I told Shadow Wizard I'd respond to this last week and I've been meaning to every day since it was posted, so here goes.
TL;DR: Work has not stopped on the Android app nor will it. It's definitely slowed down, but it's not stopped.
The Mobile team is presently just two people: Me, and Brian. Brian, is a machine. I on the other hand, am easily distracted. I'm the team lead, but over here that's a job title that means you should still be programming the vast majority of your time.
As I mentioned in the last related post that made me :( I've been working on a lot of different stuff recently. Over the last 3-6 months I've done a lot on our Careers product (now Stack Overflow Jobs) alongside work with our internal tools team and with our marketing team. That's left very little time to work on fun new features for android, which sucks.
The changes that have been made in the Android app recently are just bug fixes (or incorporating new APIs), which is really a disservice to 100k+ active users of the app. I really want to work on new things in the app, but every second of free time I've found during which I've finally been able to open up Android Studio again, crashes and meta bug reports take higher priority over new features (as they should).
The obvious suggested solution here is to hire more people onto the team or get a full time Android dev, but that just doesn't fit into any of our goals right now. The majority of the company (and frequently, me included) are working on big new changes: Documentation, Teams, Jobs and Developer Story are all things that will hopefully change the future of our company, so it makes sense for all priorities to be based around them.
We might end up hiring another full time mobile developer later in 2016 (I really want to do an SO app that brings in all the new features we're adding in addition to our current SE app), but mobile is just not a company wide priority right now.
Hopefully that kind of explains what's going on, I definitely don't want passionate users of my baby and the reason I'm at this company to feel neglected, but it's been a really weird balancing act across my "roles" in the last few months.
If you have any questions please let me know, if you want a faster response feel free to ping me in the iOS Beta room.
December 12, 2016.
Hi! Almost a year later. I woke up this morning to a push notification from this comment:
(Reason for unacceptance) We don't find reasonable action taken by SE yet after a year. – Pandya 6 hours ago
And it's very correct. I owe you an explanation. It's an awful feeling to see the iOS app get more and more features while the Android app doesn't get any updates. I'm sorry about that. I really, like I'm truly honestly sorry about that. It's an awful thing to do to my app's users.
Since it's almost the end of 2016, and since I loved Gabe's year end wrap-up post on PT SO, let me try to fill you in on this year from my perspective.
A year ago, in this post, I said:
I really want to do an SO app that brings in all the new features we're adding in addition to our current SE app
We've been working on that. Here's what it looks like, from a mock-up*:
* I have an Android build. It is in alpha testing right now. I can't use it to take a picture for you right now despite trying for the last 30 minutes because our API has decided our office is making too many calls and rate limited it, so all the app's API calls die. Ugh.
I'm really excited about this app. We've been working on it for most of 2016. The first version should launch early 2017. Brian and I spent a lot of time before starting on the apps separating the "core" logic of the Stack Exchange app out from it, so that we can have a shared base for our SE and SO apps to live off. This means as we make improvements and add features to the SO app, some will directly transfer over to the SE app, some will require a little bit more work to work in both apps.
The main reason why I'm excited about the Stack Overflow app is that its presence helps align our company's current most important priorties and goals with what my team is doing.
When my team first started, our goal was to make a Stack Exchange application that transformed 9-5 Stack Overflow users into members of the wider Stack Exchange network at large. This was a very good goal for the time, and I think we made decent progress on it (and still are).
Currently, the majority of the goals of the company and the company's resources are being spent on the big features I discuss in the earlier version of this answer. Until we started working on the Stack Overflow app, Docs/Jobs/DevStory didn't have any sort of mobile story. We couldn't just jam a Stack Overflow only feature into a Stack Exchange app. They are beginning to have some mobile story now.
Before you ask "Why don't you just hire another Android dev"....
When we weren't well-aligned with the companies goals, it made no sense to expand the team. It'd be doing a disservice to the company (a new hire means more $$ being spent on mobile, but mobile wasn't helping make the company $$ or move towards its goals), it'd be doing a disservice to the person (I'd be setting them up to join an environment where the best case scenario is they work on a project that's not vital to the company, or they leave my team and join another project) and it'd be doing a disservice to me. Now that we're more aligned, if we get some validation that our current ideas and planning is correct and it will lead to good results, I hope to expand the team.
Obviously Stack Overflow isn't a dying company. We're doing pretty well. However, I have worked at many dying companies and one huge thing I learned throughout the process of seeing my start-ups run out of money and close doors is the idea of prioritization.
If my team sits down and makes the most polished best usable most features Stack Exchange application, does it really matter if it doesn't actually help move the needle on the company's major goals? If only ~10,000 people use it, when the website and mobile-web get 10x (at least) that? I'd kill for my baby having 10,000 unique users on iOS and Android each, if I was still at a tiny startup. At a company of this scale, it's a sign that we might be hunting down the wrong rabbit hole.
It definitely matters from the perspective of giving users the best experience possible. This is a very noble goal and one I really think I am doing a bad job of delivering on on Android right now.
It's very difficult for me to personally balance wanting to work on fun Android features and "I have to actually sit down and figure out if my team as an allocation of resources of the entire engineering staff is doing our part so that in our major goals the final outcome we can sit down and point at a % and say this is directly attributed to my team and outweights us being a % of the entire engineering staff".
Speaking less as PM more as a dev. FWIW the Android app has gotten some work done this year. We allow Google SmartLock login now, and I'm hoping our Android app can be a launch partner for some new Google APIs that I will talk more about once they are public.
Consider that the end of the post from the professional Team Lead Stack Overflow Employee Diamond Moderator on Meta perspective.
I understand that no matter what if I participate on Meta I will be participating as a Stack Overflow Employee, but if you'll allow me to speak a bit more personally...
- I have chronic depression and anxiety issues. I went through a nine month long battle with depression in 2015. I started getting out of the slump towards the end of the year, but then a cruel twist of fate resulted in me getting daily death threats from some of the people I relied on for support.
- In March of this year, I moved from New York City (where we are headquartered) to Denver, CO (where we have a small office almost entirely made out of sales people). This experience has been pretty positive in the long run, but the first 3-4 months after I made the move were teetering on the doors of depression again. So, I decided to forgive lack of efficiency at work to focus on making sure I got out of bed every day and didn't fall back into the pit. I ended up spending most of my awake hours playing around with Rust and React instead of Android, since it was more fun and the only way I could convince myself to get on a computer and code.
- One of the reasons for the move to Denver was to be around the sales people in this office. I'm the only technical person in the office. I'm doing a lot of 1-on-1 and big group training and help sessions right now, answering all the techincal questions the sales reps have. This is something I really enjoy doing, but obviously it also cuts into the time I have to juggle all the roles I'm supposed to have (keep in mind I'm the only Android dev, the PM of the team, the person that talks to other companies that want us to get in on new APIs and become launch partners, etc etc etc).
So yeah. I hope I don't do another update on this post in 12 months explaining why we still haven't done anything on Android. I'm really hopeful that we're finally working on the right ideas, and not just the right ideas but the right and best-for-right-now-and-the-company-itself ideas.