Nov 9, 2017

Our Mobile Team’s trip to Prague for AppParade

The Kiwi.com mobile app was awarded second place by the audience at AppParade in Prague. DancingTrump was the winner by a slight margin — proving that it really is impossible to beat Trump in a vote.

The theatre hall was packed at Bio Oko — an old cinema in one of the trendiest corners of Prague. Our Mobile Team took up about 20 seats. Almost everyone went along to show their support for Karel Souček, the Head of our Mobile Department.

The whole crowd was drinking beer and late summer cocktails. In spite of the loud music and noisy atmosphere, Karel seemed focused with a healthy dose of nerves. As the tenth to go, he had a lot of time to steel himself.

Karel’s presentation went well and the audience clearly enjoyed it. He spoke about the road we’ve travelled from the old Skypicker app to the new Kiwi.com one. He also revealed our end goal of making it the best travel app in the world and how our new features —Explore Destination, Explore Flight and Explore Airport —are taking us in that direction.

Hours earlier, during a short stop on the journey from Brno, he was telling jokes as usual and then he explained why he decided to bring the whole team to the event.

“I used to attend AppParade regularly and thought it would be fun to take the whole team. It’s a remarkable event and a great opportunity for team building!” — Karel Souček

And it was an excellent team building exercise. Not just for the members of the Mobile Team but also for our position at Kiwi.com as a whole. We started out as an external company — Trinerdis — but we became an integral part of the business and were absorbed by the mothership in April this year to officially become Kiwis ourselves.

Meeting the Prague team

Currently, our mobile developers are getting to know the particular teams of the company better — mapping and shadowing what they do. That’s why we met up with our Prague team who are busy developing our customer support chatbot. They’re also working on the frontend of our customer support program named Balkan. The backend team is located in Belgrade.

“We are two different teams, from both a working and a geographical perspective, so it was interesting to sync with the Prague team in this way.” — Václav Balák Mobile Team Product Manager.

Shared challenges

Apart from exchanging the details of our projects, we learnt that we share some of the same tech challenges.

“We both iterate very quickly and experiment a lot, so we sometimes need to change something in the API, which of course makes it difficult for keeping backwards compatibility, especially given the workload of the guys in the backend team.” — Václav.

Instead of version controlling every single call, they search for more effective ways to adjust the format of responses from the server, preferably without needing any work from the backend team.

GraphQL is an example of a helpful tool for solving this problem. The Prague team is experimenting with it and they shared its advantages with our developers.

Getting feedback, having fun

Last but not least, we got some valuable feedback on the app and our newly released features with destination, flight and airport information.

“The guys from Prague know the app as users so they could comment on the technology and the UX at the same time. For us it was a great chance to explain why we do what we do.” — Václav.

There was another round of presentations later in the evening at Kino Oko and we were awarded second place in the public vote. We were very close to winning, but the main thing is that we all had a great time and we came out feeling like winners.

Written by Janka, Project and Team Manager of the Mobile Team

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