I actually first met Dima face-to-face at our Portland retreat
in June 2018. It was great to see his excitement for diving right into the project and proving himself to the team. He even brought his lovely mother, Irina, along for his first trip to the US. We talked, ate, drank, and watched the July 4th fireworks. Dima felt confident in his ability and thought that by Christmas of 2018, we could release a stable version of 1SE, which we were already calling v3. It didn't sound completely crazy to me and I had full faith in Dima.
But I didn't think about the possibility that a new hire didn't want to let us down or fail in the eyes of his family. Saying "No, we shouldn't do that" isn't easy for someone who started yesterday. At first, we started to distract Dima with fixes for the existing version of the app –can we just quickly put this band-aid on a Drive bug? Oh, and this Play Services bug too!
Then we started moving the goal line for the v3 launch. New features came in, other features became bad features and went out. Dima was trying to carry the new app into the future while we kept one of his toes tied to the past. We're not a large software company with hundreds of developers; this was a massive undertaking for just one person. In the end, we handicapped him and missed the goal of the 2018 holiday release.
In the new year, we finally had to unhitch Dima from the old version and let him run. Our long-term goal is to be the trusted shepherd of our customer's memories. That means backing up 1SE onto our servers so we could provide quality support, have actual privacy control, and debug any sync issues we might run into. Going forward, Google Drive will not be used in 1SE in any fashion. Sadly, this also means we can't offer the ability to restore from a Drive backup. The same reasons why we decided to stop using Drive for backup apply to building out a way to restore from Drive in our new app. There's no way to know the status of how sync is going. GP prevents us from being able to confirm a backup's size or if it even exists. Fragmentation means inconsistent device support of GP, the bridge troll who controls access to Drive. It wasn't due to lack of effort – we tried to figure out a way to play nice with Drive for over a year. But with only one developer building Android, we had to make the difficult decision to focus on the future.
With that, Dima was given a clear list of requirements for v3. The rest of 2019 was a blur of endless testing, building account flows, our server integration, setting up in-app purchase support, QA-ing everything under the sun, and too many betas to count. Then, after months of work, while sitting in the Frankfurt airport on October 27th, Dima clicked a button. Sparks flew, servers rumbled, and we finally unleashed v3 to the masses. It took longer than expected, cost more than budgeted, but we launched it and it's beautiful. Oh, and it's our most stable Android version ever.