am very proud of that. So with EZ Notes, we do not collect gain exclusive control to people’s camera, their microphone, their friends contact list, their movies, music, nor their GPS location. Furthermore, I eliminate the process of online synchronization entirely, in favor of using my EZ Export (which utilizes Google Drive and other services to allow a user control of how many, when, and which notes they wish to share). With Apps like Evernote and Google Keep, your notes always belong to other people. And I can’t understand or believe why so many people are okay with that notion (not to mention using an app that is many times more complicated and distracting to use than my EZ Notes). So as I mentioned earlier, with EZ Notes, I did not want to follow all the so-called “Normal” conventions because I found them immoral and detrimental to our sense of self respect, autonomy, freedom, and privacy.
All of these things have unfortunately been lost on today’s app market, and it’s up to us as consumers to support products like EZ Notes, which help eliminate such pain points. And we also need to demand a more fair price for apps, so hard working developers can make a living from years of their hard work. When the typical price of a software product can be anywhere from 40 to well over 100 dollars, I am not sure how the average consumer (let alone the giant corporations)… expect us developers to be able to make a living by being expected to make our apps virtually free. I hold the giant corporations and their monopolistic and unfair practices accountable for the struggles of so many developers like myself. They not only supposedly make their apps “Free” (which if people knew, are NOT free)… but they also often have unfair agreements with cellular phone carriers and such services … to have them pre-install apps like Google Keep or Evernote, on every single smartphone that is sold.
This way, they ensure complete dominance on the Play Store. Because the way they have skewed and designed their Play Store algorithms for app discovery (ranking)… is completely based on how many people are installing an app, and how many 5 star reviews and comments an app receives. And its plain to see that with such a “cleverly unfair” system of Monopoly, other developers and products would never be able to compete and generate income for other developers who have their own products they are trying to show to the world. It’s a very sad situation … and I hope someday in my lifetime, we will see this trend reverse, and that Google would make all apps paid. Of course they will never do this because then they would lose their monopoly and complete unfair control of their own store.