Interview with Alex Naidis from AOSPA: The Future of Paranoid Android, Developer Advice and More!

Interview with Alex Naidis from AOSPA: The Future of Paranoid Android, Developer Advice and More!

Introduced to the Paranoid Android development scene in early 2016, Alex Naidis is now a part of the core leadership responsible for the project. Given AOSPA’s popularity and the sudden resurrection of development surrounding it, the community had got to have some questions. Read Alex Naidis answers to the community’s questions right here on the XDA Developers Portal!

Hey there, Alex. Would you please introduce yourself to the audience?

Hey, I’m Alex Naidis, also known as TheCrazyLex, and I’m one of the lead developers for Paranoid Android and a BSP developer for Nextbit OS along with a few other PA developers and the Razer and Nextbit team. I’ve been working with Android for 3 years and am very passionate about improving performance, stability, and user experience.

Could you also introduce your project, specifically, AOSPA to the enthusiasts reading this interview?

AOSPA is a custom operating system based on the Android Open Source Project and Qualcomm’s Code Aurora Forum, made to provide a stable and fast experience with useful features, which emphasize quality over quantity.

We have created unique and original features such as PIE, a gesture-based navigation key replacement; Color Engine, a system that allows you to change the primary and accent colors throughout the interface; Accidental Touch; and Pocket Lock.

What happened to the original team working on PA?

Many, such as Carlo, Arz, Evan, and Aaron are still around and actively working on PA whenever they can.  As with all free and open source projects, others simply no longer have the time to dedicate to it anymore.

There seems to be a good chunk of the community that’s still asking for features like Hover/Peek in newer versions of the ROM. Could you please explain why those features can’t be included into the ROM anymore?

We feel that certain features that we made in the past have been replaced by features in AOSP.  Hover was replaced by Heads Up, Peek was replaced by Ambient Display.  We try not to duplicate the work of AOSP, but instead to add to it.

While we’re continuing with the introductory phase of the interview, could you please explain the partnership (if any) AOSPA has with Razer?

Our relationship with Nextbit started when Nextbit, commented on our release post for Android Marshmallow on Google+ and asked us if we could support the Robin.

The result was very positive, so we agreed to extend our collaboration/partnership

We work together with the Razer team to upgrade Nextbit OS on the Robin to the latest Android releases, improve performance, increase efficiency, fix bugs, and implement new features.

How did you start with Android development?

I was unhappy with what the Android flavors by OEMs provided and decided that I want to create something new which improves on top of the experience provided by the OEMs. In particular I was disappointed by the general performance and “smoothness” that were provided.

I believed that the software was not even close to using the full potential that the hardware had. Even today, with my work on Paranoid Android and Nextbit OS, I am still slightly specialized towards power management.

Why was there a sudden halt in builds for AOSPA after the KK/LP phase?

In 2015, many of our key members were hired by OnePlus and moved to China to work on Oxygen OS, so some contributed less to the project, while others did not have time to contribute at all.  The remaining members worked to upgrade PA to Marshmallow, but with significantly less resources, it took longer than before. In early 2016, new members including me joined and we are happy that we could deliver a solid Paranoid Android Marshmallow release, even if it was late.

How and when did you join AOSPA?

In early 2016, I found a kernel source tree on GitHub for my phone at the time: the OnePlus One.  I contacted the developer, Jake Weinstein (xboxfanj), via private message on XDA to ask him some questions about it. We began talking about what we were looking for in an Android ROM and found that we had similar ideas.

After some back and forth discussion, he invited me to join AOSPA, a great project that I thought was dead, but was being revived for Android Marshmallow. I was very excited by the opportunity. Over time, I started doing more and more for the project and ended up where I am now, as a part of the core leadership team. Also, it was and is an amazing learning experience to work together with other talented developers.

What advice do you have for the people starting out in development?

Find something you’re passionate about and do it.  It’s easy to get burnt out otherwise, but if you really care about what you’re doing, you won’t mind the long hours and hard work. Also, use your resources and work with experienced people who can help you learn how things work.

There was certain news about members of your team striking a collaborative deal with OnePlus as well. What was that all about?

Many of our key members were hired by OnePlus to create an operating system for the OnePlus One and future devices after Cyanogen OS was no longer supported.

That operating system is Oxygen OS which is shipping on all OnePlus devices.  We have a great relationship with OnePlus via Adam Krisko, the Developer Relations Specialist as OnePlus is actively fostering the relationship with all developers, based on the betterment of code for all.

What have you planned for the future of AOSPA?

One of the areas we have been focusing on is providing faster updates and this is something we will continue to work at.  We will continue to deliver original and ground-breaking features and a polished user experience and are looking forward to the Android O release later this year. Finally, we are always looking for new developers and anyone interested can contact me via any channel if they think they would be a good addition to the team.

What is one misconception people have when it comes to AOSPA

Many people are convinced that the team which was working on the older releases of AOSPA (Lollipop and earlier) completely stepped back and was replaced by a new team. As previously mentioned that’s simply not the case.

How many people are currently working on AOSPA’s code? We’d love an estimate since the community constantly complains about slow builds.

We have about fifteen people on our team working on our platform and [we] understand that the community would like our updates to be quicker, however, it takes time to make software that meets our internal quality standards because Paranoid Android is a project that we do in our spare time and work, life, and family come first.  We would rather not release at all than release something we’re not proud to put our names on.

Are you planning to go all-in with Android O and create innovative features just like KK?

Many of our features from Android KitKat were incorporated in some form into later Android releases, such as Heads Up and Ambient Display.  As the Android platform has matured, there have been less “holes” in functionality and we will never add features just for the sake of adding features.  Our goal is to add value to the Android user experience wherever we can.

What is the toughest part of leading AOSPA for you?

Time is one of our biggest challenges as a team.  Many of our team members have full-time jobs or school and we live in different time zones, so finding time to work together can be tough, as depending on the time of day, the person you need to talk to may be asleep or busy.

How has your experience with AOSPA helped you in real life?

I mostly work on software projects, so having even more experience in software development is always a good thing.  AOSPA also helped me improve my soft-skills, such as the ability to work in and lead a team. Actively managing a team 20 hours a day (yes I don’t sleep much) helped me a lot in that area.  Furthermore, without my experience at AOSPA, I would have never had the great opportunity to work with the Razer team on Nextbit OS.

Why haven’t certain elements of the ROM been open-sourced?

Actually, I’d like to answer this question with the help of an announcement we’re set to air soon. Keep an eye on out Google+ account and the XDA Developers Portal (i.e- right here)!

About author


Designer interested in all things programming. Comp. Sci. student.