So, You Want To Develop Android Apps? Here’s How To Learn
After so many years, one would think that the mobile market is now saturated with every app imaginable to man – but that’s not the case. There are plenty of niches that still need to be filled and even current markets with several leading apps can still fall behind in quality. All that to say: there’s always room for new Android apps, and with a little bit of know-how, you could be the next developer to create a smash hit.
Before you begin on your Android development journey, there are a few prerequisites that you need to fulfill.
Java Experience: Android development is mostly done in Java. It’s not a difficult language to learn, per se, but knowing how it applies to Android development can be confusing without a firm foundation in the language. Android Java is not exactly standard Java, but learning standard Java will make it much easier for you to pick up Android development.
XML Experience: Knowing XML can be useful in a number of tech-related fields and Android is no exception. In particular, XML files make it easier to declare UI elements in the apps you create. Past experience is a big plus.
Development Environment: Most Android developers recommend using Eclipse as the development environment for your coding sessions. You’ll also need to install the Android SDK before you can begin making apps. Fortunately, Android provides a single package that includes Eclipse, Android SDK, and related tools. Be aware that in the near future, most Android development will move away from Eclipse toward Android Studio, so you may want to look into that as well.
Perseverance: Lastly, learning the ins and outs of the Android development toolkit is going to take time. Learning how to create a quality app is going to take even more time. Don’t rush. Keep at it and focus your mind on the long term. If you don’t, you’ll be frustrated and want to give up.
The best place to begin this list would be the official Android developer site. They have everything you could ever need for your app-developing journey, including the IDEs and tools mentioned above for getting started. And seeing as how this site is run by the actual maintainers of the Android SDK, it makes sense that their information would be the best and most up-to-date.
For beginners, this site has a comprehensive training section that ranges from setting up your environment and building your first Android app all the way to distributing a finalized app and making money on the Play Store. For advanced users, the API guides and references will always be there to help you find the most efficient solutions to your app-development troubles.
My favorite part about this site is that they don’t just teach you how to do things, but how to do them well. There are four training sections for “best practices” regarding interface design, user input, performance, and security – absolute essentials for anyone wanting to learn Android development.
Tuts+ (AKA TutsPlus) is a great resource for tutorials in general, but their Android section has tons of great information for newbie and veteran developers alike. Just browse through the Android listings and you’ll find over 150 development tutorials that have been posted over the past three years.
It’s wonderful that Tuts+ categorizes each tutorial according to technology (Android SDK in this case) as well as difficulty and estimated completion time. These tutorials are all text-based, but they are professionally formatted and include loads of screenshots to help you in case of confusion.
I mentioned before that you’ll want to know Java and XML before jumping into Android development. Well, the Android 101 series of tutorials on Tuts+ starts you off with an introduction to Java before tackling the Android SDK. They really know what they’re doing and they’ve done a fantastic job in easing the learning curve.
Marakana Android Bootcamp Series 2012
Marakana is a company that provides training to IT professionals in various fields and their expertise really shows when you take a look at some of their offerings. On the Android front, they’ve released a series of videos called the Android Bootcamp Series and they’ve proven to be some of the most helpful Android development videos currently out there.
The videos were recorded during a five-day live training camp for Android development, so these aren’t your run-of-the-mill YouTube videos with passable knowledge on certain subjects – rather, these are real teachings that have been taught in actual seminar environments by professionals for professionals.
Each lesson is of variable length: some only taking thirty minutes to consume while others can take up to three hours. It’s amazing that Marakana released five days’ worth of teaching for free, so take advantage of it while you can. However, before you begin, you should have a good grasp of Java since it is one of their prerequisites for the course.
Vogella is a website dedicated to the acquisition and distribution of knowledge for Java, Android, and Eclipse. They have a series of tutorials for Android development and they are highly professional, lined with tons of screenshots and advice to get you started as quickly as possible without skipping over important details.
These tutorials begin from the very bottom, such as setting up your Android development environment and learning basic Android development concepts, to intermediate topics like processing XML, designing advanced interfaces, and playing with device sensors. The quantity isn’t as large as the other resources in this article, but the quality can’t be ignored.
If you learn best by video and the Bootcamp series from Marakana wasn’t enough for you then you may want to consider the Android development videos on Lynda.com, a website with thousands of different video courses across hundreds of different tech-related subjects. Lynda.com’s Android section is home to eleven video courses that are each somewhere between two and seven hours long, resulting in over 40 hours of quality education.
One video takes you through the process of building a note-taking app from scratch. Another video provides seven hours of the essential Java training that you’ll need. Yet another video tackles the subject of Flash game development on Android. They’re all worth a watch and Lynda has proven to be a vast resource for learning.
Price: $25 per month subscription. There is an option for a seven-day free trial. If you subscribe, make sure you take advantage of the price and check out the other educational subjects on the site.
This is a great time for learning how to develop apps for Android. There are more resources available out there than at any time before, and you can access most of those resources without ever paying a cent. And it doesn’t matter which method you prefer – written guides, video tutorials, recorded lectures, etc. – because there’s enough variety.
Not mentioned in the article is MIT App Inventor, which is a tool provided by MIT that turns the app development process into a visual one. It’s great for non-coders and beginners, though it does sacrifice a lot of the flexibility and control that comes with creating an app from scratch. Check out our guide to MIT App Inventor if you’re interested.
Just remember that it won’t be an overnight process. It takes a good deal of time to learn and internalize the necessary concepts, so don’t give up. Keep at it and one day you may have a market-breaking app that everyone loves.
Image Credits: Android Phone Via Shutterstock