Android, as an operating system is as infinite as the universe. About 10 years ago it was a cute little thing, and now it’s everywhere! It is the king OS in the smartphone market with more than 2 billion active devices. Thousands of new Android apps are created and uploaded every week on Google Play. Despite the growing competition, it is a promising platform for software developers. The demand for both general and enterprise level apps is sky high, making it a great spot for building a career.
You’ve got to love Android
The first step towards becoming a successful and charming Android developer is to sincerely embrace it. If you’re an exclusive iOS fan, think twice! You’re here because you admit that BugDroid is unbeatable and obviously the best mobile OS in existence. If your opinion differs, go ahead and support the one you believe in. Regardless of how over the top Android is right now, there is ample market for others as well. Experience the world of the little green robot and desserts, before you add it to your programming skills.
Begin with Java
By Java I mean the programming language which is an integral part of Android, but a strong cup of coffee will definitely help you get through this. Yes, it’s true that ‘Kotlin’ has been announced as the official language for developing Android apps, but Java will be staying for quite a while. Kotlin is still new and there’s not enough study material, therefore the community is relatively small and solutions are scarce. You’ll keep running into Java, so it’s best that you accept its dominance and surrender. Learning Java is very useful and a lot of fun; not to mention it’s very well documented and has an enormous community for support.
The Android market is brutal which means you’ve got to be in it to win it. Don’t you think that you can wing it amidst the swarm of competitors. Your app has to stand out in terms of UI and UX, because both design and performance matter. It’s nearly impossible to be unique when a lot of developers are trying to sell similar services. Acknowledge that and plan the project after taking a good look at your competition. Learn as much as possible about the company backgrounds and observe their strategies. Also compare the number of downloads and read all kinds of user reviews submitted on the Google app store.
Once you’ve investigated your competition in and out, it’s time to generate a blueprint to shape your idea and put it through the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. You have to use a proper architecture in the first place; MVP is a good option because it is low-maintenance and provides enough flexibility in coding. Identify the mistakes your competitors have made and exclude them from your project. Then look at their strong points and evaluate how you can outdo their standards.
R３- Read, Reuse and Reinvent
The only way to improve your coding skills is by reading other people’s code and learning from it. The quality of your code matters a lot, especially when you’re working with a team on a professional level. Mountains of libraries and code solutions are available online over platforms like GitHub, Android Arsenal and Stackoverflow. Android development is entirely open source, so use it to your advantage whenever you’re stuck somewhere. It’s mainstream to reuse ready-made code repositories because that’s what they’re for.
Re-inventing solutions from scratch is a good thing if you’re doing for the sake of practice and sharpening your skills. On the other hand, there’s no shame in copy pasting a stranger’s work, when you’re in the middle of a serious project and running out of time. No code is perfect and there’s always room for improvement, but it’s okay to blindly go with the top rated solution from time to time. The best way to compensate for making use of open resources, is to contribute your experiences in return. The development field is all about give and them, participate to sustain the flow.
P.S: Make sure your code is clean and readable. Poor quality code is not your friend.
Testing is a fundamental part of building valuable software in general, but its significance is higher in Android development because it can be tricky. There is a diverse range of Android devices being used globally, so specifications and requirements may vary too much. The UI of your app should be adaptable to screens of different dimensions, so consider smartphones of all popular brands and versions. Many flaws might be overlooked in high-end mobile sets, but create a lot of problems among the cheaper models. Hence, it is best to opt for smartphones that are old/used and low on specs, throughout the testing period.
Do not rely on automated tests alone, because only manual testing can help us identify many shortcomings in the app’s UI and UX. You have to put yourself in the user’s shoes to truly comprehend what’s lacking and what exactly needs to be changed. Decent testing of Android applications demands time and patience. Doing it in a hurry is the biggest mistake you could make. Sometimes developers notice small issues, but ignore them to deal with later when a user actually reports the bug. This kind of methodology is not recommended, because errors need to be corrected as soon as they’re identified. Putting off current tasks for later has never proven beneficial for anyone; pending work eventually becomes a burden you cannot carry.
One huge advantage of open source is its vulnerability to external threats. Anyone can hack, reverse engineer, replicate or manipulate your work, if not adequately protected. Security tools like ProGuard are included with the Android SDK, and it would be wrong not to use them. If you upload your app to Play Store without equipping it with any firewall, you’ll likely face the dire consequences within a few hours. If your app contains a premium version or other paid features, getting hacked could be a fatal blow to your business.