Android Influencer: Joaquim Verges on making the official Twitter app better for Android

Twitter's newest Android engineer discusses his adventurous journey as an Android developer.

joaquim verges

Remember Falcon Pro, the famed Twitter app that became known in the Android community for hitting the Twitter token wall? The man behind it is Joaquin Verges, who was just recently hired at Twitter to work on the official app for Android. I caught up with Verges to hear about what he’s up to at his new job, what Twitter has in store for its Android app, and what he’s planning to do with Falcon Pro.

Greenbot: It’s nice to meet you. What’s your job at Twitter?

Verges: I joined as an Android engineer. I work on all parts of the Android client. Since my speciality is user interface and user-facing stuff, I’ve been helping a lot with polishing the app, adding in animations…and just trying to push the quality up and make the Android Twitter app what it should be.

Greenbot: Why did Twitter hire you?

Verges: I have quite some experience on Android.

Before Twitter, I actually came to Silicon Valley [and was] hired by a startup in Palo Alto called Upthere. I spent three years with them doing their Android client.

Before that, I was at a mobile agency in Paris. But, on the side, I also make my own apps. I guess that’s how I got a bit of authority in the Android world, and that’s how I got the job at that startup, and that also helped me get hired [at Twitter] since I have quite a bit of experience with Twitter apps. I built my own Twitter app, Falcon Pro. The first version was three years ago. I had the technical experience, I know the product, and I built a whole client myself, so I was a good candidate for Twitter.

Greenbot: Did you get hired to help overhaul the Twitter for Android app?

Verges: Right now, there’s a huge effort to make the Android app very unique in the Android sense. We’re actually thinking of our own little approach on Material Design. We’re working on bringing a pure Android feel to the Twitter app while respecting the brand, so it’s not at all a port of iOS. I was happily surprised: the feeling here is that no one here wants to do just a port of iOS.

Greenbot: I was under the impression the Twitter app for Android is merely a clone of the iPhone’s.

Verges: We’re different teams. We’re quite separated, actually. We have our own designers, our own engineers, our own product people, and that helps us define the app depending on the platform it’s running on.

Greenbot: Has the introduction of Material Design helped at all?

Verges: It helps the designers a lot. Having those nice specs in the Material Design guidelines helps provide some structure. I’m not gonna lie: we’re in the Silicon Valley and designers prefer to use iPhones, so they’re kind of biased. But I am actually pleased that quite a few designers here are starting to like Android more and more. In the stuff we’re working on, it’s definitely a different experience than what you would get on iOS.

Greenbot: I know you were the brains behind Falcon Pro. What’s happening to that? Are you still working on it?

Verges: I’m maintaining it, but there’s so much work to do here [at Twitter] and I’m enjoying myself so much doing it that I find less and less time to spend on Falcon. I’m committed to making it stable and usable how it is now. But in terms of new features, there’s just so much stuff coming out for the official Twitter client that I naturally get more excited working on that.

Greenbot: Are you a big Tweeter yourself?

Verges: I love Twitter. Twitter is the app I spend 90 percent of the time on when I pick my phone up. I just love the product. That’s how I met so many people in the community, that’s what got me the job here…I’ve met so many people arriving here through Twitter. That’s the way I could get in touch with people famous in the industry. I would have never reached those people before.

There’s that, and there’s also the content. Twitter for me is my interests. Facebook is my friends. And, maybe it’s different for everybody, I’m more interested in reading about my interests than what my friends are doing. If I want to get news on my industry, like Android and tech news, Twitter is the best source for it. The content is really good. I can reach people that I would never reach with other mediums, so that’s what made me love Twitter from the beginning.

At first, I was using TweetDeck on my phone on Android—I don’t know if you remember that. That was such a great app. It always stayed on my mind even after they shut it down. Back in the day, I used to say the Twitter app for Android is not the greatest. But I have some Android skills, so I thought I’d try to build my own. One thing led to another and now I’m here.

Greenbot: How long have you been an Android user?

Verges: I’ve been an Android user since….Donut? My first phone was …I was in my fourth year of engineering school, so I think 2009. Six years ago.

Greenbot: Do you remember what phone it was?

The phone was the Samsung I7500, which was the very, very, very first Samsung Galaxy. But they didn’t call it Galaxy, they called it i7500 because Samsung is so cool. It was running Donut 1.6 and I remember it was slow, so I started to look at the forums to see what I could do. That’s how I got into the XDA Forums and flashing ROMs and all that. That’s how I started loving it, and that’s when I wanted to start contributing.

Greenbot: If you could live with only one app besides the one that you work on, which would it be?

Verges: SwiftKey. I cannot live without that keyboard. 

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