How to Develop And Make An Android App

in Android Apps

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Learning how to develop an Android app using all the readily available tools from Android can be a fulfilling and financially rewarding experience.

Developing Android AppsFor enterprising people wanting to know how to develop an Android app now the timing would be nothing but perfect as Android already jumped to top spot as the world’s best-selling smartphone platform during the fourth quarter of 2010 according to industry expert Canalys.

Aside from that, developers can expect a great market potential for their apps, now that Android smartphones are getting the biggest share of the US market at 31.2% as of January 2011 according to the latest reports from comScore MobiLens.

People wanting to develop their own Android-based apps can join the large community of developers contributing over 150,000 apps on the Google app store Android Market. Google practically made it easy for anyone to develop their own application programs by providing the tools and facilities for coders and non-coders alike to build these apps.

Preliminary Considerations

Before anyone could begin learning how to develop an Android app, there are certain considerations that anyone interested in this venture should take. The first thing to consider is to realize that there are practically two approaches that people can take to have an application of their own making available on the Android Market.

The first method is to create a client-side application based on the platform and using the Android SDK (Software Development Kit).These applications are written with the Java programming language and are designed to run on customized Linux-based virtual machine called Dalvik. The app developed will have an .apk extension which interested users can download from the Android Market or from the developer’s own website and installed directly on their smartphones.

The second method is to design the app as a web application, which does not require any additional installation from the user. These are designed and developed using current web standards and can be accessed by the user through a web browser. Some applications are designed as a mix of both methods, such as an embedded link on the client-installed app interface that will send the user directly to the web application using WebView.

Starting Your Android App Development

Android makes it easier for developers to create these applications by making all the source codes, emulators, development tools and other documentations readily available together with the Android SDK. But if all these things sound Greek to you, you can always hire your own developer or a skilled freelancer to do all the coding work based on what and how you would like the application to appear, feature and do.

Whether you are trying to learn how to develop an Android app on your own or work with a developer or freelancer, you may find the following tips useful to avoid all the unnecessary bumps along the way on your road to developing your first Android app.

  • Design your app using a global theme – This will prevent you from having to change styles every time you switch from one app activity to another.
  • Make your layouts flexible – Design your layouts by using the “fill_parent” and “wrap_content” where it is appropriate in the xml to enable your app to adjust screen size automatically depending on the user’s smartphone.
  • Use View Backgrounds in selectors instead of images – There is a difference in setting the backgrounds for buttons and lists in Android from what is normally done with websites. Android has multiple views so each view should be specified with what background to display.
  • Set the Handling Device Rotation – if this is not specified, Android will restart an activity as the default move. This would be quite annoying when the application is running. Override this so that an activity stays alive even when the device is rotated.
  • Test your app on all Android versions – It would be good for your potential users to know what versions are compatible with your application so they can know ahead if it will work on their device or not. Test your app on all version emulators to know where it will work best.
  • Use DIP instead of pixels – To ensure that your app will look the same on various screen resolutions and sizes, it would be best to use dips instead of PX or pixels. With dips, Android can adjust accordingly based on the user’s device.
  • Create your own buttons – Android is open source and device manufacturers usually make their own changes in the core. A particular device can automatically default your app to a theme that will practically affect the way your app would look so it would be best to customize every button and have it constant on any device.

Developing Client-Side Android Apps

To make client-side android apps, Android has made it easy for developers by providing all the tools and documentations they need on the Android Dev Guide. From within this guide, you can have access to the Android SDK together with all the development tools you need, as well as all the other tools that you can use to test and publish your application and have it available to the public.

The Software Development Kit (SDK) is packed with the libraries and documentations you need as well as sample codes and tutorials that can help you learn how to develop an Android app.  Developers need to have personal computers running Linux, Windows XP or later Windows versions. Developers can also use Macs running Mac OSX 10.4.9 or later versions to support Androids development platforms.

Eclipse using the Android Development Tools (ADT) Plugin is the official integrated development environment for Android to create, build and debug Android-based apps. Developers however, can still edit Java and XML files using whatever application they prefer as long as they have the Java Development Kit or the Apache Ant. Non-coders need not worry about understanding all these as long as their developers or freelancers doing all the technical work knows all this.

Developing Web-based Android Apps

Web-based Android apps is another method that you and your developer can look at in creating your own Android application and make it available in the market. The key thing here is to develop a web app that will properly appear on various Android-powered devices using different screen densities. WebView would be the tool you need so you can embed web pages into Android apps. You will also need to bind Javascript to the Android APIs using WebView and debug web apps using the JavaScript Console APIs.

Publishing Your Android App

After completing all the coding work in your new Android application and make your preliminary testing, you can now have it ready for publication in the Android Market or your own website and server. The first thing that you need to know is that you need to have your apps digitally signed with a certificate. The developer should have the private key for this certificate, which will be used by Android to identify the author of the application.

Other things you need to consider when publishing your Android app is to have it tested on actual devices before having it available in the Android market for interested users to download. Aside from that you can also add an End User License Agreement and licensing support as part of your application  before your perform the final compilation.

After that, you can now register with the Android Market and upload your application for publishing. Once published, users can now download and rate your new Android application. Pricing would depend on whether your application is free and a preview to a paid premium version, or price it directly as you see fit. Seeing your own application online and available in the Android Market, with people buying and downloading and making 5-star reviews can truly be a rewarding experience – and make you grateful that you’ve learned how to develop an Android app.

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