The greatest part of the Android platform is the fact that it is opensource. Anyone can come in and manipulate it according to their needs. It’s a true community project, free from the corporate input of the brand. It also makes it easy for developers to create truly innovative applications.
There are two options for developing new Android apps. Currently, there’s a tool from Google Labs which allows you to make apps. We wouldn’t recommend this for now. It’s still in Beta and it’s full of bugs which are still being addressed.
The Android Software Development Kit (SDK) is by far the best option. You literally use building blocks of code and other creative options to make your apps in a drag-and-drop environment. It means you don’t have to have lots of coding knowledge to enter the world of apps.
Preparing Your Computer
If this is your first foray into Android app development, you won’t have the right tools already installed on your computer. Let’s assume youâre using Windows. Install the Java Development Kit and Eclipse IDE.
You must install them in this order. Eclipse will check for the Java Development Kit once you start it up. If it can’t find the kit it will refuse to install it. Itâs reliant on the same files in the same directory. Download the Android SDK once both of these programs have been installed.
Getting to the Platform
Now you need to make sure you’re designing your app for the correct version of Android. To do this, select ‘Window’ from the menu and ‘Android SDK and AVD Manager’ from the dropdown box. Click on ‘Available Packages’ and tick the box next to the file name talking about repositories.
This will give you a list of different Android packages to install. Select only the latest version to avoid confusion later.
Creating Your App
Once you’ve installed everything you should be able to open your virtual device. This is an Android phone on your computer, so you can test your app in real time. Open a new project from the window bar and expand the source code. This is where you can type in all the code necessary to make your app.
For help with the code, you will need some knowledge of the way Android works. There are plenty of tutorials for this, though. Spend as long as you want and test often. To test your app, save the project and click run from the top menu bar. This will run the app as if you were testing it on your phone right now.
You’ll receive an error message if you’ve made a mistake. We’re always fans of testing after every section of code. It’s a real pain to write everything down only to discover there’s a problem somewhere. It makes it much harder to pinpoint the problem later on.
Start by trying to make a simple ‘Hello World’ app. This is the basic app everybody attempts to make when they use a new platform. You’ll find a number of variations to the ‘Hello World’ app which will teach you various other techniques.